Ever since the Wii U was announced, Nintendo has been hyping up the release of their next Smash Bros. title and fans have been dangling their tongues in anticipation. After all, this game gets a new chapter only once in a generation and the Smash Bros. game released on the Wii was possibly the biggest and most ambitious fighting game ever produced. Super Smash Bros. For Wii U unfortunately never quite tops its predecessor in terms of sheer scale. However, it does give the franchise one hell of a technical facelift, plays like dream, and is sure to suck up dozens if not hundreds of hours of your life through endlessly addictive gameplay. It is a great game and certainly a must own for anyone with a Wii U in their possession. The fact that it wasn’t able to completely outdo its predecessor was more of an inevitability than a disappointment.
So, first off it’s the same Smash Bros. that you know and love. The controls are the same, the classic fighters deliver as expected, and the Nintendo references are legion. The new characters have all been revealed and if you’ve played the 3DS version that came out a few weeks ago, then you’ve likely experienced them all. Still, there’s no denying that Mega Man, Little Mac, Pac Man, the Wii Fit Trainer, Bowser Jr., and the Duck Hunt Dog fit in so well that it will be hard to imagine future Smash Bros. entries without them. I have to admit that I was shocked when I received a notice saying that I’d unlocked every fighter even though no surprise character appeared. That’s a shame especially since there’s clearly room left open for more fighters on the character select screen. We have to assume that the rest of the characters will come via inevitable DLC. That’s disappointing, but just how the video game industry works these days. Nintendo fans were spoiled last generation when we didn’t have to deal with this. It’s just a cold hard reality that comes along with the improved graphics and smooth online play of next gen gaming (note: unfortunately online Smash Bros. play was not available during the review period, so I can’t comment on it. However, given how well online modes have worked on previous Wii U titles, it’s safe to assume it’ll be just fine).
There’s also unfortunately plenty of extra space left over for additional fight stages that will come through DLC, but at least the levels we have are fantastic. The scale of the largest levels (especially a full 8-Bit Donkey Screen) is pretty amazing and offers massive multiplayer combat in a manner than only a huge TV can contain. Other levels like the Star Fox options feature pretty astounding background animation and interaction. It’ll feel like you’re fighting in the middle of a full on cinematic star fleet battle without ever detracting from the long ago perfected Smash Bros. combat. The graphics have been given a nice boost, playing smooth and offering rich details that show off what the Wii U is capable of. Yet the game’s biggest display of sheer horsepower comes in the eight player fights. That’s right, eight player fights. They’re so massive that only a handful of the stages can actually contain them and it offers one insanely entertaining Smash Bros. experience. You can even have eight local players fighting at once, I could only organize a five player fight that maxed out all of my old Wii controllers, my Wii U controllers, and my 3DS and it worked damn well. The concept sounded like little more than a gimmick when it was announced, but damn is it ever a fun option even though four player fights remains the optimal experience.
Aside from the main fights and customization options, the designers have also tossed in a bunch of other modes and mini-games both to change things up and offer further unlockable trophies, items, songs, and secrets. There are specialized events, that weird batting stadium franchise staple, a classic mode progression with the floating hands final boss, an all-star mode where you’ll face every fighter in order, and a weird board game option (all of which can be played either solo and co-op), Then there are also amiibo collectable statues that can be bought in stores and transferred into the game with the gamepad, offering an alternative Smash Bros. fighter who can be customized and leveled up (Personally, I don’t see the point. But I’m not a child and can imagine I’d love buying a physical version of my favorite fighter who I could virtually play in the game. Plus I’d imagine Nintendo loves the added profit incentives that come from selling those statues as well).
Still, I have to admit that absolutely any complaints that I have about Super Smash Bros For Wii U are rooted in the fact that my expectations were so high. Any disappointments sprung from material being held over for DLC or a missing mode that only I ever liked. The bottom line is that the core of Super Smash Bros. For Wii U is undeniably fantastic. It’s the Smash Bros. that you love, only prettier than ever before and with an absurd number of customization options to tinker with for the rest of this gaming generation. Sure, the folks behind this title could have leaned a little more on innovation, but it’s not like there was anything broken that needed to be fixed. This is one hell of an addictive, deep, and entertaining game that I personally plan on wasting an embarrassing number of hours on over the next few years (in addition to all of the hours that I’ve wasted thus far of course). If you own a Wii U, then you owe it to yourself to buy this game so that the system doesn’t go to waste. Slowly, but surely Nintendo is building up a nice little library of titles for their new system and while their latest Smash Bros. game might not be the system’s crowning achievement thus far, it is yet another must own Wii U title to add to an ever-growing stack of great games. It’s hard to complain about that.