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November 27, 2014

The Smash Diaries (Day 4)

Before I get started, there’s one thing I have to mention: I’ve been playing this game exclusively with the Wii Classic Controller Pro (the one that came with Monster Hunter Tri).  As I’ve established by now, I don’t have any problems with the Wii U GamePad; the issue is that playing Smash 4 means completely un-learning how to play with a GameCube controller.  This has been…an issue on a consistent basis.  I need to get used to the new controller, but it’s the closest facsimile to the GC pad I’ve got right now.

So yeah, no commentary on how the GamePad figures in this time around.  So let’s put our focus back on the game -- though before we do that?  Let’s have a moment of silence for my brother’s GC pad.  After years of smashing, it finally gave out on him. 

Just as well, though.  It had a lot of exposed wires.

--So I gave Smash Tour a try for the sake of unlocking the other Pac-Man stage.  I’ve discussed this with friends, but I’ll go ahead and say it here: it’s proof that Nintendo wants (if not needs) Smash 4 to be as many games as it can in one shot.  The Wii U hasn’t gotten over the stigma that it has no games -- which I’ll admit is half-justified -- so when it does get a big release, it should do so with the intent of loading it with enough content to bust the code wide open. 

--Just think about what this one game offers, and what it’s frantically screaming at you.  This game is a competitive fighter!  But it’s also a party game!  But it’s got RPG elements!  Oh wait, it’s also got minigames that’d be perfect for fans of mobile games!  Hey, do you like Mario Party?  Well, we’ve got that too!  If you’re the cynical sort, you can say that Smash 4 reeks of desperation.  In all fairness, I wouldn’t blame you.  The game is loaded with things, and how much you like it/get out of it depends on how much you want to do things and get things.  The core gameplay is what holds it all together (and well), but you can only mask your intent so much.

--Anyway, Smash Tour.  Obviously, there’s one question that the mode needed to answer: “Why should I play Smash Tour when I can just as easily and immediately play a regular match with my pals?”  The answer it gives will depend heavily on you and your usual group of gaming buddies.  I have serious doubts that it’ll even get touched amidst my group, and the best it can hope for is getting ridiculed into oblivion.  Still, for those who maybe want to take it easy between matches -- for those looking for a change of pace or a colorful take on the core gameplay -- then it’s got its place.

--In a nutshell, think Mario Party, but about five times faster.  Everybody moves at once, gets items automatically, and only trigger minigames (matches) if players meet up on the map.  I set each round to the minimum turn number -- fifteen -- in the hopes of getting the stage faster, but I was surprised at the generally-blistering pace.  Things tend to get hectic with traps, random hazards, and more, as you’d expect.  What I find confusing is that for all the emphasis put on gathering power-ups on the map and boosting your group of fighters’ stats, it ends up feeling inconsequential in the final, game-winning match.  I didn’t get nearly as many power-ups as my opponents, but I still rocked them by a massive margin.  I guess playing against humans is the way to go…

--In the interest of seeing what the endless supply of doodads I won in single-player did, I gave the character customization a shot.  I haven’t tried making a Mii Fighter (maybe I will someday), but I did make a souped-up Pac-Man.  To wit: my warrior of wakas has boosted aerial power, auto-recovers health, and grows steadily more powerful as he holds a Smash Ball (to compensate for his less-than-mighty Final Smash).  That’s on top of his defense boosts, of course -- and while I’ve only gotten one variant of his special moves so far, I went ahead and put it on anyway.  Now his fire hydrant spews fire!  Because that works, somehow!

--Okay, honestly?  I can see how customization can be a problem for, say, the tournament scene -- stats or moves, either one.  But taken as-is, for the majority of players who will never even try to get into the bottom rungs of a bracket, personalized characters could be a huge game-changer, let alone an incentive to play.  Correct your fighter’s weakness!  Enhance their strengths!  Tailor their stats to your play style!  Boost them with special abilities!  Piss off everyone you care about with your broken character!  The possibilities are endless!

--I don’t know how receptive my group will be to character customization, but I’ll hope they’ll give it a chance.  And if they do, this game just got a whole lot bigger…

--There’s a lot to love about Smash 4, but I can’t say I’m too keen on the Home Run Contest or Target Blast.  I’m sure they’ll have their place among fans, but I’m not one of them.  They’re a way for you to learn how to rack up damage with your fighter of choice, sure, but…should you really be doing that in an environment so far-removed from a regular match?  My gut instinct says no.

--Still, I see the appeal.  Do you have what it takes to push your high score to the limits of human ability (or the game’s ability, at least)?  Can you constantly improve yourself with each run?  They’re modes that hearken back to the days of old, while fitting the theme of self-improvement built into classic games.  Do you care enough to beat your best score?  Or are you just playing to unlock junk?

--I suppose that does raise another point, though: why play this game besides “because it’s fun”?  Is it to keep winning and winning?  To get better?  To celebrate a big fat Nintendo party?  To uncover a philosophical yet self-evident truth inlaid within our collective consciousness yet altered ever so slightly by virtue of our unique opinions and experiences, themselves the end result of our yet-unseen souls?

…So I tried using Peach again, and she’s looking pretty solid.

And that’ll do it for now.  See you guys another time, when I talk about -- uh, more stuff?  Yeah, more stuff.  That would probably be a good thing to talk about.

Oh, wait, isn’t there something I should be saying as well, given what day it is?  Oh, right.  I almost forgot.  

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everybody.


  1. Funny you mention the AI. Have you heard about the mysterious Fox amiibo known as WaveShine? :P http://t.co/gX86lg8xDH

  2. Yeah, I heard about that! Along with a slew of jokes about it being the precursor to Terminator.
    I can't say I have any interest in the world of amiibos, but I have some real respect for what they can offer for the game. If anything, it's bringing us closer to a future of full-on Pokemon battles (give or take a few particulars). I want to see what'll happen next with them, especially with Smash. Amiibo tournaments? 2v2 teams with one player and one amiibo? Sounds like a riot.