Tag Archives: Super Smash Bros. For Wii U

ConnectiCon 2016 Recap


Ah, ConnectiCon. As a resident of CT, it has become my annual mini-vacation. It isn’t too expensive as long as you buy your passes early. If you’re willing to commute, the cost of gas, and convention center parking is far less than area hotel fare. Plus it always seems to coincide with other fun events in Hartford, so there’s generally enough to do most of the time. There are usually a pretty nice list of celebrities, internet personalities, writers, and artists to meet. There are a lot of panels, cosplayers, rooms devoted to gaming, and tournaments to enter.

This year they had a few changes. First, the convention center changed its hours. In previous years, events the first two days went on to 10pm or later. This year the convention center closed up shop at 9pm. There were after hours events in the area hotels, and restaurants. But attendees used to late night panels would find themselves disappointed. It probably wasn’t the convention’s doing. But they’ll sadly get some of the blame. One thing they could have organized better were the lines during the Friday opening. In my experience, the first few staff members I talked to didn’t explain where the pre-registration line was very well. Both prepaid, and yet-to-pay lines were in the garage. I spent a confusing few moments until someone led a rallying cry that gathered those of us who pre-registered online, into the proper line.


But beyond that, I really didn’t have too much to complain about over my three days. None of the staff came off as snippy or ornery. Even in that confusion.

I pretty much stick to panels at conventions. They’re typically the most interesting parts of a convention to me. Though I did spend some time getting photos of some of the more impressive cosplays I bumped into. There were a lot of pretty good ones this year. Sadly my camera’s motor decided to start acting up on me this year. So I didn’t get the number of photos I would have liked to.

Still, there were a few pretty good ones I managed to snap. There were also a lot of great panels I managed to get into. I didn’t get into every panel I wanted to due to conflicting schedules. But overall, I did get to see most of what I wanted to. On Friday I  made it into two main panels.

The first was the Channel Awesome panel. This was a lot of fun. Doug Walker reprised his role as the ever popular Nostalgia Critic. This year his brother Rob, and actors Malcolm Ray, and Tamara Chambers came along for a question, and answer panel. A lot of the questions were some you might expect. About their favorite episodes, favorite, and least favorite movies. But there were some unexpected ones, like personal childhood memories. Malcolm, and Tamara loved doing plays early on. While Rob enjoyed a trip where he learned his mastery of impersonating Jeff Goldblum.


The audience also got to participate in a sight gag for an upcoming episode of The Nostalgia Critic, and the cast was there all three days feverishly meeting with fans, and signing autographs. I didn’t get a chance to speak with any of them this time around, but in previous years I have. They’ve always been appreciative of their audience, and generally very nice folks in person.

I also attended the Uncle Yo standup routine panel which did have most everyone laughing a lot. The material had a couple of funny political barbs. But a lot of the jokes ended up centering around cat ownership when the room was given an option.  He did plenty of gaming jokes too. Mighty No. 9, Pokémon, Zelda, and the Game Boy were all subjects of some funny gags. There was also a lovingly crafted tribute to his family. Really great stuff. If you have the chance to see him in your area, check it out. He has some pretty nice material. Particularly if you dig games.


The convention also coincided with the Hartford Riverfest event this year. So I followed some friends, and acquaintances over to that event when I began to feel hungry. If you’re ever in the area when this is going on, I highly recommend you check it out. Get this, they have a smorgasbord of interesting, different food trucks. Typically, many of us hear “Food Truck”, and we just think “Carnival food.”. We think about corn dogs, burgers, and ice cream. This event had a bunch of stuff beyond that. There was one truck that was centered around making custom slush drinks. There was a truck centered around Irish themed foods. I bought a corned beef grilled cheese sandwich. It came on grilled rye bread, and it was awesome. There was one truck that served barbecue. Pulled pork, ribs, drumsticks. If it had barbecue in the title, it served it.

