Review: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

The king takes back the throne.

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 12/01/2014 09:00 2 Comments     ShareThis
The Final Grade
Editor's Choice
grade/score info
1-Up Mushroom for...
Refined gameplay strikes a perfect balance between the best of Melee and Brawl; Gorgeous graphics and loaded soundtrack; Amiibos are a fun addition; Tons of modes, features, and unlockables to explore
Poison Mushroom for...
Smash Tour is a letdown; Online is sound, but has its hitches in spurts

After all the incredible gameplay and content stuffed into Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, I can’t believe that the home console version has somehow found a way to make that game feel like an appetizer.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U has officially become the main course for Nintendo fans of all stripes. Heck, for fighting game fans, too. Oh, who am I kidding– this title is for everyone who’s a fan of great video games. Smash Bros. has set a new standard for the series. I could devote volumes of pages to every scrap of what this game has to offer, and nearly every bit of it is pitch perfect. Save for the woefully anticlimactic Smash Tour, Smash Bros. is easily one of the best games on the system and reason enough to own a Wii U.

Series director Masahiro Sakurai was true to his word when he said that the 3DS and Wii U versions of Smash Bros. would have the same fundamental gameplay across both platforms. Anyone who’s spent time with Smash Bros. on 3DS will immediately find the controls familiar and intuitive. So much so, in fact, that Smash Bros. on Wii U even accommodates players who wish to use their 3DS as a controller! This iterations of Smash hands-down offers the greatest variety of controller options. From the GameCube controller adapter (which works like a dream) to a Wii Remote, any and every type of controller/controller combo that’s ever been used to play Smash is available for this Wii U release. It’s a great treat for fans, and makes the game’s silky play control all the more enjoyable.

With tripping gone and gameplay speed settled pleasingly between that of Smash Bros. Brawl and Melee, Smash Bros. on Wii U has found a solid balance between those two games that fans of both (and newbies) should appreciate. We’ll get to online shortly, but offline, with friends and family slugging it out on one TV screen, Smash Bros. is right up there with the best multiplayer experiences on any system. The game handles all the action with ease, even in the new and incredibly frantic eight-player battles. The freedom to fine tune each match to a player’s liking is greater than ever, with an abundance of options and modes to choose from. There’s virtually almost no setup that can’t be achieved through customization, meaning expect everything from the zany to extremely bare bones-hardcore. Every taste is catered to.

Graphically, Smash Bros. is detailed, polished, and beautiful. Character models are animated incredibly fluidly, and the game’s arenas are picturesque. Sitting and watching other people play is almost as satisfying as being part of the action. Stages are littered with details to soak in, from observing the race track twist and turn in Mario Circuit, to seeing space dogfights unfurl in Orbital Gate Assault. I still think that Mario Kart 8 is the most awe-inspiringly beautiful game on Wii U, but Smash Bros. is just as good in a more subtle way. The design of the stages for fighting is clever and challenging as ever. Longtime fans know just how hectic some stages can make a battle simply by virtue of the different features they have, and it’s no different this time around. A new favorite for me has been Pyrogate, and watching Ridley go nuts attacking everything in sight. I’d also be remiss in not pointing out how unbelievable the soundtrack is. Classic and remixed tunes abound, and like Brawl players can pick and choose which songs they want to hear more of.

The greatest addition to stages, though, has to be the ability to play them in Final Destination configurations. The theme of each arena remains, but the gimmicks are gone and fighting takes place on the familiar stationary platform of the traditional Final Destination layout. For those who play competitively, or who simply want unfettered fights, this is a welcome change from playing on Final Destination over and over, never being able to take in the sights and music from the other stages. Stage creation is back, by the way, and the suite of tools and using the GamePad touch screen have made it easier than ever. It’s not something I dabble in, but I was able to cobble together a simple stage fairly quickly. I’d imagine those who enjoy bringing their designs to life will really be able to unleash something special.

Super Smash Bros for Wii U - Yoshi's Woolly World stage

Other things that have made their way back include Event Mode, which has been modified into a sprawling map of fights to take part in. Doing so unlocks prizes, and with so many branching paths, it’s going to take awhile to get through all the different events. It actually got me thinking of Soul Calibur II‘s story mode, which is fitting considering that Namco helped develop this game. Stadium events have also returned, along with Trophies (including the game information that I missed from the 3DS version of Smash Bros.!), and Classic and All-Stars modes. Everything has received some slight tweaks and additions, and all for the better. Of course, Nintendo didn’t just recycle old modes for this latest Smash Bros., as the game also comes with a couple of new things to do, too.

