While the PS4 and Xbox One continue to sell like diamond studded hot cakes, the Wii U has quietly been putting together a much more impressive array of first party software. Both the PS4 and Xbox One have been lacking in exclusive games, with only a few between themselves. The Xbox has games like Sunset Overdrive and Titanfall. The PS4 has games like Little Big Planet 3 and Infamous Second Sun. Each of the big three have also depended on remakes like The Last of Us on the PS4, Halo: Master Chief Collection on the Xbox One, and Zelda: The Wind Waker on the Wii U. But other than just a few small hits, the exclusive games on the PS4 and Xbox One have been lacking. They make up for this with a massive amount of third party content, something the Nintendo Wii U is weak with. However the first party games on the Wii U are above and beyond what the other two consoles have to offer. Mario Kart 8, Super Mario 3D World, Pikmin 3, Donkey Kong Tropical Freeze, Wonderful 101, and New Super Mario Bros Wii U highlight an impressive library of exclusive games that have been received very well. But anyone who’s a hardcore Nintendo gamer will tell you that they purchased the Wii U for two games.—the new Zelda and Super Smash Bros. In just three games for three different consoles, the Smash Bros franchise has sold nearly 13 million copies. Nintendo has doubled down on this franchise to boost the sales of their console and also remind us Nintendo fanboy freaks why we love the big N so much. And let me tell you, they didn’t just double down on Super Smash Bros for the Wii U, the centupled down! (That would be 100 times for those of us who don’t know)The sheer amount of things to do in this game could go toe-to-toe with any game I’ve ever seen and win. There is so much content, so much verity, so much FUN in this iteration of Nintendo’s competitive and party fighting masterpiece. Nearly flawless in every way, Nintendo, and more specifically Masahiro Sakurai, who is the developer of the game and franchise, has outdone itself and created one of the best games of the generation and the best game the series has seen.
There is just so much packed into this game it’s hard to even know how to cover it all. Let’s start with just the pure fighting, Smash mode. There are 49 playable characters in the game and the majority of them have their own unique feel. There are semi “clone” characters like Lucina, Toon Link and Dr. Mario. But everyone else really plays their own way and each of them is fun to master. Some characters like Captain Falcon and Kirby are easy to pick up and have some success with; meanwhile they still can be mastered to be able to crush the competition. Other characters like Olimar and Ness are hard to use at first, but extremely satisfying to play through the growing pains and come out a smash expert with. There are fast characters, strong characters, strategic characters, defensive characters, and more. Some characters use weapons like guns or swords but still play completely different. Marth and Shulk both use swords but they are about as similar as a porcupine and a doorknob. Samus and Fox both use guns but the fighting styles are night and day. It’s so much fun just to use these characters and pick favorites and master them. The roster is across dozens of Nintendo classics and even some very new games like Xenoblade. There are also characters from non-Nintendo games, with Sonic returning and Megaman and Pacman being wonderful additions. You can also now play as your Mii. You can create your character to be a gunner, swordman, or brawler. Then you can select the moveset accordingly. Many fighting games struggle with character diversity; not Smash Bros. Some characters feel unbalanced at first, but with time each character can be countered and outmatched. Every character looks, feels, sounds, jumps, moves, and plays differently—and THIS is the core reason for Smash Bros success.
There are 46 levels in Super Smash Bros Wii U. Some of them are not as strong as other but again the diversity is impressive. There are fewer levels than ever that end up feeling like throw-away levels. Most of them are fun and competitive. Sakurai made dozens of brilliant design decisions in the game. One of the best decisions was to create the ability to have a “Final Destination form” of every level in the game. Final Destination has been the long-standing favorite level for Smash Bros fans. It’s just a simple stage with no platforms and no nonsense, just mano y mano. So usually after messing around with every level, smash fans will simply play on Final Destination over and over and possibly have a few more they mess around with from time to time. So, instead of feeling forced to play just a few levels only over and over, you can select a level and play the Final Destination form of that level; this creates one simple platform to play on, the same size and shape of the one on Final Destination, but still keeps the look, sound, and background of whichever level you selected.
Another huge design decision that turns out to be amazing is adding 8 player smash to the game. The old limit was 4 characters at once, either humans or computer. However now you can play with up to 8. Not all of the levels are available for this mode, since they would be too small, but you can still play on a good amount of them and there is still a final destination form of nearly every level again for this. There are so many possibilities for pure fun with 8 players. You can play 4vs4 with all humans. You can go 4vs4 with humans vs. computers at level 9. It can be extremely hectic, but in the laugh-out-loud-what-the-heck-just-happened good way. There are an insane amount of items that do massively diverse amount of things. These items can be worthless or completely game changing. Yes, some of them feel over powered or unfair, but that is part of the fun of Smash Bros. And of course, you can go to the options section before a match and simply turn items to high, medium, low or off completely. You can also go into detail and select specific items you do or don’t want. So if you’re sick and tired of that god-forsaken Drill, then just turn it off. Many of the items are a whole lot of fun, and the new additions are great too like the Bullet Bill and Spiny Shell. All the items are from the massive catalog of Nintendo games throughout the years.
