Making the Next Smash Bros. a Smashing Success

Maxwell McGee shares his hopes and fears for the next Super Smash Bros. (SSB4) on the 3DS and Wii U.

The Super Smash Bros. games are a valuable series within the fighting genre. Now, I know what some of you are thinking: "Is Super Smash Bros. really a fighting game?" I don't know. Answering that question means defining, in certain terms, what a fighting game is. That's a topic I could dedicate a whole article to, so for the sake of argument, let's say they are, indeed, fighting games. Stop rolling your eyes. What's important is that these games help widen the scope of the fighting genre by attracting consumers who would not otherwise try a fighting game. Maybe some of those consumers go on to try other fighting games, and thus the genre grows. It's a good thing.

On the off chance there is some new Super Smash Bros. news at this year's E3, I would like to lay down my hopes and fears for SSB4. And I'm not just talking about which new characters I want to see!

NIXING TRIPPING In the next Super Smash Bros., there are several fixes from Super Smash Bros. Brawl that need to happen. Chief among these is nixing tripping. In Brawl, tripping was a mechanic designed to help bridge the skill gap between players by causing fighters to randomly slip and fall. I can see the intention, but in practice, tripping was confusing for newer players ("Why did my guy stop moving?") and frustrating for veterans ("I hate this game"). No one likes to have control wrested away from them arbitrarily, especially in the heat of battle.

FEWER SMASH BALLS Reducing smash ball frequency is another. I like the idea of this item: break it and unleash a devastating attack on the other players. This adds an extra element of tension to battle (players get excited when a smash ball appears) and more complexity to the mechanics without making the characters more complicated. Simplicity of control is key to this series' success. However, even on the low items setting, smash balls appeared too often. They should be a rare occurrence that highlights every third or fourth fight. Their overabundance distracts from the fight itself and places your attention solely on controlling these items.

CHARACTER BALANCE Then there are the characters themselves. The roster in Brawl was horrifically unbalanced, with Meta Knight standing tall above the rest. Balance issues are not uncommon in fighting games. However, in any other series, this problem would have been corrected through a simple update (or with the release of a new game). With Brawl, fans were left out in the cold. Thankfully, the community stepped up and released some excellent patches that don't even require a modified console. Balanced Brawl was the one I used, which balanced out the cast without changing any of Brawl's fundamentals (speed, hit boxes, and so on).

SMOOTH ONLINE Finally, the next Super Smash Bros. desperately needs a modern online mode. For me, playing Brawl online basically never happened because it was such a hassle. Finding a game online took forever, and when I finally got into a game it ran like a slideshow. Friend codes were an unnecessary burden for connecting with others, and hampered any replay or level sharing as well. Plus, if I was playing online, that meant I wasn't using the Balanced Brawl patch--unless I knew someone else using it. A healthy online mode adds longevity, builds community, and can even be a teaching tool for players. Hopefully the Wii U's hardware will not hamstring this upcoming fighter.

DON'T SPLIT THE GAME IN TWO In an early Iwata Asks column, as reported by Andriasang, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata discussed plans for the next Super Smash Bros. with lead developer Masahiro Sakurai. Two notes that stood out to me from the article were: "Iwata summed the basic idea nicely: players would spend time on the 3DS version, building up their character and collecting stuff, then show off their skills on the Wii U version" and "While it is important to have both versions of the game be enjoyable on their own, Sakurai feels that connectivity between the two versions will make the experience even more enjoyable."

As we've seen with Street Fighter X Tekken, if the community does not like your customization options, they will find a way to negate them. The choice is whether you support the community or make them disable the options manually (and resent you).
For me, it sounds like the 3DS version will focus on single-player through individual character progression and customization. Once you feel your character is ready, you can transfer your character to the Wii U and play against your friends in multiplayer. Hopefully, this doesn't mean splitting an otherwise complete game between two consoles, thus requiring a $100 purchase to get the full experience. I can see this very easily slipping into a Pokemon Stadium situation, where the bulk of the game is played through the handheld, and the console game is regulated to competitive modes.

This issue would be compounded if using customized characters were mandatory, and players who owned the 3DS version thus had an advantage over console-only players. Thankfully, there's a simple solution: make it optional. Being able to tweak how your character plays is not inherently a bad thing, but it shouldn't be a requirement. As we've seen with Street Fighter X Tekken, if the community does not like your customization options, they will find a way to negate them. The choice is whether you support the community or make them disable the options manually (and resent you).

