Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is almost here, concluding the end of the ride for the biggest hype train Nintendo fans have seen in six years. While the review copy Nintendo sent us has just arrived in the mail this morning, our sister site, Zelda Informer, has had the game for a week now, and I’ve poured hours on end exploring every nook and cranny the game has to offer. So is Super Smash Bros. for Wii U worth your time?

For those unfamiliar with Super Smash Bros., the series pits Nintendo’s most famous and interesting characters against one another in an all-out brawl. Every aspect of the game’s content, from its characters to its stages, items, music, and more, draws on content from Nintendo’s past. The result is a wonderful trip down memory lane for old-school fans who like to see their favorite stuff reimagined, and a magical portal to more than thirty years’ worth of lovable characters and worlds for kids who are just starting to learn about Mario and Pokémon. …Not to mention that it’s an addicting, well-designed game in so many other rights.

Whereas traditional fighting games ask players to beat away at each other until one runs out of health, the goal in Super Smash Bros. is to knock your opponent off of the screen. The more damage a fighter has taken, the further they fly when taking a hit, and thus the easier it is to knock them out. And nothing gets the adrenaline going quite like seeing an opponent at a high percentage go flying so close to the edge in that moment of tension when you’re not sure if you’ve won.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U features an incredible range of characters and fighting styles. Of course we have household names like Mario, Pac-Man, and a handful of fan-favorite Pokémon, but there are 52 different fighters on the roster and almost as many distinct ways to play. Some characters specialize in brute force, but lack speed. Some are great at fighting from a distance, while others are better in close combat. Some are exceptional arial fighters, while others are better-suited for the ground. More interesting still is what an incredible range there is of characters to use for players of any skill level. Little Mac, for example, is a character both powerful and fast, meaning that new players can pick him up and win battles with ease. Shulk, on the other hand, is a character whose signature move changes his stats—meaning that he can change at will from a powerful brawler to a speed demon or an arial fighter—which is an excellent style for experienced players who think quickly and like to capitalize on the smallest opportunities. Neither character, however, is limited to players of those experience levels; Shulk’s moveset is not dependent on his ability to change his stats, while Little Mac is terrible at recovering to the stage—so even the best players have to think well with him in order to win.

Each attack is performed by pressing only a single button and tilting the control stick in one of four directions—depending what button you’ve pressed and whether or not you’re on the ground, the attacks will come out differently. The basics are really that simple, making it a stark contrast to most fighting games, which have dozens of pre-made combos that can only be executed by performing specific attacks in a specific order. In Smash, you can use any attack at any time, and combos are determined by the player’s own ingenuity and their willingness to think about which move might work well in which situations.

It’s these mechanics that make Smash Bros. epitomize the saying, "easy to learn, difficult to master." Its basic gameplay is accessible and fun for players of all skill levels, but for those who really sink their teeth into developing their fighting strategies, there’s an entire world of depth to be unlocked. The match-ups between the different kinds of fighters consistently make for interesting battles, and every character has their own strengths and weaknesses that make them all viable choices whether you’ve spent hours perfecting your Smash strategies, or you’re just picking up the game for the first time.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U has over 45 stages where these fights take place, and they all recall some of the best moments in Nintendo’s past. From Hyrule to Brinstar to the Mushroom Kingdom, the stages bring an incredible variety of visual appearances as well as platform layouts. While many other fighting games focus on a single horizontal platform, Super Smash Bros. uses the Y axis to its fullest, making many stages feel entirely unique. But if you prefer the typical horizontal play, you can change any one of the stages to a single flat platform more conducive to competitive matches based on sheer skill.

Unlike its 3DS counterpart, I think the stages in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U are the perfect size to offer exciting gameplay without letting anything feel too crowded nor too empty.

These arenas always feel very inspired, and they’re all filled to the brim with little touches that show the amount of care that went into making each one. Fighting in these different locales is what ultimately sets the tone of Super Smash Bros., where anything goes. Battle Yoshi in a medieval colosseum? Done. Do you want an evil sorcerer throwing turtles at a dragon on the roof of a small-town drug store? Done. No matter how absurd these scenarios sound, in the world of Smash, they don’t seem at all out of the ordinary.

The music that plays in the background of these battles can also be adjusted through a feature called "My Music." Each of these stages features a slew of different songs that might play, and players can adjust the likelihood of each song at will. The number of songs available assures that each fight is as memorable and unique as possible, while the adjustable frequency of each song lets players customize the game to better suit their tastes.

