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Review | Super Smash Bros. for Wii U

After making its portable debut on the Nintendo 3DS in October 2014, Super Smash Bros. finally launched on the Wii U roughly one month later.

Super Smash Bros Wii U - 1

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Easily the most prominent “AAA” Nintendo release of 2014, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U had a lot to live up to – after all the hype and anticipation, how does the console version stack up?

Suffice it to say, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is simply incredible. The expert design shows in every way, particularly the level of polish and the intricate visual details. There is an astounding amount of content featured in the game, and the superficial perfection is unparalleled in video games – specifically Wii U games.

If the 3DS version was a “taste” of the bigger meal, the Wii U game is the rest of the main course – with dessert and a cherry on top.

Super Smash Bros Wii U - 1

That being said I still do not feel like it is necessary to buy both versions.

If you have become satisfied with the controls on the 3DS version there is really nothing aside from an amazing visual upgrade that makes this version so much better. In fact I like the single player modes on the 3DS version more. Other than that the Wii U version is obviously the superior one.

Super Smash Bros Wii U - Gaur Plains

Additional content on the Wii U version includes extra modes, stages and more. One such feature, Eight-Man Melee (see image below), is absolutely insane. I didn’t like some of the massive stages in this mode (particularly not the Kirby one), but it was an absolute riot to play these chaotic matches with a handful of high-leveled CPU opponents or skilled online players.

Super Smash Bros Wii U - Eight Man Melee

Special Rules return to the Wii U version – you can speed up or slow down the action, add different items such as “Metal” or “Rabbit Ears” to every player, and more. The stage creator is a really neat tool that offers a lot of flexibility, especially with the GamePad as the primary interface.

Looking back, I actually preferred some of the exclusive stages in SSB 3DS over the console-based locales in SSB Wii U, but it goes without saying that every stage looks exponentially more amazing on Wii U. The entire roster of characters also looks considerably more detailed in the console version, especially when paused and zoomed-in for snapping screenshots.

Super Smash Bros Wii U - Roster

I was skeptical about the Amiibo figures until I actually used the Mario that was shipped alongside my review copy of SSB for Wii U. I never thought I would say this, but the support for Amiibo figures ended up as one of my favorite features. Using any of the Amiibos, you can create a customized version of that specific character in Super Smash Bros. The Amiibo fighter gains experience during each battle and levels up to become even more powerful.

You can set up customized moves and even “feed” items to your Amiibo fighter, which increases stats such as Attack, Defense and Speed. Some items even add special conditions to your Amiibo, such as equipping it with a Home Run Bat or Beam Sword at the start of each round, increasing its walk/run speed, and so on. Needless to say, battles with friends and a handful of Amiibo fighters quickly become heated and intense, as the Amiibos are eventually much stronger than the standard characters in the game.

Speaking directly to SSB 3DS players that experienced difficulty seeing on the handheld, the Wii U version doesn’t contain such issues – on the other hand the game can still be occasionally overwhelming, especially during heated eight-man matches. The issue of slowdown comes up during these rounds somewhat frequently, especially when players are spread out across some of the largest of the giant new stages.

Super Smash Bros Wii U - Smash Tour

Perhaps the only Wii U-exclusive content I didn’t care for was Smash Tour; I can’t decide if I liked it more or less than the 3DS’s Smash Run, but I definitely struggled to “get it,” and I felt like the game catered a bit too much to casual players. Still, Smash Tour beats Mario Party any day of the week, and will appeal to fans of that series as well. It isn’t the worst possible option, and might show some long-lasting appeal for multiplayer settings once the thrill of all the other Smash modes settles down.

Although I have done so at many points in this review, I don’t care for comparing console and handheld games on the same perspective – both Super Smash Bros. titles go the extra mile and ultimately stand out among other games on their respective platforms, utterly maximizing the capabilities of the hardware. The fact that the 3DS version ran so well (in 3D mode, no less) is as much of a tech marvel as the gorgeous HD graphics in the Wii U version – but it goes without saying that the added controller options, game modes, and featured content make the Wii U version fare slightly better.

Super Smash Bros Wii U - ThirdParty

If you’re considering picking up SSB Wii U after buying SSB 3DS, know this – you will not be disappointed in the game, even if you’ve already poured hours of time into the portable version. I have been playing some form of the new Super Smash Bros. since late September and I assure you that Super Smash Bros. for Wii U simply has too much to offer for this to become an issue. With more modes to offer and special options to customize, SSB for Wii U encourages the series’ amazing couch-based multiplayer shenanigans, which helped define the Smash franchise.

The handheld game was great and definitely gave me a lot of practice with the new mechanics, new and old characters, etc…..but the Wii U game inevitably feels like the “bigger brother.”

Super Smash Bros Wii U - Bowser Jr

In the end, SSB Wii U is a very rare example of a product that excels beyond personal or subjective tastes, just due to the objectively well-rounded, fully-stacked nature of the game. Just like Brawl, Kid Icarus: Uprising and SSB 3DS, just one glance at Super Smash Bros. for Wii U gives you a clear picture of just how much crazy work went into every last detail.

For that reason, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U stands alone – especially among Wii U games. It’s the Wii U’s system-seller, particularly for 2014. If you don’t already own a copy, pick it up – or at least check out the 3DS version in the meantime.