Super Smash Bros For Nintendo 3DS
Generosity has long been Smash Bros’ byword, and by that standard its 3DS debut is a triumph. The roster for the fourth version of this party brawler is so packed with characters – 49 or 51, depending on how you count the Mii Fighters – that there’s a main and alt here for everyone. Customisable movesets and stats mean it’s hard to exhaust even one character fully, while a flood of modes pours from colourful menus.
If only 3DS were more generously proportioned. When the principals in Smash Bros’ deadly dance of rolls and dashes move apart and the camera pulls back, fights take on a tilt-shift quality, your facing and moves indistinct. Sakurai and co present the best possible solution to this intractable problem, with a clear effect indicating hits with the power to launch fighters off the screen, while optional inky outlines improve readability. Neither is enough to prevent momentary confusion and a few unforced ring-outs, but you can divide the likelihood for frustration by your 3DS’s screen size.
When it works, and it overwhelmingly does, Smash 3DS feels luxurious and unimpeachable. It’s a pacier, more breathless battle of wits than Brawl, though jumps are floaty enough to assist with the air game – helpful on small screens. And the framerate stoically keeps up, Fourplayer brawls feel frantic in a good way, although you can cut down on distractions by choosing the Omega form for each stage. These keep the local look, but ditch the hazards and restructures to test only fighting skill even with so much carnage onscreen that the eye can discern little other than attack effects.
Less uniform are the modes. The new Smash Run is a bite-sized challenge for snatched minutes, and a great way to fill your customisation wardrobe. But since rounds mostly consist of whaling on dim enemies for stat-boosting drops, then culminate in all-too-brief proper brawls or platforming challenges, it’s soon tempting to cut out the middle man. The zenith is Classic, the standard arcade run towards a battle with Master Hand (in all its forms) enlivened by a sliding difficulty scale up front that enables you to bet coins to boost the challenge, plus your choice of paths along the way, with better rewards for facing greater resistance.
Online play is indefinitely entertaining as well, though not free of issues. Lag has been an infrequent problem for players across the globe, but it does irk when you’re playing For Glory, where your results are counted, as opposed to knockabout For Fun battles. It’s also baffling that stock matches are reserved for tussles among your friends list and competitive face-offs.
Irritations never last long in Smash 3DS, sandblasted away by the winningly varied combat and the sheer torrent of ways to enjoy it. There’s plenty of headroom left for the Wii U version to surpass its cousin, then, but the first taste of Nintendo’s unified approach to its console audiences is very promising indeed.