Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS Review


There’s nothing quite like the hype that the release of a new Super Smash Bros. brings. The months of speculation, the leaks and drip-fed character reveals stir up the fanbase something fierce. Relax, it’s almost over.

Now with two Smash Bros. games on the way the hype is off the charts. However, many were worried that a portable Smash Bros. just wouldn’t cut it. Could the Smash Bros. experience be translated to the small screen? I’m happy to report that it can and it’s a sight to behold.

Note: this review may contain what could be considered spoilers.

Though you’re probably buying the game for the core Smash component, there’s quite a lot more to this release. The game manages to feel completely filled with content but at the same time having less guff than say Brawl on the Wii. It harks back to the Melee or even the original N64 version in being streamlined, it does what it does and it does it well.

The formula of Super Smash Bros. is well known, but if you’ve never played one before all you need to know is that it’s a fighting game – but entirely different from most. Instead of health bars, you have a percentage, the higher the percent the more vulnerable you are to getting smashed off the stage. The twist is the game is filled with Nintendo characters, Nintendo arenas and even video game characters that aren’t Nintendo but make sense in their inclusion. If you told someone in the 1980s that Mario, Megaman, Sonic and Pac-Man would all be in the same game together and beating the crap out of each other you’d be committed.

Smash is the nuts and bolts of the game and where you can go quickly to setup a match with the CPU or with other players. Setting up a game is easy and there’s a ton of options that you’re used to from stock matches, timed matches, and anything else in between. For the first time you can actually customise each of the playable characters in the game. Sure you could and still can change their costume but now each of the players has three choices available for each of its four special moves. The addition of Mii Fighters also shakes things up as they’re even more customisable. Most characters’ move options are pretty similar, Mario’s fireball for example just changes between the standard fireball, a fast one and one that’s a huge cloud of fire. Characters like the Mii Fighters have completely different moves.


There’s three classes (Sword Fighter, Brawler and Gunner) of Mii Fighters and each have 12 different moves you can choose from. While costumes and colours don’t change much on the main character, on Mii characters the headgear and outfit you choose for your Mii Fighter will change their moves. Even the weight and height of your Mii will change its characteristics, my tall fat Mii is going to be one hell of a fighter.


You can also collect items during the single player modes to equip to your fighter as well. Each item must be taken into consideration as while you’ll get a boost in one section (Attack, Defence, Speed) you’ll lose in others. These character customisation options are only available in single player or local play and can be switched on or off.


The Vault is where you’ll find collectibles and statistics. Trophies like before are unlocked during gameplay and can now be purchased with a random selection on sale each day, while not as ‘fun’ as a random gumball machine it should make finishing the collection easier. Trophies can again be viewed all as one on table or individually to learn their secrets and history. Screenshots are saved in the album, although since you have to take out your SD card to get the photos online there’s little point viewing them here (apart from 3D). Sound allows you to play back music and sound effects from within the game, including all of the grunts, moans, and yells that every character makes.


Classic Mode has been given a revamp with a multi-directional path to Master Hand now up to your choosing. Along the way you’ll collect coins and unlockables depending on the path you take. Classic Mode’s difficulty or ‘Intensity Level’ has been lifted directly out of Kid Icarus Uprising. The harder the intensity the more coins and rewards you get – there’s even different bosses this time around. All Star mode doesn’t need to be unlocked but will also only pool from the characters available, you can’t complete it until you get all the characters (which is a lot easier now). All Star mode is different this time around in that you battle the All Stars in chronological order. Sonic, Kirby and Fox are all in 1991-1993 for example, newer characters like Shulk are toward the end of the mode. Between each battle you’re taken back to a safe area to recover before getting back into it with whatever health you have left. Use up all recovery items in that area and things will get really tough.



Smash Run is a brand new mode exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS version of the game. The mode itself is perfect for handheld gaming as rounds only last 5 minutes. You’ll pick a character then explore a large map, defeating enemies to collect as many power ups as possible. They’re called Boosts and these boosts aid you in speed, jump, attack and a number of different skills. Once the five minutes is up the game switches to random contest. Contests include a standard Smash Bros. battle, a mode to climb to the top of a tower and many others. This mode can be played with the CPU or friends, sadly I only got to test it out with the CPU but they did give us a little bit of a challenge at least. Last but not least Multi-Man Smash (now with Mii Fighters) returns, as does the Home Run Contest. Target Blast is something new and it merges the old Smash the Targets mode with the Home-Run contest.

