The demo for Super Smash Bros. U was short. The full time I (Bryan Heraghty) had with the game was roughly 5 minutes. The line for the demo was as long as you’d imagine and it was clear that (alongside Mario Kart 8) the Wii U was finally going to have the system seller it needs. In just those 5 minutes, I saw numerous tweaks, adjustments, and improvements compared to previous games.
While waiting in line for 3 hours, it was clear everyone, front to back, was having the same conversation; the game looks gorgeous. The animations and detail on the characters is as much an improvement over Brawl’s, as Melee’s was over the original. Donkey Kongs fur bristles with layers, while Bowsers skin pops with a reptilian-esque texture. The moving backgrounds to your characters opacic symbols are a nice touch, and grabbing the almighty Smash Ball turns the whole stage a dark red, providing an “Oh Crap” moment for the other 3 players. Frame rate stayed consistent even during the most intensive parts of the matches which is must for a frantic fighting game like Smash Bros.
The game stages manage to feel big, without feeling empty. Past games have had the problem of making stages so large that it became easy for characters to get separated across the map. Meanwhile the camera would zoom so far out you could barely see the characters (I’m looking at you Temple). However, the two game stages I played (WVBA Fighting Ring and Coliseum) both felt huge, without feeling barren. I never felt too far from the other fighters, so the match never slowed down for a second. The camera always gave a contained view of the match, which let the players continue fighting, while showing off the games HD visuals.
But the biggest pull of these games isn’t the graphics or the stages, its the fighting! Best news upfront, Super Smash Bros U is a much faster beast compared to its predecessor. The characters don’t move at the speeds of Melee, but you get a nice middle ground between the Melee and Brawl. Unlike Brawl’s floaty, low gravity fighting, characters have more weight to them. Closing the distance between you and your adversaries takes much less time. The whole experience felt fast, fluid, and snappy. Also, I didn’t have to deal with my character tripping a single time. Thank goodness for that!
The whole experience felt like an improvement over Brawl. The demo contained 20 characters and 8 stages to choose from. Characters move-sets remain mostly intact, yet the characters themselves still manage to feel different. For the demo I was allowed 2 matches. The first fighter I chose was Mario, to better compare to earlier games. While the useless F.L.O.O.D. attack is still there, I got a sense for just how tight the controls were. He really felt improved to me. Next I played Little Mac. I loved how different a fighter Little Mac is. Little Mac is primarily a ground based fighter, and is very weak in the air. This adds a new layer of strategy that I hope can be applied to all the characters.
Those I played with noticed differences with their characters as well. Kirby felt heavier than in Brawl, along with a more effective hammer and a less effective down B attack. The Villager and Rosalina had greater learning curves than other characters, and some of Rosalina’s attacks were difficult to register. Fighting game enthusiasts may be begrudged to know it still isn’t as fast moving as Melee, but future tweaks and updates may push the game towards that direction.
As a whole, the newest iteration in Sakurai’s Smash Bros. looks to be a major improvement over the previous installment. More playable characters are on their way, and you can learn about those, and any other updates concerning the game, right here on Tech Raptor.