Smash 4 – Oh where do I begin? As you can tell by the title, I am a Smash Bros fan and I have been ever since the Nintendo 64. There are so many things that I want to say and its hard to know where to start. My mind wants to go in so many different directions. My aim in this piece is to simply share the love I have for this game and in doing so you can have a better understanding as to why I think this is the best game of the 8th generation of game consoles.
To start I want to say that this is my second attempt at writing this article. The first time I wrote this article it turned out to be more of a blog of my experience with playing the game since the game launched. So instead I want to actually get down to brass tacks and state why this game is good. I will try to remove as much of myself as possible to not make this article a blog. Though maybe I will publish my first draft of this article one day.
So the first thing I want to do is address the obvious, my own personal biases and my credentials to even proclaim this title as the best of the 8th gen. So I will admit that I am very biased to Nintendo because I’ve been playing on their hardware since I can form memories. Yet, I want to at least say that I am a well-rounded gamer, I play many genres, and I play on my Playstation 4, Xbox One, and PC as well (albeit with less hours compared to the Wii U). Also as much as the title suggests that I’ll be comparing this game to other games in this console generation, I won’t be, at least not a whole lot. With that out of the way let’s dissect the game in question.
Smash 4 is an amazing fighting and can be played on any level of your choosing whether it is casually with friends or competitively in a tournament. The controls are simple and I will be using a default GameCube controller setup to describe the inputs since that is the controller that most Smash players would opt for and familiar with. You have the analog stick to move with, the A button for normal attacks, the B for special attacks. The X & Y buttons are interchangeable and are used for jumping, the L & R buttons are also interchangeable and are used for shielding. The Z button is used for grabbing, and most importantly the D pad is used for taunting. So if we remove the two interchangeable buttons and the D pad then there are six inputs in total (and the same is true for every Smash game) and with those six inputs you do so much with it.
For attacking alone your character can do three tilt attacks, three smash attacks, one neutral attack, one dash attack, four aerial attacks, and four special attacks. Then there is the defensive options such as shielding, rolling, spot dodging, air dodging, teching (where you can break your character’s fall), and most importantly holding the analog stick in the direction you want your character to go in once launched, otherwise known as directional influence (aka DI). Lastly there is grabs where you have option tothrow your opponent in 4 different direction or pummel your opponent with a neutral attack until released. You can also pummel your opponent really quickly then throw them before escaping. The best part is every character does everything I listed! There is small selection of characters who can Z-Air. This game series was designed with simplicity and accessibility in mind. Every character controls virtually the same but the minutia of every character’s play style and combos are specific to each individual character. It definitely flies in the face of the conventional wisdom and the groundwork that the Street Fighter series laid out and innovated.
Sakurai (the creator of the Smash series) really made something special and unique that others have tried to replicate and failed at (*cough* PlayStation All Stars *cough*). The idea that a fighting game can have platforming elements and two buttons to attack with seems like it would be limiting, but it isn’t, which is surprising. Every character has combos that you, the player, have to make up as you go because there are very few true combos. Most combos are about reading your opponent’s DI and air dodges which leads to landing those 50/50 mix ups to keep your combos going. This game’s mechanics are easy to teach and easy to pick up but mastering it is different entirely. It makes the game so much fun because the meta game always keeps evolving because of the fact that this game lets you freestyle with your character. When I go to tournaments I meet people with a play style that is completely foreign to me and its exciting to see something you never encountered before and feeling that pressure to adapt. It is this very foundation that makes this game great.
This story is far from over. We are just merely beginning. I wrote so much that I decided to split this article into three parts. If I have your attention stay tuned in for part 2. I go in depth about the game’s art style, characters, and the many ways to play.