Aside from a bad heat headache by that point it was a pretty good day. I spent most of the rest of it mingling with fans, and wandering the dealer room. Next to that was the electronic gaming area, half was made up of console, and PC gaming stations, while the rest was composed of arcade  games, and a tabletop area. Most of the arcade games were rhythm games, though the table flipping game from last year made a return. They also had arcade versions of Pokken Tournament, and Street Fighter V set up.


In the console area I saw Super Smash Bros Wii U, Street Fighter II HD Remix, Call Of Duty AW, Marvel Vs. Capcom 3 Ultimate, Ultra Street Fighter V, Mortal Kombat X, Killer Instinct, Mario Kart 8, and a smattering of other games. On the PC side there were huge set ups for League Of Legends, and Overwatch. There were ongoing tournaments for Super Smash Bros Wii U, and League of Legends which were being live streamed. Over in the adjacent hotel they had one main room devoted to RPGs. Pen, and Paper, and Card games.



Day two started out with a bang. I went to a panel centered around the Atari 2600. It focused on game design, and how the limitations of the VCS forced early game programmers to be even more creative. Creating not only game ideas, but techniques to squeeze those ideas into a very limited amount of memory, and storage space at the time. It served as a lesson to aspiring creators that limitations can be a motivator. It also served as a reminder that one should start small, focusing on a core game play idea to build a game around. Even if you weren’t a budding programmer, it was a great showcase of just what makes the Atari 2600 such a fun console.



After that I made it into two Star Trek panels. The first one was a smaller panel focusing on the future of the franchise. Star Trek is about to become 50 years old. There was a moment of silence for the late Anton Yelchin who tragically passed away in an automobile accident recently. After that discussion moved onto the upcoming film Star Trek Beyond, the new series coming to CBS’ streaming service, and the legal battles many of the fan projects are facing. One of them is in the midst of a lawsuit over the money that was raised on Kickstarter to complete it. Even though it was to pay the actors, and supplies to build sets, props, and make costumes. CBS apparently sees this as infringement. So much so that they released a set of guidelines that they want fan projects to abide by. These guidelines are so insanely restrictive, they basically disallow fans to make fan films. One high-profile fan project had to basically retitle the project, and make a laundry list of alterations to keep itself alive. Unfortunately many of the backers jumped in for a Star Trek project, that they’re no longer getting. The entire thing is a mess, but something that could see how fan projects by fandoms are going to be treated going forward.


There was also some discussion centered around the many changes, and updates to Star Trek Online over the past couple of years. It’s also being ported to the Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. Even the newest expansion Agents Of Yesterday, which ties the game into the Temporal Cold War storyline that was prevalent in Star Trek Enterprise. Things do seem to have been improved immensely since the game originally came out back in 2010. You can grind for chests that will have crew members, resources, or star ships in them. Since the game became a F2P title, you can try to play through the game without spending money on chests, but it can prove very difficult. The storyline takes place after the events of the 2009 reboot, making the game part of the original TOS/TNG/DS9/VOY time line. You get to see how ships, and races evolved in that time line. There are ways to play classes from every era as well.


After that panel I got to see another Star Trek panel with Nana Visitor, and Michael Dorn. This was a great panel where the two actors took questions from the room. Discussions about behind the scenes practical jokes, disagreements on the set, the shock of Terry Farrell’s departure from DS9, and other anecdotes. Nana, and Michael both reminded us that Star Trek has always been a show about morality plays. A show that made people think. Sometimes about subjects that can be uncomfortable. One can only hope the upcoming series, and film will retain that quality.


In between panels I often returned to the dealer’s area. I got to meet artist Tom Ryan while I was there the previous day, where he had some amazing work on display. So I returned the second day when I hadn’t left my cash in my car like an idiot. You should really check out his work at Tom Ryan’s Studio. It’s really amazing stuff. I ended up buying a really cool original ThunderCats print. He does all kinds of  work. Including commercial art commissions for breweries. He’s very kind, and very talented. Definitely check out his booth if he comes to a convention near you.

