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First Impressions: Going Portable With Super Smash Bros. for 3DS

Posted by Martin Watts

Anything but a little ruckus

While much attention remains on a home console version of a certain iconic franchise, it's perhaps worthwhile reminding ourselves that Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is now less than three months away and giving us our first fix in the series since Brawl on Wii — we should pay it more attention.

As much as Nintendo is hoping to add some punch to the valiant fight its putting up with the Wii U in the home console market, this is the long-awaited handheld début, a significant event in its own right. While this portable version may be appearing on smaller, far less powerful hardware, that hasn't deterred game director Masahiro Sakurai from doing his best to stuff it full of content that is comparable in scope to its home console counterpart.

At Nintendo UK's recent post-E3 press event, we were kindly given the opportunity to go hands-on with the pocket brawler and see how it stacks up in the multiplayer department, as well as spend a bit of time with the new Smash Run mode.

The first thing we immediately noticed when diving into a match was just how smooth an experience Super Smash Bros. for 3DS offers; it runs at 60 frames per second, with seemingly very little slowdown — if any at all — and sports a surprising amount of detail. It remains smooth even with the 3D effect turned on, although trying to keep the system still enough to maintain the sweet spot is difficult given the frantic nature of the gameplay.

Despite the impressive detail on display, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS naturally doesn't possess the HD sheen of the home system version, nor can it be experienced on a large screen as standard, making it quite difficult at times to keep up with the action. A new feature which adds a bold outline around your character's form helps to distinguish them from the playing field and is useful, but only to a certain degree. On many of the stages we got to try the camera pans out quite far, and with lots happening on screen at any one time we occasionally lost track of our fighters. With this in mind, we felt it was best enjoyed on the the 3DS XL.

In its transition to a system with less buttons and a single Circle Pad, by default, minor compromises have had to be made in the control department. In this particular build, the left shoulder button acted as grab (as opposed to shield on the traditional GameCube Controller setup), and while it's highly likely this game will feature extensive customisation options as per Brawl, it felt jarring coming to it after the Wii U version. The lack of a second Circle Pad — which could, along with the decreased number of buttons, be addressed via Circle Pad Pro support — may prove disappointing for series veterans who rely on it out of habit or for techniques such as performing a Smash Attack straight out of a dash.

We imagine, however, that the controls and the loss of screen estate are things you can get accustomed to over time, and otherwise Super Smash Bros. for 3DS serves up a similarly frenetic gameplay experience to the Wii U version. Compared to Super Smash Bros. Brawl, characters feel heavier, seemingly more affected by gravity, and the gameplay is slightly faster too. Those wishing for a return to the mechanics of Super Smash Bros. Melee may prefer this over the floaty feel of the Wii title, but there's no doubt that it's still closer to the latter overall.

Specific to the 3DS Version is Smash Run, a multiplayer mode with a single-player-esque preamble. Here, players spend the first portion of the match exploring a large stage — which wouldn't look out of place in Brawl's Subspace Emissary campaign mode — battling AI enemies and collecting power-ups along the way. The goal is to boost your character's stats, such as speed and attack power, ahead of a final showdown. It serves as an action-packed build-up to the main event, and while it's unlikely you'll want to go through the effort of it all for every single match, it's nevertheless a welcome variation.

As Sakurai-san has already clarified, characters and items are shared across both upcoming versions of Super Smash Bros. and, therefore, the only major difference in terms of content is the stages. 3DS stages are primarily based on settings from previous handheld Nintendo titles. Golden Plains — a stage inspired by New Super Mario Bros. 2 — bears a resemblance to the Mushroom Kingdom U stage found in the Wii U version, although the focus here is to try to collect 100 coins while battling it out. If a player achieves this, their character turns to gold, becoming ludicrously heavy and far more powerful in the process. It's a neat touch in that it provides a slightly different focus from most stages in which a hazard occurs and players simply have to avoid it (or knock their opponents into it if they're feeling especially cruel).

