I know I've already gone over this on twitter, but I figure why not make it concrete, and set it in stone ... It has been a couple of weeks, or more since I first nabbed my copy of "Smash Bros." for the 3DS from the local Gamestop. I had actually pre-ordered the game to assure I'd have a copy waiting for me when the launch date came around. Seeing as it was selling like hotcakes in Japan I figured the same would happen here in the US, so it was better to be safe than sorry. After getting my copy of the game, plugging it into my standard issue 3DS, and playing it the first day I was honestly a bit appalled at how dumbed down the game seemed in comparison to the former Wii, and Gamecube Smash Bros. titles. Having played both previous Smash Bros. games the 3DS version honestly looked "Plain Jane". The initial roster was super small, and the offered modes seemed too simple to be of any significance. Thankfully though the more I played, and tried out the various modes contained within the more I found out otherwise, and realized that the game was so much more.
Smash Bros. for the 3DS in it's entirety is a truly rich experience. The offline of the game, which is my favorite go to area is easily the better half of it in that it is where you will be spending a majority of your time playing through modes, and unlocking things that can be used when your ready to take the fight online. On the other hand the online, which features a weekly updated "Conquest" mode gets the player into a competitive spirit that makes them want to play the game more for the potential rewards they can earn for participating. The added fact that you can play for fun, or for glory (ranked matches) makes the online more tolerable.
In the way of offline modes you'll find in place a classic board game style ladder battle option that will pit you up against several different types of AI opponents as you make your way to the Master Hand, or Master Hand plus Crazy Hand boss battle at the end of your onscreen trek. Traveling from point to point on the board game style map within "Classic" will also reward you with coins which can be spent on trophies. Sometimes you'll even find trophies standing upright on certain pathways waiting for you to collect. To add to your potential rewards income you'll also have the opportunity beforehand to up the ante with gold (choose a higher difficulty), and increase your chances of obtaining better loot (customization items, trophies, gold) during the jackpot oriented pre-match intros. The "Classic" solo mode is definitely the most rewarding in those respects, and is one I frequent more often than not. Aside from the "Classic" Solo mode you'll also find in place "Group" modes in which you can have local players with the same game join you on your playthroughs. While I've not personally tried these modes out for myself the idea does seem rather appealing.
When it comes to the extra modes such as the signature Smash Bros. mini-games you'll find that most have returned in all their glory from previous games in the series including that of the 'Home Run'. The only real difference I noticed in regards to the mini-games was the changing of the target mode. Instead of the usual smash the targets objective you'll be batting explosives towards Angy Birds style setups that house the usual bullseye targets. By knocking the explosive into the construction site at the right moment you will have the chance of causing an Angry Birds style chain reaction in which building pieces fall upon targets destroying them in the process. Like the other mini-games the "Target Smash" mini-game keeps track of your high scores, and sometimes collectively combines the scores to give you a much larger point total. The mini-games are a nice distraction from the core experience, and like their predecessors add to the overall value of the game.
When it comes to the online modes of play you'll find battle in three flavors (^.^). You can either choose to play the standard four player 'Smash' battle, the '1-on-1' battle, or a 2-on-2 color coded (Red & Blue) battle known as "Team Smash". In each mode of play whether you chose to play with a 'friend' or 'anyone' in a "For Fun", or "Glory" match your goal will be to knock your opponents of the edge of the stage, and into oblivion. It's as it has always been in the Smash Bros. series with the only real difference being the sometimes lag heavy netcode that comes along with the online gaming experience.
For those of you looking to really cash in on what Smash Bros. online has to offer you'll definitely want to participate in the weekly "Conquest" mode which is governed by how many wins players pull off with the chosen characters Nintendo has forced into battle with one another. Sometimes in Conquest the allotted characters for the week will be pitted together in a 1v1 battle, and other times you'll be able to choose from several different characters on three different sides. In the end though it is the character with the highest percentage win rate that will shower the supporting players with rewards of various types. In order to participate in the weekly 'Conquest' you simply have to play for Glory online with one of the featured characters. By the end of the week if your character is in the lead in the final standings you will be rewarded for your efforts. Just know that you must win online matches with said character to earn points for your reward. It goes without saying that the more points you have by the end of it all the better your reward will be. In junction with the online offerings you'll also find that Nintendo has been gracious enough to include a "Spectate" mode for those who want to watch other play the game. While I personally do not spectate it is still an option for those who wish to do so.
The Verdict ...
Graphics, and content-wise Smash Bros. for the 3DS stands up the challenge, and delivers a noteworthy experience on whatever model 3DS you might own. There's plenty to do, and plenty to unlock as you play through the various modes as your favorite Smash Bros. returners, and newcomers to the series. Additional customization options are available for those of you looking to use your own Mii creations in-game, and are even in place for those of you who wish to tweak Nintendo original characters. While I've merely touched base on what the game offers trust me when I say that it will keep a Nintendo fan busy for quite some time. There is not a single dull moment in this latest Smash Bros. release!