A WIRED CONTROLLER From a hardware perspective, I have no doubt that the Wii U version of the next Super Smash Bros. will include a touch-control option for the touch pad similar to what will be on the 3DS. It will be novel, but it will not usurp standard controls as the preferred method of play--so long as the Wii U is restricted to one touch pad at a time. And since the Wii U will (sadly) no longer support GameCube controllers, it would be nice if Nintendo packaged a wired controller of similar design with the game, a la the Wii Wheel included with Mario Kart Wii.

Sure, the classic controller is nice, but its wireless design makes it impractical in a tournament setting, and many players who cut their teeth on Melee feel at home with the GameCube controller's design. The additional controller would be a sign of good will toward the competitive Smash community, which has managed to thrive without much support from Nintendo thus far.

I have high hopes for the next Super Smash Bros. With Melee, the game skewed more toward the competitive player, while Brawl overcompensated in an effort to be more widely accessible. After covering both ends of the spectrum, the developers should be primed to hit that sweet spot between complexity and accessibility. As Gonzalo ZeRo of the Smash Boards puts it: "You know what I would really like to see, a game that can be enjoyed [by] every kind of gamer: from the casual, to the hardcore, to the professional…So that everyone can play the game in ANY way and still enjoy it…This would help the Smash community to grow and be a better community overall across the world!"

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Discussion

560 comments
IceDefenseGod
IceDefenseGod

Very well written. Found myself agreeing with the vast majority of it.

Gamerplayer999
Gamerplayer999

I totally agree with you, execpt with the part that Meta knight is way above everyone else. Meta knight does lack power except for his Final smash , and... never mind thats his only flaw, but there are a few other characters that are on par or at least close to it

scoobdog02
scoobdog02

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ermack103
ermack103

See when people say that Smash Brothers is a "fighting game" I always bring up Mario kart, Would you consider Mario kart the same as Forza or Gran Turismo? No, no you wouldn't. These games fall more into the niche category of "Krazy Nintendo games" or even better, "Mario games" (because at this point Mario has pumped out enough games with Mario Party alone to be called a genre of video games lol)".

YouJustGotCaged
YouJustGotCaged

I already have a 3ds, but I'm not sure about the WiiU. Don't split the game in half!

1995jose
1995jose

i know this has no chance of happening,but optimus prime would be crazy awesome to have. anyone agree?

Blackbeared
Blackbeared

Its true that ssbb is unbalanced :(....to the point that I switched my fav character to op one Pit to play competitively online 

Zero-regret
Zero-regret

I find it strange that you would all fight over which game is better, what should or should not stay in the new SSB, and I find the strangest thing of all to be the fact that people are fighting over which fighter is the best it all depends on your own skill level not on the fighter you choose. I myself find MetaKnight to be a very weak fighter no matter the skill level of the person controlling MK and because of this I tend to beat him easily with any of the fighters thought my fighter of choice is Link because of all the time I spent playing him in the Zelda franchise and on all three SSB. I also use Link the most because he appeals to me more than Kirby's friend or foe MetaKnight.       

firstclassgamer
firstclassgamer

I want the whole character roster to fill my whole tv 

Blackrasor
Blackrasor

Talking about the balance of the roster, altough meta knight is clearly OP and there are some unbalances in the roster, after SSBB after so many years i can safely say that i do not consider the roster that unbalanced, in every characters there are way tou counter it, and dont forget that the same character has many ways to play it, making the battle, and the way to counter the character different, that for me made the game so interesting in multiplayer, even after all those years. 

solidsnake50
solidsnake50

As long as the can squeeze in either a tekken character, soul calibur on anime character ie any of the ninja storm characters. Hell even some DBZ characters. Im cool with that.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

I'll just say I agree that the next version needs a smooth online component.Nix Tripping????? No, you're "trippin".

nixonrocks
nixonrocks

i like all the ssb so far so i hope that this one will be really great

 

Naylord
Naylord

Melee was already that sweet spot. The game was incredibly accessible and deep.