I also briefly got a chance to speak with Honest Trailers’ own Jon Bailey. He was really friendly, and genuinely enjoyed interacting with people. He also does a ton of voice work for commercials, shows, and video games. Just like the case with Tom Ryan, If he shows up at a convention near you, pay him a visit. He’s pretty swell in person.


One of the  most entertaining panels I attended was for voice actor, Jess Harnell it opened up when a young fan led the room in an introduction by singing the Animaniacs theme. Around half way through, he forgot a word or two, and faked his way through it but still did a really good job overall. Jess was pretty impressive. He talked a bit about his band Rock Sugar. Unbeknownst to many, he has a music career. He loves hard rock, so his band came up with an idea. “What if a hard rock band thought that the pop rock, and ballads were hard rock?” So their project was born. It’s pretty great stuff. The results are some very fun mash-up covers of pop songs, done in the vein of metal songs.

These mash-up covers are so good in fact, that if you put them on without telling your friends what they are, they’ll be shocked when Enter Sandman turns into Don’t Stop Believin’. He has also been able to open for a lot of hard rock bands like AC/DC. It’s really impressive, and if you have the opportunity check it out. It’s pretty great.

He also talked a bit about how William Shatner once confused him for Gene Simmons, his first time meeting Steven Spielberg, and an odd time helping Pierce Brosnan record lines in Quest For Camelot. He’s also done some roles you may not be aware of, including the voice over on America’s Funniest Home Videos. 


Another really cool thing happened in the panel, Rob Paulsen ( most known as the voice of Pinky of Pinky, and the Brain) called into the panel to talk to the audience! He, and Tress MacNeille  were originally going to be guests at the con, but unfortunately became ill before the show. So they couldn’t make it. But he did want to thank all of the fans personally, and he hopes to make it to next year’s convention. Rob, and Tress also pre-signed a number of photos so that if you wanted Jess’ autograph, you also got theirs.

After the panel nearly all  in attendance of the panel went to Jess Harnell’s booth. He was very kind to everyone. He went above, and beyond in his interaction with the fandom. I bought a copy of his band’s Reimaginator album, and he was even kind enough to sign it with a personalization. If any of the Animaniacs cast shows up at a con near you, pay them a visit. I got to meet Maurice Lamarche last year, Rob Paulsen the year before that, and they’ve all just been wonderful people.


After that it was time for our annual trek to City Steam Brewery in Hartford. Not only do they make some of my favorite beers, they also make some of the best pub food in Connecticut. They have a huge restaurant built into the brewery, as well as a comedy club, business meeting rooms, and a bunch of stuff. It coincides with my buddy Dan’s birthday nearly every year, so he tries to get as many friends, and acquaintances as possible to have dinner together there. Dan also helms the Best Spuds channel on YouTube, and all of the spuds were there. I can’t say enough good things about the food, or service there. So often people only want to talk about bad experiences. I can’t say I’ve had a bad experience there. The food is always good. If in a rare instance they’ve gotten an order wrong it’s been promptly fixed.


Plus there’s nothing quite like getting your favorite beer fresh. It might taste great out of a bottle or can into a frosted glass. But getting it fresh from the brewery is even better. I had some Buffalo chicken nachos, a black bean burger, and thanks to my friends getting full, two fish tacos. All of which was very delicious. I added another City Steam glass to my beer glass collection, as well as a Naughty Nurse IPA T-shirt to my closet full of T-shirts. Speaking of the beer,  Their new Wacked Out Wheat is really good. It has elements of both an India Pale Ale, and a Hefeweizen blended with mango, and pineapple. It was spectacular. I also went with a nice glass of Naughty Nurse IPA. It’s light, bitter, yet full of citrus notes. It’s fantastic bottled. Again, it’s even better fresh.


The final day of ConnectiCon is always shorter, and usually, they put all of the best panels in the schedule for the first two days. Last year they tried to alleviating this by having some stuff on day three. This year, they did a little bit better by once again having some of the bigger guests do panels on the final day.