What would otherwise be a game based entirely on skilled combat is shaken up by items that can spawn in battle and fundamentally change the way the game is played. If a good item appears, people lose focus on the combat and instead struggle to grab the item first. It adds a wonderful layer of randomness to the game so that players may be constantly engaged not only by their battle, but by everything going on around it.

Items, too, are based on things found in Nintendo’s other franchises. Super Mushrooms make players huge, Blue Shells attack the player in the lead, and Deku Nuts stun nearby opponents. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U features items that series veterans would recognize in a heartbeat, like a baseball bat, a ray beam, and green shells. But the new items it introduces are equally good additions. The Super Leaf, for example, lets players hover in midair and rack up great arial combos. The Fairy Bottle can be picked up and thrown around the stage; anyone it hits will be hurt if they have less than 100 damage, but anyone over 100 damage will be healed. This not only changes the way that the game is played, but it changes the way you can use the very same item depending on the situation at hand.

And once again, Smash Bros. for Wii U has your back and lets players customize items to their liking. You can turn specific items on and off and adjust how often items spawn, which lets you find just the right balance of crazy to your game and play it exactly the way you like it.

But hands-down, the most exciting part about Super Smash Bros. is seeing how these universes collide. The playable characters work much like they do in their own games, the items work just like they would in their own games, and the stages work just like they would in their own games. Nintendo has somehow managed to take the best of all their work and tie it together into one package. Its visual style is a wonderful mix of cartoon and realism that lets all of its characters and stages blend together as if they were all a part of the same game, or even the same genre, to begin with. And to Nintendo fans who recognize these characters and locations, that makes the crossover all the more special.

Super Smash Bros. has traditionally allowed up to four players to fight at once, but the Wii U version introduces a new mode called "8-Player Smash," for, you guessed it, eight players. 8-Player Smash is only possible on about half of the game’s stages, but given that we won’t have to wait for a free controller anymore, it’s a fair price to pay.

8-Player Smash, however, takes the randomness and fun, unexpected twists to an all-new extreme. Forget any hope of having a balanced eight player fight, because it simply cannot happen. There are so many fighters on the stage and often the camera has to zoom far out to accommodate for everyone, making it more difficult to tell what’s happening. This chaos is an absolute blast if you go into the game with an attitude of "it’s all fun and games." It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but for those who like Smash for its twists and turns, 8-Player Smash is the best thing to happen to the series in a long, long time.

8-Player Smash also lifts all its stage restrictions when four players or fewer are registered. it’s a small touch, but one that I greatly appreciate. If five players are fighting and one wants to take a bathroom break, it’s easy to switch in and out of the mode without having to go back through the menu systems.

Unfortunately, while the game saves your preferences for item and music settings, it resets the match every time you shut the game down. If you prefer to play with a certain number of lives instead of the times matches the game automatically sets, you have to set the rules every time. If you prefer to play against CPU opponents at any level other than 3, you have to set them one by one every time. It’s nothing too painful, but it can be quite the nuisance when trying to start 8-Player Smash, and it’s shocking to me that we’ve had five Smash games now and not one of them lets you set your own rules as the default set.

If 52 different fighters to choose from isn’t enough, the game lets players customize characters, too. The main attraction is customizable attacks, where players can choose from three options for each of their fighter’s four special moves to make a combination that feels fresh and exciting.

Most of these custom special moves are variations on the default set, but a few fighters do have twelve entirely unique options. In the future I’d like to see them expand on this idea and give the entire cast twelve unique attacks—how cool would it be to choose between the Super Jump Punch, F.L.U.D.D.’s Hover Nozzle, and Galaxy’s spin jump for Mario’s recovery move?

There’s also a plethora of custom equipment that can change a fighter’s speed, defense, and attack, or introduce a new ability entirely: quicker item use, a better mid-air jump, etc. Equipment can be used with all characters, and it allows a greater degree of personalization to make the cast more enjoyable to everyone. For example, I’ve never enjoyed playing as Ganondorf in Super Smash Bros., despite the fact that he’s one of my favorite video game characters, because he’s simply too slow for me. With custom equipment, I can sacrifice some of his power for speed, a subtle but important change thanks to which I now love playing as Ganondorf as much as I love the character himself.