ticasfox
ticasfox

Well, I think tripping has become an important part of the game, since it can result in interesting turns of events, and so it shouldn't be removed from the upcoming game. I usually play with no items at all to keep the games more "classic", so i don't rly have an opinion about the smash balls frequency, except that they're too overpowered (so any frequency is too high for me :p). However, I couldnt agree more about the online improvements - the online features in SSBB were more than just limited. Also, it's really important that Nintendo makes either two completey unrelated version of the next game in the series, one for 3DS and another for WiiU, or otherwise two identical versions, in order for us not to have to buy the 3DS to enjoy the WiiU game. Last but not least, I hope they maintain simple controls at least as an option, as including touch features and so on would kind of ruin the experience of a veteran player. I hope at least some agree with me! :D

Dyna_Blade
Dyna_Blade

 @Zero-regret Maybe because you play with your cousins or against the AI.Get into a tournament and see how it goes.

Dyna_Blade
Dyna_Blade

 @Blackrasor Sadly, to counter effectively there are sad tactics involved thanks to the faulty physics and game systems. Like camping or toying with your opponent's patience. And not everyone posses the ability to effectively counter 'everyone' in the roster, most of them lack the priority, speed or mobility to counter someone like Diddy, Snake or MK.Whereas in Melee characters like Fox had glaring weaknesses, like for example, Mewtwo was able to exploit the "weight" of the Spacies to deliver nasty combos, but required a lot of skill to do it. The possibilities were there and that's why Melee changes its tiers frequently.

28362g
28362g

 @Blackrasor Well, Melee wasn't ridiculously unbalanced, but I'd rather have a cast where each character has a relatively fair chance of beating another. Brawl was unbalanced as hell. There's a huge difference between the top tier characters and the mid-tier characters.

LewRobz96
LewRobz96

 @solidsnake50 Tekken or SoulCalibur characters won't get in; SSB won't represent characters from other fighting franchises, Namco or not. Nintendo have said anime characters will never be in an SSB game. The only Namco franchises that could possibly be represented are Pac-Man or Tales of Symphonia, and they'll probably only have one Namco character anyway.

Dyna_Blade
Dyna_Blade

 @FallenOneX So you like to randomly trip while you are fighting, so you get killed for free, thus rendering your skill useless. Well.. "Skill" because Brawl requires no skill whatsoever.

Dyna_Blade
Dyna_Blade

 @ticasfox ¿Keep tripping? ¿are you crazy? ¿Do you even know how Brawl damaged Smash' image  on the FGC?

ticasfox
ticasfox

Also I'd like to say i couldn't disagree more with Meta Knight being the most overpowered character in the game, although it seems to be what everyone says. In fact, despite there being some inbalances among characters, one can always find an interesting challenge or advantage in them, which doesn't seem so bad to me.

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

 @Dyna_Blade 

As long as everyone else playing with me is also randomly tripping, it's not a big deal, unless you're the one losing...........

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

 @Dyna_Blade Smash never had that much respect in the fighting game community to begin with. That series was put as low as Mortal Kombat (pre-MK9) and various anime/manga based fighting games (save for Dragon Ball Z: Budokai 3).

ticasfox
ticasfox

 @Dyna_Blade Well I'm not very experienced with online play, but then again, I think SSBB's online play was really poor, so I don't really see it as the representation of the game, by which I mean the really important online stuff are yet to come. So, tripping? Why not? I guess we'll agree to disagree ^^

TheProRookie
TheProRookie

 @ticasfox ^^^ Stop beating the dead horse of "Brawl was balanced". A great MetaKnight trumps every other character at the same skill level, and some characters at even higher skill levels.

Zee216
Zee216

 @FallenOneX tripping is terrible

Melee was the better fighting game by far and that silly tripping is a part of it

FallenOneX
FallenOneX

Comparing SSB to SF or SC is like comparing Rygar on the NES to God of War because they both use a weapon connected to a chain. Then again.... It would be nice to have one of the overly cheap bosses trip, and then I move in for the kill....

Yep, tripping still not that bad in a SSB game. It's not like Gamespot gave it a 9.5 instead of the 10 because of this small item.

Dyna_Blade
Dyna_Blade

 @FallenOneX Good, let's add that to SSFIV and UMVC3 while we are at it, see how it works.

