This is Co-Opinion, where two Joystiq editors play a game and discuss their experience. This edition focuses on an E3 2014 hands-on session of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, by Nintendo.
Mike Suszek: Sam and I took a moment to throw down in a few matches of Super Smash Bros. on Wii U at E3. Let's get this out of the way: It's definitely still Smash Bros. The controls aren't wildly different from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the four-player action is still chaotic and I still manage to miss out on every Pokeball that appears.
Sam Prell: Being "more Smash Bros." isn't necessarily bad, though. Fighting games aren't often torn down and rebuilt from the ground up - they're tweaked and tightened. Sometimes a surprise feature or two can sneak their way in and shake things up, though.
I'm still not sure about how I feel about the addition of the Smash Ball in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, even six years after the fact. Based on our - admittedly short - time with the game this week though, I don't think we'll see a shift quite as dramatic as the one between Brawl and Melee.
Mike Suszek: No, though the fighters in this game (which should probably add a subtitle before any more confusion sets in) have a little more weight to them. Those are the sorts of differences you'll feel at the outset, but Smash Bros. does all the right things we've come to expect. It's fast, flashy and smooth, aided by the extra umph of the Wii U, as seen especially in the game's stages. The Punch-Out-inspired boxing ring seemed at first like it would be a boring, flat surface at first; it wound up being my favorite level to fight on.
Sam Prell: Absolutely. I loved the moment I realized that jumping onto the ring's ropes would bounce me into the air. Like a springboard. The Jumbotron in the background showing the action was also pretty nifty; it reminded me of the Pokemon stages of previous games, which pulled a similar trick. The Mega Man stage was also interesting; having to fight a Mega Man enemy while fighting each other changes the flow pretty significantly.
What I like about these levels is that they feel more restrained than the ones from Brawl. The backgrounds in that game were absolutely nuts at times, and very frenetic. This game's levels still feel active, but in a meaningful way. I feel the same can be said of new characters: they feel meaningful, not like cheap clones of existing fighters.
Mike Suszek: Not just meaningful, but faithful to their source material. The Wii Fit Trainer has incredible posture and proper form in every movement, which looked a little staggered, kind of like Mr. Game & Watch. One of her moves (the combination of "B" and down) had her doing push-ups, but I never figured out a good use for the move. Another had her standing still and seemingly storing up energy while a green circle enclosed around her, just like the times in Wii Fit where I had to breathlessly maintain a pose. Little Mac had these bruising punches and a single-button charging haymaker that frequently knocked my rivals across the screen. I'm traditionally a Link user, but the "Mac attack" might be my new go-to contestant. It seemed like every character had charms and quirks you'd expect to see from within their respective games. Little Mac wore a championship belt in the victory screen, which was another excellent, but small detail that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Zero Suit Samus didn't really make me recall much of anything from Metroid, however (spin attack notwithstanding). She simply kicked ass.
Sam Prell: Personally, I was surprised by how much I liked Rosalina. I usually go for quick characters like Fox and Sonic, and Rosalina was the opposite: slow and floaty. But man, when she throws that Luma at you, it looks and feels like a wrecking ball. The cool thing is, she was a new character that played different from my usual style, and I won with her - while using the Wii U GamePad.
It feels like we already have a bajillion-and-one control methods for Smash Bros., but I'm cool with one more. I have larger hands with long fingers, so a big controller like the GamePad feels natural in my grip. It may not feel like it adds much to the experience, but it also doesn't get in the way. It's just another flavor in Super Smash Bros.' metaphorical candy shop. Pick the one you like.
Mike Suszek: And the Game Pad might be it for me. I'm not too discerning about my Smash Bros. control options, and the controller's screen didn't appear to serve much functionality outside of replicating the action on the big screen that I remember, but it just seemed to be another solid option to play the game. I could see myself playing this in bed with the TV off until the Game Pad's battery died, though I felt slightly more at home with the GameCube controller nested in my sweaty mitts.
I was already interested in (what will be billed as) "Smash Bros. in HD." Now I'm completely onboard.
Sam Prell: I'm cautiously optimistic. I was initially pumped for Brawl, but felt a bit let down when that game released. My biggest problem was that there was just too much fluff. The levels felt high-strung and hyperactive, too many clone characters included for no good reason, and like I said at the start of this conversation, I still don't know how I feel about the Smash Ball.
What I like about Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is that I get the impression Nintendo has realized Brawl's mistakes. They seem to know that more isn't necessarily better, and so the changes being made are more about tightening what's already there instead of throwing in gimmicks. It feels like a return to form, and that's exactly what I want.