Review: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

A couple of months ago Super Smash Bros. made its return after six years with the stellar Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS. The series made a wonderful transition to a handheld console and – as I mentioned when I reviewed that game – it’s possibly the best the series has ever been.

However Super Smash Bros. for 3DS could now be considered the entrée to the main course that Nintendo has unleashed on the world. I of course refer to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, a game not too different from its 3DS brother, but unique enough in its own special ways which allow it to surpass it.

Developer: Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Games
Publisher: Nintendo
Reviewed on: Wii U
Also Available On: 3DS
Release Date: Available Now

BRB-Score-5

From the get go, you’ll notice how unbelievably gorgeous the game looks. This is the first time Super Smash Bros. has been released in HD – 1080p at 60FPS for the technically minded among you – and its colourful visuals allow it to put games on the PS4 and Xbox One to shame. There are a few noticeable framerate drops here and there, specifically when you pause the game and decide to pan around the screen to survey the carnage that is unfolding. From a gameplay perspective however, it’s smooth, crisp and a joy to play just like the 3DS version.

Super Smash Bros 1

Super Smash Bros. has traditionally been a home console series since its birth on the Nintendo 64. Whilst the 3DS version adapted its controls to suit the series on the go, many returning players will have been holding out for the Wii U version. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a very accessible game for anyone to pick up and play with whatever controller they wish, there’s a massive amount of controllers to choose from and you can customise button layouts however you please. You can play with a reliable old GameCube controller thanks to the adapter which was shipped at the same time as the game, the Wii U pro controller, the Wii U gamepad, the Wii remote by itself or with a nunchuck and even use 3DS systems if you have the 3DS version of the game. You’re bound to find something that suits your play style.

Gameplay wise, you’ve got a near identical set-up as the 3DS version but with an array of new options and changes too. You can head into a 4 player smash match right away and tweak the rules to your hearts content. Or you can head into classic, all-star, stadium mini-games or the returning event matches from Super Smash Bros. Melee/Brawl.

A massive new addition is that of 8 player smash battles, a first for the series. Stage selection is limited in this mode as you obviously need a stage that can accommodate 8 players at once. It’s the perfect mode for parties as it allows everyone to play provided you have enough controllers – though given the massive amount of controller options you’ll probably be good to go. There’s absolutely no slowdown in this mode and everything runs just as smoothly as you’d expect from the likes of a 4 player smash match. One gripe about 8 player smash is that some of the stages on offer for this mode are still far too small – such as Castle Siege from Fire Emblem – and some of the stages are far too big – such as The Great Cave Offensive from Kirby, where even on a 32 inch TV it was easy to lose track of yourself.

Super Smash Bros 2

Classic mode has seen a change from the 3DS version. Instead of picking different branching paths you’re placed on a board with a selection of other CPU characters. From here you can pick which fights you want to get into and where you’ll be likely to pick up the biggest rewards. You’ll also be assigned a random rival who you can take out quickly to remove them from play, or wait to KO later for bigger rewards. Team battles in classic mode allow you to pick allies from characters you’ve defeated and random characters can also invade matches as giant or metal enemies to throw you for a loop. It’s a lot more challenging and tactical than the 3DS version to be sure.

Master Hand and Crazy Hand still feature as the final bosses of classic mode and if you’re playing on a high enough difficulty they’ll still transform into different forms to challenge you further. However, playing on a difficulty of 8.0 or above will allow them to transform into the Master Fortress, a dungeon crawling side scroller which is insanely difficult and which I’ve still not had the luck to defeat yet.

All-star mode also sees a small change in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Instead of facing off against characters in order of the year they were introduced from oldest to newest (1981-2014) you’ll fight in the opposite direction, newest to oldest (2014-1981). A small change which took me by surprise the first time I played the mode.

Another mode making its debut which features Master Hand and Crazy Hand is Special Orders. This mode is broken down into the appropriately named Master Orders and Crazy Orders. Master Orders sees Master Hand giving you a series of challenges at differing difficulties – which you need to pay for entry to using gold – in return for prizes such as new music tracks, gold, custom parts and equipment for custom fighters or a Crazy Orders pass. Win or lose, Master Orders allows you to pick up some extra items on a whim.