Based on what we played, it's clear that there's a healthy mix of stage types in the 3DS version; Spirit Train, based on The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, is oddly reminiscent of previous F-Zero themed stages Big Blue and Port Town in that it's constantly moving at quite a pace, and failure to stay aboard the train will typically result in a quick death. Again, the small screen size takes its toll your ability to keep track of the action at times, but if anything this makes for a surprisingly hardcore experience — something which serious Super Smash Bros. fans will likely relish.

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is shaping up to be a comprehensive title, and one which will most certainly serve as more than just a mere portable companion to the Wii U version. Smash Run and bespoke stages look set to offer a fun, alternate experience, and while the chaotic, fast-paced gameplay may not be as suited to the 3DS's smaller screen as it is to a large TV, it is nevertheless still very playable. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS launches on 3rd October, and will arrives ahead of its Wii U counterpart; while we're inclined to describe the latter as the definitive version based on what we've already played, the 3DS game will seemingly offer enough to be enjoyed by itself, as well as in addition to its HD brother.

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User Comments (101)



Megumi said:

Is it just me, or is the 3DS getting the more interesting stages? lol
You know, Golden Plains, and (I forget what it's called exactly) Pac-Man's stage....they're kinda unique.



Caryslan said:

Getting a 3DS version will allow me to enjoy the newest Smash Bros without having to buy a Wii U. So far, everything I have seen for Smash 4 looks awesome. The game plays faster than Brawl, hitstun is back, the changes to the ledge mechanics is intresting, and the new items look fun.

Plus, I love the new character roster. Brawl added the major Nintendo characters who missed the cut in Melee and 64, while this one seems to be more focused on adding unusual characters that bring something new in terms of gameplay.

Plus,Pac-Man and Mega Man is in the game! How awesome is that?



Iggly said:

I'd love to buy both versions as they'll have unique differences, but I'll be sticking with the Wii U version considering I got many other games to buy.



Caryslan said:

Hold on, I just watched the video. Does classic mode now have branching paths? If so, then it may be even better than Melee's classic mode!

I hope Board the Platforms, Race to the Finish, and character specific Break the Targets make a comeback as well



Tsurii said:

@Falchion Super Smash Bros FOR 3DS

@Xiao_Pai They explained that. It's easier to do stuff like that on 3DS, because everyone has his/her own screen. It's probably getting a bit too much, if you have 4 additional counters on the TV screen (for the Wii U version)



Caryslan said:

@Xiao_Pai Honesly, I have liked the 3DS stages more than the Wii U ones. If anything, they seem to have some interesting gimmicks outside of "dodge a stage hazard that can kill you". The Golden Plains stage looks fun, the Pac-Man stage looks awesome and we also get the Balloon Fighter stage, Gerudo Valley, Spirit Tracks, and Arena Ferox! Plus, we're getting back Melee stages like Jungle Japes.

Honestly, I think the 3DS version has the more interesting stages out of the two versions.



IxC said:

All I wanted in Brawl was for the Pictochat level to be interactive. Have 4 people fighting. Have a 5th with a wii remote, drawing things on the pictochat board. Rather than having the cpu do it. Would've been much more interesting.

Now, they have an opportunity to do this again and make it even better.

Have a miiverse stage. 1 - 4 players can play using pro controllers or remotes or whatever. A 5th person has the gamepad, which has something similar to the usual Miiverse posting setup, and have them draw on the stage in real time. And give them the ability to actually submit the post to miiverse (again, in real time, without pausing the action for the other players), with their drawings and the smash characters on screen. When that happens, the post/stage is wiped clean, and you start a new post.

But they won't do it.

Edit: I was thinking of this specifically for the Wii U version. Could work on the 3DS version too though.



Blast said:

I'm getting both but I'm getting the Wii U version before the handheld version for sure.



Emblem said:

If the Wii U version is released any later than Xmas i'll get the 3DS version aswell. Otherwise i'll just wait and maybe pick up the 3DS version after if its worthwhile, i hope they have cross save like MH3 & OP.



Inkling said:

@Tsurii897 Super Smash Bros for Nintendo 3DS.

