What I Love And Hate About Super Smash Bros. 3DS So Far

What I Love and Hate About Super Smash Bros. 3DS So Far

Back in the day, I bought Super Smash Bros. for the N64 on day one. In high school, Smash Bros. Melee was constantly hooked up to the TV of our dorm. So needless to say, I played a lot of Smash Bros. growing up. But for nearly 8 years, I haven't touched it — until I picked up the 3DS game yesterday, that is.

Red Is "Go," Green Is "Stop"

What I Love and Hate About Super Smash Bros. 3DS So Far

In the first episode of 90s sci-fi classic Sliders, Quinn (the protagonist) finds himself in a parallel world where traffic light colours have the opposite meaning of those in our world. Thus while driving, Quinn keeps repeating a mantra to himself: "Red is go. Green is stop." After a lifetime of conditioning, driving for him suddenly feels unnatural and confusing.

This is how I felt playing Smash Bros. on the 3DS with its default controls. In games these days, the "A" button (or "X" button on the PlayStation) is almost always the jump button — and on the rare occasion it isn't, the "B" button (or "O" on PlayStation) tends to be. In Smash Bros., however, A and B are the attack buttons while the buttons often assigned as strong and weak attacks — i.e., X and Y — both act as jump buttons. While this made sense on the N64 and GameCube thanks to their unique controller layouts, on the 3DS' standard gamepad layout, it is amazingly counterintuitive.

Also, as pressing up on the thumbstick also makes you jump, I found myself jumping on accident a lot — especially when trying to perform any of my up attacks.

Luckily, this can all be changed in the options menu — including turning off the up on the thumbstick jump — allowing you to set up the controls however you want. And when using the controls that seemed more intuitive for me, the expected happened: gameplay improved, frustration level decreased.

Tiny Screen is Tiny

What I Love and Hate About Super Smash Bros. 3DS So Far

During my stream of Smash Bros. yesterday, I was playing on my original 3DS. And while it was outputting to my TV, there was just enough video lag that I was forced to use my 3DS' tiny, tiny screen to play instead. Did I mention that it's tiny?

Anytime the characters are far apart it is nearly impossible to see individual attacks — and when you add in all the typical Smash Bros. flash and explosions, you'll be lucky to keep track of your own character. By the end of the three-hour stream, my eyes ached from straining to see the little characters — heck, they still hurt now a day later.

Before the stream, I also tried out the game on my 3DS XL. There's no doubt it was generally easier to see what was going on, but there were still more than a few times when the characters were so spread out that I lost track of the action. Given the choice, I'd rather play Smash Bros. on the Wii U with my 42" TV in a heartbeat.

Unique and Varied Characters

What I Love and Hate About Super Smash Bros. 3DS So Far

Smash Bros. on the 3DS has a ton of characters to start (and more than a few secret ones to unlock). I've spent most of my time with the game so far just sampling the vast roster. I had almost forgotten how unique nearly every character is from every other — not only in design and size but in move sets as well. It was a blast just discovering how to play each of them. On one hand we have MegaMan, whose attacks tend to be ranged attacks (even his normal attack is a gun); and on the other, there's a character like Little Mac who almost acts as his own projectile with his lunging punches. Personally, I found myself gravitating to any character with a sword because of the bit of extra range on normal attacks that it grants you.

As for how balanced the game is, I found that a few hours of play is not enough to make even the most basic judgment — they are just too many characters.

Lag, Lag, Lag, Lag, Lag

What I Love and Hate About Super Smash Bros. 3DS So Far

I did a fair amount of online play in Smash Bros. on the stream. And for the most part, it was filled with more lag than fun — despite being on a speedy connection on my end and in the early a.m. here in Japan. One fight was so lag-tastic that it would run for maybe a second before freezing for five. It was impossible to play. Moreover, while lagging, I couldn't even enter the pause menu to quit out. I just had to suffer until the match eventually ended.

Most matches, however, were at least playable. But even then, an odd half a second lag pause would show up every once in a while and throw everyone's timing off. That's not to say I didn't have one or two lag-free matches. They were pretty great — so it really is a shame most were far more aggravating than enjoyable.

Game Modes and Unlocks Galore

What I Love and Hate About Super Smash Bros. 3DS So Far

There is a lot to do in Smash Bros. There are the normal quick matches where you can fight against computers or local players, online matches with items or no items, and more than a few mini-games. You can grand slam the punching bag, play the Smash Bros. equivalent of Angry Birds, or face wave after wave of Mii's. There are two modes worth talking about specifically, however.

The first turns the game into a side-scrolling Metroidvania-style platformer where you must kill enemies and hunt for treasure and power ups while the clock counts down. Then, when the time runs out, your powered up character enters a standard Smash Bros. timed battle with other similarly powered up characters.

Honestly, I found this mode tedious as many of the enemies were a pain to kill. However, there was another mode that I loved.

What I Love and Hate About Super Smash Bros. 3DS So Far

This mode is similar to the classic single player Smash Bros. from the N64 days. Only instead of just picking a character and fighting six random battles, you now are able to choose your path. Some have great rewards but are harder to win.

There is also a survival mode version of this which acts as a Nintendo game timeline as you encounter the characters in the order in which their games came out. However, you have one life and limited healing items to get you through the many battles.

By and large, the point of all these playmodes is to gain trophies, to gather items for your Mii character to wear, to acquire new attacks to customise the characters, and to unlock the game's many secret characters. And let's be frank, it's nice to have so many different ways to play to keep things fresh.