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

 @Dyna_Blade Well, I have to admit, I don't exactly follow SRK (my problems with the FGC prevents me from going on most fighting game specific websites, like if I admit I like fighting games the majority doesn't, they'd laugh me out the site), but back then, the smack talk of MK fans did on SF was quite the thing back then. You know... typical "which series is better" arguments. You know, which series is more strategic, which has better graphics, you get the idea (though I wasn't a fighting game player at the time, I'm going by what I read on other sites, the only rivalry I TRULY remember back in the 90's was Nintendo vs SEGA, and their mascot war: Mario vs Sonic).

 

Seems to me the SSB fans were doing no better then that from what I understand.

Dyna_Blade
Dyna_Blade

 @nintendoboy16 I'm just saying, as well. Lack of proper respect and outright hate is completely different. They didn't hate us Smashers until 2009 when the Brawlers raided SRK and tainted the Smashers forever. I still don't know much about the MK scene or how they in the FGC, I just stopped hearing about that game a while ago. Aside from that example ¿what happened to MK?

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

 @Dyna_Blade I'm just saying. Why would the FGC lose respect in a series they HARDLY ever (or perhaps NEVER) had respect for in the first place just because the SSB fans were doing the same thing fans of other franchises did (Mortal Kombat was just an example), talk crap on a series they think is weaker than the ones they like? It just doesn't add up.

Dyna_Blade
Dyna_Blade

 @nintendoboy16 There wasn't much respect among scrubs of FGC, that is true, but a lot of top players respect Melee and Smash 64 to the point that many have tried or even migrated from the Smash scene, look at MastaCJ, Chris G, Mike G, Juicebox, MH | AlukardNY, among others.While Smash wasn't taken very seriously it wasn't hated until Brawlers went into the FGC and tried to trashtalk everyone, claiming Brawl had more depth and required more skill than MVC2 and SF4, which is untrue.I don't know about the MK fans on the FGC, I admit I'm a bit ignorant on that matter ¿enlight me, maybe? 

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

 @Dyna_Blade I call BS. Ever since the series made it's debut on N64, it as always been laughed upon among those who played the more traditional fighters. Even the dubbed "best" game, Melee (I like Brawl a HELL of a lot better, but that's just me) was still considered a joke among the community. Things may have been different on Shoryuken, but everywhere else says otherwise.

 

Besides, even if it was the Super Smash Bros fans talking s*** on Street Fighter, is it any better than Mortal Kombat fans doing the same? That's just stupid

Dyna_Blade
Dyna_Blade

 @nintendoboy16 What I mean is that the chance was given, and all the Brawlers did was to say SF was garbage in comparison to Brawl, which is untrue.

nintendoboy16
nintendoboy16

 @Dyna_Blade Being at EVO doesn't mean anything.

 

Example: Tekken 6 was at EVO and that game was fairly disliked in that community, despite the Tekken series being highly loved even today.

Dyna_Blade
Dyna_Blade

 @nintendoboy16 Smash did make it to EVO in 2007 if I'm correct. Smash had its chance until Brawlers came into the scene to screw things up on SRK.

Dyna_Blade
Dyna_Blade

 @ticasfox It's like saying that a 'certain' rap artist got Top 1 in MTV for 2 or 3 months, doesn't mean he was the best 'musician' in the world for 2 or 3 months, that doesn't even make him good at all above all others who actually play instruments.When you enter a tournament you expect to do good by your skills, and you would be 'unhappy' if tripping or a stage hazard came into play and make the "final hit" on you to get you DQ'd. It is pretty much a theme of concern and its existence prompted mod creators to remove it completely.Even Poker has a deep basis on knowing what cards there are and you can even count them if you are smart enough (although that's illegal, I think).I was able to overcome tripping many times, I gave Brawl a chance when it was first released even thought I wasn't happy it was "Smash Bros.", silly me for being so naive. That year I gave its chance I created great reputation among the best players but ultimately grew bored of the sluggish and treacherous game systems. Tripping is a cancer because it is uncalled for, a "realist method" (another poster said before in this topic) in a surreal game, I don't find a reason for Sonic to trip if he never did before in all his games, or Snake, or Samus.It's like adding a random exploding hadouken in SF that nets you 300 damage, randomly.I get what you are saying, though. 

ticasfox
ticasfox

 @Dyna_Blade Yeah. Kinda stupid to bet money on a game if you lose when you trip. I guess you just need to be a better player to be able to win even with the tripping. You know, first-time poker players also don't bet all their money, and that happens for a reason. I wouldn't add tripping to Melee, because Brawl is already out and another SSB is near. Why change the game now? What matters is that every game in the series so far (in my opinion) has been perfect in its own way. I mean, it's not for nothing that Brawl was Gamespot's Top 1 for, like, 2 or 3 months in a row, or even more. I can't even remember how many newsletters I got with Brawl on top.

