by Brian Robbins

Let’s be frank, this past holiday season, Nintendo needed a system seller. Even with the amazing Bayonetta 2 and Mario Kart 8, the system still doesn’t have a great library. What gamers were salivating for was the newest iteration of Super Smash Brothers, one of the most polished franchises in gaming history. There were two versions of the newest Super Smash Brothers, one for the 3DS and one of the Wii U. In this review, I’m going to be talking about the console version, which also happens to be one of the best games on Nintendo’s system.

If you’re not familiar with the franchise, Super Smash Brothers is a fast, off the wall fighting game. The game features Nintendo’s biggest stars such as Mario, Link, Pikachu and Samus, as well as some select third party heavy hitters, such as Sonic and Pac-Man. With items ranging from Pokeballs to turtle shells, the action can get frantic quick, but oh so fun. You’ll also be fighting in some of gaming’s most beloved stages, the nostalgia of some of these levels will hit you right in the feels.

The Wii U iteration of Smash Bros. features the same character lineup and items as its 3DS version, but differ on stages and game modes. The most striking addition to the console release is the eight player mode. In the previous Super Smash Brothers, hardware limitations forced the game to only feature four players fighting at a time but with new graphical improvements, the game runs wonderfully while doubling the player count. I do suggest that if you invite your friends over to show off this game mode, make sure you do it on a bigger TV. There were plenty of times that characters would get lost on screen just because of all the action going on at once.

Another game mode they added to the Wii U version is Smash Tour. This game mode plays like a whacked out board game. Pitting you and your friends against each other on the gameboard. You’ll collect various stats, items and characters that you gather up for a final showdown after 15 to 20 rounds. I found Smash Tour incredibly frustrating and at times just awful. The game does a poor job explaining what’s happening on the game board, and what some of the spaces do. Smash Tour will try your patience, but if you power through it you will be rewarded with new multiplayer arenas.

The returning favorite, Classic mode, does make a few changes to some aspects. Unlike the Classic mode in previous games, this one is a little less straightforward. While I prefer the more linear progression of Classic mode from past games, this is still serviceable. There’s also Smash mode to round out the gameplay choices. Smash mode is a multiplayer only mode, in which you can customize most everything about a match.

The coolest feature in the new Super Smash Brothers for the Wii U has to be the Amiibo functionality. In stores you’ll find Nintendo characters that look similar to Disney Infinity or Skylander action figures. To load the characters Super Smash Brothers, you place the Amiibo figures onto your Wii U gamepad and your character comes to life on screen. When the Amiibos are loaded up into your game, you can train the characters and teach them certain attributes. It’s a neat idea but it’s not perfect. My Link character seems to have learned all of my bad habits but as I got better, I also trained my Fox Amiibo. When they fought, my Link Amiibo absolutely got dominated. Of course, you can always wipe the character progress over and start fresh. Other games will support Amiibo features as well, and some of the figures look downright gorgeous as a standalone collectible.

My main worry with the new Super Smash Brothers was the online features, Super Smash Brothers Brawl on the original Wii was a total lag fest. Luckily, Nintendo put enough polish into the multiplayer capabilities for the WiiU’s online modes. Out of the hundreds of matches I’ve played, only a handful were slow from lag. Most of the online matches played flawlessly and every character’s mechanics worked great online. I’m very impressed.

Overall, this is the most feature packed and definitive Super Smash Brothers game ever. With 37 playable characters the roster is vast and varied, everyone will find a few favorites in this lineup. Even with a couple of stinker game modes, and some overpowered weapons, Super Smash Brothers Wii U still shines as one of the best games of the year. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have more Amiibos to train.