The first of these was a riveting panel by John Rhys-Davies, where he  talked about some of the challenges the crew faced during the filming of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, and how they were able to overcome them. As well as how much one can benefit from optimal management skills, and the effect of scale in many topics. He also talked about some of the debates he had with writers in his time on Sliders, as well as his passion for theatre. Particularly Shakespearean plays. He even spent time talking about how Tolkien’s wartime experiences influenced the Lord of the Rings, as well as some time talking about general world history.

The second was a Q&A session with Michael Dorn. This one differed from the previous panel in that he was the only guest. A lot of similar questions were asked this time around, but he also spent some time talking about his love of tennis, and his love of aviation. He told the crowd about some experiences he had when accepting invitations from branches of the armed forces. He was humbled, and grateful for the opportunity to fly F-16’s, F/A-18 Hornets, and be a guest pilot with the Blue Angels. But he is especially appreciative of the young men, and women who work in the armed forces, doing dangerous jobs on carriers, and other means. He also talked about how seriously he takes all roles including comedic ones. He also really enjoys watching South Park, and cited how it can be edgy, without doing so just for the sake of doing so. Rather to illustrate a point.


The final panel I got to see during the con was a panel on level design using Doom builder. This was hosted by aspiring indie developer Zodiacw who not only gave a nice tutorial on some of the basic tools, but gave an in-depth look at the importance of map design. Which also brought about conversations on how map making, and game design are intertwined. A map designer can set up game rules by setting expectations with a simple wall texture. Or easily lose players by not following the rules they’ve set up in previous stages. They also discussed how one can still impress medium, and large studios by pushing the boundaries of an older engine with a keen understanding of map design. As well as carrying the knowledge taken from making maps for Doom into newer, and more complex engines. Even if you aren’t someone who would want to make a career out of making custom content, the panel made even doing so for fun quite palatable.


Aside from some confusion surrounding the pre-registration line on the first day, I had a pretty great time at ConnectiCon. Sure, I would have liked to have gotten into some of the other panels like Tom Kenny’s (SpongeBob Squarepants), Walter Koenig’s (Star Trek), or Sean Astin’s (Goonies, LOTR) but this is a convention that seems to get a little bit bigger every year when it comes to getting big names. So it simply isn’t possible to see every panel. But what I did get to experience was great, and as in year’s past many of the panels felt inspirational.


For those who aren’t interested in the celebrity, and internet personality aspect, there was still plenty to do. There were a number of cosplay events, like the always popular masquerade, belly dance off, and death match. The video game area was populated the entire three days, and there were a lot of participants in the League Of Legends, and Smash tournaments. There were the aforementioned tabletop, card, and RPG game areas, and they even had an all day karaoke stage set up. I’m sure I’m forgetting a bunch of other things. The convention center closing earlier this year was a bit of a bummer for the older portion of the crowd. But that was partially made up for with area restaurants, movie theatres, and a brewery to boot. Still, having the late night events moved to one of those places, or eliminated was a little bit disappointing. But overall my complaints are fairly minor. I still had a great three-day weekend leading into a week away from working. ConnectiCon is in many ways an inexpensive vacation for me. If this year’s experience is any indication, this will continue to be.

If you’ve stumbled upon this recap, I hope you’ve enjoyed it. If you’re interested in attending the convention you can get more info at ConnectiCon’s own website.


Super Smash Bros. For Wii U Review

I know I’m late to the party with this one, and everyone has told you that this game is worth picking up 1,000 times over. Is this game good? There’s no question. Is this game overhyped? Possibly. Can this game do any wrong? Absolutely, though not what you might expect. This game addresses the concerns fans had with the previous game, while bringing along a couple of new decisions fans might fret over. But no game is flawless right?

PROS: Improved visuals, features, online experience, and a lot of content.

CONS: The campaign feature in Brawl, and Melee is gone. Some character cuts.

AMIIBO: While you don’t need one, the game may make you want to own a few.