Dyna_Blade
Dyna_Blade

 @ticasfox Take Melee for example ¿would you add Tripping there?Because "Smash" as a whole have been competitive since N64 days until now, to the failure Brawl was, even if it's a failure it's still competitive, there are tournaments and lots of cash. I bet you would hate to lose your money to some random tripping against a scrub. Just saying. It is not pleasant at all xD

ticasfox
ticasfox

 @Dyna_Blade okay i liiiitlle bit exaggerated there... tripping does disturb the skil balance, but it doesnt "render it useless" : no matter how much I trip in a match I'll still beat my little cousin. I guess Brawl did have some downsides, though, as you mentioned. Let's just hope they make it better this time.

Dyna_Blade
Dyna_Blade

 @ticasfox 

I'm not talking about online gaming, I am talking about the general competitive scene. ¿Does it feel right in a tournament, that you have to trip right in front of Ike's Forward Smash? Because it is a random element that feels completely unnecessary. Also, Brawl in general is a game that damaged the "Smash" franchise name in the Fighting Game Community. Rendering 64 and Melee players unable to prove themselves because Brawlers represent the most "recent" game of the franchise, thus making us irrelevant because an unplayable game.Tripping renders skill completely useless, the cherry above the cake of a sluggish and treacherous game system with hideous and bizarre bugs and mechanis, not taking into account the horrible balance. 

28362g
28362g

 @Dyna_Blade Man, I love Project M. It feels so crisp and new. Not the way I thought it was going to be like.

28362g
28362g

 @ticasfox Sorry, but if you think Meta Knights are easy to beat, your either one of the best players in the world or you haven't really faced proper Meta Knights. And it doesn't matter if they're weak attacks. He has two methods of killing you. Gradually building up damage (which he is very good at) or gimping you off the side of the stage (which doesn't necessarily need damage in order to perform). Meta Knight is not only the best character in the game but he is also the easiest to learn.

Dyna_Blade
Dyna_Blade

 @ticasfox  @28362g Beating MetaKnight requires a lot of patience and camping; sadly that is how Brawl was built and what it takes to beat him.¿Did you know that MK was officially banned from tournaments? Like, official ruleset once stated that MetaKnight was to be banned from the roster. Bizarre thing for a character ¿no? Well yeah, a character like him required no skill and basically a small learning curve and basic metagame to overpower everyone else. This of course was removed a while later and even more controversy was created. I'm glad I stopped playing Brawl and continued on to play Melee and embraced Project M (a Brawl Mod that mimics Melee physics and advanced play). 

ticasfox
ticasfox

 @28362g Experience tells me that most of Meta Knight's attacks can be easily stopped, meaning it's not that complicated to battle him. Although they can sometimes build you up fast, they're generally relatively weak attacks. Anyway it's just an opinion...

28362g
28362g

 @ticasfox Meta Knight is really overpowered. That's because he has moves that can easily rank up damage, has very fast kill moves, can gimp characters really easy, and has arguable one of the best recoveries in the game. He's also pretty light so he's hard to combo.

28362g
28362g

 @alvarokike What? No. Just have proper spacing and then you'll be fine. Or if you have a really fast character. Ike is extremely easy to gimp. You can even shine-spike him. He's far from overpowered, but he's a solid character alright.

ticasfox
ticasfox

 @TheProRookie Never said Brawl was balanced. I only disagree that MEta Knight is so OP, and I'm aware that imbalance is all over Brawl, for example, as alvarokike said, with Ike. Just my opinion though, and despite whatever you may find unfair I only find challenging (well, at least most things :P)

alvarokike
alvarokike

 @TheProRookie True that, now IKE

that IS the most overfuckingpowered Character in the game

Not impossible to win though, just hard