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Observe and Report – Nintendo Direct

38 minutes and some change. That's how much info they crammed into one Nintendo Direct this week, just about Smash Bros on the 3DS and WiiU this year. To that end, here is what you might of missed, and my thoughts on what can be done on release.

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Super Smash Brothers for 3DS will be released 'summer 2014', with the Wii U version releasing in the winter. All characters introduced in past trailers will be in both titles, with no exclusive platform characters. That said, stages will differ between the console and handheld versions. The 3DS version uses handheld titles as a basis for their stages. The train from Spirit Tracks, the living room of Nintendogs, the new Skyloft from Kid Icarus: Uprising, and Prism Tower from the Kalos region of Pokemon X and Y are just the examples that come out from my mind as 3DS exclusive stages. The 3DS version will still run at 60 FPS for every controlled character, with Assist Trophies and Pokemon running at 30 FPS. This promises a solid fighting experience through and through, even with the 3D mode turned on. A black outline wraps around characters to help them stand out from the background, especially with the visual effects of attacks surrounding them and such, for added clarity for this drastic undertaking for the 3DS. You can play with up to 4 friends locally through wireless play, or play online with friends on the Nintendo Network or anomymous battles. Anonymous battles can be fought two ways: For Fun and For Glory. For Fun is your basic switch-based versus mode with items and stages able to be picked and decided upon in game. For Glory is for the tournament savvy. No items, but you can pick the stage THEME. The stage will be transformed into its Final Destination equivalent. No floating platforms, no gimmicks, just one flat level for the opponents to fight uncontested by the level.

Not a fun enough multiplayer experience? Play the Kirby Air Ride-inspired Smash Run mode. In it, all participants are thrown into a dungeon for 5 minutes, where they fight enemies and each other. You can pick up items and badges to increase your stats, and when the five minutes are up, you retain your life total and item selection for a winner-takes-all brawl at the end. This could potentially be a very fun alt mode for players just looking to have a casual romp.

New locales join returning classics to make for an interesting battlefield for this game. The WiiU especially gains a slew of new levels at its disposal, like the new Pilotwings level on the top of biplanes, Jungle Japes returns from Melee, Pyrosphere from Other M, Gerudo Valley from Legend of Zelda: OOT, the Boxing Ring for Little Mac (which was deceptively made to look like The Arena from Kirby Super Star, you sly devil Sakurai), Battleship Halbred returns for Kirby, Sonic's stage is changed to Windy Hill Zone from Sonic Lost World, Super Mario 3D World will be reflected with its own level, and Rosalina will be right at home in the Comet Observatory. This is a tentative list of what I've managed to gleam from levels across both platforms, but my favorite is the 3Ds's Rainbow Road. It's where you go, when you want to DIE!

New items are added into the game, like Master Balls, the Fire Sticks from Mario, and the Ore Club from Kid Icarus: Uprising. Master Balls only contain legendary Pokemon like newcomers Keldeo and Arceus, as well as old mainstays like Entei and Deoxys. The Fire Sticks are the sticks you hate from SMB1, and they can be wielded like a sword, but every hit takes a fireball away from it. The Ore Club is very heavy, but if charged, can fire tornados, and packs a mean wallop. The X Bombs from Uprising also show up (I'm gonna be upfront with you, Kid Icarus: Uprising is a big f'n deal, and Sakurai will not let you forget. I will explain later), they explode at least thrice with rotating X-shaped blasts. There is bound to be a lot more items introduced and returning, but that's not what you came for: Here's the info I gleamed about the characters in general:

