Super Smash Bros. is the number one reason I would actually buy a Wii U; I just can’t get enough of beating down family and friends alike before sending them flying off the side of the map.
So you can imagine my excitement at rAge this year when I managed to pick up the controls long enough to go head to head with my archnemesis, Matthew Fick.
The character select screen showed all the familiar faces you may expect; the likes of Pikachu, Jigglypuff, Marth, Bowser, Fox and Samus were all present and accounted for.
Some new challengers had emerged as well, however, such as Little Mac and the hilarious Wii Fit Trainer, which all but screamed Nintendo’s need to develop some new IP to fill out the Smash Bros roster.
That being said, Matt used said trainer to wipe the floor with me in our first match, with a mixture of humiliating yoga poses and stretches. Damn you, Wii Fit Trainer, you grey-skinned freak.
As for the gameplay itself, in a lot of ways it felt as you’d expect, you knew you were playing a Smash Bros. game after the first round of punches had been traded.
That being said, it didn’t have the lumbering, anaemic pace that turned fans away from Brawl – it was more responsive and more fast-paced, delivering more of a classic Smash experience.
That being said, those hoping for the blistering pace of Melee will be disappointed – this is still at its heart hoping to deliver to casual and competitive players alike, but without the aggressive neutering we saw in Brawl.
For a less experienced player like myself, it struck a good balance between the two games. Players can do just fine with a good old button mashing, but learning the intricacies of the game to formulate a more calculated offense will reward those with the patience to do so.
After a few rounds of getting my head kicked in by various rAge attendees who’d been hanging out at the stand most of the day (at least, that’s what I told myself), I managed to fight back with more considered combos and less furious hammering of the buttons.
We used a GameCube-style controller for the game, and the controls felt great. Once you got the feel for the buttons and how to control your character appropriately, the game felt smooth and easy to control.
One nice addition for n00bs such as myself is the ability to use the c-stick to deliver a powerful Smash attack, which soon had me gleefully knocking everyone off the side of the map.
As much as I enjoyed duelling Matt, the game’s chaotic four-player mode was a blast, with various alliances forming on the fly to take out whatever hapless sod happened to be sitting on 100%+.
The items that randomly appear on the maps only added to the madness; I often found myself not quite knowing what the hell anything was going to do until I used it (or had it used against me) with varying degrees of success.
The maps themselves proved to be treacherous as well, with different timed events and pitfalls appearing out of nowhere to disrupt the gameplay and ruining a player’s day when caught off-guard. It seems like the kinds of things that the casual players will love, and the hyper-competitive players may elect to switch off in order to reduce variance.
Ultimately, I think Smash Bros. Wii U is likely to be adored by fans and newcomers alike. Nintendo have struck a good balance which is likely to keep both sides happy, while keeping the core gameplay that has made the franchise a hit and including some intriguing new characters and features to keep the game feeling fresh.
It’s hard to imagine this game isn’t going to be a must-buy for any Wii U owner, and may very well give the console a big sales boost, as we saw happen with Mario Kart.