Will be buying both, but I've been moving away from my 3DS and more to my Wii U lately.



SphericalCrusher said:

I played this version (and WiiU version) at Best Buy. Both felt fantastic! I loved the 3DS Smash Run mode. I played as Lil Mac and although he had issues with climbing the platforming parts of the level, he was a beast. Loved the mode. Also played a 4 player free for all and won a match as him. Can't wait for this game to come out!



coolaggro said:

Will be downloading this at midnight on Oct 3 for sure.

This is tempting me to finally get a 3DS XL...............



Ashflow said:

Missed opportunity to not call it Super Smash Bros. 4 Nintendo 3DS. Exact same thing, except the 4 now has a double meaning. C'mon Nintendo, get your puns in order :/



SphericalCrusher said:

@Caryslan Very well! It was very smooth (60 fps will do that!). I only got to play a few minutes of Smash Run and a 2 minute FFA match, but it played great! I was able to do a few advanced techniques and put together some combos. It also looked fantastic. The circle pad of 3DS was very sensitive - I never had one issue moving around to where I needed to go.

The WiiU version was the obviously better version though. It's the definite buy for big smash bros fans.



shigulicious said:

@IxnayontheCK yeah, I'm going for the WiiU version as well. I just can't imagine playing Smash on such a small screen. I'm sure the 3ds version will be great but this stuff is meant for the big screen.



RIC616 said:

@shigulicious The small screen puts me off too but really like the sound of smash run mode. Little bit torn .... so I'll probably end up with both anyway.



HyperSonicEXE said:

Unfortunately, it still very much plays like Brawl. Very defensive, very campy, very recovery-based. And nothing else.

Combos be darned, I'd prefer to see the absolutely hectic nature of SSB64 back, or even the slow burn-explode into flames methodology of Melee's percentages.

I played that demo at Best Buy, and all I saw was Brawl with an overly anime-esque coat of paint. I'm glad I'm not getting a digital copy.



kingston589 said:

Im getting both versions, but it sucks that i cant do smash atacks with a second joystick :/



The_Ninja said:

SO HYPED FOR THIS GAME! I'm not afraid that I'll lose track of my character, or the inferior graphics (which aren't even very noticable IMO) I've seriously been wanting this game for a long time, and now I'll get it in the mail in 3 MONTHS! I want them to release a demo so I can try out the controls, but not too worried about them tho.

@kingston589 Circle Pad Pro may be your best friend in this case

I also have a question: Will you guys do some sort of tournament when the game comes out? Same for the Wii U version.



mushroomer said:

Found an error in your article
should be "3D effect turned on" not "3D effect turned in"



IxC said:


That's hardly touch controls. Thats a 5th bonus player interacting with the game in addition to the 1-4 main players.

The games menus will be navigatable by the touchscreens I'm sure. And they'll have miiverse integration. So theres some touch controls right now.

It would just a be nice level specific feature.



TeeJay said:

Sounds like every single problem everyone is bringing up about the 3DS version won't be a problem for me. I played Brawl using the sideways Wiimote, so I never had a second control stick to play with anyway.

Also I have a 3DS XL. AND I actually use the 3D effect all the time, cause I live it. Not being a Wii U owner, I don't feel left out at all!



ModestFan93 said:

@Xiao_Pai Only stage I want on the 3DS is Lumious City and luckily we get the even better Kalos Elite 4 stage instead as well as others.



Josaku said:

The thing is, I understand why they went both ways with smash, everybody wants to make money with their product, but except from that the 3DS port dosn't make a ton of sense. Yes the smash run and the streetpass options are great and cool, but making a follow up for smash 4 for a handheld system would have made more sense to me. I know that smash3DS plays really good and it fets the Buttonscheme of the 3DS, but Smash for me was always something I played with friends on a homeconsole and this was what made smash so special for me when combined with a great character roaster, good controlling combat and fun stages. I can't immagine playing this on a handheld with friends over WiFi or streetpass, this just seems so disconnected from everything smash has been for me since the N64.
That said, I think it's obvious that I probobly will buy both versions to show my support, but will mostly play the Wii U version, because of the multiplayer expirience.