  • Mario retains FLUDD
  • Luigi's Final Smash is now the Vacuum from Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon
  • Yoshi stands upright and is returning to the cast.
  • Characters no longer have optional transformations, and they can be selected individually
  • Zero Suit Samus has new moves involving her new Jet Boots and her stun gun. I swear, her new Up-B is basically Hosenka. Not even kidding.
  • Sheik has a new forward-B, a grenade she can delay the explosion of, and a new down-b, which is a jumping Meteor Smash attack. This means no chain, unless its Sheik's grapple. Unconfirmed.
  • Zelda's new down+B is her Phantom, which she can summon in the air to strike at different angles. Yes, it's a Stand, but it counts as a projectile, it's great for zoning, but can be reflected, or in the case of the Villager, pocketed. She also has her forward-B buffed with more damage towards the center.
  • Kirby's new Final Smash is the Ultra Sword, which is kinda like Great Aether from Ike, in that it hurts a lot. He can also hold his Hammer down for more damage.
  • Dedede only throws Gordos. They can be kicked back at him, causing him immense pain, of which he definitely emotes more in this game.
  • Mega Man's whole movelist is gleaned off past games, from his forward Smash being his buster to his Up Smash being the Mega Upper from Marvel vs. Capcom. Best part is his Final Smash, featuring past Mega Men from X, Legends, Star Force, and Battle Network.
  • Villager's Down-B takes a lot more time to use than any other move in the game. He plants a tree, and cuts it down. Every step of this decision requires a Down B input. It's kinda weird.
  • Wii Fit Trainer has QTE events for specials to improve her breath control to increase the damage of her attacks, and can charge up solar energy for an energy blast. Very neat.
  • Pit...my god Pit...He can't glide anymore, but his Up-B lets his soar in the direction of his choosing. His Angel Ring has been replaced with a charging Knuckle punch, and his Final Smash is no longer the Centurions, but the Three Sacred Treasures, which is basically Beam Spam.
  • Samus looks right out of Other M, its kinda jarring.
  • Pikachu's Thunder's cloud can Meteor Smash now.
  • Olimar can only have 3 Pikmin. To offset this, they come out in order, Red, Blue, Yellow, White, and Purple. Also, he isn't completely dependent on them for recovery either. As a matter of fact, he is better on recovery without Pikmin than with, since his UpB is now to summon a Winged Pikmin to carry him and his Pikmin. It doesn't last long when it needs to carry other Pikmin though.
  • Little Mac gains meter to his POW Gauge by being offensive and getting hit. When full, he gets access to the Star Uppercut, an instant KO if it hits. Terrible, straight up horribad in the air.
  • Lucario's Aura is buffed. Now the damage is higher and the effects of moves are larger, to the point where Force Palm can now be a short ranged laser for edge guarding, and his Up+B gains more length and speed. And hits, I forgot to mention that, it makes contact for damage this time around, so you can do air follows for juggling. Oh, but if your aura is too strong, your Up+B can kill you going too fast. ExtremeSpeed failing a Lucario? Wha? Oh, right, his Final Smash isn't Kamehameha. It's his Mega Evolution, giving him instant Aura and massive damage.
  • Rosalina and Luma are going to be fun if you can master Ice Climber tag team maneuvers. The Luma will wander back to Rosalina at a slow pace, letting you enjoy some time alone after shooting it at your opponent. Also, Rosalina can nullify projectiles with her Gravity special, bringing items closer to her while at the same time, fending off projectiles completely, while firing Star Bits for edge guarding. Definitely one to look out for.
  • And finally, Charizard is flying solo this time around, with a new special probably in the works to replace his down-B's Return. Not much was shown, although, his Final Smash is also his Mega Evolution from X, giving him massive attack power through Tough Claws.
  • A new character has entered the fold! Greninja joins the cast of Pokemon and fighters this time around, the fully evolved Froakie. The Water/Dark ninja strikes fast with high-speed water attacks, with Aqua Jet being a recovery move, Substitute as a counter-attack (like a ninja log Substitution jutsu!), and throwing his patented Water Shuriken which he can charge. He also seems to be able to teleport, but that might just be a bridge from the Substitute special. His Final Smash is, I kid you not, Night Slash if Greninja just saw Decapre do her DCM. Chipp Zanuff....let's face it doesn't care, too high to care about these blade-slashing ninja wannabes stealing his Overdrive.

Custom Movesets

I wanted to make this seperate after the characters section to have a little bit of a tangent. Sakurai didn't exactly go into detail about how you can customize your character's movelist, but there was a video demonstration of how it could be applied. Mario can opt to either use his zoning fireball, or replace it with a slow moving homing fireball or straight embers that hit like Fox's laser. Donkey Kong can do his headbutt slower and gain ridiculous armor for it and hit like a Mack truck. Now, I have a theory (come on, when don't I?) that each character's special can have a meter for Strength V.S. Speed, which set right, lets you defer focus from one attack to another. So let's say you want the strong fireballs, you give up something for the FLUDD. This is just a thought, and I think it's kinda balanced rather than picking and choosing from an array of moves to settle on just three. Chaos Code has a similar concept already where you pick 1 special and super from 2 choices each, and I kinda like it because there is a chance your character is a snowflake in a snow storm of Foxes, get my drift? I can see Fox changing blasters to some from Assault, maybe giving up range on his recovery to Fox Illusion twice in succession, who knows? There wasn't much concrete backing to this, and I can understand why this would be something to just gloss over, but I see it being a definite tourney changer. This custom movelist option is only for couch co-op so far though. But now that I have mentioned tournaments...

Query: Can a handheld tournament work?

I haven't seen much Playstation All-Stars tournaments, so I might be a little offbase, but have they had handheld tournaments as well as tournies on the PS3? The cross-play option does allow for both to be feasible, hell, you can use the PSVita as a controller for the PS3 version. But can it work in a tournament setting? Could there be dedicated 3DS stations for players to compete on, with officiators standing by? I have an idea on how officiators can record and verify winnings. Every match is a 3-way brawl, 2 being the battlers and 1 the officiator, who kills himself in the beginning leaving them to fight. They can then be the last one to progress back to the menu, can record who won, and battle proceeds. These kind of tournaments do limit the amount of playable stations and players in a tournament down quite a bunch, though. If players brought their own 3DS's I can see it feasibly working, but I am not entirely sure on how feasible it is despite it sounding like a fun idea on paper. Comment below on your thoughts, I'd love to discuss it with you.

I guess we'll have to wait until the winter to get a full idea of how welcome Smash 4 will be in the tournament scene. With no slipping and a speed boost, can we grow past the hate for Brawl and have a new experience with an old classic, or will we just hate it at the outset once again? It's just good to know it's actually coming out this year with a lot of hype. You know it's a lot of hype when 38 minutes of video is needed to dump info on you.

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