When the Wii U arrived in November 2012 the range of games to choose from was lacklustre to say the least. The console shipped with Nintendo Land which served as a sampler for all of the new features that the handheld GamePad promised solo players with its teeny-tiny screen and augmented reality tricks.
Nintendo titles are generally remakes or reboots of existing franchises. The skeptic will note that consumers are buying the same polished turds; however, the optimist will squeal with joy as Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a crowning achievement in video game history.
Like all of its predecessors, Super Smash Bros. is a marketing strategy wrapped in the cloak of a platform brawler. Your mission, should you choose to press A, is to be the last one standing on the stage. Instead of a health meter you can take up to 200% damage. The more damage you sustain the easier it is for an opponent to smack you up, up and away. Or, if you are unlucky, you may fall off the map or miss an opportunity to grapple onto a ledge. This, in essence, is Super Smash Bros.
Nintendo pundits love Super Smash Bros. because the roster of fighters is a mix of popular and obscure choices. Fan favourites such as Mario, Pikachu and Link will always make an appearance. And every new iteration also has its fair share of newbies and special unlocks. My favourite of the fresh bunch is, surprisingly, the Wii Fit Trainer.
Remember Wii Fit, that game where you exercise with the Wii Balance Board peripheral? Well, when the Wii Fit Trainer was first announced as a playable character the notion just seemed ridiculous. Fortunately, Super Smash Bros. does not take itself too seriously and it excels when things get silly. After a bout against the Wii Fit Trainer you will never again underestimate the power of yoga.
This version was designed to be played with friends—lots of them. Now you can brawl with up to eight players in the same match! If you are throwing a party, nobody needs to be left out. The Nintendo 3DS can sync to the console as a controller too. While gameplay with so many people is hilarious and hectic, the downside is that your field-of-view is more distant to accommodate for all of the action. Unless you have an enormous television, we do not recommend more than the typical four players.
The stage designs are aesthetically pleasing and capture the magic of their respective titles. The Mario Galaxy map is gorgeous and plays with cartoonish three-dimensional objects, whereas Lylat Cruise is a spaceship that ignores physics as well as the fact that your fighters are not wearing spacesuits.
The immediate predecessor—Super Smash Bros. Brawl—featured a campaign that was just a series of scenarios with different variables to change up the standard dynamic.
Sadly, there is no such storyline in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. That is not to say that the latest game is lacking. Quite the contrary: there are loads of other game modes. Smash Tour is reminiscent of Mario Party and there is a new risk/reward mechanic that encourages kids to gamble... Set the difficulty and wager coins for new trophies and items.
To truly beat this game you need to acquire all of the achievements. There is a special grid in the menu that shows you the maps, characters, items and tunes you have unlocked. The greyed-out blocks surrounding the things you have obtained give you hints on what you need to do to unlock more stuff. This will drive completionists mad.
Critics are quick to point out that the Wii U console picture quality is an impressive and consistent 1080p (something other current generation consoles struggle with). The introduction video boasts crisp colour and smooth animations. Sure, a lot of that stuff is pre-rendered, however the quality of the video in-game is so great that you may watch entire matches without actively participating, just to drool all over the visuals.
Equally as spectacular is the audio. There is so much music in this game too—title themes both old and new, as well as a character soundboard.
Now you can finally use your Mii profile as a fighter. Customise your strength and speed while specialising your attack combinations and choosing the right outfit.
Nintendo have introduced a new product as a supplement. Amiibo is an ingenious ploy to con adults into buying toys.
There are miniature figurines that use NFC (near field communication) to transfer the physical character into the virtual world. The Kirby Amiibo, for example, is a lot of fun and is also compatible with Mario Kart 8 and Hyrule Warriors. The idea is that you have a pet-like friend that can assist you in battle. I spent a lot of time sparring with Kirby, only to convert the little pink doughboy into a terrifying murder machine.
As a casual Nintendo fan, I sometimes wonder where all of these wonderful creations come from. In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U there is another menu dedicated to demo versions of the classics. This is where the marketing veil falls to the ground. It is obvious that Super Smash is a cheeky brand to promote other Nintendo brands.
Wii U console owners should be proud to own Super Smash Bros. because the gameplay is fun, the technological feats are exquisite and the quirky playable cast prove that Nintendo's legacy of creativity is not confined to time capsules (even though the game at its core remains mostly the same).