Super Smash Bros. is now around 15 years old. Where has the time gone? With every iteration over that time span, each brought something new. Obviously the core concept for the series came with the first one. While things have changed, that set of fundamental design has not. Melee made things faster. A lot faster, and a large number of fans quickly realized that it could hang with the likes of Street Fighter even though it was a wildly different game. It’s sequel Brawl, tried to make things more accessible. After all, by the time it came out, many people were talking about insane techniques needed to win against professional players. Melee was showing up in tournaments, and developed a hardcore cult following in the fighting game community. A following that has only grown over the last decade. Brawl ran much slower, allowing people new to the series to be able to pick it up, and learn the mechanics. It had its own level of challenge, and was a very good game in its own right. It introduced online play, even if it wasn’t always the smoothest or most responsive game online. It expanded the roster even further, and even tried to add a bit more pizzaz to its single player campaign.

But a rivalry broke out in the fan community that lasts to this day, with many screaming the praises of one game, while disdaining the other. Super Smash Bros.for Wii U does a number of things to alleviate that, and bridge a gap between the two flavors of game play. For the handful of you who may not be familiar with Super Smash Bros., or at least those who have seen it, but never really understood it, it’s a fighting game. It’s a very unconventional fighting game that celebrates the last fifty years of Nintendo’s intellectual properties. There are characters, and worlds from Nintendo’s greatest franchises, and products. Super Mario Bros. Donkey Kong. The Legend of Zelda. Metroid. Pokémon. Even many of their lesser known titles end up represented somehow.

Where SSB really differentiates itself from other fighting games is how you defeat opponents. In most fighters, each player has a life bar. The goal is to deplete your opponents’ life bar two out of three rounds. In SSB however, the goal is to be king of the mountain, or a proverbial Sumo wrestler. Ring outs are the key to victory.  What makes the game addicting, and challenging however is that players have the ability to get back in the ring if they are knocked out. Each stage has an invisible border around it. Knocking a player beyond that point gets you a victory. As you attack other players, their damage percentage goes higher. As they take more punishment, each attack knocks them back farther. This goes on until someone can’t make it back.

Each game has had two major ways to play it. Stock rules or Time rules. Stock rules gives each player a decided upon number of lives. Each ring out, costs a life until there is only one person standing. Time rules, gives everyone unlimited lives, and everyone plays until the clock hits zero. At the end of the game a winner is chosen by the number of times they knocked out other players. If there’s a draw the game goes to Sudden Death, where everyone has high damage percentage, and even a minimal attack can knock you out. The last player standing then wins.

Each game also allowed players to play with or without items. These would show up, at random to give whoever picked them up an advantage. Baseball bats, guns, bombs, Super Mushrooms, and more would show up. Some of the items, called Assist Trophies, would summon NPC characters to attack other players. When Brawl came around, it brought a new item called the Smash Ball. Getting one of these meant your character could perform a finishing move, much like Street Fighter’s Ultras, or Mortal Kombat’s Fatalities. Except of course they would usually result in a knock out.

Finally, the biggest departure from other fighting games is the insistence upon simple inputs. Most fighting games involve learning complex button combinations to do anything from a special move to a combination attack. SSB is much simpler. You have four directions, a jump button, an attack button, and a special move button. Pressing a direction with either button performs a move. One can also press the attack button, and a direction at the exact same time for what the game calls “Smash Attacks” these are usually the most powerful moves the game has to offer, as they can also be charged. However that simplicity only goes so far, as you still need the zoning, and unpredictability you use in other fighting games to win. Players have a shield button, as well as a grab button. Shielding is essentially a block button. But to prevent people from playing too defensively or turtling, the block will explode if you hold it too long. Shielding allows you to dodge, and parry too by combining it with a direction. Finally, the grab button will allow you to perform holds, where you can add damage, as well as using it with a direction to throw an opponent. Something that can be handy as you can then attack their airborne character with follow ups. All of these moves can have different results in the air, and most of the characters can add a third jump (you can jump twice with the jump button) by using their up, and special move button after jumping.

