Throwing in everything including the kitchen sink, Super Smash Bros. on Wii U is jam-packed with content in the best way.
Note: After playing everything Smash Bros. Wii U has to offer online, we have updated our review with a score and tweaked the text. Enjoy!
When playing through Super Smash Bros. on 3DS earlier this year, something felt missing. There was certainly a lot to love about the first appearance of the series on a handheld, but it still felt slightly off. After spending a ton of time with Super Smash Bros. on Wii U, I now know what the issue was: the single-player content wasn't quite as deep. The multiplayer was more personal and less revelatory. Smash Bros. on Wii U blows the pants off of its 3DS predecessor by including tons of content and delivering one of the deepest, most complete games I have ever played.
It all starts with the multiplayer, which is just as frenetic and amazing as it was in past games. The biggest tweak to that tried-and-true formula is eight-player Smash. Hopping in with seven friends is sublime, and while the limited stage selection when playing with more than four players is disappointing, it doesn't ruin the unbridled chaos that transpires when you have so many people fighting at once. Still, while the sheer audacity of this mode is fantastic, eight-player Smash is ultimately just a novelty, something to savor when you have that many willing participants in the same room. The real meat and potatoes of Smash Bros. is and forever will be four-player battles (or two-player battles depending on your personal preference), which is aided by the varied array of characters, items, and assist trophies (all carried over from the 3DS version). The Wii U version also adds an amazing assortment of stages, the majority of which are far less gimmicky than the 3DS version's stages. There are still some miserable ones (What's up, Pac-Land?), but there are also amazing concept stages such as Gamer and Duck Hunt. Throw in a deep and highly customizable Stage Builder and some great returning classics, and Smash Wii U easily has the best set of stages in the series so far.
While local multiplayer is incredible, the online multiplayer leaves a little bit to be desired at times. Lag isn’t a regular occurrence, but it shows up often enough that it’s a nagging issue. Like the 3DS version, it features For Fun matches (timed matches with items) and For Glory matches (one-on-one matches with no items on the Omega stages). Friends matches are easy to start up and join; you can even do so from the friends list outside on the Wii U system menu. Voice chat is possible in-between matches, which is functional but the game would benefit from actually having voice chat during matches.
Aside from the traditional Smash multiplayer experience, the Wii U version also adds a bevy of solo modes. Smash Tour, which is a fast-paced Mario Party-lite board game, is the lone dud. Even with ample instructions, it's a confusing random mess. If you can find four people who actually understand the entire concept of Smash Tour, you might have some fun, but it's such a difficult idea to wrap your head around that every time I played it with friends, everyone would beg to quit halfway through and just play regular multiplayer. It’s a testament to how much fun the combat is that people just want to do that, but it also highlights how stale Smash Tour is that no one really wanted to do more than try it out once. It feels like a missed opportunity considering how much better Smash Run is on 3DS.
My favorite Wii U-exclusive mode is Events. Much like the same mode in past Smash Bros. games, you are tasked with completing a wide variety of unique challenges. Instead of the linear list of past games, Events in the Wii U game are revamped as a series of branching paths, more of which unlock as you complete them in different ways and unlock new characters. The events almost always contain a novel, interesting gameplay twist that ties into character’s backgrounds and histories. For example, one matches pit four Toon Links against each other in a call to the Four Swords game. Special Orders is another mode that is similar to Events. Master Orders, starring Master Hand, are generally more conventional challenges while the more intense Crazy Orders are series of events that get progressively harder until you attempt to defeat Crazy Hand. Since the orders are all randomly generated, those two modes are near limitless (they are also an awesome way to grind for items).
Aside from the unfortunate lack of Smash Run, all the other modes from the 3DS version made it to the Wii U version. The biggest change is to Classic Mode, but it still is the same idea just with a different wrapper and a different final boss. You can also run through most every mode in two-player co-op, which changes up how you approach Home Run Contest and more. It makes grinding for all of the unlockable items a little more fun than the 3DS version, though there is so much stuff to unlock that it’s hard to believe. There are more than 300 songs, including some fantastic new musical remixes. The trophies seem almost limitless and include surprising, wonderful callbacks to Nintendo’s history. Most of these can be unlocked randomly through playing virtually any mode, while some can only be unlocked by completing the challenge wall, which features a little more variety than the 3DS one. And if you did play the 3DS version, you can bring over your customized characters and even use your 3DS as a controller. Unfortunately, the implementation is very clumsy. You have to import characters one by one, which makes it an arduous task if you customized a majority of the 45+ characters.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is filled with so much content it is overwhelming at times. While the best mode of play will always be sitting back and fighting with friends, so much varied peripheral content is added that it is a continual delight to play through every challenge and mode, regardless of whether I played through a similar mode on 3DS recently. The online multiplayer isn’t perfect, but it’s light years beyond what was present in Brawl and comparable to the 3DS version. Even still, the easiest way to say it is like this: The Wii U release is the best version of Smash Bros. to date.