Epicnessofme99 said:

Sounds awesome, was expecting it to be fairly good but it's great to hear it still plays well and runs well.



Ralizah said:

Definitely getting both. If I could only choose one, I'd probably opt for the Wii U release, but I am obviously very excited for the portable version as well. VERY happy to hear it runs so smoothly.



ACK said:

The Wii U version is infinitely superior. Don't anyone confuse that fact. The sacrifices made for portability are drastic and impossible to ignore. I would not recommend for anyone to buy solely the 3DS version unless the portability is tantamount to performance and multiplayer (don't forget you will need multiple systems and cartridges to play with friends). Simply put, Smash Bros. was a series designed to be played on a TV with friends, you are kidding yourself if you think it's possible to create a pristine SSB on a portable.



ACK said:

@HyperSonicEXE I would say your first impression is objectively false, but you seem to have already made up your mind that you do not want SSB4.

Either way , there are nuances that differentiate it from Brawl, but it's not like being similar to Brawl is bad. Just because some veterans have struggled to adapt to (or accept) Brawl's mechanics doesn't make it inferior to Melee or SSB64. From my experience, Brawl is more accessible and enjoyable for the average gamer.

Could not get my wife or her friends into Melee after trying fruitlessly for years. They watched us guys go at it for hours nearly every weekend while making fun of our intensity. Meanwhile, they get together on their own and play Brawl on ladies night. And suddenly their competitiveness rivals ours.

The reality is that the community that heralds Melee is actually a tiny, vocal fraction of the SSB community. Even veterans such as me, who grew up with and competed in Melee tournaments, can find much to appreciate about Brawl. Despite the altered mechanics and my own love/preference for Melee, Brawl is overall the better game.



Link506 said:

Will definitely have to buy both versions. And I'm also downloading it instead of getting it physically, this time so I can have it with me 24/7, and never lose it.



thehoppypoppy said:

If I had a 3DS XL, I would consider getting both. But I have the regular instead, so I will wait for the Wii U version. My eyesight isn't great, and I would think so much movement on a tiny screen would tire my peepers out.

I'll save my 3DS budget for Pokemon and Fantasy Life. ^_^



The_Ninja said:

@Caryslan This. I'll get the Wii U version though, in late/mid 2015,that's when I feel like I wanna get a Wii U, unless Zelda got delayed, but the 3DS version is for release.



The_Ninja said:

@Josaku Why don't you bring you friends to one place, then? Sit on a couch, get your face close to the screen, boom. 4 player couch multiplayer.



HyperSonicEXE said:

It isn't objectively false in any sense of the word. And I can only say that, because I've been playing Super Smash Bros. since I rented the Japanese version of the N64 game way back when, played the Best Buy demo, and went home and compared what I played to 64, Melee, and Brawl after I got back from a 2 hour drive.

The character models and hitboxes are very similar to Brawl, for better and for worse. Many are updated, all look impressive as we have been seeing.
The Items function in very similar ways to Brawl, however, the new Items are extremely deadly. In that sense, there are more K.O.'s.
When it comes to the mechanics, however, a lot of the same basic movement and physics principles still apply. Characters take much time to fall vertically, jump animations are as lengthy as 64/Brawl (all jumps were more brief in Melee), high percentages still did not guarantee a K.O. amongst the lighter-hitting characters which resulted in much aerial combat and edgeplay (as Brawl featured), and the motion of air dodges plus the timing windows of shielding remained much the same.



JaxonH said:

Obviously Wii U version is the way to go.

But I'm still buying the 3DS version and enjoying it for a few months before it releases on Wii U. Besides- different stages and Smash Run. Say no more- I'm sold!



DarkKirby said:

Circle Pad Pro support? But according to Sakurai allowing control customization is cheating!

*Sarcasm but serious at the same time because Sakurai actually said that in response to control complaints in Kid Icarus: Uprising.



