Review: Super Smash Bros. (Wii U)

The Super Smash Bros. series has always been a treasure trove of Nintendo (and other) franchises wrapped in a frantic brawler designed to appeal to button-mashers and experts. For the fourth time now, Nintendo has managed to tread that fine line and somehow ramp up the chaos by allowing eight people to play.

While Nintendo has added many new characters, stages and options the underlying mechanic that has pleased and punished fans for years remains. Fights are an ever-changing relay between attacks, retreats, weapon uses and moments of confusion as the action happens at such a fast pace it can get disorientating with four people, yet alone eight.

Super Smash Bros Wii UNintendo has once again put local multiplayer ahead of online, limiting online matches to four characters (undoubtedly for technical reasons) and of course the online mode is still hampered by the console's limitations. Given that Nintendo is already recommending a local connection adaptor (sold separately), it is bound to be a game that pushes the console's limits.  That being said, from what we know of the online mode (as it's not available to try until launch) it is robust and enjoyable and should be an improvement on Brawl's. 

Local multiplayer remains a blast and if you can get seven friends together it's bound to be one hell of a party (providing you don't drown in all the controllers). The fast-paced action is designed for smack talk (pun intended) and it's a shame that this is once again limited to local only.

As with previous titles in the series, you're given a handful of starting characters and as you make your way through the game you'll unlock more. The starting line-up is bigger than ever and features a number of newcomers such as Little Mac, Charizard and Rosalina & Luma. Additionally, some previous characters have been 'split' into two (Samus Aran and Zero Suit Samus are now separate, as are Zelda and Sheik) and others have been removed completely. Fortunately characters feel unique and there is little cloning to be found, meaning anyone that wants to get to grips with all of the characters will have quite the challenge on their hands. Certain modes will force your hand by assigning you a character, meaning you can't rely on your favourites.

Super Smash Bros Wii U

Of the new characters, my personal favourite has become Little Mac.  He's speedy and his KO move is unique and I've always been fond of nippy characters.  Charizard is a behemoth along the lines of Bowser, but with the ability to fly, while Rosalina & Luma I've found difficult to use but a nightmare character to fight against. Mega Man and Pac-Man are this offering's non-Nintendo characters (joining the returning Sonic) and both offer unique characteristics and Pac-Man's final smash is a nostalgic treat.

The range of stages available in Super Smash Bros. is impressive, but unfortunately many of them feel overly familiar. Numerous stages feature floating platforms with a moving background. You may move between platforms as they come in and out of use, but some of the stages feel by-the- numbers. On the other end of the scale are stages such as Orbital Gate Assault (Starfox), Pyrosphere and Kalos Pokémon League, which feature an environment that feels alive. The series has a history of making the stage as much an adversary as your friends and it is these stages that I personally enjoy most.

For the more 'hardcore' fighting fans, stages now include an 'Omega' form that provides a flat surface like Final Destination. This focuses the action on pure fighting and is bound to be popular in fighting tournaments.

Super Smash Bros Wii U

Of course, if you get bored of the supply stages you can make your own.  This is a neat addition, but it is pretty basic.  With only a few backdrops and a small handful of interactive elements (moving platforms, canons), this is something people might well try a few times, but it's unlikely people will end up using it much.

As with most of their franchises, Nintendo has thrown in a host of new features and some work and some don't. Smash Tour is one of those that don't. The first time you boot it up you're given a lot of explanatory text that makes Boom Street feel text-light and all-in-all the mode feels boring, particularly compared to the normal fighting mode.

In essence, every move you roll a dice and move that number of spaces and collect stat boosts and fighters as you go. Each round you're given a trophy that can be used at the start of the turn (to slow the roll, set traps, blast your opponents away etc) or in battle (start with certain items typically). If two people clash then a fight breaks out after, with each person fighting as a random brawler.

Super Smash Bros Wii UAt the end of the designated number of turns several stat boosts are given based on performance, while everyone engages in a final fight with all of the fighters they have accumulated. In concept this sounds entertaining, but it takes the more boring elements of Mario Party and strips away the frantic fun of Smash Bros..

At the heart of Super Smash Bros. is a multiplayer fighter that's great to play with friends, but underneath all this lies a robust single player game. With numerous modes, challenges and an almost insurmountable number of unlockables this game will keep you going for a long time. A new Events mode will give you certain thematic challenges for you to complete, offering rewards if you meet certain criteria (usually time/difficulty based). Ultimately the most fun you can have is with other people, but the single player options will keep you entertained between these matches.

Super Smash Bros. on Wii U is the first title to take advantage of Nintendo's NFC-enabled Amiibo, which launch just after the game itself in Europe. These plastic figures are more than decoration, as they enable extra content in certain games. In the case of Smash Bros. they are used to have customised fighters that can help you out in battles.

Super Smash Bros Wii UEven if you don't use them for the game they're still impressive figures for a small price, although copying the Smash Bros. artwork without any thought of how they translate into plastic figures has led to some less-than-desirable ones. It's early days yet, but it will be interesting to see where Nintendo goes with Amiibo.

Similarly, Miis can now join the brawl in three different forms - Brawler, Sword Fighter and Gunner.  You can assign moves to them and dress them how you wish and as you battle with them they will level up.  They also replace enemies in the time/stock challenges (e.g. 100-Man Smash), which will please both Mii fans and haters for different reasons!

Super Smash Bros. proves that Nintendo is a master of its own hardware.  The graphic fidelity of the characters and the ability to maintain 60fps in spite of the on-screen action is a testament to how well Nintendo is able to push its own hardware and while technically behind the PS4 and Xbox One, still release a game with strong graphics.  Of course, the audio is also top notch.  The soundtrack is a bevy of tracks that cover the numerous franchises featured within the game, all available to collect and listen to within the game as well.

Super Smash Bros Wii UThe game isn't without it's faults, but they're minor niggles rather than anything substantial. The inability to use the touch sceen for the menu seems like an oversight and the loading time of the game itself can be a chore, but these are little things in comparison to the enjoyment the game brings.

Overall Nintendo has managed to cram a lot of content into Super Smash Bros. without skimping on the quality. Not everything is perfect, but nearly everything offers a fantastic playing experience. The balance between 'casual' and 'hardcore' is just right and the range of characters, stages and unlockables is phenomenal. It is certainly one of the Wii U titles that will be a permanent fixture in many peoples' rotation, and for good reason.

Online mode is currently not available.  We'll be giving readers an opportunity to post their impressions on the forum and we'll post these alongside ours in the week after launch.

N-Europe Final Verdict

Bigger, better and brawlier than before. Super Smash Bros. is full of fun alone or with friends and is bound to be played for years to come.

  • Gameplay5
  • Playability5
  • Visuals5
  • Audio5
  • Lifespan5
Final Score



Fun alone or with others
Many stages, characters and options to explore
Ability to use GameCube controllers
Wonderful graphics and audio


Elements of online mode lacking

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