And then finally Challenges are sort of like Achievements but you don’t know what they are until you complete one. Then a grid of icons unlocks and you can see what’s around. Some of them are really easy like trying out a game mode for the first time – some of them require you break off your slide pad. Though really, no don’t do that – it was a joke.


It’s hard to believe that the original Smash Bros. just had 12 characters when all was said and done. We’ve come a long way in that the 3DS version, a portable game has at nearly 40 characters available from the get go. There’s even more to unlock later and that figure doesn’t include the alternative costumes and models. Series stalwarts are back including the Mario brothers, Link and Zelda, Samus, Peach, Captain Falcon and more. The new characters too are unique and it does make you appreciate that between the original game and now, hell even between Brawl and now Nintendo has created some great new IP as well dipped back into the pool of the multitudes of characters it has. Trying to review individual characters would be silly, everyone has their own preference but out of the newcomers I’m enjoying the fast paced (but grounded) Little Mac as well as Rosalina and Luma. The Villager from the Animal Crossing games is also hilarious and has quite the arsenal. These characters may not be good for competitive play but that’s the beauty of Smash you can play as who you like and enjoy the game however you want it.


The game’s stages too are just as interesting as the characters. Well the majority of them at least, some are reused from older games and include even the old soundtrack – some even from Melee. Overall the majority of stages are new ones. The 3DS version of the game contains stages inspired by the handheld instalments of the featured game franchises, so you get a Spirit Tracks flavoured Zelda stage, a level based on Tortimer’s Island from Animal Crossing New Leaf, Super Mario 3D Land, Nintendogs – you get the idea. All stages can be turned into a ‘Final Destination’ which dumbs the stage down to just a simple platform with the music and looks from the stage it’s inheriting. This should make pro battles more interesting to watch at least.


Speaking of Pro Battles, the game’s online mode is essentially split into two modes, ‘For Fun’ and ‘For Glory’. The ‘For Fun’ mode is ‘standard’ Smash with items, and all the randomness that a casual game of Smash Bros. brings. ‘For Glory’ is for the pros and the contenders; it will also keep track of your ranking and is an item-less affair. ‘For Glory’ tracks both losses and wins, but ‘For Fun’ only tracks wins. Of course if you’re playing with friends online you can mix up and match the rules however you see fit. There’s also a neat mode where you can spectate online matches and bet coins on the outcome, for the gambler inside you. Having played more than a couple of hours online in both modes all we can say is when the game works, it works perfectly – when it doesn’t you will see framedrops and freezes. The loading ‘orb’ even appears. As this is a review based on the Japanese version of the game, played in Australia on terrible internet we’re err on the side of caution and say you should have no problems here.


Smash Bros. makes you appreciate just how far graphics have come in the portable space. Sure tablets, smartphones and even the Vita blow the 3DS off the map in pure capabilities but the 3DS here is no slouch. The game looks amazing on the small screen and runs at 60fps for the most part, even when there’s some real crazy action going on. It’s impossible to see in screenshots, but this game run slick, it’s really impressive. Character models are detailed as are the animations and reactions each character has. The outline effect works great and doesn’t detract at all from the experience, you can turn it off if you really want to.

Ever since Super Mario Galaxy and Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii we’ve been in absolute musical bliss, this latest instalment is no exception with some truly great re-recordings and remixes of the game music we all know and love. There’s also a lot of re-used music here too, a little annoying especially since any other sort of Metroid or Starfox content is next to none these days.


Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS represents the full Smash Bros. experience in a beautiful portable form. It hasn’t been distilled, compressed or shrunk to fit on the handheld and pushes the system beyond anything we’ve seen before. Sakurai and his team knew they couldn’t get anything else past fans and the public. The experience would suffer if the game was anything less than what we have all dreamed.

The game is the non-compromised, addictive and smashing good time you hoped it would be. It’s a cliché but the game isn’t perfect, we all wish this or that was added, a certain character you loved didn’t return or maybe you just don’t want to play it on a portable. There’s a wealth of content though, a love that’s gone into the game and an experience you don’t get anywhere else.

The real test will be come November when the Wii U version launches. Will you ever come back to this? It’s a certainty.

This review is based on the Japanese version of the game.


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About The Author
Daniel Vuckovic
The Owner and Creator of this fair website. I also do news, reviews, programming, art and social media here. It is named after me after all. Please understand.

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