There are plenty of other in-depth mechanics between the games that I really won’t delve into here. But know that Super Smash Bros. For Wii U keeps all of these core rules in place. What it does differently from previous games is moves the speed somewhere between SSBM, and SSBB’s. Something that makes it accessible to both groups of dedicated players. The roster has been updated again. Some of the characters that didn’t return in Brawl have returned here. Others are entirely new, while some haven’t returned at all. Many will be happy to know that in addition to the better run speed, a lot of rebalancing has also occurred, and while not perfect, everyone is pretty viable. For most players there won’t be a vast gap between character match ups. For the hardest of the hardcore? Well it’s still going to be awhile before we start seeing consistent tier lists, but there is still plenty to love. Cross ups, two in ones, and advanced combos are all here, and some astute diehards have already discovered a handy technique they call perfect pivoting. I’m certain some may still prefer the old Gamecube version, but this Wii U iteration is certainly deep enough to sate most any fan.

If the tweaks to the core formula weren’t enough to get you to check this out yet, some of the other new features just might. For starters, the internet play is much, improved over Super Smash Bros. Brawl. While I’ve still had my share of disconnects, or a lag ridden match on occasion, that frequency has been greatly reduced. It is irritating when it does happen, as you will see the wrong move pop out as the game isn’t sure what you’ve pressed. Or to see things creep down to five miles an hour. But thankfully those moments have been pretty rare. At least in my case, most rounds go pretty smoothly. Those with wired connections may see even fewer instances of hiccups, as there might be interference in some homes that conflict with a wireless signal. While no means flawless, it is a vast improvement over the last game’s internet performance.

Online mode also has been split up into two modes. For Fun, and For Glory. The former is designed for those who love the random craziness Super Smash Bros. is known for. Items are in full bloom, no holds are barred, and records aren’t kept. Some may have a small nitpick with this mode though. That is the game’s over reach on stopping griefers. In order to keep things civil, the game will disconnect, and put an hour-long ban on you if you target one specific player, over, and over again. While it is commendable that there is a game that really takes this sort of behavior seriously, it can be a little overzealous for some. Sometimes if one player consistently attacks, another, and also consistently fails at it the defender may suffer the consequences. To be fair it seems to be a rarity, and most of the time one has to actively work to make it happen. But there could have been a better concept implemented here. That said, it is generally the zany fun you are accustomed to.

The second mode sets things up similarly to what you might find in a regional tournament. Super Smash Bros. Wii U adds a new map feature called Omega Mode, where maps are converted to a similar layout to the Final Destination stage every game in the series has had. That is, there is but one platform in the center of your screen. For Glory mode also means that no items are in play. Not even the Smash Ball. Games are timed to 2 minutes, and you play for the most knock outs possible. This is easily the most popular mode for people who want a challenge. The mode can also be played in a 4 player mode, a 2 on 2 team mode or a 1 on 1 mode. SSBWU also has an online stat tracker for anybody obsessed with wins, losses, and character stats.

There are also challenges you can take part in by choosing certain characters. Nintendo updates them under a section called Conquest. Going under here simply notifies you of what characters are in play. Using them in For Glory modes, will add points to the character’s team. It doesn’t seem to reward you with anything, but it is something you might have a passing interest in. You can also spectate matches. Going here, and picking a character will find games where the character is being used, and then broadcasting the match to you. If you are the sort who enjoys watching streams of high level play, or any sort of competition, it’s another avenue for you.

You can also play online with friends, which allows you to play up to four players on any given stage, with or without items, in stock or time rule matches. One of the cool things about playing online is that you can have a player, and his or her friend as a guest play online simultaneously. It’s great for anyone who has a roommate, spouse or sibling, who share the same console.

If all of that were it, it would be enough for some, but it isn’t all there is. Players who have local parties with friends can play 8 player battles. This is in addition to the regular 4 player battles. The only drawback here is that not every map in the game was designed with 8 people in mind, so some of the maps are not useable in this mode. Using Omega mode opens up more, but the inability to play on every stage is a minor disappointment. Still, it is a blast if you can get 7 other people to visit or if you’re bringing the system, the game, and some controllers to a party.

