This year's E3 was all about the Smash. Nintendo's looming E3 booth was always crowded with fans waiting to play Super Smash Bros., and one of the most popular attractions of the conference was a huge screen showing constant live four-player matches.
It's been eight years between the upcoming Smash Bros. and its previous iteration the Wii. Fans of Nintendo's fighting franchise, which stars most of its popular characters, are clamoring for any new information about the game.
There's a lot more than a new coat of paint on this upcoming Super Smash Bros., which is being released for both the Wii U and 3DS. We're taking stock of what we already know about the upcoming releases, directed by franchise steward Masahiro Sakurai and developed by Sora Ltd. and Bandai Namco Games.
1. This is the first time Super Smash Bros. has gone handheld
Since its first release on the Nintendo 64, SSB has been an console-only affair, staying away from Nintendo's popular handheld line. But this generation will be the first to take the leap into portability by appearing on the Nintendo 3DS at least a month before the Wii U version arrives.
The 3DS version will reportedly run at 60 frames per second, and support the glassesless, stereoscopic 3D available on the handheld, according to Sakurai. The game uses generally the same control scheme players will recognize, with X and Y being mapped as the jump buttons, main moves linking to the A button, and special moves on B.
The 3DS game will have all the same characters as the Wii U version, but will not have the same stages. It will play online and locally with other players.
It's also beating the Wii U version to market by at least two months, as Sakurai said that having to test two games at the same time would be a huge strain on resources. The 3DS version is out Oct. 3, 2014, and the Wii U version is out "Holiday 2014."
2. There are a lot of new characters to battle
Plenty of crowd favorites will be returning to Super Smash Bros. to battle anew, and they'll be joined by some new faces. These are the new characters Nintendo has confirmed so far:
- Animal Crossing Villager: No character from Nintendo's hit simulation has ever been included in Smash Bros.. The villager comes in a male and female forms, and has special attacks like summoning a tree for protection.
- Megaman: It's surprising that Megaman, who owes his popularity to early Nintendo consoles, has never appeared in SSB before, but now we have him. His attacks seem to deal less with hand-to-hand combat and more with special weaponry and projectiles.
- Greninja: Greninja is the evolved form of one of Pokémon X/Y starters, the blue frog Froakie.
- Wii Fit Trainer: Although the Wii Fit trainer is known for getting you toned and tough through workouts and yoga poses, it doesn't mean they still can't kick butt. This flexible character includes a move that allows her (or him, as a male option is available) to regain health while doing a yoga pose.
- Little Mac: This Punch Out brawler is a natural fit for Smash Bros., and Little Mac seems just as formidable in this game as his home series.
- Rosalina: Since being introduced in Super Mario Galaxy for Wii, this new Mario heroine has been turning up in a lot of other franchises. In SSB, she is joined by a star bit Luma that can do extra damage.
- Palutena: Those who haven't played any Kid Icarus may not recognize this new character, but Palutena is an honest-to-goodness goddess, meaning she has potential to be formidable in the ring.
- Pac-Man: This pellet-munching character is truly a blast from the past, but Sakurai said his inclusion is part of his effort to make Super Smash Bros. the "number one character-based fighting game in the world." Pac-Man's attacks are call back's to his pizza-shaped days, as he reverts to that form when dashing across the board.
While they aren't really new characters, Shiek and Zero-Suit Samus were linked identities of Princess Zelda and Samus that players could switch to at any point. For this game, they have become full characters of their own, no longer the opposite side of the same coin, and they each have new attacks as well.
Along with the new faces, we've seen plenty of old favorites drafted for this SSB — but some popular characters are absent, too. Ness, Captain Falcon, Star Fox's Falco, the Ice Climbers and Pokémon Jigglypuff are nowhere to be found yet, though there could be more character announcements coming.
3. Petitioning is pointless. Characters have been locked in from day one
As for the likelihood of fans petitioning for a character they really want to see, Sakurai let an interesting detail slip during his E3 presentation. The character line-up for Super Smash Bros. is decided before development really gets started, so there isn't a chance to add in a character later. That means a character like Greninja was set in stone up to a year before the game he was introduced in was actually released to the public.
4. The Miis arrive, so you can play as anyone
Sakurai said because he has stewarded the Smash Bros. franchise for so long, he has received a lot of requests to make lots of different characters. Fans even petitioned for months to make Reggie Fils-Amie, Nintendo of America's President, into a character. To accommodate these requests, Sakurai decided to add Miis, Nintendo's customizable characters, to the newest games.
Players can make any character they can dream up and customize their clothing. They can also pick from three different attack styles: the melee-focused Brawler, the Swordfighter, and the Gunner. The customization doesn't stop there, as you can also customize the character's moves for the first time, picking from different options to build a fighter that matches your style.
Move customization is actually extending to all the Smash Bros. fighters, with selectable variants in special moves for each character. Sakurai used Mario's fireball attack as an example in his E3 talk, saying players can now choose from three different styles of fireball when building their own unique Mario.
To keep things fair, the game won't allow players to use these custom characters when they are playing online with strangers, only with their friends.
5. Pocket-sized fighters thanks to amiibo
Nintendo is entering the cash cow field of NFC toys by turning its own popular characters into toys, called amiibo. The amiibo will interface with the Wii U's embedded NFC chip, and soon an add-on accessory for the 3DS, to load data on and off a game. Their introductory game will be Smash Bros., and players can use them to load special fighters into the game.
These fighters aren't controlled by the players, but can fight against them or alongside them. Each time a character and its corresponding plastic toy are used, that character levels up. Sakurai said they can become five times as powerful as the traditional computer-controlled characters if they are used often enough.
6. Smash Run is a new head-to-head game mode for 3DS only
This version of Super Smash Bros. adds a new mode known as Smash Run, which is available only on the 3DS version. In Smash Run, players spend five minutes fighting monsters in a procedurally generated labyrinth, with new monsters each time. These monsters — a variety of baddies pulled from Nintendo games — all drop power-ups when k.o.'d. The power-ups boost different stats on your player, and will remain in effect for the following head-to-head battle against three of your friends.
Smash Run seems to be replacing Adventure Mode, though there is no word on if it will make the transition to the Wii U version or if another invention will take its place. Sakurai has already publicly axed the game's story mode after being upset that the cut scenes were being leaked on YouTube.
7. Nintendo is bringing back a beloved classic — the GameCube controller
Sometimes you make something perfect, and then don't realize it until 15 years later. The GameCube's controller is being re-released specifically for Smash Bros. despite it being from a console two generations ago. Still, many players agree it was one of the best ways to play the game, and there will even be a special adapter so it can work with the Wii U.
The controller, and a USB adapter that makes it compatible with the console, will go on sale at the same time as Super Smash Bros. hits the Wii U this holiday season.
8. The Wii U is banking on this game's success
The Wii U is not meeting Nintendo's sales expectations, but the publisher is hoping new versions of well-loved franchises will bring the console back into the black. Super Smash Bros. has the potential to ease the pain, based on the game's success in the past.
According to Nintendo, the previous iteration — Super Smash Bros. Brawl — sold 12.17 million copies on the Wii. The Wii was one of Nintendo's best selling consoles, so it may be more compelling to compare sales of a similarly struggling console: the GameCube. The game sold a total of 7 million copies for GameCube, and was the best selling game on that system. The GameCube only sold 21 million or so units in its lifetime, but Super Smash Bros. Melee's early release in that life cycle has been contributed to its early success.
Tags: 3DS, ENTERTAINMENT, GAMING, NINTENDO, SUPER SMASH BROS, WII U