Does it Hold Up? - Super Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS

Does it Hold Up? - Super Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS

With the latest entry in the Smash Bros. franchise now a year old, let's examine how well it has held up since launching in 2014.

Few games are as weirdly divisive as Super Smash Bros. For a game predicated entirely on celebrating Nintendo's history while being fun - something that shouldn't be all that controversial - it has a lot of detractors, some of whom are on this very staff.

But on the flipside, very few fanbases are as loyal as those who support Smash Bros. They're passionate to the point that they've basically willed a competitive scene into existence,, and they will keep playing Smash Bros. no matter what, even if they still seem to prefer the 15-year-old Smash Bros. Melee. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's help up, though. Just ask those who remember the controversy around Smash Bros. Brawl.

With that in mind, let's take a look and see where Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS stands after a year.

What we said at the time

From my review of the Wii U game: "As a tribute to all things Nintendo, Super Smash Bros. can hardly be topped. The attention to detail afforded to its characters is matched only by the comprehensive nature of its soundtrack and stage selection. On top of that, the Wii U brings with it a huge amount of single-player and multiplayer content, putting it a notch above its similarly strong handheld counterpart. Running through Classic Mode and the like to unlock characters can be the tiniest bit tedious, and the Amiibos don't stand out as a particularly worthy addition, but there's otherwise very little to complain about in this excellent high-definition update of Nintendo's much-loved mash-up."

As for the 3DS version, I felt that it was a technical marvel, but that it was a bit lacking in terms of single-player content. The two games wound up being quite different from one another, with the 3DS version featuring the same roster but very different stages, and the Wii U version having a much larger selection of solo content (funny, you'd think it would be the opposite). Ultimately, though, they played pretty much the same.

In hindsight...

The 3DS version has actually held up better than I expected. Once the Wii U version came out, I figured that the 3DS version would go to the wayside and that would be that. Instead, some of my friends wound up purchasing the 3DS version, while others ended up getting the Wii U version, and the one that has gotten play has depended greatly on who I've hung out with.

As for the Amiibo functionality, I overlooked its potential as a training tool for hardcore players. On the face of it, the Amiibo support didn't look like much - just an opportunity to have slightly smarter A.I. opponents. But what I didn't count on was advanced players developing insanely detailed training guides that would turn Amiibos into highly-developed killing machines. But then, this is the Internet, so I probably shouldn't have been surprised.

Another feature that has turned out to be better than expected is the eight-player mode. Sure, it's not a primary mode, but it's nice to be able to get everyone playing as a large party or event. It wasn't long ago that I was at Folsom Street Foundry's weekly gaming night and I got to play with a large group of randomly players, a fight that was eventually whittled down to three and became a really intense battle among the best of the group. I lost, but I still had a lot of fun.

One feature that hasn't been as good as I would have hoped - the online play. Sure, it's fine for the most part, but I've had my share of sessions that have been unplayably laggy, with even decent matches feeling a tad slow at points. The 3DS version has been particularly bad on that front. True, it's much better than the Wii version, but "better" isn't quite good enough.

The content since release

Smash Bros. has gotten a truckload of new content since launch, some of it legitimately shocking. If you had told me a year ago that Cloud would eventually make it to Smash Bros., I probably wouldn't have believed you. Ryu too! Sure, this is Smash Bros. we're talking about, which means that pretty much anything is in play, but that doesn't dimish how crazy it is that these characters are actually on the roster.

Along with the new characters have come downloadable stages like the Nintendo 64's Hyrule Castle, as well as a really nifty stage based on Super Mario Maker. The new characters have also gotten their own stages, with Cloud fighting in Midgar, and Ryu battling in Suzaku Castle. Alas, there has been no new solo content since launch, which is a shame because the 3DS version in particular could kind of use it. But the roster updates have kept things relatively fresh.

So does it hold up?

So far Super Smash Bros. 4 seems to be holding up better than Brawl, which was divisive almost as soon as it launched. It doesn't appear to have overtaken Smash Bros. Melee in the competitive scene, but that's not surprising. After 15 years, Melee appears to be as ingrained as Third Strike is in the fighting game community. There will always be people who prefer one version over the other.

With that said, I'm not a part of that community, and I'll admit that it's been a while since I've plugged in Smash Bros. I'm not one to hang out and play it online, so Smash Bros. really only comes out when I have friends over to visit; and even then, Towerfall or even Hearthstone can end up taking priority. I still play with a friend of mine in L.A. from time to time, but he's gotten so good that there are some matches where I literally can't get a kill on him. The gulf in this game between the dedicated players and more casual fans like myself can be immense.

Ultimately, Smash Bros. seems to occupy roughly the same space in the public eye as Mario Kart 8, which is to say that it tends to lie dormant until someone digs it out at a party and everyone remembers how much they like it. Having said that, I'm probably underselling how well the competitive community has been doing over the past few years. At at EVO 2015, Smash Bros. broke all fighting game event record with 217,000 combined viewers, which must have driven the notoriously prickly fighting game community crazy.

In that light, of course it has held up. But lest we assume that it's a given that Nintendo party game will always hold up, recall that Mario Kart for the Wii was derided and abandoned almost as soon as it came out. It was never a given that Smash Bros. 4 would continue to get play after a year.

In hindsight, perhaps the most surprising aspect of Smash Bros. (and Mario Kart 8) is how well Nintendo has supported it with downloadable content. Some DLC was expected, but they've managed to hit a couple pretty significant homeruns with their roster additions, which in turn has spurred considerable interst in Smash Bros. It's a shame that Pokémon hasn't followed in its footsteps.

Given all that, even with the NX likely just around the corner, I think it's safe to say that people will be playing Smash Bros. for a while, even if they don't necessarily play everyday.

Verdict: Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS is still a lot of fun to play, and it has a strong fanbase that has held steady since launch. The excellent DLC and Amiibo support pushes it over the top.

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Kat Bailey

Editor in Chief

Kat Bailey is a former freelance writer and contributor to publications including 1UP, IGN, GameSpot, GamesRadar, and EGM. Her fondest memories as a journalist are at GamePro, where she hosted RolePlayer's Realm and had legal access to the term "Protip." She is USgamer's resident mecha enthusiast, Pokemon Master, and Minnesota Vikings nut (skol).

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