Super Smash Bros. 3DS / Wii U

SmashBoxAccording to WordPress this is going to be my 100th post! So, congratulations to me.

Super Smash Bros. came out for the N64 when I was in college but it was later in the N64’s life cycle and I had already begun moving away from the N64 as a platform of choice.  I might have never tried the game at all, except some of the gentlemen down the hall were REALLY big fans of the game. I wasn’t especially good friends with the gentlemen down the hall, but they enjoyed gaming and avoiding schoolwork as much as I did so we had a lot of common ground. I played a LOT of Smash with those gentlemen, enough to forge some lifelong friendships and move off campus together the next year (where of course we played even more SMASH).  When the Gamecube came out I bought one and we Smashed even harder. Smash became one of the games that defined my college experience, so it is psychologically impossible for me to not purchase new versions when they are released.

This time around Nintendo released Smash Bros. for two consoles, the Wii U and the 3DS. They are NOT the same game as I originally believed although they do have a lot in common. The roster of characters are identical and many of the levels are the same, but there are unique features to each that make the experience for each game distinctive. The games are NOT cross compatible – you can’t play against a Wii U owner with the 3DS version of the game, although in a somewhat unusual move you CAN use the 3DS as an extra controller for a Wii U.

The game hasn’t changed much since the Gamecube iteration. To get started you only need to learn two buttons – attack and special attack. Pressing in a direction with one of the attack buttons will slightly alter which move is performed. All fighters use the same controls so even if you are using someone new you should be able to get a few hits in. This is in contrast to other fighting games (such as Injustice which I recently reviewed) where all fighters have different controls that must be learned separately. I’ve good results introducing new people to Smash by showing them how to jump, and use the two attack buttons. Both of my boys (Who are 5 and 3 years old) were able to play the game and my 5 year old even managed to beat me once or twice (more on that later).  After learning how to use your attacks, advanced players may learn the other two buttons – block and throw.  These are helpful to know but not entirely necessary for enjoying the game.

Fighting games generally aren’t noted for being fantastic single player experiences and Smash Bros. is no exception.  Fortunately Smash makes up for a somewhat lackluster single player experience by including BUTT LOADS (Figuratively) of different modes that can be enjoyed.  These include (but are not limited to) Classic Mode, All-Star Mode, Street Smash (3DS), Smash Run (3D), Smash Tour (Wii U), Event Smash (Wii U), Special Orders (Wii U) and online battle modes.  Completing each of the modes with each of the 50 playable characters will take a significant time investment.

Fight

You can post screenshots through the Miiverse.

 

So, Smash is great, but what was my experience like?  Well, on the 3DS I played through most of the single player challenges myself and the only achievements I have left are the ones like ‘beat all-star mode with every character’.  I tried a few online matches for fun but never really got into it.  One of my colleagues at work got a copy for Christmas (I bought mine at launch) and we’ve had a few cooperative battles on break, which is a lot more fun than work.  Taking Smash on the road is a lot of fun, but the opportunity to play it doesn’t come up as often as I would like.

The Wii U version of the game is all about the Amiibos for us.  I may have gone a bit overboard with Amiibo fever – I signed up for the Lootcrate Amiibo promotion which netted us most of the launch characters.  My boys both wanted Link’s Amiibo for Christmas ( I couldn’t convinced them to ask for different characters – Link is too awesome ) which combined with the Lootcrate promotions brings our household total to about 13.  I thought the game would be too hard for my boys to play themselves so the Amiibo integration seemed like a good way to get them involved.  It turns out that they are both able to play the game with at least some measure of success and they HATE it when their Amiibo beats them.

My 3-year-old son isn’t entirely sure what he’s doing so he generally stands still while spamming the attack button.  Sometimes he decides he’s controlling a different character than he started with (which doesn’t affect his results any), and sometimes he gets bored and wanders out of the room. My 5-year-old son is a bit more hardcore about it.  He and I have an agreement to not attack each other so I’m often left attacking the Amiibos on my own.  Periodically this strategy results in my older son winning as I take all the damage and he shows up to knock the bad guys off the stage.

