Super Smash Bros. Nintendo 3DS Demo Impressions

SuperSmashBros_3DS

I haven’t played a Smash Bros. game in six years (I was disappointed by Brawl on Wii and quickly lost interest), but diving into the 3DS demo for Super Smash Bros. was like slipping into a favorite pair of tattered jeans or broken-in slippers. Link has always been my go to choice in Nintendo’s series of mascot brawlers, and as soon as the game started I was pulling off familiar moves from instinct and muscle memory alone. Of course, the Smash Bros. mechanics are simpler than most fighting games, and that easy to learn yet hard to master approach is one of the great strengths of the series.

And that is the main thing I took away from playing the demo: Super Smash Bros. on the 3DS is Super Smash Bros. on the 3DS. By that I mean Nintendo has managed to capture the frantic Smash Bros. fighting experience in a portable package, seemingly without cutting corners or compromising quality standards in any way, and that is a highly impressive accomplishment. That’s based on a demo offering only a handful of characters and one map, of course, but it doesn’t take a ton of content to see that this game is of the highest quality in terms of gameplay and audiovisual design.

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Another impressive takeaway from the demo, this one perhaps more surprising, is the effectiveness of the 3D implementation. Typically with 3DS games, I’ll start with 3D turned on, see that the effect is neat but doesn’t really add enough visual punch to make the eyestrain and extra battery drain worth it, and then turn the slider completely off. With Smash Bros., unlike any other 3DS game I’ve played, if I turn the 3D off I actually feel like I’m not getting the true experience. Specific to the 3DS version, the characters have a subtle black outlining that really pops in 3D. In addition to an extra layer of gloss and detail, the 3D provides further depth of field contrast between the characters and the background environment that is immersive and actually makes identifying characters amidst all the mayhem a lot easier. With 3D turned off, I had a little more trouble keeping track of my character with explosions, item drops and special attacks firing all around. Having 3D turned on also adds flair to the assist trophy attacks–for example when a game of Color TV-Game 15 (Pong, basically) breaks out across the battlefield or Mother Brain appears and begins firing lasers–or the occasions when smashed characters fly toward the player and bounce off of the screen.

Being experienced with Smash Bros. since the original but having not played any of the games since shortly after Brawl came out, I was also excited to try out a couple of the brand new characters. Link, Mario and Pikachu are included in the demo, but I’ve used them many times over in the previous installments. Mega Man and Animal Crossing‘s Villager, however, are newcomers, and I have to say that I really love the unique play styles these two fighters bring to the game. Mega Man is armed with his trusty Mega Buster arm cannon and other familiar moves like a slide kick and a charge shot, as well as a bevy of specials he’s mimicked from the series’ extensive roster of bosses, including Wood Man’s leaf shield and Metal Man’s Metal Blade. Mega Man’s dog, Rush, can be called upon for a Rush Coil spring bounce to vault out of harm’s way. The robot boy known as Rockman in Japan has the most spectacular Final Smash move of the included characters as well, firing off a black hole bomb which sucks opponents in and annihilates them with laser fire from a team of five different Mega Man incarnations. It was also a nostalgia trip hearing Mega Man’s moves recorded to all of the iconic sounds, especially the authentic “pew pew pew” sound of his Buster fire and the dreaded echoing chime of death when he gets smashed (accompanied by the classic animation of him exploding into a radial spray of glowing particles). The audio samples sound like they were pulled straight from the original NES games.

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The Villager doesn’t offer the same nostalgia, but his move set is unique and true to the Animal Crossing universe. Many of his attacks involve using various tools and objects like a shovel, umbrella, slingshot, tree branch and bug catching net. Although it takes some careful planning to pull off effectively, one of the Villager’s special attacks consists of planting, watering and chopping down a tree to fall on nearby foes. It’s not just a “push this button with this direction” attack. Each stage of the attack can be done at different times, so you can plant the seedling first and then decide when to water it until it grows into a full tree, and then ultimately when to chop it down. And of course his move set wouldn’t be complete without an assist from the Nook family; Tom, Timmy and Tommy Nook appear to build an exploding house around an enemy in the Villager’s Final Smash sequence.

My only complaint from the demo is the simple fact that I don’t particularly like the 3DS circle pad in the context of a 2D fighting game. Not that the game controls poorly, it’s just that sometimes the inconsistent sensitivity of the circle pad makes subtle movements from side to side as well as down presses to drop through platforms less precise than I would like. In multiplayer competition those small missteps could become a big deal. I’m hoping the full game will offer the option to map movement to the D-pad, but I doubt that will be the case given the fact that taunts are mapped to the direction buttons in the demo. If given the option, I’d certainly rather reverse the two to have movement on the D-pad and taunts on the circle pad.

Even with only five characters and a single stage, the trial version of Super Smash Bros. has already entertained me as much as any full 3DS game this year. If such little content can suck me in for a few hours of play time, I’m actually kind of scared at the thought of how addicted I might become to the full game. Getting hooked on a game that looks, plays and sounds this good, though, is hardly the worst thing that could happen.

Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS launches October 3rd. Check below for a fun series of TV spots Nintendo has released gearing up for next week’s big release!

About the Author

Matt Litten is the full-time editor and owner of VGBlogger.com. He is responsible for maintaining the day to day operation of the site, editing all staff content before it is published, and contributing regular news, reviews, previews and other articles. Matt landed his first gig in the video game review business writing for the now-defunct website BonusStage.com. After the sad and untimely close of BonusStage, the former staff went on to found VGBlogger.com. After a short stint as US Site Manager for AceGamez, Matt assumed full ownership over VGBlogger, and to this day he is dedicated to making it one of the top video game blogs in all the blogosphere. Matt is a fair-minded reviewer and lover of games of all platforms and types, big or small, hyped or niche, big-budget or indie. But that doesn't mean he will let poor games slide without a good thrashing when necessary!