Almost everything you do in Smash Bros Wii U give you rewards. Trophies return, as the mainstay collectable in Smash and an awesome memorabilia of Nintendo history. Stickers are thankfully axed, there was no reason for them, trophies are much better. Music in the Smash series has been incredible throughout the years; you can collect more CDs for more songs. Equipment is a new addition. Each character can be edited in the character customization section. You can edit each characters special moves when you unlock new ones. For example imagine Link and his bow. You can have the standard bow OR you can switch to a quick fire bow that can fire through multiple opponents but doesn’t launch the enemy OR you can switch to a power bow that takes a long time to charge up but has immense power. You can also unlock equipment that can make your character quicker, stronger, or better on defense. Pikachu is a very fast character, maybe you want to give him a bit more defense and be okay with dropping the speed a bit. Some equipment gives special features, like starting with a beam sword at the beginning of each life or giving 1.15% more damage with in air attacks. But no matter what there’s always a fair trade off. The character customization addition is awesome and allows for editing your favorite characters to play exactly how you want them too. There are also coins that will be rewarded for various things, more on that in a second. Overall Smash Bros Wii U does a great job of keeping the action going by rewarding you for everything you do.
Brawling it up in Smash mode with friends presents endless hours of fun; even smashing it up alone with the computer is a blast and a great way to hone your skills. But Smash mode is just the start. There are so many other things to do in Smash Bros Wii U. Classic mode returns, but with a welcome twist, you can select between multiple different opponents that give different rewards. After six matches you play versus the multi-man Mii team and then a final showdown against the Master Hand. The great thing about that final battle is how much it varies depending on the difficulty. Master Hand is the only opponent at the easiest difficulty, and then it ramps up with Crazy Hand. It really does get crazy with the “master core”, a shadowy like creature that transforms into different forms and even climaxes by turning into an actual platforming level with enemies and pitfalls. If you’d like to play the tougher difficulties, you must gamble coins. The harder the challenge the more coins you gotta give up, but your rewards will be much larger. All-star mode returns. You fight your way through opponents from different eras in video game history and the damage you take carries over from round to round. There are also master orders and crazy orders. Master orders give you three random challenges at three different levels of difficulty. The harder the challenge the more coins you need to spend but the reward will be greater. The challenges could be anything from beating an enemy 1-on-1 when he has the metal powerup to hitting at least 1,000 feet in a homerun contest. It’s a lot of fun and a quick way to earn rewards as you can see the category and type of reward you will get if you complete the challenge. Crazy orders are similar but with more at stake. To join in you need either a pass, a reward sometimes given in the game, or 5,000 coins. High stakes yes, but the rewards can be great. Just like master orders you can select from three different challenges with an assortment of prizes. Each time you complete an order you can keep going and going for as long as you’d like, but if you die in a challenge you will lose some of your rewards. Meanwhile your damage carries over from challenge to challenge, but 25% of that is lowered. So if you ended with 100% you will start the next order with 75%. And when you want to finally finish and lock up all of your rewards, you have to do one final showdown with Crazy Hand himself.
Along with all the modes already mentioned there are quick pick up and play modes called Stadium games. Home run contest has been around a long time. To play you beat up a punching bag as much as you can, pick up the home run bat, and launch it as far as possible. Target blast is like angry birds but Smash style. Hit the bomb at the perfect spot and blow up as much as you can, you get two shots and the second bomb is larger than the first. Multi-man pits a massive amount of enemies against you; the enemies are extremely weak and can be launched with the slightest attack. There is 10-man smash, 3-minute smash, endless smash and more. All of these game modes are a blast. There is even Trophy Rush, a mini-game that has blocks falling from the sky that you must destroy. After demolishing a certain amount, coins and trophies and more fall down and can be collected. One of the big new game modes is Smash Run. Smash Run is a board game style competition in which players collect equipment, items, and characters to fight with. The game is very complex but fun. There’s a lot going on and at first it seems overwhelming, but once you get a handle for it, it can be a fun diversion from regular Smash. Events Mode makes a return from Melee and Brawl. There’s an “rpg tree” like mission structure that can be tackled level by level. Beat level one and a branch starts out in each direction, now you can continue with these events that always have fun miscellaneous challenges. For example on the Duck Hunt level you need to jump up and hit the ducks that fly by, just like the real game, all while fighting off enemies at the same time. Another event asks you to demolish the Wrecking Crew level’s building before the team of Warios takes you down.
