Sunday, November 23, 2014

Super Smash Bros for Wii U Review

The day was November 21st, 2014. When I woke up, I knew for a fact that it would be a glorious day. The plan was simple; a couple of friends and I were set, we would drive to our local Gamestop and pick up the Collector's Bundle of Super Smash Bros for Wii U and spend the rest of the day playing it. We picked it up along with an amiibo, the collector's strategy guide, and a copy of Pokemon: Omega Ruby. We then spent 12 hours straight playing through the game and every mode of it. 

This game is beyond great. Simply put, this is the best game in the series and the reason to get a Wii U. 
We started our play through of the game easily enough. As soon as we loaded up the game we tackled Standard Smash, which is where you and three other players can duke it out. What's absolutely beautiful about the game is that all of the characters are essentially unlocked from the beginning. We only had to unlock a handful of characters, but we had them all unlocked by the end of the night. All of us decided to sample a few of the new characters and see how they played. 

By far, the most difficult new character for me to use is Rosalina. She's a very defensive player and relies mostly on reflecting projectiles back at opponents. She's not exactly easy to learn, but I couldn't adjust to the fact that she relied so heavily on reflecting. Little Mac also gave us all some issues. We agreed that he's unstoppable on the ground, but as soon as he gets launched off the stage, he's essentially dead. His air game is pitiful and if you get too far away from the stage, you should just cut your losses. 

For new characters that we all got used to, Lucina was a favorite among us. She's essentially a clone of Marth, but she hits much faster than he ever could, but keeps the same moveset as him. Everyone decided to play as her at least once, and with a good player she's nearly unstoppable. For my money though, the two best new characters are easily Zero Suit Samus and Rosalina & Luma. Zuit Suit Samus is incredibly fast and agile. I even think that she's a bit faster than Fox or Falco. Most of her attacks have her bouncing and jumping all around the screen, making her incredibly difficult to hit. She sacrifices that for no really strong Smash attacks, but that's a decent sacrifice to make for her intense speed. Rosalina & Luma though is by far my favorite character in the game and make for a deadly combo. Rosalina can hit hard, attack in two places at once thanks to her Luma, has an incredible recovery jump, and is actually surprisingly light. The one trade off with her is that she's one of the lightest characters and has a terrible Final Smash. Still, she's one of my new favorite characters and as of now, she's at the top of my rotation of characters (the other characters in my rotation being Bowser, Zero Suit Samus, Jigglypuff, and Wii Fit Trainer). 

Not enough Jigglypuff
But who cares about all of the new characters in the game? You all want to hear about the different modes in Smash Bros for Wii U. You want to hear about 8 Player Smash! Well guess what, out of all of the games we've played with it, we've come to a general consensus regarding it. 8 Player Smash is an absolute joy to play... but you need to have the right map. With the wrong map, matches can take an eternity and lose all of the thrill of it being an 8 player match. 

8 Play Smash, as the title says, allows for 8 players to play simultaneously on one map at the same time. You can do team matches of 2v2v2v2, or you can just do a big old 4v4 match. However, we mostly just did every man for himself and watched the fireworks fly. But our enjoyment was extremely hindered by the stage choice. We found out that on small stages, matches were insane and a blast to play. We could keep site of our characters easily and kill several players at the same time with a well placed move. On larger maps, maps specifically designed for 8 players, the games become too long, too zoomed out, and much harder to follow. It's easy for a person to just run from one side of the map and hide until several players die, allowing them to come up ad score some easy kills. We had to ban a few stages just to make sure that we didn't have to deal with that annoyance. However, the Battlefield stages are perfect for 8 player Smash because they're small enough to be chaotic, but large enough to keep track of your character. 

Items also got a huge makeover in the game. With the exception of a few items, pretty much every item was completely redone with now mixed results. Some items I love, like the bullet bill that shoots you across the screen, or the blue shell that follows the nearest player and does a huge amount of damage. Other items weren't as useful, and some were even confusing to use, but one item in particular deserves to be talked about. There is an item in this game that if you get it, you will get an extra life in stock matches. So if you're playing a three stock match, getting this item will let you have four stock instead. You're opinion of the item mostly comes down to if you think it's an interesting mechanic, or a cheap new way to win a match. It's all up to you. 

Still needs more Jigglypuff
Some new modes have been introduced into the series as well in this installment. While Smash 3DS had a multiplayer mode called Smash Run, Smash Wii U gets a mode called Smash Tour. Smash Tour is kind of like a a hybrid between Smash Bros and Mario Party, but with a lot more strategy. There's no more luck in determining who wins in this board game! In Smash Tour, you and three other players navigate around a board collecting character icons and stat boosts. The more stat boosts and characters you have, the easier it'll be to win Smash Tour. You see, after navigating around the board for X amount of turns, everyone fights in one match where every character is a stock and your stat boosts affect your all of your characters. However, during the actual board game, you can steal characters from you opponents as well as their stat boosts and add them to your collection. We kind of agreed that while fun, it didn't hold our interest for too long and just served as an interesting curiosity for us. 

