Posted Wed Oct 22, 2014 at 12:43 PM PDT by Trevor Ruben
The Wii U's biggest game ought to have a lot in store.
Note: For a post Nintendo Direct break down, check here.
It's never enough. I'd sympathize with Nintendo if I wasn't one of the rabid fans always expecting more, better, enough. Nope. As satisfied as I was, and continue to be, with 'Super Smash Bros.' for the 3DS, my expectations for the impending Nov. 21 Wii U release have only risen. It's unfair, it's reality. For me, Nintendo's 2014 holiday season is about one game, yet it's a game essential to both the future of the Wii U and Nintendo's toys-to-life platform, amiibo.
Nintendo is hosting a Nintendo Direct presentation on Thursday concentrating entirely on 'Super Smash Bros.' for Wii U. They've promised "50 new things" about the game. Naturally, the mind vibrates with speculation. Don't blame me for the foam at my mouth, though. Blame Masahiro Sakurai. Blame boredom. Blame Olimar. Blame GamerGate. Blame Nintendo. Love Nintendo. Strangle Nintendo until it chokes up the perfect game. Here are the five fingers I place around my beloved game maker's neck:
Online Tournaments and Modes
As well as the 3DS version plays, nobody on the planet expects it to much matter as a competitive platform once the Wii U version releases. Naturally, there's likely to be some kind of online infrastructure for setting up and competing in tournaments, casually or not. Past incarnations of the game only concentrated on local tournaments. That's done. At the most minimal level, the ability to set up randomly populated tournaments is a must. If Nintendo wants to make it a whole thing, they should be hosting their own specially designed tournaments through the interface of the game itself. That would blow the idea open completely.
Beyond tournaments, it's tough to tell how deep the online offerings are going to be, but the simple addition of multiple local players means things are bound to change at least a little bit. The most impressive and seamless thing Nintendo could do is enable any empty player spots in the traditionally local 'Smash' mode as portals for online players, much as they already are for CPU opponents whenever the slot needs filling. That's probably asking too much though. I'd be happy with a 2v2 mode allowing a team of local players.
The online play in 'Super Smash Bros. Brawl' was an abysmal, laggy mess. On the 3DS, 'Super Smash Bros.' ranges, match to match. From horrid to workable to perfect. Frankly, I'm happy to make do with that outcome, considering Nintendo's relative naiveté in the online arena. Still, I'd also happily make do with improvements for the Wii U. There isn't much I can say with authority on the subject of netcode, as the term itself is essentially a layman's reference to complex and challenging engineering of "network code." I only ask that they work on it, do their best to make it better, and do a little of this:
A Look to the Future
Nintendo won't make the mistake of talking about DLC in detail until the game is good and fully released. They take pride in shipping "complete" games, just as the current consumer base is so sensitive to content erroneously delivered as costly DLC too close or even during a game's initial release. No, I don't even want Nintendo to name any characters or stages planned for the next year. I do want to hear Nintendo's plans for supporting the game go beyond new content, though. I want to hear about patching.
Specifically, all that needs saying is Nintendo is going to continually patch two parts of the game: roster balancing and netcode. As I said before, I know nothing about netcode. I only know it can change as a game ages. On balancing, though, I know that some characters will inevitably be proven to be too powerful, some too weak, and that ideal of a perfectly balanced roster, while impossible, needs no longer go unattended in the aftermath of launch day. Hopefully, Sakurai and Nintendo are of the same belief.
More New Character Costumes
Finally, the costumes are as good as we always knew they could be. More accurately, they're better. Bowser Jr. and Olimar both transform into entirely different characters without taking up any extra spots on the roster. The game even goes so far as to recognize Oliamr's Alph or Bowser Jr.'s many koopaling counterparts separately in announcements and text on-screen. That's just screaming potential to add new characters to the game without having to actually balance anybody in.
Yes, it would likely be disappointing to some for, say, Chrom to get thrown in as a simple costume switch for Marth, but that's legions better than his never seeing the light of day. A full Ridley switch-in for Charizard, despite not making any sense at all, would be officially amazing. As long as the art can fill in the character, Nintendo should probably drop all pretense of canon and just go for it. Blow the whole thing open. Nothing about 'Super Smash Bros.' has ever made much sense anyway. That other kind of costume, the less exciting, nevertheless fun clothing or color switch, might serve another purpose:
A Real Reason to Own an amiibo Figurine
Nintendo's amiibo figurines, piggybacking off the runaway successes of both 'Skylanders' and 'Disney Infinity,' looks to introduce a new kind of ambition to the idea. Instead of developing figures for one kind of game, why not any game that might use that character? Only Nintendo, who so frequently reuses mashes characters together, could really do that. 'Mario Kart 8,' 'Hyrule Warriors' and many more will benefit, but when amiibo does release, the Wii U 'Super Smash Bros.' will be the testing ground for their popularity.
One problem, though. The amiibo functionality in the game isn't all that enticing. You're figuring is meant to come alive in the game as its own CPU fighter, leveling up, earning new attacks with which you customize the guy. Nintendo's taking the idea too literally, concentrating too heavily on the "bringing to life" aspect, when the figurines could simply serve as physical incarnations of more intriguing DLC. Enter costumes.
Costumes don't affect the efficacy of a character in a battle, but they do allow for some personalized expression, even online. This is the same kind of thinking present in MOBAs that give away characters for free but try to monetize the cosmetic side. People enjoy customization, even when it doesn't make them any better at the game. So, when you purchase a Mario amiibo, maybe you could show that off online with a snazzy Tanooki suit. Or, even cooler, maybe his fireballs and cape are different colors. I'd throw down $13 if it meant I could use a 'Paper Mario' themed Bowser, or a 'Wind Waker' themed Zelda. There's just so much Nintendo could do.
But I Have No Worries
If Thursday's Nintendo Direct is primed to prove anything, it's that Nintendo understands the importance of 'Super Smash Bros.' for Wii U more than anyone else on the planet. Let's be grateful, because that's enough.
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