‘Super Smash Bros. 3DS’ serves up fresh punch for familiar series

By Colin McInerney

“Super Smash Bros.” has a long and twisted history. The original game premiered in 1999 for the Nintendo 64 to universal acclaim, leading to a quick follow-up in 2001 with “Super Smash Bros. Melee” for the Nintendo GameCube. Using certain glitches and exploits that were eventually worked into professional gameplay, “Melee” opened the door for the series’s competitive scene. The “Super Smash Bros.” franchise lay dormant until “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” for Wii debuted in 2008, and while it was more accessible to the layman than “Melee,” the overall feel and direction of the game turned off many professional players, leading “Melee” to remain the dominant competitive game in the franchise.

Though it suffers from occasional slowdowns and control issues, “Super Smash Bros. for 3DS” captures the fun of past titles while making new and old characters feel fresh and engaging.

The Internet—and Columbia’s Interactive Arts & Media department—collectively lost their minds on Friday, Oct. 3 when “Super Smash Bros. for 3DS” was finally released. The series has a history of riding the so-called hype train—a mass amount of marketing and content leaks. Fortunately, by and large, “Super Smash Bros. for 3DS” delivers on its promises, an important achievement for Nintendo. In an effort to push its Wii U console, Nintendo is releasing this iteration of the game for both the 3DS and Wii U consoles, with the Wii U release coming Nov. 21. This makes “Super Smash Bros. for 3DS” a marketing tool for the Wii U version so Nintendo may finally make a proper dent in its Wii U sales.

For the uninitiated, the “Super Smash Bros.” series is Nintendo’s flagship fighting franchise. The game takes a traditional side-view with a multitude of Nintendo characters. It takes a non-standard approach to fighting game, where each move requires only one simple input, as opposed to a combination of inputs. Through this, “Super Smash Bros.” as a series generally remains an accessible game to new players, but mastery of these simple inputs leads to an incredibly high skill cap.

The character roster is bigger than ever before with a whopping 49 different options, one of which is a customizable character with three different move sets. For comparison, “Super Smash Bros. Brawl” had 39 characters, one of which could transform and another that could transform twice, for a total of 42 different move sets. While many of the characters in the current installment are the same ones from “Brawl,” many characters have been rebalanced and retooled. Characters that were once useless are now as powerful as the next, and characters that were previously overpowered have been reined in without feeling wimpy.

The game suffers a bit from its small screen, removing the joy past games have given of playing with friends on a couch, staring at a big-screen TV. The circle pad on the 3DS is not as precise as a full analog stick, causing a few missed inputs on occasion. The game probably will not survive well in the competitive scene for these reasons unless the upcoming new iteration of the Nintendo 3DS offers more precise controls.

Altogether, “Super Smash Bros. 3DS” is exactly what it should be: a simple-to-grasp, hard-to-master fighting game. Its high skill cap—the total time investment in mastering each character and mechanic—will keep players hooked for a long time, as will its ease of playing with others. Using both local and online wireless, it allows for largely seamless fights with friends and strangers alike. If nothing else, it serves as a perfect taste of what is to come for the later Wii U version, which will undoubtedly stand taller with its use of a bigger screen, full-sized controllers and high-resolution graphics. If, however, you are looking for your “Super Smash Bros.” fix sooner, “Super Smash Bros. for 3DS” will do more than suffice.