There is one flaw with the equipment system, however: attack-boosting badges always decrease speed, speed-boosting badges always decrease defense, defense-boosting badges always decrease attack, and badges that also come with special abilities just decrease those stats even more. There’s no deviation from this structure, so there’s a lot less room to play around with equipment than the sheer volume of badges would lead you to believe.

Nevertheless, the game has laid an excellent groundwork for customizing characters. These two systems of customization allow for new ways to play with each character, using near limitless combinations of attacks and stat changes for an extra breath of fresh air with every member of the cast that you can continue tweaking for years and years to come.

Unfortunately it will take a long time before you can experience all of the different abilities for each fighter. The moves and equipment need to be unlocked by playing through various modes of the game; they’re all unlocked at random, and custom moves are lumped together in the same category as the much less exciting custom equipment. With nearly 600 custom moves to unlock and countless equipment, it can take several weeks or even months for players to unlock it all.

It’s even more crushing to learn that even if you’ve unlocked every single thing in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, you’re still out of luck: the Wii U version doesn’t have any way for players to transfer their unlock progress. You can transfer your customized characters from one version to the other, but doing so doesn’t unlock their special moves for later use. So even if you’ve been enjoying all these features for weeks now, you’ll have to go through the same arduous process from square one in order to keep fully enjoying them.

I understand that they did this so players can get used to the standard moves and then slowly experiment with each new one in-depth. They wanted to create a nice feedback loop where you unlock some moves, take them into various game modes to unlock more, and continue the process. But they’ve taken the idea to such an extreme that it becomes more of a chore than a delight. It’s especially frustrating when some of these characters have been a part of the series for over a decade. We’ve had plenty of time to learn their in and outs; if the game began with all of these fighters’ custom moves unlocked, or even just one move for every character on the roster, it would have mitigated some of the pain.

Less excusable, however, is the game’s custom stage creator. Super Smash Bros. Brawl introduced a Stage Builder mode where players could make their very own arenas to fight in. This Stage Builder had many basic shapes and a fair number of specialized objects to play with, including spikes, falling blocks, ladders, and more. It was nevertheless panned for being a little primitive back in 2008, and many fans decried it as downright awful. But here we are six years later, and I wish the new Stage Builder were as good as Brawl’s.

You begin by choosing whether you’d like to make your stage small, medium or large. You then choose between one of five backdrops—a disappointing number, given that it’s only two more than Brawl had, but it seems excusable enough. You then choose a song to play on the stage when you fight—again, disappointing compared to the My Music feature on the other stages.

Then you can begin working on the stage itself. The Stage Builder has you use the touchscreen on the Wii U GamePad to draw platforms, which seems like a simple enough task. But when it translates your lines from a drawing to a platform, the edges are rough, and often barely resemble what you drew. If you get a tiny detail on a platform wrong, you might expect to go in with an eraser tool to make a small tweak, but it’s not possible to make little changes like that. You can either delete the entire object and start again from scratch, or you can suffer your mistake—only the most painstakingly meticulous lines see the light of day.

It would help if they had some sort of grid system on the GamePad to guide you along when drawing. Luckily, they do! Unluckily, you can’t make any sort of curved lines when the grid system is on. Worse still is that the grid isn’t divided into even squares (unless you’ve zoomed in so far that you can barely see what you’re drawing anymore), which completely negates any help it ever could have offered.

After designing a set piece, you can choose whether or not you’d like fighters to be able to grab its ledges when recovering. The game will determine which ledges it deems possible to grab, and you can decide if you don’t want it to be grabbed—but you can’t do it the other way around. This isn’t terrible, but the game has a high bar for what ledges it decides fighters should be able to grab, and seemingly little pattern to how it determines this. So after all the trial and error of making a platform look the way you want it, if the game decides you can’t grab a ledge that you had intended for players to grab, you’ll have to delete the entire platform and start over yet again.

There are four special pieces you can add to a custom stage: springs, barrel cannons, moving platforms, and magma. Each one of these pieces adds an interesting new element to the game, and they’re each malleable enough to do some clever things with them. But there are unfortunately no unlockable pieces for the Stage Builder, which is pitiful considering that Brawl had upwards of forty pieces.

