When the demo codes were released, I tried to keep myself contained. I hadn’t been forwarded a code by Nintendo (though given the amount of money I’ve dropped in the Virtual Console store alone, what the hell Nintendo?) and so I was happy to wait. Then people started saying that they’d been given extra codes and were throwing them out on social media everywhere. Again, I kept myself composed and decided not to resort to begging just to get hold of a demo. When my fiance came home and announced that she’d received a code from a friend, I made sure I had one as well before she’d even started installing. I held out as long as I could, wanting to save myself for the full game, but I’m glad I caved.
Link still practically dances his way across the battlefield.
The demo only offers your standard 2-minute timed match, no five-life stock matches I’m afraid. You’re also restricted to playing solo games or in groups via local wireless, there’s no online play available. That being said, it’s still been enough to have me playing in every spare moment. This is probably the most limited demo I have ever played and yet, hands down, it is easily the demo I have put the most time into. I’ve played this thing more than I’ve played some full-sized games and I haven’t even had it a whole week yet. The demo has clearly been designed to not give you everything at once, creating a small incentive to keep playing the same thing over and over. It works.
The combat speed is probably somewhere between Melee and Brawl, which I’m glad for because Brawl was painfully slow in my opinion. Attacks can block and be blocked much easier than in previous titles, making anticipating your opponents moves crucial to victory. The veteran characters, Mario, Link and Pikachu, all have much the same move sets as they always have, including Final Smash. The only noticeable differences will have been the damage ratio of each move. Pikachu’s Ball Lightning Final Smash, for instance, lasts much longer than it did in Brawl, but causes far less damage. Game-breaking, unbalanced, annoying as hell Smash-Ball moves aside, the fighters seem to have been altered to make them all far more balanced over-all.
The demo also features two of the new-comers: Megaman and The Villager (dibs on that for my band name, by the way.) Unlike some of the additions to Brawl, it appears that some measure of thought has actually been put into how these new characters will control. Megaman, for instance, appears to move around in the same visual style as he did from his original titular series. However, his movement still feels quite free and there are more than enough projectiles in his move set to keep opponents at bay. The Villager, as well, is quite a skillful fighter, as evidenced by how much difficulty I have while fighting him, but I… I’ll get back to him…
Let’s just.. talk about something else for now.
Visually, the game is fantastic and I’m actually quite relieved to be able to say that earnestly. The 3DS, of course, is perfectly capable of giving us a visually appealing game and SSB4-3DS certainly is that. I was worried, however, between the fast-paced combat and a camera perspective which is frequently epileptic at best that the game might be a blurred mess. Having thick, comic-style outlines around each of the characters definitely helps to see where you are on screen, particularly when the camera zooms out. Once the screen does zoom out it can occasionally be difficult to see your character amid the chaos, though this isn’t really different from any others in the franchise.
Battlefield is the only stage available to play at present, which fans familiar with the series will recognise as a “No Frills” stage. A single floating island, three platforms and no environmental hazards or features, which suits me just fine. Final Destination was my favorite stage from Melee, so having a barren platform to fight on is ideal for me. All stages, however, are now split between Normal and Omega versions. Normal stages will allow you to experience each stage’s wacky, ridiculous, fight interfering nonsense that goes on in the background (with items, of course.) Omega (or “superior”) versions are basically Final Destination with that stages appearance and wacky background, except the wackiness stays in the background where it belongs.
The items, admittedly, are pretty fun when you’re not playing with any sense of serious competition. The cucco from Zelda is probably my favorite, tossing it at opponents as a beacon for attack cuccos to home in on from off screen. It’s things like the dreaded homing cluster-cucco that show how the developers have really tried to maintain the spirit of the games they draw from. Indeed, the unusual conglomeration of items that show up in SSB games actually go a long way to creating a unique “what if” atmosphere of those games. Without the full roster of characters and stages to enjoy either, having the items has helped a lot to keep the demo fresh.
Sometimes it’s all that stands between you and Oblivion – that is the name that I have given to “The Villager,” his mortal name insufficiently describing his nature and intent. Did you know his B-move is to suck literally anything into his pocket? I don’t just mean physical objects, I’ve watched him suck tornadoes in there as though he had some kind of interdimensional vacuum stored next to his willy. He’ll casually toss those things back at you later, as well, but only the last thing he picked up. Lord knows what happens to the other items, but they’re never seen again. Do you understand why I had to rename him? Why I’m telling you all of this? The Villager will end us ALL.
Even still – super psyched for this game.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS releases in Australia on October 4, 2014.