Smash Bros Direct - The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
// Submitted @ 12:39 AM on 04.15.2014
Almost a week has passed since the Nintendo Direct showing of Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS, so I've gathered my impressions and sorted them in casual Good/Bad/Ugly stacks. I've also separated the contents in the same basic order that they were shown in the presentation. I'm genuinely looking forward to trying this game since the Direct left a positive impression overall, so take the negatives with a grain of salt.
Release Info The Good: 3DS-but-not-Wii U owners can get their hands on the majority of the game without feeling like they're missing out for not owning a next-gen console. The fewer Wii U owners around can host traditional multiplayer sessions on his/her couch when friends decide to get together starting in Winter (and after they're practiced on the 3DS). Also, any criticisms toward the 3DS may cause last-minute changes to the console version for the better.
The Bad: The 3DS version may cannibalize the WiiU version so people who've "had their fill" by the end of 2014 may not care to buy their own console copy. This may hurt one of Wii U's biggest chances at a system seller.
The Ugly: Nintendo may be pulling a mini-Ground Zeroes and testing if people will double dip on the same big game (which they could easily exploit in the future). The Wii U version may be seen as the main attraction for some, but it's hard owning a 3DS and trying to hold off on the appetizer for half of a year.
Battlefield will look visually appealing in any form
3DS VS. Wii U Differences The Good: Same roster confirmed. Different stages will add some visual variety and identity for each system. Battlefield confirmed for both. Melee's double-music track for the 3DS and (even better) Brawl's music customization for the Wii U is great to hear.
The Bad: Some may feel "why not make every stage on both systems?" because this isn't going to work like a Pokemon Red/Blue social trading mechanic anyways.
The Ugly: If the Ice Climbers are giving the 3DS version trouble, then they also won't be on Wii U which would be a shame.
Stages The Good: Stages for both consoles look fun and nicely detailed. Also, Jungle Japes returns once again. Boss characters and the Yellow Devil seem like a neat twist.
The Bad: Sakurai stated last year in an interview that players won't be able to turn off stage hazards because "you'd find yourself with PSASB". I'm not sure why he'd avoid this option logically. Many people love the layout/geography of certain stages yet dislike certain damaging hazards (like Norfair lava or Arwing lasers).
The Ugly: Ridley was implied to be a boss, which means he won't be playable. Although I personally don't desire the massive dragon, I'm betting many are let down. Sakurai could just be teasing though, as it was only a shadow. Also, dual screen 3DS stages would've seemed like a neat opportunity but none have been shown.
Online Play The Good: Sakurai directs people to try their best to find a fast connection. Lag was a significant issue in Brawl's online world, so hopefully Nintendo (and some of its new-to-online audience) has learned since. For Fun & For Glory is a step in the right direction, and at least separates the two primary attitudes in a series that's essentially a buffet of options. For Glory is a major plus because it acknowledges the competitive fighter audience, something that Brawl did but in a not-so-appeasing way. Between this and allowing EVO 2014 and MLG Anaheim streams for Melee recently, Nintendo has been upping their reputation by throwing the passionate minorities a bone as of late. Multiple skins in the Final Destination style is nice, yet who knows how much variance they'll have regarding stage size, blast boxes, or walls beneath ledges. The normal Final Destination looks awesome, with some Namco/Soulcalibur influence apparent. Code of Conduct with banning is a pleasant surprise, and should cut down on the inevitable trolls and whiners. I'm not sure how big of a hit Global Smash Power will be, or how it'll work, but I guess fans who go hard on solo play will appreciate the rankings.
The Bad: The anonymous online matches in both For Fun & For Glory modes indicate that the match settings for both will be stock-less "timed matches". I personally don't know anyone who plays under this default setting (all my friends switch to stock), but it would've been better to show off a series of branching lobbies that cover major preferences like Stock, Stock with Time limit, Team Battle, etc.
The Ugly: Sakurai's use of Final Destination as the Glory stage implies that he derived his impressions from Brawl's (somewhat unpleasant) Wifi world or "that meme", and probably not the hardcore tournament scene. Current tournament Smash matches can mostly be seen on stages with platforms, so it's weird that Sakurai didn't choose series' signature Battlefield as the For Glory stage (or at least a choice to vote on pre-match). Nevertheless, if this new Smash has been balanced under a no-platforms environment which doesn't result in super-skewed matchups, then Final Destination should be fine. In the end, playing with friends or anyone offline will allow fully adjustable rules as always.
Items The Good: Some old favorites are returning, with updated designs. The Back Shield is a cool idea, the Beetle is brutal, the Fire Bar is spicy, Bombchus and fairies are perfect for Smash, the Ore Club is a 'heavy' close+ranged weapon, the X bomb comes in 2 directions, the Hocotate Bomb seems like a warp star out of control, the Rocket Belt resembles R.O.B.'s recovery, and the Steel Diver is an alternative to the ray gun. Seeing Skull Kid, Midna, and Dark Samus makes me glad that they'll at least see some light on the field. The Master Ball carrying legendaries brings me back to my constant replaying of Melee's Event 37.
The Bad: Palkia used Spacial Rend on the Mario Galaxy stage! It's not very effective...
