While it initially might look like a bit of an odd move, longtime fans of Super Smash Bros. will be delighted to see that Nintendo is releasing an adapter for the Wii U that allows players to raid their attics for old GameCube controllers. With its big green A button, thick pillowy triggers, and the ease and speed of throwing out smash attacks with the C-stick, the GameCube controller still is, and perhaps always will be, the best way to play the series.
Supporting the GameCube controller is just one of the ways that Nintendo is trying to win over the series' most hardcore fans with the upcoming debut of Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U. While I was duking it out on the E3 2014 show floor, Nintendo was also running the Super Smash Bros. Invitational tournament, a two-and-a-half-hour battle in LA's gigantic Nokia theater between 16 of the world's best Smash Bros. players. A big pro tournament in itself felt like an uncharacteristic move from a company often accused of abandoning its most loyal supporters about three seconds after the original Wii became a license to print money, but it's hard not to play the new Smash Bros. and not feel like Nintendo is making a big effort to win over the faithful.
That's not to say the fourth Super Smash Bros. isn't still friendly to casual fighters. Nintendo also took to E3 2014 to announce support for the Skylanders-esque Amiibos, plus the addition of Palutena, Pac-Man, and a trio of Mii fighter templates to the upcoming Smash Bros. roster. I've always seen Smash Bros. as one of the best ways to get into fighting games, and I think that's likely to be as true as ever here. Even the game's menus are being designed so you can easily demarcate between friendly fun and serious glory.
But how does it play? The speed and floatiness of general play appeared, to my eyes, to sit somewhere between Melee and Brawl, and I am nothing but delighted at the removal of Brawl's random pratfalling. The Wii U version looked great and blasted along at a faultless frame rate, and I got to play a few rounds with a couple of new characters. First up was the Villager from Animal Crossing. He (or she) can launch a gyroid with one special, swipe at enemies with a trusty umbrella, or plant, water, and chop down a tree for some impressive damage. He is also completely adorable.
The star of my playthrough was the Wii Fit Trainer, however. She (or he) utilises a range of yoga moves that can often attack enemies on both sides, including a couple that would make Dhalsim green with envy. Another special triggers deep breathing, which increases her attack power, whereas the side special is a long-range attack that has her flinging a soccer ball. But the real jewel in her arsenal is a trio of devastating hula hoops, which circle around as she pirouettes effortlessly through the air. Basically, I am totally into the Wii Fit Trainer. Also, I won the game.
There are still plenty of questions hanging over Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U, including the release date; it's down to be released shortly after the 3DS version in October. I'm also curious how Nintendo's Amiibo figurines will fully incorporate themselves into the game, or its full list of modes and options; right now, Nintendo is only showing off traditional versus encounters, with a limited lineup of characters and stages. But when the core game is so much fun, Nintendo would have to make some grievous errors, or just randomly decide to reintroduce pratfalling, to actually mess this one up.