WaveGhoul said:

there's no way i'm getting this before the Wii U version. This is essentially an appetizer where as the Wii U version is the main course grand daddy meal NextGen OMFG NintenExtravaganza .

I'm not spoiling the fun by settling for a smaller, less impressive, inferior version on the go. I'll be getting this after the Wii U release.
I'd recommend you guys do the same if you own both the Wii U and 3DS.



WaveGhoul said:

This. I think smash on the go is going to make for one confusing eye straining frustration fest. I have the original 3DS(had the XL but i sold it do to the less crisp blown up visuals, not having the 6th unlockable brightness and the 3D effect being not as pronounced or crisp.) and it's tiny screen will not gel with this type of game at all, especially on 4 players in LARGE scale stages.

Smash Bros. 3DS > "What is this? A center for ANTS!?"



JadedGamer said:

Will this have download play? That may be the diffrence wether I buy this title early. Or wait until xmas for my son.



KeatonTS said:

@Falchion The "For" in it is important. Take the online battle modes for example. "FOR GLORY!" It's a play on words sort of. the people who like the 3DS version fight "For 3ds!" And people who like the Wii U version fight "For Wii U!" it's common use of the word when people are fighting for something they like. not to mention the 3DS box art looks like they're charging to fight as a team.



BulbasaurusRex said:

What's wrong with using L for grabbing? You've still got R to use for shielding, rolling, and air dodging, and using L for rolling would be very awkward. I suppose it would make more sense to use Y for grabbing rather than making it a duplicate of X as in all the other Smash Bros. games, but for those of us used to grabbing with Z, most of us (myself included) would probably prefer to keep it as a trigger command.

Personally, I never use those smash attack shortcuts, so I couldn't care less about the lack of a second stick, but for those who do I can understand why you'd want Circle Pad Pro support. Hopefully, Nintendo will allow you to use it as such.



unrandomsam said:

@WaveBoy That might work if there was much else to get. Unfortunately the choice of 60fps 3DS games is very limited. Plus I actually know people who will be awake when I want to play it with 3DS XL's not Wii Us.



SneakyStyle said:

I'm so dissaponted that the 3DS version is coming out so much sooner then the WiiU one, I don't know if i'll even bother getting the WiiU one. The only reason I bought MH3U for 3DS and WiiU was because you could swap your save file between them and they came out at the same time. If this one really is this much sooner, I just can't see it working. People won't want it as much for the WiiU if everyone already played the crud outa it on 3DS.



Xjarnold said:

Very recently my 3ds xl hinge broke and with that+moving, my gaming fix has been all but impossible, I still own my 3ds from 2011, is smash really that bad on a 3ds instead of XL?



AshFoxX said:

I'll likely be buying both eventually but I like playing locally and only a couple of my friends actually own a 3DS. I'll probably play download play from one of my friends who will inevitably pick it up early and make my decision based on that.



CapeSmash said:


The Wii U and the 3DS versions both have different stages, modes, trophies, you can transfer characters between both versions, and possibly even more things.

Also, the Wii U version can be played with actual controllers (which means more tighter controls), and you can play it on a TV.



noctowl said:

@WaveBoy you know you eat the appeitizer before the main course right? The 3DS screen is fine. No one at best buy was complaining about it other than 8 "hardcore" guys who thought they were above handled games. The people there for fun, had fun.

@HyperSonicEXE that's great news. Brawl was the better game.



Kaze_Memaryu said:

@WaveBoy I'm getting both. Playing the 3DS version will be a great experience, and then having the transition from the small screen to the HD presentation on WiiU will be simply mindblowing!



Lovomotif said:

Did they say anything about making a peripheral for amiibo so it can be used on the 3DS?



kurtasbestos said:

This will be my first-ever Smash Brothers game. If it ends up not pleasing the Smash Brothers lifers, I'm pretty sure I'll never notice because I'm super excited just to finally join in on the action!



KingGanny said:

I'm getting both. I have friends who don't have a Wii U and DO have a 3DS. Mostly for my online friends.