Crazy Orders however is a completely different story, you need to either pay 5000 gold for entry into the mode or use a Crazy Orders pass – the latter being more preferable as it’s earned through gameplay. From here you’re given a choice of challenges just like Master Orders, only you’re given a time limit of ten minutes to win as many challenges consecutively without losing. Each challenge you complete will amp up the difficultly further and you’ll retain some of the damage you’ve taken from previous challenges. The rewards come thick and fast in Crazy Orders and are significantly better than those found on Master Orders. The trick to Crazy Orders is knowing when the time is right to give up and cash in for your rewards. To obtain your rewards you need to face off against Crazy Hand in a final battle of stamina. More rewards will drop in the final battle too and if you come out on top you’ll walk away with a hefty amount of prizes. Lose once during the whole experience however and you’ll only get a small portion of what you earned. It’s a great test of risk versus reward and is one of the modes I continually keep going back to.

crazy orders

Whilst Super Smash Bros. for 3DS had the Smash Run mode exclusive to it, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U has the board game inspired Smash Tour mode. Playing as a Mii character, you make your way around a small, medium or large board collecting stat boosts and characters over a set number of turns. After this set amount of turns is over everyone faces off with all of the characters they’ve collected representing one life, with all of the stat boosts they’ve collected remaining intact. However, Smash Tour is rather lacklustre when you get right down to it. It’s needlessly over complicated as the rules aren’t explained very well and is massively clustered as everyone takes their turn at the same time. It’s a mode that is meant to be played with 3 other human players as the A.I. isn’t exactly the smartest or the fairest. The mode is by far my least favourite aspect of the whole game and I would have loved for Smash Run to be in here instead.

Nearly all modes in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U can be played with two or more players, allowing you to even the odds on harder difficulties and ensure nobody is getting left out when it comes to playing locally, which the game more than encourages.

All 51 playable characters from the 3DS version are back – with a few more unlocked from the beginning this time such as Ganondorf and Jigglypuff – and unlockable fighters have a different set of requirements to make them show up this time round as well.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U features 46 stages to choose from overall, and a few of these are unlockable through gameplay. Overall, the stage design is a lot better here than on the 3DS version thanks to the power of the Wii U, with a lot more hazards and moving parts involved in most. There are 27 brand new stages and 19 legacy stages from past games which gives new players and veterans of the series a good selection. Whilst the 3DS version based its stages on handheld titles, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U features stages based on console games. You’ll find the uniquely shaped Super Mario Galaxy stage, Skyloft from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, Garden of Hope from Pikmin 3 and Orbital Gate Assault from StarFox: Assault to name a few.

Similarly to Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, you can turn any of these stages into an omega/Final Destination version of itself which is great for competitive play, allowing for players to experience a change of scenery and musical score.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U features over 400 musical pieces in its massive soundtrack with even more remixes and original compositions than the 3DS version. You’ve got remixed songs such as the Battle! Team Flare theme fromPokémon X/Y and Cloudtop Cruise from Mario Kart 8 alongside original pieces from the likes of Super Mario 64, Pac-Man and more. You have complete control over what music plays and how often it plays thanks to the My Music section in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. If you want a certain track to play on a certain stage all the time then you only need to adjust it to do so. Similarly if there’s a track you don’t want to hear at all then simply turn it off altogether.

Super Smash Bros 3

Custom characters are back in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and you can even bring over your 3DS custom characters to fight on the big screen along with all of their equipment and stats. This time however you can also use your custom parts and equipment on Nintendo’s new NFC figures called amiibo which are compatible with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, which I will talk about more in-depth in a separate article as they can be used in multiple games.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U features an online section similar to its 3DS counterpart. You’ll find the familiar “For Fun” and “For Glory” modes here, the former of which can even be played with another player locally too. Spectate mode is back too. However, Nintendo still don’t seem to have their online system nailed down entirely yet as most games I played had horrible latency issues which were most certainly not on my end.

Similarly to Super Smash Bros. Brawl there’s a rather barebones stage building mode where you can use the Wii U gamepad to freely draw shapes to make up a stage and add in items such as springs to jump on and scenery. You can pick any of the music tracks you’ve unlocked to play over the background of your stage too. It’s very basic, but creative types will surely have a lot of fun coming up with different stages and we’ve been promised the ability to share these stages with other players in an update in the near future.

The massive hoard of trophies to collect, which chronicles Nintendo’s – and SEGA, Capcom and Namco’s to an extent – history throughout the years, is back and there’s more to collect than ever. It’s a really nice touch to be able to sit and read about your favourite characters, settings and learn a little bit about some of the more obscure franchises which you might not know about – in my case, Xenoblade Chronicles.

Gorgeous to look at with fluid and smooth gameplay
Massive amount of controller options to suit anyone
Massive replayability with tonnes to unlock
Smash Tour mode is underwhelming and complex

When I said Super Smash Bros. for 3DS was the series at its best a couple of months ago I had my suspicions that it would be dethroned by Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Both of these games a masterfully crafted and are above all else a love letter to fans of all things Nintendo. They offer so much content that we tend not to see in games these days and there’s very little for me to actually criticise. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U takes everything that is great about the franchise and refines it into a package that is a blast to play by yourself or with up to seven other people in the same room. It’s the last of the great local multiplayer games that brings people together for some good old fashioned fun and competition. Nothing quite beats the feeling of smashing your friend off the side of a stage when they have one life left and seeing the light in their eyes die first hand as you stand up and yell “Yes!” in victory. If you own a Wii U, you owe it to yourself to play Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and if you don’t own one, now is a fantastic time to pick one up.

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The review copy of this title was purchased by the author.
Official Game Site

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