Special and Crazy Orders are welcome new additions to the fold that I’d love to see stick around moving into the future. Crazy Orders in particular is very cool, tasking players with completing as many different (and different types of) matches within a time limit. Along with fighting Crazy Hand. That’s right, the time limit includes the final boss match, and failure means losing prizes won. It’s a nice risk and reward system that lets players test their skills. I wasn’t as impressed with Smash Tour, unfortunately. It’s essentially a board game, but it’s more a shallow version of Mario Party than anything else. In larger groups it can be entertaining, but the random nature of the mode and the brief fights left me wanting. Definitely give it a shot, though, because it’s not so horrible that I think no one out there will get any fun from it. Calling it an acquired taste is perhaps the best way to describe Smash Tour.

For many people reading this, the real meat and potatoes, “does it work or doesn’t it?” question is if Smash Bros.’ online is playable. Thankfully, I can say yes– with some slight reservations. It’s lightyears ahead of Brawl, if nothing else! Bear in mind, almost any game released out into the wild is going to have its hiccups online at launch. Patches are a staple of the industry and won’t be going anywhere for the foreseeable future. Smash Bros. is, generally, very solid online, though there are times, few though they are, where the game will chug a little. The times I experienced this were very irregular, and I almost never experienced it in 1 versus 1 matches. Matchmaking works easily enough, though I think that it can be frustrating how the time limit resets every time a new person enters the lobby. Three people can be ready to go, watching the timer click closer to zero– only to have someone appear at the last second and start the wait back over. What’s worse, though, is if that person leaves, and another person enters… the timer restarts again! These are two things that Nintendo will hopefully address whenever it eventually patches the game.

Finally– Amiibo! I have to say, the integration of Nintendo’s new figurines is a rousing success. Each toy can be assigned to a player profile and leveled up for a variety of activities, including good, old-fashioned brawling. We’ll talk about the actual figures soon, but speaking only toward their functionality, I think Nintendo did a good job of making them an optional but rewarding addition to the game. Sicking a leveled up Amiibo on fellow fighters can yield some hilarious results.

Smash Bros. has officially laid the second pillar for Wii U as the go-to console for online gaming. Joined with Mario Kart 8, Nintendo’s online presence is more robust than it’s ever been. For fans, there’s never been a better time to jump on board Wii U. Smash Bros. feels like a major step forward for the franchise, due in no small part to its excellent online capabilities. I’ve gushed enough. This game needs to be in every Wii U owner’s collection. The replay value, from playing to collecting and unlocking everything, is almost endless. And it’s going to be pretty hard to not want to play this game endlessly. This is a title that players will keep coming back to for years to come.

2 Responses to “Review: Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

  • 156 points
    excaliburguy says...

    Here’s my two cents on the new Smash Bros.

    Overall, Smash 4 is a very good game, as there is a massive amount of content. Between all the game modes, trophies, and music, there is quite a lot to experience here. In addition, I really like all the new characters (except for maybe Duck Hunt Dog).
    However, I do have a few problems with this game. First off, the online play is fairly disappointing. There aren’t many options. I would have liked to see stock team matches and co op multi man smash. Also, when this game lags, it lags hard. The lag is certainly better than Brawl, but it’s still a problem. Then there’s For Glory itself. Let’s make one thing clear: competitive Smash players do not play on Final Destination only. The lack of platforms lets projectile-campy characters thrive. There’s no where to hide from projectiles, making running away and camping the best strategy. This is even easier because air dodging is so good and rolling got buffed. Speaking of air dodging, it totally kills combos. You can’t dodge out of hitstun anymore, which is an improvement, but the hitstun is so low that the difference is negligible. As I see it, if they drastically increase the hitstun, or if they seriously nerf air dodging, combo games would increase ten-fold. Combos make the game more fun to watch, and Smash 4 could become a spectator sport. Or how about this: instead of air dodging, how about air dashing? Instead of giving the player invincibility frames, the character would strafe a little in a certain direction. Kinda like a roll, only in the air. Wavedashing would make a return, but honestly, I don’t even care about that.
    Something else I’m displeased with is the general nerfing of aerial moves. Not only are they more laggy, but they’re even more unsafe on shield because the amount of shield stun in this game is really low. It makes approaching very difficult, and most of the time, it’s best to not approach at all. This game is very defensive, and to me, that’s not as fun as a more offensive game. Offensive games are very fun to watch in my opinion. Case in point: Melee. I’m not saying that this game should be Melee. I just think they should take the best aspects of the game and incorporate new ideas, like the new ledge mechanic, for example.
    I haven’t given up in this game. It still has loads of potential. I really hope patching fixes some of the issues, especially the character balance (Zero Suit Samus, I’m looking at you). You never know, there might be a Project M Smash 4. We’ll just have to wait and see.

    Wow, that’s a lot of text. My apologies.

  • 1244 points
    lukas85 says...

    i just played this game today, what a wonderful game, i have the time of my life with my old buddy playing this, is so polished and refined, so beautiful and fun. nintendo has done another classic

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