THE DEFINITIVE PARTY GAME
Let me set the scene: It is 11 PM on a Friday, ten of my friends are sitting around the big screen (beer in hand) as we focus our unblinking attention to Dark Samus, Wario, and Donkey Kong decking it out on Brinstar. Amid the cheers and the insults, Meta Ridley comes swooping down, knocking everyone off the map. The tide of battle shifts as everyone targets the flying purple foe. In the rush of the excitement, I quickly realized that gaming hasn’t given me a similar experience in nearly a decade. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a force to be reckoned with, merging nostalgia and polish into what is definitively the best party game of this generation.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is Nintendo and Bandai Namco’s second punch at the series, following the critically acclaimed Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS. That said, Smash Bros. Wii U’s gameplay is functionally the same as its 3DS counterpart — if you haven’t taken the time to read our previous review of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, I highly recommend you do so. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Now brace yourselves! From here on out, we are going to be discussing Wii U exclusive content.
Let’s start with the game’s low-point: Smash Tour. Acting as the Wii U’s exclusive mode (and taking up prime real-estate at the main menu), Smash Tour falls flat as both a party game and an independent mode. In an attempt to merge the “fun” of Mario Party with Super Smash Bros., Smash Tour lets players explore a game board to collect power ups (a la “Smash Run”) culminating in a stock battle royale at the end. While none of this sounds bad in theory, the mode is explained to players poorly and quickly becomes stale to a group of players. In many ways this mode works counter to the pick-up-and-play of the series, making it easily the low point and the most forgettable mode.
Following Smash Tour is the disappointingly laggy online play. Much like the 3DS iteration, Nintendo hasn’t managed to match the high-octane, twitch-based Smash Bros. local multiplayer gameplay in the online space. The lag doesn’t render the mode unplayable, in fact many will get used to the brief delay. However, online play is still no substitute for local multiplayer.
Don’t worry, those are literally the only two negatives on my list. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U oozes polish from the moment the opening cinematic begins. From the clean menus, stunning graphics, impeccable frame rate, and noticeable lack of bugs, Nintendo and Bandai Namco prove that they understand how to deliver completed games (we’re looking at you, Ubisoft and 343 Industries).
Undoubtedly the best new feature of Smash Bros. is 8 Player Smash, allowing for local eight player battles (if you can find that many controllers and bodies). While it may be a chore to get eight gamers together in one spot, the result is one of the best party experiences you can get from gaming. The gameplay quickly devolves into sheer chaos — the best kind of chaos. While I have had fun with other multiplayer games like Destiny, Mario Kart 8, and Diablo III: Ultimate Evil Edition, I can honestly say it has never come close to matching the amount of enjoyment from Smash Bros.
Looking past the crazy amount of options for local play, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U offers plenty for those looking to take on the single player route. Adding to the 3DS iteration’s extensive challenge modes and challenge checklists, the game easily surpasses its handheld counterpart. Further, the Event Mode and updated Solo modes will have you playing for hours on end. If you are of the more creative mind, the stage editor (while limited in tools) gives an endless amount of options for stages.
The elaborate stages, well-crafted trophies, and extensive music collection mark the game as a virtual Nintendo museum, adding extra bonuses for those entrenched in Nintendo lore. The clear appreciation of the source content adds to the overall polish of the game. This is a must-have game for dedicated Nintendo fans and a great introduction point for those getting into gaming.
While it is by no means necessary, I highly recommend picking up an extra controller. Specifically, the Wii U GameCube Adapter and GameCube controller is a must have for veterans of the franchise. While Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is compatible with the GamePad, GameCube controllers, Wiimotes, Wii U Pro Controllers, Classic Controllers, and a Nintendo 3DS (with purchase of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS), the GameCube controllers felt the most at home and is the most recommendable.
After playing extensively through all the different controllers, the only option that seemed awkward and hard to recommend is the Wiimote — while those who are familiar with Super Smash Bros. Brawl may be more comfortable with it, nearly all the other controller options are better options.
Additionally, the Wii LAN Adapter is easily recommendable for those looking for the least latency issues online. It doesn’t solve the lag issue, but it does help.
Speaking of extra hardware, I would remiss if I didn’t mention amiibo support. While other games like Hyrule Warriors and Mario Kart 8 are retroactively adding amiibo features, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the first natively built amiibo title. That said, amiibo figures act as a fun but non-essential addition to the core game. After scanning in your amiibo character and customizing them with names and costumes, you can use them as a custom CPU to play with, play against, and train (through rigorous training or feeding them customization parts).
Training your amiibo figures is far more complex than I would have imagined, as it begins to mirror your playstyle and eventually surpass you. For instance, I picked up my favorite character’s amiibo, Samus, changed her costume to Dark Samus and named her “Sammy.” After leveling her up 15 levels, I began to notice that Sammy was taunting me after every kill — a distinct fighting trait of mine. Within another 20 levels, Sammy was pulverizing me, becoming a far better opponent than the standard Level 9 CPUs.
While amiibo figures aren’t essential to the experience, I would recommend getting one if you are a Smash fan (or don’t have others to play with). The amiibo support doesn’t substantially add to the experience, but it is a fun addition and a great beginning showcase for amiibo.
The Verdict: 9.5 out of 10
When it comes down to it, there is so much new, fantastic content for Smash that it is impossible to mention it all in one review. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a must get for any Wii U owner. With the extensive amount of single player and multiplayer options, the game represents one of the most polished and replayable games that Nintendo has ever published. While Smash Tour and the minor online lag is a minor hiccup to this iteration, everything is bigger, better, and more expansive than last month’s 3DS iteration, let alone prior generation’s iterations.
For more information about what the score means, check out our official review scale.
Lou Contaldi is MONG’s Executive Editor. In his off time, he enjoys being aggressively mediocre at Hearthstone. You can follow his incoherent ramblings at Twitter.