|System: Wii U|
|Release: October 3, 2014|
|Players: 1(2+ Online)|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D'Argenio
Today at E3 I got a chance to get my hands on the Wii U version of the new Super Smash Brothers… FINALLY! This game was announced LAST year, and we are just now able to play it for the first time. Unfortunately we were only able to play it in a four player free for all with all items turned on in two minute time matches… which made the pro gamer in me cry a little bit. But on the upside, we also got to get into a special Masahiro Sakurai Q and A with a few more special announcements about the game.
The first thing I noticed about the new Smash was that it was floaty and slow… very floaty and slow… more floaty and slow than Brawl. Characters take a very long time to swing their attacks and the delicate dash, jump, and dodge dance of Super Smash Brothers Melee is nowhere to be seen. Make no mistake, this is not Melee 2. Even though Nintendo is trying to make this appeal to pro gamers, it isn’t trying to be what Melee was, and that might turn people off.
That being said, the game was pretty fun. The game appeared to instantly L cancel for you, which is great for newbies. There’s never a reason why you shouldn’t L cancel your moves to reduce your lag and so this lets you get into upper echelons of gameplay quicker. Air-dodging is kind of a combination of Brawl and Melee’s. You still follow your jump arc, but as soon as you dodge you can influence your aerial direction quite a bit. It’s not as jarring as melee’s, like an instant short movement, but it does make a difference in terms of securing positioning. You also don’t appear to become helpless after an air-dodge like you do in melee either.
There is a LOT of hit-stop in this game. It seems like every three seconds the camera was zooming in to another person’s smash. On the upside, you almost always know when you have scored a kill because of this. Characters also now light on fire when they are hit long distances, leaving comet trails behind them. The redder the trail, the harder the hit. This actually acts as a great signifier of when to use directional influence. The brighter your trail, the more important it is to D.I. out of the hit!
Overall, the new Smash Bros. feels a lot slower than previous smashes, and this is a double edged sword. On the one hand, it will make the game far more inviting for newbies, but on the other hand it isn’t appealing to pros at all. There are many times when it feels like every single button you press is unsafe. Press A to jab test a character? You’ll get punished. Attempt a throw? You’ll get punished. In a way this “balances” the game by letting newbies get hits on pros more often, but on the other hand it feels like the game is INCREDIBLY punishing, and that’s just not fun. Maybe it was just because we were playing free for all. As a side note, even the end of matches is slow, as it has to go through a loading phase to get to the match end screen.
On top of this play experience, Masahiro Sakurai sat down to answer a few questions and make a few announcements about the game. The first was a brand new character, PAC-MAN! Yes, the original video game mascot is back, and even has his own stage! His super moves involve pulling out classic characters from other retro games, like Dig Dug, gobbling up other characters, and even summoning his ghostly antagonists! While Pac-Man has a more modern design, he has attacks that turn him into his classic Pizza shaped Pac-Man. Some of these attacks include making a line of pellets which he can dash through, throwing fruit that he can then eat, trampolining off of a wall in his Pac-Man form, and even a standard chomping dash that does tons of damage over time.
Each character will now have 12 special attacks. Each B special attack will have three varieties. So for example, Mario can have a normal fireball, a fire orb, or a fast fire pellet. He can also increase his jump height on his jump punch, or his power, and so forth. Palutena and Mii Fighters, however, have completely different moves to choose from, not just simple variations.
There is also a new equipment screen where you can change a characters stats by equipping items you find in single player. These can alter a characters attack, defense, and speed as you like. The lighter a character is, the fewer items they can carry, so Bowser can carry more items than Fox.
These changes are not usable in online “with everyone” modes. Mii fighters also cannot be used in “with everyone” modes. However, customized characters ARE able to be transported between the Wii U and 3DS versions. As we saw in the Nintendo Direct this morning, Amiibo figures are also usable in the game. Basically, using these Amiibo figures allow you to add special “figure players” into your game. Figure players are controlled by the computer and level up as you use them to fight. You can raise these characters to level 50, far over a level 9 A.I. The character will remember what opponents do over the course of the match and will learn from how you fight, becoming a difficult to defeat computer opponent. You can then take this FP to a friend’s house and challenge him to battle your own personal fighting robot. It’s also going to be cool to include FP in team battles with only two players. Quite a few of the characters will become figures, but not necessarily the whole roster.
The new Smash is an interesting creature of a game. It’s not exactly what the tournament scene wants, but it’s still pretty fun. A great fighting game experience, sure. But the game that will bridge the hardcore and casual to move Wii Uk units around the world… we shall have to wait and see.
Angelo M. D'Argenio
Date: June 11, 2014