Super Smash Bros is a franchise that I’ve devoted a lot of time to.  I never owned an N64 (criminal, I know), but I played a lot of the original Smash.  Melee is easily in my top five games in terms of time played.  Hell, I treasure the memory card I have where I’m two trophies short of 100%.  Brawl is the last game I ever waited in a midnight line for.  I even played in a tournament at my GameStop while waiting in line (shout out to my roommate who came in second place).

But, even with all of that, I wasn’t that excited for Super Smash Bros on 3DS.  The couple of action-based 3DS games I’ve played, Kid Icarus and Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate, just didn’t feel great.  My final verdict?  Super Smash Bros on 3DS is a very solid game and a great step in the Smash franchise, but the inherent lack of local multiplayer and horribly laggy online multiplayer hurts it dramatically.

It's certainly no less chaotic.
One thing that hasn’t suffered is the chaotic play.

  • TL;DR: More of the Smash you know and love with some great additions, but multiplayer unfortunately isn’t buttoned up
  • Platform: 3DS
  • Score: 8.2
  • Hours Played: 15
  • What I Played: Unlocked all characters and stages, finished all page 1 challenges, finished classic with ~15 characters, tried all modes and characters
  • Recommended?: If you have a lot of friends with 3DSes, absolutely.  If you don’t but really like single player, then sure.  Otherwise, maybe wait for the Wii U version.

I usually open my reviews with the basic premise and story setting for a game.  But, this is Smash Bros. You know the deal.  Characters from all over the gaming world are fighting for the hell of it.

At a basic level, Smash Bros on 3DS seems a bit slower and more deliberate than Melee or Brawl.  It just doesn’t seem quite as quick.  The controls are incredibly tight and responsive, which I was surprised about.  Far too many characters have counter moves, which gets pretty annoying.  Level 9 Marth seems unusually fond of it.  Unfortunately, the 3DS doesn’t have a C-stick like the GameCube controllers I’ve practically ground into dust from overuse, so quick smashes don’t exist.  The New 3DS (I still can’t believe it’s officially called that) will have one, which I think will cause quite a rift in online play.

Speaking of online play, this is where the game really fails.  Playing local multiplayer with others in the room on their own 3DSes works perfectly.  There is no lag to speak of, even with my crappy router.  Standard online play, though, is horrible laggy.  I mentioned that my router is horrible, but I’ve heard from enough friends to know that it’s a widespread problem.  In the matches I played online, I had as many disconnects as I did matches completed.  A few matches went pretty smoothly, but one had a full second or two of lag between input.  The most fun aspect of Smash Bros to me has always been local multiplayer, which is hamstrung in the fact that each player most now have their own system and copy of the game.  I’ll probably buy the Wii U version in hopes of resurrecting that fun.

Mega Man joins the battle!
Mega Man joins the battle!

The question I keep hearing the most is, “how is [INSERT NEW FIGHTER HERE]?”  I’ve tried every character and I like most of them.  There’s no way for me to tag a section as as spoiler, but I’m going to give a few quick notes on each new fighter in this next list.  You’ve been warned.