Returning Characters The Good: Zero Suit trolling was done pretty well. The separation of transformation characters is something I prefer. Transforming was a unique mechanic, but in practice wasn’t as widely used as Sakurai might’ve expected. Fully-fledged standalone characters should be more fulfilling and easier to balance, like the Trainer’s Pokemon in Project M. Sheik’s side special being changed was a smart decision, as the Chain in previous titles was extremely poor. Dedede throwing only Gordos (albeit nerfed ones) and Olimar pulling ordered Pikmin removes unnecessary randomness that may affect competitive play. Lucario’s comeback factor (a trend often criticized in modern fighting games) is eased by the risk of self-destructing upon powering up too much. Olimar’s collective “weight” adds some neat strategy to his recovery. Like with Project M, Pit’s been given more offensive utility, and his new final smash gives hope to those wishing for a playable Palutena. Finally, Yoshi looks very well-animated, though I just need to know if he can jump out of shield.
The Bad: Kirby’s Hammer Flip is essentially Dedede’s down special. I expect a few different properties between the two, but I’m sure Sakurai could’ve been more creative (especially with his own character). Also, Captain Falcon and Ness not being shown yet slightly worries me.
The Ugly: Let’s hope appearance is the only thing Samus takes from Other M’s portrayal. High heeled jet boots are a bit weird but I think people will get used to them. It is unclear if Lucario’s mega-evolution is its own mechanic, but Mega-Lucario and Mega-Charizard being shown alongside Greninja’s final smash implies that both mega-evolution cases will just be final smashes.
New Characters The Good: Rosalina seems like a neat substitute for Ice Climbers, with potential for long-distance desyncs and cool combos. Unlike Nana, Luma seems to have different attacks from its master. Little Mac continues to seem like a hype character, with his power meter confirmed to be akin to super meters in traditional fighters. Wireframe Mac and male Wii Fit Trainer hopefully indicates more alternate costumes. Winning with Villager shall bring the same odd satisfaction as winning with Phoenix Wright in UMVC3. Mega Man’s moveset appears diverse and hugely fan-pleasing, especially his final smash.
The Bad: Compared to the other new characters, Wii Fit Trainer doesn’t seem nearly as interesting gameplay-wise. A damage strengthener and charged projectile don’t come off as compelling as Mac’s meter/armor, Rosalina's Luma applications, or Megaman’s arsenal of weapons.
The Ugly: I wouldn’t be surprised to see a bit too much Little Mac in For Glory mode, since there will be no platforms to avoid his crazy ground game. Only time will tell.
Would these cause severe imbalances, or help to counter existing ones?
Custom Movesets The Good: This seems like a neat side-attraction, and is sure to add more replay value on a character-by-character basis. I’m guessing there will be a pool of different “versions” of each character’s specials, and players choose their favorite combination. It hopefully will allow tweaking for more than just specials; I’d be thrilled to bring back directional air dodges if I could.
The Bad: None. More customization is always a plus in Smash.
The Ugly: This feature may go underrepresented if the procedure to customize moves takes annoyingly long in casual (or even competitive) environments.
Smash Run The Good: Augmenting power-ups, platforming, item equipping, and franchise-drawn enemies. All climaxing in a multiplayer match that rewards combat skill and (indirectly) dungeon efficiency. These are all elements that I’m a fan of.
The Bad: By its nature, I doubt we’ll ever see this mode added into the Wii U version unless 4 GamePads in one place becomes normal somehow.
The Ugly: There will most likely be noticeable imbalances between characters in this mode. Whichever characters can most efficiently navigate the dungeon and benefit from its power-ups are almost certainly going to become more frequent among fans. This is probably why Sakurai recommended the “random fighter” option anyways.
Kirby may be pink, but he's no ditto when it comes to copying Pokemon
Ending The Good: The orchestral arrangement of the SSB64 Credits + Character Select music was a major nostalgia bomb. The Pokemon reveal video was impressively choreographed and goes to show that Sakurai’s team makes the best trailers on the Nintendo side of the industry. Also Greninja’s final smash may be a coincidence or homage to similar finishers.
The Bad: With 4 standalone Pokemon in the game, I highly doubt we’ll see both Jigglypuff AND Mewtwo return. Smash purists would want Jigglypuff for its veteran status, and old school Pokefans would want Mewtwo for its series significance (plus the cool factor).
Hopefully a digital re-release for the old Gamecube classic can happen this year too.
For the Smash enthusiast, this presentation may rank at the top of the Nintendo Directs seen thus far. The dual-platform release ensures that more people will be able to experience the fun in either stereoscopic 3D or glorious HD. The game already looks like a massive improvement from Brawl, with more hitstun for combos and a lack of anything akin to random tripping. While wavedashing may not return, and L-canceling is still a mystery, I still think fights in this new game will play out at an enjoyable pace.
A final minor concern of mine is the title(s) of these games. I'm unsure if they'll be getting a subtitle (like Havoc or Unleashed) or a numerical value, yet there's also a small chance that each version will be named uniquely. In any case, I'd just like the announcer to shout "SUPER SMASH BROTHERS!" at the end of the intro movie, just like in SSB64 and SSBM. The new Smash game will probably be packed with at least as much content as its predecessors, and further customization indicates that the game will try not to leave anyone in the dust. Of course, I can't forget to mention that the HD graphics appear absolutely stunning. I look forward to the next Smash-centric showing, and possibly a 3DS demo to tide me over until release.