On the subject of controllers, the game allows for several kinds of controller options. Obviously you can use the Game Pad, or the Classic Controller Pro. Both of these controllers work great, giving you the versatility of using a second stick for quick Smash Attacks. You can also use the Wiimote on its side, with a Nunchuck, or with the Wii Classic Controller. Using the latter is pretty much like the Classic Controller Pro. Using the Wiimote by itself, or with a Nunchuck isn’t the most ideal way to play as you lose some of the benefits of having analog movement, and easier to pull off smashes. That being said, if you are really good at knowing the precise timing to pull off smashes, then it’s less of an issue. Nevertheless, having some Classic Controller Pros, or Classic Controllers for Wiimotes are going to be a more ideal solution. The game is also compatible with the Nintendo Gamecube Controller. Which is what the absolute purists will insist upon. It isn’t an insurmountable advantage over the Classic Controller, or Classic Controller Pro. But it will feel more familiar to anyone who played an awful lot of Super Smash Bros. Melee. How exactly do you use a GCN controller with this game? Nintendo released a USB adapter that four controllers can plug into, and even supports using two adapters for eight controllers. The only problem? Not very many were produced, and most of them were bought up upon release. If you are fortunate enough to find one at retail, or a copy of the game bundled with one, it is a nice option. Particularly if you have old controllers knocking around. Barring that, the Wiimote, and Classic Controller or Classic Controller Pro are your most ideal options. There is another option for those who own the 3DS version of the game, and that is using the portable as a controller, so long as they have the game plugged in. You can also transfer some character data with it as well.

Smash Tour replaces the single player campaign, and it combines the arbitrary rules of Mario Party, with the challenge of Super Smash Bros. You can play this against the CPU, or against three other people. It’s a board game that allows you a set number of turns (15 being the lowest number), in which you’ll move across spaces upon every turn. As you play you’ll collect characters to use in combat, as well as items, and assist trophies to help you in battle while levelling up. Bumping into other players, will often times start a round of Super Smash Bros., with the winner gaining items, and costing the other players items. At the end of the board game there is a final battle with everyone using the characters they’ve collected. As in the Mario Party games, there are also random items generated for players depending on certain events. The object is to try to have the most stuff going into the final round, as it devolves into a handicap match. Someone will almost always have far less characters to use than the others. So skill building from the main game is still paramount.

Another new duo of modes are Master Orders, and Crazy Orders. Master Orders will give you the opportunity to spend gold to enter special challenges. Winning them gives you rewards for your Mii fighter creation, and Amiibos. Crazy Orders is similar but you can use tickets or gold. The difference is Crazy Orders will give you better prizes the longer you can go without losing. Once you lose, you gain nothing. Some of the challenges in the game require you to accomplish certain feats in these modes so you may want to play them. Another key thing in Crazy Orders is that once you’ve beaten as many challenges as you think you can handle you fight Crazy Hand. If you manage to win that battle you’ll retain all of the prizes you’ve claimed thus far.

The game still has the less touted single player modes of previous Smash games however. There is the Classic mode, in which you’ll have to go through a gauntlet of matches, until you meet the final boss. There is a really challenging spin on the mode here however. When starting the game, you’ll be able to choose a difficulty setting, and the higher you choose, the better the rewards for winning. You’ll also need coins to choose the higher settings. You earn these in all of the various modes, along with other items. If you can get to the end of the game on the highest setting, it not only puts you against both the Master Hand, and Crazy Hand (which turns into a number of different forms depending on difficulty level), but puts you into a side scrolling secret stage similar to the end of the original Contra. You’ll have to destroy 3 hearts while hordes of minions try to stop you.

Here’s the thing that makes this an even bigger challenge than in previous games. Even using a single continue will lower the difficulty setting. So you cannot get the highest possible win if you continue. Each consecutive continue lowers the difficulty further. All Star mode also returns, which is essentially a gauntlet through the entire roster. You’ll have to beat every character in a row, on one life. If you can manage to do that, you’ll be rewarded with items, and trophies of each character’s Final Smash.