What isn't a curiosity for us is the the new Trophy Rush mode. In it, you can bet coins that you earn from fights to collect a plethora of trophies that fall from the sky. It's a scored based game where objects fall from the sky and you need to destroy them before they go over a certain limit. Destroy enough of these objects, and trophies will begin to fall from the sky to collect. The longer the mode goes on, the easier it is to get some very difficult trophies. You can also get trophies from a new shop mode that has a selection of 8 trophies available at a time to buy, though the prices are a bit higher than normal. It's all up to you how badly you want that trophy of Ganondorf from Wind Waker

Unfortunately, we haven't tried out the Master Orders or the Crazy Orders yet. Both modes function as a challenge mode of sorts where the longer you play each mode, the more rewards and money you'll get. Master Order is much easier than Crazy Orders, though we don't know how. Honestly, the mode doesn't really interest any of us since we'd much rather just beat the shit out of each other than work together. When we do want to work together, it's usually for Classic Mode, All Star Mode, and Event Mode. 

Where's the Jigglypuff trophy on sale???
And oh the new Event Mode. This is by far challenging event mode in the series history (even though it only appeared in Melee before). There are both co-op Events and single player Events, and all of them have selectable difficulty, which is a joy for both hardcore and casual players. Now you don't have to worry about being stuck at an event and never being able to beat it. Now you can simply lower the difficulty, beat it, and continue on with the game. I low adjustable difficulty like that, and you'll almost certainly have to adjust the difficulty for a match or two. They're that hard. 

Classic Mode is a bit more... divisive in my eyes. For the longest time, Classic Mode has simply been going through a set gauntlet of enemies with a few breaks in between for minigames. There was target breaking, platform jumping, trophy collecting, and other fun little distractions between matches, which were almost always linear. Yes you could fight different players in Classic Mode, but there was a sense of familiarity when you were doing Classic Mode. Now Classic Mode is very different and I'm not sure it changed for the better. 

Instead of going on a linear path, you instead are dropped onto a table with other clusters of characters and you choose which one you want to fight,. For example, say I play as Jigglypuff in Classic Mode and I have to decide between five clusters to fight. Once I win, some clusters will disappear until there's on remaining. Defeat that one, and you move on to the next round. Continue defeating rounds until you get to Master Hand and/or Crazy Hand. 

I'm just not sold on the idea of having Classic Mode be this open. I'm used to being taken on a set tour of the game where I have to defeat characters in their own worlds and get rewards for doing it. Here, it just seems way to easy to fix matches in your favor by going to clusters with less enemies. Some clusters may have one opponent while others have seven. Even then, you never really know exactly how many rounds there'll be until you reach the end. I did one that was simply two rounds, but a co-op one lasted for five rounds. Some consistency is all I'm asking for really. 

All Star Mode functions the same way as it did in other entries, where you fight every single character in the game in different clusters in one perfect run. You can recover health in between matches, but you have to defeat all 49 characters. It's not for the weak of heart and will put all of your skills to the ultimate test. Hence the name "All Star" Mode. I honestly loved this mode way more than I did Classic Mode and will probably come back to this mode way more than any campaign mode. There is no Subspace Emissary this time around, and for good riddance too. While I was a fan of the story and cutscenes, it dragged exceptionally in terms of gameplay, so seeing it sit out this entry is fine by me. 

There's also a sound test mode where you get to listen to every song from the game, a mdoe where you can adjust what tracks will play during which stages, a Masterpiece mode where you get to play excerpts of games whose fighters appear in Smash for Wii U, a Mii fighter option, character customization, and a plethora of features that I'm losing track of. This game is so huge and massive that it will take years to unlock everything this game has to offer. Challenges will have use coming back, trophies will have us coming back, and just beating the ever-loving crap out of each other will have us coming back. 

Buy. This. Game. You don't need me to tell you that the next Smash Bros is going to be great, but it blows out all previous expectations of the game. It surpasses everything that we thought this game would be. This is one of the best games that Nintendo has made in the longest time, and I haven't felt this way about a game since Persona 4 Golden or Super Mario Galaxy, both of which were system sellers to me. Even if you don't want to find a Wii U, find a friend who owns one an move in with them. Trust me, you'll never want to leave once you start playing this game. 


Oh, and there are no tournaments yet. They're being patched in. And I haven't experimented with amiibos yet so..........

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