  • Bowser Jr. — His alternate costumes are the Koopalings and the announcer even says the correct name.  So cool!  He flies around in Bowser’s flying thing from Super Mario World and is both quick and strong, but his final smash is pretty weird
  • Dark Pit — Why is Dark Pit even a thing?  Pit is shitty enough, in my opinion, and a slightly slower/stronger palette swap was far from necessary.
  • Duck Hunt — My original reaction was “HELL YEAH” but after playing against him/them, Duck Hunt is pretty annoying.  The constant clay pigeons and exploding cans are super annoying.  Also, they are a true pair unlike Ice Climbers or Rosalina & Luma where both characters can act independently.
  • Greninja — My starter in Pokemon Y is pretty quick and most of his moves remind me of a ninja (GET IT?!).  And yes, that is a tongue, not a scarf.  Gross.
  • Little Mac — It’s criminal that his Final Smash doesn’t involve the trademark trainer or bicycle, but Little Mac is pretty fun.  He’s very quick and has a unique KO meter that fills up as he deals and takes damage.  Landing a fully-charged KO is … well, it’s a KO.
  • Lucina — Similar to Dark Pit in that she seems like a slightly slower palette swap of Marth.  Her final smash is even the same as his, the Critical Hit.  Listen, I’m all about the GBA/DS/3DS Fire Emblem games, but it’s time to stop adding sword fighters to Smash.
  • Mega Man — Now we’re talking.  Mega Man, depicted in his old-school NES format not the X format, is really fun to play with.  He even has a unique death animation, exploding into pulsing orbs just like in Mega Man games.
  • Pac-Man — Surprisingly fun to play with.  It brought back memories of this awesome PC game I used to play, Pac-Man World.  His moves are really cool, whether it’s the trademark ghosts in his smash attacks or his over-B creating a path of pellets to dash through.  Pac-Man’s final smash is, of course, turning into giant Pac-Man.
  • Palutena — Palutena is very strong but very slow, and has two non-offensive moves in her counter and reflect.  Meh.
  • Robin — I mentioned we should stop adding Fire Emblem characters to Smash.  Well, we can keep Robin.  Keeping with how Fire Emblem: Awakening went, Robin uses both a sword and a tome to attack.  His/Her final smash involves Chrom, who fans were clamoring to be a separate fighter.
  • Rosalina & Luma — Taking up the mantle of dual characters from the Ice Climbers, Rosalina & Luma are fun to play.  Luma not only helps with smashes but can be shot out like a projectile.  Luma also changes colors and I’m not quite sure what that entails.
  • Shulk — Shulk is a very strange character.  He is the main character of Xenoblade Chronicles, a beloved Wii game, and has different stances that alter his stats.  I think with some practice he could be lethal.
  • Villager — When Villager was first revealed, he spawned endless memes about his soulless stare.  In practice, he’s pretty tough to use thanks to his short range and strange attacks.  His up-B pays homage to the NES classic Balloon Fight.
  • Wii Fit Trainer — WFT attacks with yoga moves, which is weird and cool at the same time.  He/She can heal, as well.
Many of the old standbys are back, as well.
Many of the old standbys are back, too.

As is customary in Smash games, there is plenty to do besides regular Smash mode.  Classic mode is back, with a slight variation in that it’s only five stages with a difficulty slider.  You’ll earn gold while playing, which can be used as a buy-in for harder difficulties, to buy trophies, and more.  Also, there is a credits mini-game.  Woo!  The typical stadium events, like Multi-Man Smash and Home Run Contest, are back with the exception of Break The Targets, which has been replaced with Target Test.  You’ll have two chances to beat up a large bomb and send it flying towards a layout of targets, which can cause a chain reaction of falling debris.  It’s basically a mini version of Angry Birds.  Personally, I loved the challenge of trying over and over to find the perfect route in Break The Targets.

One very interesting idea is the addition of both Mii Fighters and customizable regular characters.  In addition to trophies, you’ll unlock equipment to increase the attack, defense, and speed of any Mii Fighter you create.  You can also outfit them with headgear and a single-piece full outfit and choose their full array of B moves.  It’s a cool idea, but I’m not that blown away by it.  On top of that, standard characters can be outfitted with gear to modify their stats.  I read a pretty interesting thread on Reddit about why custom characters should be allowed in tournaments, which I think should be allowed, but I’m not sure I see that catching on, either.

Even though Smash Bros means intense action, the 3D holds up incredibly well.  I think the addition of dark black outlines around each character (which can be turned off if you choose) helps keep everything visible.  Graphically, everything is sharp and bright.  The same audio tidbits you’ve been hearing for years make a triumphant return on 3DS: Falcon Punch, a home run swing connecting, a well-timed counter.  Hearing music from games you haven’t played in years is always great, too.

And then there is the ribbon dancing easter egg level.
And then there is the ribbon dancing / hula hoop easter egg level.

So, should you buy Super Smash Bros for 3DS?  It depends.  The gameplay is very solid and most of the new characters are fun to play with.  Controls on the 3DS are absolutely not an issue and there is plenty to do outside of regular smash play.  But, if you live for the local multiplayer of Smash Bros like I do, you may be disappointed.  Since this isn’t a console release, you can’t simply have friends over to play.  Anyone who wants to play local multiplayer must own their own 3DS and copy of Smash Bros.  If you have that situation, then I’d say this is a must-buy.  Otherwise, I’d still recommend it, but I’ll be looking for the Wii U version to really make an impact.  If anything, Super Smash Bros on 3DS has reinforced my desire to own a Wii U.


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