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My progress with the Wii U version achievements is a lot slower since the boys insist that we play the 2 minute Smash battles.  I’m OK with that though, it’s a lot more fun than playing alone.  I think Smash will be a popular diversion for the boys and I for a long time.

Pros

  • Lots of playable characters.
  • Single player story mode was enjoyable.

Cons

Is it fun: Yes
Score: 9/10
Length:  ~40 hours
System: 3DS / Wii U
Genre: Fighting
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Kid Icarus Uprising

Date Completed: September 19th, 2012
(International Talk like a Pirate day, ARRR!!!)

In a time not long ago when the 3DS didn’t have any games available except for 3rd party crapware Kid Icarus Uprising was announced for the 3DS.  I suppose I bought into the early hype for the title and while I’ve never been a Kid Icarus fan in the past I found myself believing that Kid Icarus was going to be the game that made buying a 3DS worth the money.

When launch time came closer a 3D remake of the original Kid Icarus was made available as a pre-order bonus and when I discovered that the game came with a 3DS stand I knew I would have to buy it.  I love peripherals.  I’m that guy.

Kid Icarus is a great game with a few major design flaws.  Each level has an aerial portion and a land portion that is played on foot.  The aerial portion is played on rails and is quite fun but it’s a bit too simple to make an entire game on it’s own.  The land portion of the game takes up the majority of the time and it is awful.  Your character (Pit) is controlled with a combination of the stylus, the analog pad and the left shoulder button.  If you are burdened with a normal human hand you may already suspect there is no way to comfortably use these controls together.  For that reason Kid Icarus comes with a stand peripheral to make the experience more possible.

If only we had these things built into our hands.

I found that the stand did help a little bit but the only way to use it effectively is to place it on a table top which sort of defeats the purpose of a portable console.  I played most of the game while sitting on a couch and there was no good way to use the stand.  I did find that the stand makes a really good iPhone stand when sitting at my desk at work so the peripheral is not a complete waste.  I just don’t see myself using it for gaming.

My quest for comfort didn’t end with the stand.  I read up on the Internet and I found that the Circle Pad Pro attachment is compatible with this game.  I finally managed to find a used one for below retail price on eBay.  Sadly I learned that while the Circle Pad Pro does work with Icarus but it only allows you to subject your right hand to the same mistreatment as your left.  If Nintendo had released the 3DS with a built-in second analog this wouldn’t be a problem.  Alas, it looks like we’ll have to wait for the 4DS.

The game has high production values, high quality graphics, an extensive amount of content and an entertainingly cheesy script with lots of fan service.  Missions run anywhere from 15-40 minutes long but there is no way to save progress mid-stage.  Since missions took so long I frequently had issues with the 3DS battery running out mid-stage.  I also would frequently be unable to finish a stage in a single sitting so I’d have to pause the game and suspend the 3DS until I could get back to it.

This game looks great in 3D.

There is a TON of extra content outside of the main game.  Weapons can be purchased, sold, fused and equipped.  There is a trophy board for hundreds of achievements.  There are physical augmented reality cards that can be collected, scanned and imported as idols (which can then be viewed in 3D).  Steetpass mode allows you to exchange weapons with other 3DS owners you pass close enough to (I picked up my best weapons from the Wii U Event).

Augmented Reality!

The game is fun, has high production values and lots of extra content.  The poor control scheme for the on-foot portions of the game keep it from being great.  I think it would have made a better Wii U launch title.

Pros

  • High quality graphics.
  • Entertaining story / script.
  • Lots of extra content.

Cons

  • Controls designed to destroy your hands.
  • Missions are too long with no mid-point saving.
  • Circle Pad Control support is for lefties only.
Is it fun: Yes
Score: 5/10
Length:  ~13 hours
System: Nintendo 3DS
Genre: Action