Thanks to my good friend Kiefer (@Kipikins) I've managed to obtain a demo code for the upcoming 3DS version of Super Smash Brothers.
I'm a long standing fan of the series since it's beginnings back on the Nintendo 64. I mean...come on...who didn't and wouldn't want a over the top fighting game featuring some of Nintendo's most loved franchises? Many precious GCSE 'revision sessions' were lost to several rounds on Smash Bros! The series returned on the Nintendo Gamecube with the added title of Melee fixed to the end, and I can safely say I probably sunk more hours into that iteration than that of its predecessor and the later version released on the Wii some years later combined. The Gamecube controller was the perfect fit (of which I'm really glad they allowed you to use the same pad on the Wii and the upcoming Wii U version too). Anyway...I digress.
The upcoming 3DS version is the first handheld Smash Bros. Boasting the same roster of characters which will be available later in the year on it's bigger brother, the Wii U, this game is crammed full of Nintendo fan service. The 3DS iteration will share some of the same levels from the Wii U plus includes a few of its own.
Lets get down to business. The demo...what do you get?
Smash mode is the only way to play in the demo, giving you the option of fighting on your own against 1-3 CPU opponents of adjustable difficulty. You can also play via local wireless, allowing you and up to 3 friends to battle it out, with or without CPU opponents to pad out the contest. 5 characters are playable, with veterans Mario, Link and Pikachu being pick-able alongside newcomers MegaMan and the Villager (of Animal Crossing fame), giving you a good selection of different fighting styles. You can only do battle on one map, the straightforward Battlefield (with either the additional 'floating' platforms included or not, pressing X on the map selection screen allows you to flick between the two settings). Pickup/item options cannot be changed, nor can the time limit, which is set at 2 minutes.
As I started my first battle it soon became apparent that this was the Smash Brothers I knew and loved. No tinkering of controls, no changes to the mechanics, it's Smash Brothers, only on a handheld console. Playing as one of my favorites (Link, of course) only cemented that fact as all the combos and moves came back to me in a flash. It's been some time since I played the Wii version, but just like riding a bike you soon get back into the swing of battering people out of arenas. Today I managed to play with a couple of friends at work via local wireless and we were soon letting out gasps and cursing each other in a way only local multiplayer games can. While the demo may only give you 5 characters and 1 arena, it's unsurprising that we were all agreeing on having 'one more go' after each match.
I'm currently using a standard 3DS, while my 2 friends were using XLs. The Battlefield map in the demo perhaps isn't the greatest way of testing how well the game will work on my tiny screens, as screenshots/videos and other hands-on articles I've read have all pointed at the XL being the console you should be playing this on. This is mainly due to some of the other arenas being much wider, meaning when the fights get stretched and the camera inevitably has to zoom out so everyone can see what's going on the action is going to be very hard to see on the standard 3DS screens. This isn't something I can personally confirm, as previously mentioned the Battlefield map is a pretty straight-forward arena.
I've put most of my game time so far into the two newcomers to the series, especially MegaMan. At first, I wasn't that taken with his move set, but the more I've used him, the more I'm getting into his combos. I don't usually play with ranged characters, which with a gun attached his arm, it's obvious how MegaMan was going to play. His recovery move doesn't have any offensive power for example, but I'm really getting into the swing of his abilities.
The Villager has some nifty moves, with my favorite being the summon-able missile, aka the Gyroid. Hop on one, and use it as a guided missile, allowing you to jump off before it hits its target, ideal for taking out characters trying to recover. I've got a lot more rounds to play through before I can really say if either of them will be ranked as my most played characters.
My circle pad is taking some stick when I'm going for the smash moves, so I'm a little worried I may eventually break it... Hopefully a future update may slightly adjust the sensitivity of bringing out the powerful moves. The 3DS's other buttons suit the default Smash Bro's button layout, although I guess if the console had a second C-Stick like the Gamecube controller to pull off the Smash attacks that would be awesome (and may lengthen the life of my main console stick). Speaking of which, sadly you won't be able to use the Circle Pad Pro as it won't be compatible. Nintendo have confirmed you will be able to use the 2nd stick on the 'new 3DS' which is coming out next year with Smash Bros though.
All and all, the demo does a fantastic job of making me very impatient when it comes to having to wait for the full release (which no doubt will make me want the Wii U version even more than I already do...). It looks fantastic, and I'm glad that Nintendo decided to give each of the characters a black outline to make the characters a little easier to battle with on the smaller screens. I am a little concerned about the arena sizes in the full release when played out on the 3DS screen. I don't feel restricted by the layout of the buttons in conjunction with the default control layout, aside from possibly the sensitivity of trying to pull off the smash moves with the stick. The newcomers fit in with the already established veterans, who play just like their bigger console iterations.
If you didn't get a code via Club Nintendo (or via an awesome friend!) then have no fear, the demo will be available to download from the eShop from September 19th.