Of all the game modes mentioned, almost every single one of them can be done in co-op. Smash, Smash Run, Home Run Contest and more are competitive. While modes like co-op events, classic, Smash and All-star mode can be played as a team.
Challenges bring all of these things together in one awesome screen. Basically the challenges are like a huge achievement section; except you are rewarded with new CDs/Music, trophies, coins, movesets, etc. The challenges ask you to play in all the different game-modes, use all the different characters, try to get high scores, and it shows you just how deep this game is. Some challenges ask you to play as Greninja and play at least 12 rounds in Crazy Orders. Or another challenge tasks you with killing 110 enemies or more in 3-minute smash while playing as Bowser. Some challenges are pretty easy like the one that asks you to just beat Classic mode once. But others like getting 8 kills in Cruel Smash are truly difficult. Challenges are a brilliant design decision and just a blast to play, especially for completionist like myself.
The online functionality is a giant step-up from Brawl, but still not where it needs to be. But I blame that less on Sakurai and Smash and more on the Wii U itself. If this game was on the Xbox One I could just jump in a party with friends, talk for a few minutes, decide what we want to do, and the entire game would be open for me and my buddies to play—whether that’s Target Blast or All-Star Mode or straight up Smash. But the Wii U just doesn’t have that functionality built in, so Smash Bros Wii U is limited in that aspect. What you can do in online play does work well. I only encountered lag a few times and that was based entirely on the opponent having bad connection. The online modes are simple, there’s for fun mode and for glory. For fun has items, all the levels, and total chaos. For glory mode has no items at all and only takes place on the final smash variations of the levels. For glory mode is also ranked and you can see all your stats and positioning on the leaderboards. All of this can be done with couch co-op or online co-op.
Speaking of stats, even the options and records section of Smash Bros Wii U goes beyond anything any other games have to offer. You can check everything in the stats section. Players can create their own nickname to use while playing the game, all of your stats will then be saved. You can see the characters or the players kill death ratios, launch distance, how much damage was given, how many times you idiotically self destructed, and so much more. It’s sometimes just a lot of fun to see all of these stats in one place and observe who the best player really is.
The graphics in Smash Bros Wii U are stunning. The amount of action on screen between all the fighers, items, and the level itself always looks crystal clear and never dips under a solid 60 frames per second. The attention to detail for the character animations and the effects are phenomenal and unmatched in any fighting game I’ve ever seen. Everything pops visually. Everything looks so fluid. And everything maintains the feel that those original characters and items had in their original games but still have a distinct “Smash Bros” feel. It’s obvious that so much care and love went into this game by the way it plays and looks alone, let alone everything else. And the music, oh my gosh the music! I’m a sucker for a great soundtrack in a game, and Smash Bros for the Wii U has perhaps the best soundtrack in video game history. Now it does sort of cheat, because it’s taking music from generations of Nintendo classics. But the selections chosen are amazing and the remixes brought back from Melee and Brawl are top notch and the brand new remixes are beautiful. I spent hours and hours just filing through the music section of the game. You can listen to any track you unlock and you can select how often you’d like that song to be played while fighting it up on those stages. If there are songs you don’t like, just tone down the dial so it doesn’t ever get played. If there are songs you love, make sure they get played as frequently as you’d like. This customization is amazing and just the pure amount of high quality beautiful powerful amazing songs from the Nintendo universe are enough to make a Nintendo fanboy’s heart melt with pure nostalgic joy.
Super Smash Bros for the Wii U is THE reason to own a Wii U. Not only is it the best game in the fantastic franchise, it’s pure solo and multiplayer fun and replayability make it one of the best games of the generation. If I was banished to an island for a year and I could take a generator, TV, and one game to play I would pick Smash Bros Wii U. And that’s WITHOUT all the added fun you get when you have at least one buddy sitting by your side, let alone a total of eight! The graphics and music make it the prettiest and most audibly erotic game of its genre and top notch when compared to anything the PS4 or Xbox One have to offer. The couch co-op and competitive fun is virtually endless. And the solo madness is unending and always rewarding. The online is good, but it would be nice if it could take all the couch co-op aspects of the game and carry that over for online play, as opposed to just plain Smash. But that one blemish aside, the game is flawless in every way and Sakurai should be applauded for creating such a masterpiece. Super Smash Bros for Wii U is a Nintendo museum come to life. It’s a time machine of Nintendo nostalgia and it’s packed with more fanfare than anyone can imagine. The industry should look at Smash Bros Wii U and be jealous. Jealous that a company can have so much rich history and so much wide-ranging success—and jealous that somehow all of that found its way into one phenomenal, beautiful, amazing, infinitely fun-filled game.
1) Pure smooth amazing gameplay
2) Diverse characters
3) Endless game modes
4) Incredible music
5) Impressive graphics
6) Nintendo nostalgia
1) Shallow online