The Game Modes
Now here’s where things get interesting. Super Smash Bros. for 3DS has a number of different modes which vary greatly on their level of fun.
Smash is quite simply the standard versus match and it is easily the highlight of the game. This is why I bought the 3DS version and every Smash Bros. before it. It’s just as fun, fluid, and crazy as ever, whether you choose to play standard (with items/stage hazards) or tournament rules (no items, Final Destination mode only). And I’ve found that even though the highlight is playing against friends locally, playing single-player against computer opponents is still a ton of fun (and has made up a bulk of my play time). This is, without a doubt, the most enjoyable aspect of the entire game. And thankfully, playing over local wireless with a friend was a breeze–there was no lag whatsoever and it was a blast.
Then there’s Classic Mode, which is essentially what it’s always been: fight a series of different opponents, eventually ending with the final fight against Master Hand. But there have been some changes, which I believe are for the better. First of all, you get to choose a difficulty ranging from 0 (easiest) to 9 (hardest), and the ratio of risk to reward is greater the higher you go (for obtaining coins to make trophy purchases, trophies, techniques to customize normal characters to your liking, or outfits/hats for Mii Fighters. When you actually start Classic Mode, you get multiple branching paths you can take with different opponents and different difficulties for each one. The greater the risk, the greater the reward. And while this mode eliminates side things like Break the Targets, Race to the Finish, etc., it still maintains the core of Classic Mode and (in my opinion), makes it better than before.
Blue is the easiest difficulty, then green, then red. Greater risk, greater reward.
In the new mode called Smash Run, you spend 5 minutes going around a large maze, taking out enemies (much like in Adventure Mode/Subspace Emissary) to obtain power-ups to improve speed, strength, defense, jumping, and arms (using items like swords, wands, laser guns, etc.). At the end of this, you fight against 3 other players (either computer-controlled or friends through local wireless) in one of several different modes. I’ve had simple battles with stat improvements from the maze, a race to a finish line, and a rush to the top of a course, but there may be other variations I have yet to come across. But what it comes down to is that Smash Run can be either really fun or a real slog depending on your play style and (likely) whether you play against the computer or with friends. If you enjoyed Subspace Emissary on Brawl, Smash Run is very, very similar in terms of what you do, minus the battles against normal fighters during. My personal opinion on this is that it’s fun here and there, but certainly not the highlight I had hoped for.
There’s also All-Star Mode, which has you battling against all of the different fighters in order of the years they first appeared (e.g. you first fight characters who appeared in the early ’80s, including Pac-Man, Mr. Game & Watch, Donkey Kong, and Mario) with breaks after each set and the opportunity to use a limited number of healing items (which, once used, do not reappear). You only unlock the true All-Star Mode once you’ve unlocked every character, but either way it’s a lot of fun and well worth playing through.
The first round of All-Star Mode begins with facing off against Pac-Man, Mr. Game & Watch, and Mario.
There are also a variety of mini-games to play. Multi-Man Melee ranges from giving you 10 Mii Fighters to take out to giving you an endless number or giving you just a few who are all really strong. This can be fun at times, but other times it’s quite punishing. There’s also the Home Run Contest (a staple since Melee), which has you beating up a sandbag and then using the Home Run Bat provided to smash it as far as you can, which is a nice side game to do if you feel up to the challenge. The classic Break the Targets has been changed up a bit, in that you now beat up a bomb before launching it to try and destroy as many targets as you can with its impact and blast. This is an interesting way to change up the formula and can be fun when you want to try something different. Lastly, there’s Trophy Rush, which has you destroying falling blocks in hopes of collecting trophies. Unlike the other modes, this one is just flat-out hopeless and not fun at all, unfortunately, as destroying blocks is not nearly as simple as it should be and trophies are so few and far between.
Break the Targets has changed into Target Blast, which is actually quite fun.
The Online Battles
The online battles, unfortunately, seem to be inconsistent. I played against a friend in Pennsylvania (I live in Alaska) and had almost no lag; there were one or two very brief frame drops, but nothing that caused any problems for either of us. But when I played online (“For Fun” as opposed to “For Glory”), the results were mixed. Two matches were very smooth with almost no lag, but the three that followed had a number of serious drops in frame rate to the point that it was unplayable. I came back to play again (both regular versus and Team Battles) and found that the lag was almost non-existent (3 in 15 matches had some lag, the rest were smooth). And even with three of the four people playing from Japan on Team Battles, the lag was only there about half of the time. So it seems to be a mixed bag.
What’s important to note, however, is that the lag is purely a symptom of bad connections with one or more players. If even one person has a bad connection, it can be horrible for everyone else. That’s a big downer, but for someone like me who doesn’t really play online anyway (except against friends), it’s not enough of an issue to take away from my enjoyment of the rest of the game.
I simply cannot overstate how amazing it is to be able to play Super Smash Bros. wherever I go without the need for a console or TV and without feeling like I’m losing any crucial part of the experience. If I have 5 minutes (or even 2-3), I can pull out my 3DS and play a quick match. If I’m on a long trip, I can play as much as I want. Heck, I could pull it out right now while writing to play a quick round. And if I need to stop (as long as I’m not playing online), I can pause and close my 3DS or just close it period and come back whenever I get the chance.
While there is certainly more that can be said (e.g. the excellent soundtrack, the trophy collecting, the challenges, etc.), the fact remains that Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is one of the finest games on the 3DS and the most enjoyable Smash Bros. experience I’ve had. The wide variety of characters, stages, items, and customization alone easily gives hundreds of hours of solo play time; with friends there’s potential for a near endless amount. The portability gives freedom to play just about anywhere and the ability to stop mid-match if needed. The visuals are wonderfully detailed, the game runs and plays butter-smooth, and even though the smoothness of online play is dependent on each person’s wi-fi connection, it can be very fun when it works well. All in all, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is a wonderful addition to the already excellent franchise and is well-deserving a play for any 3DS owner.