Today we have witnessed the Nintendo Direct focused on Super Smash Bros. Well, other people say it directly, I caught up with it Destructoid after the fact. This series of announcements has left Smash fans with a puzzle.
Has Nintendo given up on the WiiU?
Understand my point of view. I’ve always loved Smash, though feared that its core gameplay may be beginning to wear a little. Common, you all know it; the core gameplay is essentially unchanged since the N64, which we all played until the frail analog stick broke. …Or was that Mario Party 2?
Anyway, the vitality of the Smash franchise now lies in its wonderfully creative new modes and challenge stages. Not just Subspace Emissary, though that mode was great. Also Trouble Kings, and all of the alternate battle challenges, and the boss rush, and the fighting wire frames (though Cruel Melee is just that). There was a lot to do in the last two games, and having a wide berth of time (the original is launched in 1999, Melee in 2001, and Brawl in 2008) in which to play them made it all the sweeter!
Nintendo has confirmed launch windows for both its 3DS version of Super Smash Bros, aiming for Summer 2014, and its Wii U version, aiming for Winter 2014 – the latter has already past, so they must mean Holiday 2014, targeting the end of the year. Consider the pill offered for us to swallow, as the two games are co-developed, and one won’t be substantially “better” than the other, nor will they be very far apart, giving each other the wide berth enjoyed by predecessors. Nor even will they be close enough together to enjoy a lot of cross-online play together. Where Monster Hunter 3 U brings enthusiastic Monster Hunters together on the Wii U and sends them out alone on the 3DS all in the same window of time, Super Smash Bros 4 will be actively trying to use the Wii U launch event to drum up activity among the 3DS Smash community, but the reasons for buying Smash on Wii U are still lacking, and everyone with a 3DS has already seen a lot of the new innovations already.
Which is the question – is the Wii U version sent out to die or to die in the service of the 3DS version? Is there a point to having both?
There is hope. Nintendo and series director Masahiro Sakurai appear sensitive to the criticism, and have advised of a new Multiplayer mode on the 3DS, Smash Run. Smash Run challenges players to collect power boosts in a timed scramble, pitting them against a wide number of Nintendo enemies from across its favorite franchises. Those boosts then affect the main battle. It is claimed to be a quick preamble leading to an exciting showdown. This mode is exclusive to the 3DS, and will not appear in the Wii U version …
But could that idea be revisited on the Wii U? It is tantalizing to know that Wii U version could have its own gameplay mode to shake up the conventions and deliver its faithful fans their own version of the well-worn franchise. Hang-on, let me change that statement.
I think that we expect it, and we would be a hard sell without it.
I’ve waffled in the past. I’ve once called Smash Bros one of the most delightfully fun, playable commercials on TV, and it is true: everything in Smash Bros is a celebration, and a marketing message, for Nintendo’s long history of entertainment.
If Nintendo wants to have the commercial run long, I hope they can deliver still more fun, playable delights, and I hope not everything will have already been seen on the 3DS.
I guess this means that I have not been convinced yet about the Wii U version, though it looks quite nice. The 3DS version looks very nice too, and I expect I will be one of the many pre-orders playing on day 1. Keep an eye out of me.