All about the smash: On Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

K. Montinola (The Philippine Star) - November 26, 2014 - 3:53pm

Any house with a Nintendo console since the N64 will probably be familiar with the title: Super Smash Bros, an energetic fighting game featuring characters from a long list of Nintendo games. Starting with Super Smash Bros for the N64, Super Smash Bros Melee for the Nintendo GameCube, and last seen as Super Smash Bros Brawl for the Wii, the series has been one of Nintendo’s most popular titles — making its fourth instalment, Super Smash Bros for the Wii U, highly anticipated.

Roughly, the game is basically a kind of free-for-all. In-house mascots like Mario, Yoshi, and Donkey Kong duke it out along with other characters of Nintendo franchises, such as Link from The Legend of Zelda, Samus from Metroid, Pikachu from Pokémon. The sequels upped the stakes as well with its range of characters, going as far as bringing in “Mr Game and Watch” (yes, the Game & Watch), and even guesting iconic characters from other companies (Sonic from Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog, Solid Snake from Konami’s Metal Gear Solid).

Each character has a unique set of skills, channelled as attacks to knock opponents off the battle platforms. Players unable to make it back to the platforms and fall too far off-screen lose a life. In addition, the more damage a player takes, the further the character will fly when hit. There is a selection of stages to choose from, each with their own quirks designed to alter the battle conditions (anything from moving platforms to background characters trying to shoot you). There are also items that spontaneously (frequency depending on the setting adjustment) appear and grant players who grab them some kind of boon — bombs to toss at an opponent, Pokéballs to sick a Pokémon on everyone else, a heart container to reduce your damage to 0 percent. The result, as you can imagine, is gleefully chaotic.

Smash has always been its own particular kind of fighting game. In general, for the non-experts, fighting games tend to lend themselves to button-smashing; but Smash has a level of fast-paced, explosive and dynamic play that makes it absolutely crazy. But what’s the deal with the Smash for the Wii U?

The short answer is that it’s an instalment of epic proportions. A version for the 3DS, Nintendo’s portable gaming console, has already been available for the past month, doing the double act of promoting 3DS and teasing the Smash game. But Smash for the Wii U is the main event, and it’s not difficult to see why: playing it feels like it doesn’t just have more of everything (modes, fighters, stages), but has an upped quality in everything as well. In short, everything is higher — the stakes, the fighting frenzy, the thrill of eviscerating your enemies with a character that looks like a plush toy. And this isn’t even scratching the surface of everything else the game offers.

Released this past weekend, you can bet those who jumped on the release have already put in the long hours of gameplay. One of the most anticipated modes of this latest instalment is the expansion of multiplayer — up to eight people can play at once, double its original cap of four. By all means it should make the already crazed gameplay too chaotic to function, but Smash is so well designed for the big home screens you can make every explosion count.

Smash does make the Wii U worth getting, though not without having to think about what the optimum selection of accessories would be. The console didn’t really make a splash when it debuted, and first timers might find the Wii U as a home gaming system kind of cumbersome; it comes with the GamePad controller and allows for the use of Wii Remotes, some games will require certain accessories in addition (Wii MotionPlus, for example).

In the case of Smash for the Wii U, using a GameCube style controller (as many veterans of the game prefer) requires a specific adapter. Smash is perfectly playable with just the GamePad and Wii Remotes, but the former can feel overlarge and the latter is tiny without the Nunchuck accessory. Still, if friends have a 3DS with Smash installed they can actually connect as controllers, heightening its sense of being quite the party game.

(A fair warning that the intense kinaesthetic nature of the game has at least meant suffering the loss of the cap of your 3DS Circle Pad. Yes. Seriously).

Smash’s greatest achievement is certainly this sense of being a party game. Smash is fun, but it’s designed to be more fun with more people. It’s hard to think of any recent major releases in games that are meant to be played together in the way Smash is. There are a lot of multiplayer games out there, of course, but they’re usually played over an internet connection with limited communication (and can sometimes be limited to trash talking. There will be plenty of trash talking in Smash, but it is more likely you will be in the same room as the friend you are verbally smacking).

When it comes down to it, at its core, Smash is fun, which is what games are supposed to be. But what makes Smash great is its ability to make getting a group together and meeting up to play somewhere possible — and at the house of the poor soul who owns the Wii U, more likely.

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