Final Thoughts

What I Love and Hate About Super Smash Bros. 3DS So Far

Do you like Super Smash Bros. in any of its past incarnations? If the answer is "yes," you'll like this one also. It has a ton of ways to play and allows you to keep changing things up to avoid boredom. However, my gut reaction is still to wait for the Wii U version. But if you just have to play the new Smash Bros. as soon as possible, at least make sure you have yourself a 3DS XL to mitigate eye strain. Your eyes will thank you.

Super Smash Bros. was released for the Nintendo 3DS in Japan on September 13, 2014. It will be released in North America and Europe on October 3, 2014. The Wii U version of the game is currently scheduled for a fourth quarter 2014 release.

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    This is the first time I've ever heard someone criticise the control layout of Smash Bros. Though you must have this problem in most fighting games though if you're expecting a jump button to be A/B.

    I have no problem on my 3DSXL screen with the game, but i'm sure there would be on the original 3DS.

    Last edited 15/09/14 9:48 am

      I think the issue is that most games on the 3DS use A/B for jump and this doesn't. It's in line with all other smash titles though, main buttons for attack, secondary for jump.

      I haven't read the above, but my problem (with the demo) is that the controls feel like they don't follow the conventions set out by previous Smash titles. What I expected was L for shield, R for grab, B for attack, Y for special and X/A for button jump. Instead the shoulder buttons are switched around for god knows what reason, and the face buttons are rotated anti-clockwise. It's all just kind of inside-out, and left me spending more time trying to manually think of what buttons to press rather than what move I wanted the character to perform.

        Why did you expect B for attack and Y for special? Smash has always had it as A for attack and B for special.

          Because the letters don't matter, it's the positioning of the buttons. Back in the SNES days it was always B and Y that were paired up as your primary buttons, with A being a secondary thing off to the side.

    This mainly confirms my non interest in the 3DS version. Bring on the WiiU!

      I'm going to get the 3DS one, if I'm still in love with it enough, i'll get the WiiU one as well.

      An upvote for bringing on the WiiU, I am pretty hyped for the huge roster lol.

      This was my first thought from the day they announced it.

      I like Smash Bros, but do I really want to play it on my own, or with lag, or on a tiny screen, or with a (much) less than optimal controller….
      It just seems like a terrible fit for a handheld.

      Smash Bros needs a lounge, TV and four mates.

    I've only briefly played the demo. While I am sure the Wii U version will be the definitive version of Super Smash Bros, the 3DS still has it's place. It runs so smooth and the gameplay feels like a mix between Melee and Brawl. The complaints about the screen size and to an extent the controls are valid, but ultimately I think they're a small price to pay for a portable version of one gaming's most popular franchises.

      Just played the demo now, and I agree. The framerate is amazing, everything is clear, and I'm suprrised how well you're able to see the characters. The 3D is great too - it makes it sooo much easier to keep track of your character, since they pop out a little. This version will do me FINE till the Wii U version release. Maybe longer, because it feels a little surreal to have it on a handheld - and I like it!

    Also, as pressing up on the thumbstick also makes you jump,

    This has been the case since the N64 game. Why is it suddenly an issue now?

      If you're half decent at the game, you won't have that problem. I've been playing the demo for a few days now and never once have I accidentally jumped trying an Up+A/B move...

        Exactly, hence my post. I've never had an issue with the up-to-jump mechanic.

    I wish I liked Smash Bros.
    It's the one "core" Nintendo staple (along with Mario platformers, Mario Kart, Zelda, etc) which I've always disliked.

      Could you extrapolate? Do you prefer more 'pure' fighting games? Didn't grow up with the Nintendo roster of characters? Don't have siblings/friends to play it with?

      It's just about the go to game for multiplayer for anyone that is not a noob, otherwise Mario Kart.

        I think I missed the boat. I played a bunch on 64 with friends, but as a PSX owner I always had the 3rd party controller so, whilst I knew how to play, I never enjoyed it all that much.
        All that was to change when the GC version came out, however! I was going to learn the fundamentals, perfect the controls, and damn well rock the sharehouse! But every time I'd sit down for some leisurely single player to learn to get better my housemates would pick up the controllers and pummel me. I more or less lost interest.
        I know that practise makes perfect and all that, and sometimes being absurdly shit at something in comparison to others motivates me. But my circumstances have changed - I have less time to get together with friends for a session and Smash Bros is all about local multiplayer. As the hype builds I'm just sitting watching it go by.
        There are other fighting games I've really loved (Tekken 3 and Soul Calibre 2 come to mind) but I dunno... Smash Bros justisn't my cup of tea. Whether that's tied up with circumstances or gameplay I'm not sure, but the impending releases of the newest editions just doesn't excite me.
        At all.

      Yeah same, liked the one on N64. Now it's just meh..

    I'll wait for the Wii U version. I have an original 3DS and my god after a couple of battles I had a headache.

    I don't think this game is made for handhelds, to be honest.

      It’s weird because Nintendo are the masters of knowing what works on a handheld and what doesn’t.

      IMO it’s what has consistently made Nintendo handhelds better than the PSP/ Vita.
      Far too often Sony goes “you know what people want, ‘X’ bigscreen blockbuster in their pocket” and in the end you just end up with a poor-mans AAA title that you don’t want to play on a crowded train with poor sound and lighting.

      Give me something bright looking and simple to play but with fun, well crafted mechanics while I’m travelling. I can’t play Killzone on the train and I don’t think I could play Smash Bros either.

    Cannot wait, my pre order receipt is anxiously waiting to be handed in. Roll on October 4th!

    The controls definitely felt unnatural... At first. But I think it was my fault; when I played Brawl, I used a rather strange control layout that placed jump on L, and special on R. The controls on 3DS are fine, but I suspect when I get the full game, I may reset to my weird control scheme again.

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