Also returning are the event stages, which task you with objectives during matches, like beating a character in under 30 seconds, or not letting an enemy touch the stage floor during a 2 minute match. Clearing these can result in some harder to find items, and unlockable stages. Other returning modes are the Home Run bag mode (where you send a sandbag flying for a high score), the multi man NPC smash battles (Beat a number of computer controlled enemies), and target (Break round targets in the shortest time possible)challenges.

But wait! There’s more! Mii’s have become the series’ create a wrestler mode. You can take any given Mii on your system, or  a new Mii, and customize them to create new characters. You can choose from three attack types, a projectile heavy character, a speedy character,  or a brawler. From there you can change around their move sets, costume designs, and more. You can also take an existing character such as Mario, and retool their move sets for interesting results.

Super Smash Bros Wii U also is the first Nintendo game to make significant use of their Amiibo toy line. Instead of unlocking weapons, or skins, they become sparring NPC partners. After setting them on the Game Pad, the character can be renamed, and given custom move sets. Once that is done, playing against it will level it up. As it levels up, it will actually analyze the way you play, and find workarounds for many of your tactics. It quickly goes from being easily squashed to impossible to defeat. What is pretty cool about this is that it will help you learn your weaknesses in a way that a level 9 CPU character simply can’t. The toys can be levelled up to a rank of 50, although they’ll continue to evolve their tactics around your improved tactics. Moreover you can give your Amiibo many of the items you’ll find playing the various modes.

These influence its strengths, and weaknesses. Depending on what you give it, it will veer toward a fast, projectile, or brawler character much like the Miis. You can also only give the Amiibo so many items at a time, before the game will tell you it is full, and has to fight in more matches. In between fights it can be given more items.

In terms of unlockables, the game also has them in spades. The most important ones, are the characters, and stages which can be unlocked by playing enough matches or by meeting certain conditions. Such as beating classic mode, clearing a certain event, and so on, and so forth. But the game also has a lot of trophies for you to collect as well. Hundreds of them. Also carried over from Brawl, are the Nintendo demos for the old games the characters come from, as well as the stage creator, and snapshot features.

Stage creator is a great feature for anybody who likes to create mods. It isn’t going to be the deepest tool. But it does allow you to pick textured block designs, create a nice layout, and even add hazards like lava, or spikes. These can be saved to an SD card along with screenshots you take. Screenshots can be taken like most Wii U games, by pressing Home, and then posting on MiiVerse or a Website. But you can also use the game’s pause menu to save photos to the earlier mentioned SD card.

Super Smash Bros. Wii U really does succeed in many ways at bridging the gap between Melee, and Brawl. But it isn’t quite flawless. While most won’t be bothered by the omission of a campaign, some may be saddened that Solid Snake doesn’t return, nor do the Ice Climbers. Rosalina shares some of their tactics as she has a Luma as her proverbial tag team partner, but still plays wildly differently. The Pokémon Trainer is also gone. Instead, Charizard comes on his own, GreNinja enters as a newcomer, and Pokémon fans still get to play with Pikachu, Jigglypuff, and Lucario. (Mewtwo is also going to return down the line as DLC) Despite these, and other roster changes (Zelda, and Sheik are no longer tied to each other, as is the case with Samus, and Zero Suit Samus) things still seem much better here. Mega Man functions nearly identically to his 8-bit NES counterpart, Pac-Man is a lot of fun to use, and you’ll also see some other classic, and contemporary Nintendo characters showing up here. There is a lot to love here, and few games of any genre give you this much content these days.

If all of the modes weren’t enough, you have the aforementioned trophy hunting,  as well as an album function for your photos. The game also has a wonderful soundtrack. All of your favorite series’ songs are represented here. There are symphonic renditions, the original chip tunes,  Rock n’ Roll, Electronica, and so on. You can even set the frequency of each song’s playback for all of the game’s stages.  At the end of the day, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a must for anyone with the system.

Final Score: 9 out of 10