Super Smash Bros. (3DS) Review

Daniel Bischoff
Super Smash Bros. (3DS) Info


  • Fighting


  • 1 - 4


  • Nintendo


  • Nintendo

Release Date

  • 10/03/2014
  • Out Now


  • 3DS


It feels like the first time.

When I think of all-out warfare, I think World War II. I think about bombs dropping and how much it affects the way someone hears something almost immediately afterwards. That’s why the idea of a video game where the objective is to literally smash the opponent through the very boundaries of space and time, because remember this self-contained universe only really allows for that, always seemed odd to me. Still, it does call back to the kind of schoolyard arguments that seem to echo throughout all of time.

Sure, like that guy’s voice. You know, the one yelling SMAAAAASH! BROOOOOTHERS! or the announcer on WWE. Maybe it’s the energy everyone feels when they finally realize the bottom line is approaching faster than they thought and Nintendo is here with one more opportunity to settle the score. I did… or at least… I have. We received review code for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and I’ve even played online with Japanese gamers on the other side of the world. Something tells me it’ll move a ton of hardware. I’m just dying for the console version.

From the outset, Super Smash Bros. seems to define much of what makes gaming fun in a pure sense of the word. There isn’t really a means of understanding the smash attacks and special moves without also getting that the points won’t really matter if you’re trying your best against opponents who actually rest on an even footing against you. Whether you’re playing the computer or human opponents with their own copy of the game or online, it’s obvious from the outset that Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS wants you to have the control.

That starts with the game’s modes above anything else. You pick from jumping straight into battle or explore a more elaborate single-player brawl in Smash Run. Smash Run itself feels not unlike Melee’s adventure mode, though it features more generic level designs that encourage you to power up your fighter for big battles in the future. Some of the power-ups obtained in Smash Run even allow you to carry added attack or defense power into other encounters. This is likely where players enjoying Smash on-the-go will get the most entertainment out of shorter gameplay loops.

You can engage in a long tournament, though the game being portable means Super Smash Bros. will likely earn more attention when you can either get away from the TV or get out of the house with your handheld. With the Nintendo 3DS encouraging so many StreetPass opportunities outdoors, I’m dying to take the game with me especially since that made Animal Crossing New Leaf a friendlier experience. Right now, there’s no one to talk about the game with who has played the game and a US base will certainly drive online forums and competition.

It’d be nice to guarantee players that every fighter will be balanced throughout launch or that specific combos and mechanics will prove powerful on the Wii U version given that the 3DS version is actually quite tailored to the handheld's size. Characters are rendered at a faster frame rate and each level has been scaled for the smaller screen. If a level simply didn't work in translation, Nintendo took it out and replaced it with one more appropriate or special for 3DS.

In one battle on a Find Mii stage, I got frustrated as one of the boss demons pushes players left and right even in the middle of a slugfest between the likes of Mario and Bowser. Scenes like this represent the pinnacle of Nintendo’s ability to create believable worlds even if the action goes to the extreme. Still, you might find that the controls don’t feel quite as precise or responsive as you’d like.

While the overall game performance has improved, there may be some slowdown if items and Pokemon crowd the screen or if a level transitions particularly quickly. I also wish the circle pad felt better when smashing into attacks as the emphasis gets harder when the Nintendo 3DS buttons sit so small under thumb. Learning a good fighting strategy with Robin (one of my new favorites) or with a classic like Samus (in her power suit) will take a little time, though hardcore brawlers will want to wait for the Wii U version or relearn things then.

I will likely fail to unlock every character in the game, but I have found that each level, song, and character interaction has something entertaining. If you’re a particular fan of any of these recognizable faces, Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS delivers in almost every way I could have imagined. A lot of people think that a portable brawler would never have worked even though I keep finding that the 3DS handheld has largely held up in my mind as a near perfect emulator of Nintendo 64-style experiences.

Tracks for classic levels like Corneria almost immediately catch your ear and the entire game has a very nostalgic feel to it considering the extremely modern presentation. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS almost feels like a throwback Saturday morning cartoon come to life in the palm of your hand and I know I make that comparison a lot, but even the menus shout that out in their own way. It’s hard not to run one more battle or try to go for one more high score in Smash Run, though you’ll inevitably get only the best value out of multiplayer.

In fact, if you’re not going to invest your time there, then it’s the only reason not to play the game. It doesn’t take long to understand exactly where Smash’s depth comes from and holding out for a friend to play with doesn’t hurt. Buy copies of the game together if you must as it’ll certainly fill the hours beyond anything two $40 cartridges could possibly hope to accomplish alone. I’d like to recommend the game more, but I’m afraid most will hand me my own ass even as Link. So far, I’ve only really been able to try my luck against varying computer opponents and a few online usernames from the Far East where the game has been available for a few weeks now.

Even if you're likely to move onto the console version or you don't play your 3DS much, this edition of the venerable brawling series offers everything you could want and will likely become a standard bearer for the platform.

Code provided by publisher. Review based on Nintendo 3DS version. Also coming to Nintendo Wii U.


Box art - Super Smash Bros. (3DS)
Deep fighting mechanics
Stable online net code
Smash Run
Varied roster of beloved characters
Great visuals and animations
Excellent soundtrack
Controls feel too small on 3DS
Not ideal for very long play
Easy to sink-in if you're a dedicated fighter