Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros., which arrives on 3DS ahead of Wii U this holiday season, has a little something for everyone. Well, to be fair, if we’re talking about classic video game characters, it has a lot for everyone. The cast of dozens includes such favorites as Mario, Luigi, and Princess Peach from the Super Mario Bros. family of games; Link and Princess Zelda from The Legend of Zelda franchise; Donkey Kong; and this time around, even classic non-Nintendo protagonists like Pac-Man and Pikachu from Pokémon. Each has their own attributes and attacks, and in the central melee mode, a corresponding backdrop inspired by their respective video games.
The melee, or Smash mode, which has long been the foundation of the Super Smash Bros. series, encompasses a free-for-all in which players are encouraged to knock each other off platforms, or to inflict enough damage to KO one another. Fans of the characters will recognize many of their moves: Princess Peach can fly through the air, while Kirby can puff himself up to float and hit opponents with a mallet, etc. Overall, this mode is pretty low stakes, what with avatars reappearing good as new no matter what befalls them. Super Smash Bros. has an age rating of 10+, which makes sense, what with all the action and violence, but I could see it being especially fun and diverting for older or adult gamers. After all, it’s easy to play a quick round (or five, since each only lasts a few minutes), and many of the characters will inspire a warm sense of nostalgia in the grown-up crowd.
Along with the ability to challenge and play against other 3DS users, this first-time-ever portable version of Super Smash Bros. features a Smash Run mode, in which players have five minutes to collect items in a dangerous labyrinth. These levels more closely resembles a traditional side-scroller, and there’s a certain amount of fun to be had in suiting up Pit from Kid Icarus and, for example, battling hordes of bad guys from the Super Mario games. Speaking only for myself, I found Smash Run mode to be slightly easier than “impossible,” but just a hair tougher than, “Why am I putting myself through this?” Still, as the fulfillment of every youthful gamer’s fantasies involving favorite protagonists either teaming up or getting mashed up, Super Smash Bros. delivers.