As for the Wii U version? Well...Smash in HD and for the local multiplayer aspect. If my best friend and I can just find the time between work to hang out...once it comes out we will relive our childhood. Played Melee for so long...just messing around and having fun as kids. Now we can do it again with a Smash that looks better than ever. (I might have grown up with a SNES and N64, but Melee was the first Smash game I played.)

I remember by complete accident as we fooled around with Star Fox and Link we found that pink bomb glitch thing in Melee. That was fun. See who can keep the bomb from exploding the longest. Quite literally "Hot Potato".



MagicEmperor said:

@WaveBoy Hey, you can't recommend ME what to do! I'm a grown man! Drinks CapriSun

I like how everyone has their own ways of going about this. As for me? I'm getting both at launch, and I'll play both as they come. Yep. Nothing much to say.



Grumblevolcano said:

I hope the Circle Pad Pro is bundled with Smash Bros. 3DS if it is used, though knowing my luck it would probably be the XL one. Either way it seems likely my best chance of getting it is via Kid Icarus Uprising.



The_Ninja said:

@PokeMarioR You do know that I can stop Villager's recovery with Link's Boomerang, Link's Arrow, Link's Bombs? I can also attack with sword but that's too risky. I can also pop dem balloons with Mario's fireballs, Samus Charge Shot, Megaman's A attack (lol), Wii Fit Trainer's Sun attack thing, and so on. If you're going against someone without projectile moves, then you'll win tho.



HyperSonicEXE said:

Depends on who you ask, really.
Personally, I prefer the airI MEAN the N64's more balanced approach to speed and airtime. Yes, there were combos and other assorted brokenness, but it was a normal speed that anyone could get into, and percentages and K.O. power were high for intense, fun battles.



AlexSora89 said:

About time.

That's all that needs to be said in order to describe the mere concept of a portable SSB. Release the thing already!



Shpongled_Mario said:

@coolaggro When I was at Best Buy during the event, one of the employees said that they were going to have a special edition Smash Brothers 3DS XL so I would hold off and see if they announce that before you make a purchase. And remember, they waited til one more before A Link Between Worlds before confirming the U.S. release so just cause nothing has been announced yet by Nintendo doesn't mean it isn't coming. I would hold out a few months like I said, cause then you can get something I'll be jealous of lol. (I got the Link Between Worlds special so can't just throw down on another XL).



Shpongled_Mario said:

@Grumblevolcano Are you looking for a circle pad pro for the regular 3DS? Are they not on sale anymore where you live? They might not be where I live for all I know lol. If you are looking for one though, I have one that I used for mario kart only to make the system bigger due to cramping, and since I got an XL so I have no use for the circle pro and would sell it if you needed it. Might even have the box still but I doubt it lol.



HyperSonicEXE said:

Oh yeah, no joke - those throws were less prone to chaingrabbing and brought the K.O.s. I'll never understand, especially when Smash is a "Ring Out"-based fighter, why those throws were nerfed. Everybody threw far. Some throws in 64 would chain, yeah, but that could have easily been managed and coded out.



Shpongled_Mario said:

@ACK I feel the same way. You're getting 3DS only JUST for oh my god portability of an INFERIOR version! Anyone who goes that route, have fun, I won't take it away from them, but come on. You're kidding yourself if you think smash portability is better than FAR better control options, and much bigger screen to play on. Fighting games are always better on TV. Handhelds versions are the tide-me-overs. Hmm, 6 inch screen with cramped controls, missing buttons, or gamecube controller plus my 70'HD (also 3D but doesn't matter ) on the Wii U? I'll take the 70'! Obviously that's just my set up, but most people these days have at least a 20' screen which is way bigger than the Xl. I'm getting both, but Wii U will be played far more often and for far more years. To me there are games better for handheld, and games better suited for console. Fighting is definitely console due to the fast paced action. These are all my opinions, not at all facts, not trying to make fun of anyone, like I said if you go 3DS only I hope you have a great time and will be down to play.



tiger47 said:

I just hope they have the 1 player classic adventure mode like the previous Super Smash Bros. and a new 2 player story mode like Super Smash Bros. Brawl.

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