The Stage Builder in Smash Bros. for Wii U takes a widely-criticized mode from Brawl, removes all its saving graces, and doubles down on all of its faults. Nintendo promised that the GamePad would deliver a more robust Stage Builder, but Nintendo doesn't just fall through on this promise—they take a massive stride in the wrong direction. All the new GamePad mechanics have done is give the developers an excuse to substitute the most basic pieces from Brawl’s mode with a half-hearted drawing gimmick and cut back on all of the special pieces that made Brawl’s Stage Builder remotely worth your time.

Luckily customized content isn’t all this game does, as there are dozens of single-player modes that let Smash Bros. deliver on everything that it’s traditionally done so well.

Familiar to Smash fans is Classic Mode, a returning game from past Smash Bros. titles. Contrary to what the name might imply, "Classic Mode" is entirely unlike anything we’ve seen before this time around. Much like Classic Mode in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, players can set a difficulty on a scale from 0.0–9.0 by wagering a certain amount of in-game gold. The higher the difficulty, the more gold you have to put on the line, but the more rewards you can earn when you win.

In Classic Mode, you can choose from several different fights by moving a trophy of your character around a small game board. This board shows several different opponents and the rewards they offer, so you have a pretty clear idea of the kind of battle you’ll be facing when you decide where to move your piece. Occasionally these pieces will clear away before the battle and "intruders" will join the fight after you’ve made your choice, but it doesn’t happen all too often. After making your way through a series of these fights, you’ll be taken to a new tier of the board, where the same task awaits you—this time featuring opponents with randomized custom movesets. Clear this board, and you’ll make your way to a final fight at the end.

The bosses in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U are Master Hand and Crazy Hand. On higher difficulties, these two will collapse and reveal a new enemy named "Master Core," who takes on several forms before throwing in the towel. These bosses are all more like typical video game bosses than your typical Smash Bros. opponents in that they have set attack patterns that you can learn how to avoid with practice. It’s a refreshing change of pace from all the fights you will have just fought, but it’s not too hard to learn their tricks and breeze through the battles after enough time with the game.

All-Star Mode is the polar opposite. You’ll fight through a set series of opponents, starting with characters who were introduced most recently, and making your way back to the oldest characters, like Mario and Pac-Man. These characters come at you in groups of seven, though the battles are three-on-one matches where each opponent gets replaced by another when they get knocked out, and the pattern repeats until you’ve beaten them all. The damage you accumulate in battle carries over between each match, and you fail as soon as you get knocked out just once. After each round, you’ll get the chance to use one of four healing items; they disappear after each use, so it’s important to recover at the right moment or it could be the balance between life and death.

Special Orders is a mode where you can choose between three battles, each with their own special set of rules. One fight, for example, could makes everyone huge and set your opponents attack higher. Other could make you super fast and make everyone fly further when getting hit.

There are two variants on this formula: Master Orders and Crazy Orders. Master Orders shows you the details of all three fights before you begin, including your foes, the battle conditions, the crazy rules, the difficulty of the fight, and the reward—and it lets you decide when to finish playing.

Crazy Orders, on the other hand, makes you pay gold to play, and once you’ve begun, you can’t stop until you fight Crazy Hand. It works in a similar way, but the battle conditions are kept secret, and the damage you’ve taken carries from one battle to another. The goal is to keep going for as long as you can before throwing in the towel to fight Crazy Hand. You can do this at any time, but the longer you’ve been fighting, the better the rewards—and if you lose, you lose nearly everything. Crazy Orders is a thrilling idea that I honestly haven’t put as much time into as I’d like, but I’ve enjoyed every minute of what I have. It heals just a little sliver of your damage in between each battle, which keeps giving you the idea that you "can totally go just one more battle," but before you know it, it’s all over.

Event Matches deviate completely from this structure of serial battles and instead introduce pre-set scenarios with unique conditions to fight under and unique goals to achieve victory. Indeed many Event Matches simply require you to win a given battle to clear the event, but many of them show just how creative the Smash developers can be. A glowing example is "It's Past Your Bedtime!" where you play as Jigglypuff, a Pokémon famous for its ability to lull people to sleep. The even takes place on "Gamer," a stage set in a child’s bedroom at night, while his mother is on patrol to make sure he’s asleep. Meanwhile, Jigglypuff is tasked with using its sing ability to put all three of its opponents, Bowser Jr., Ness, and Villager—all young kids—to sleep at the same time. Others, like "A Fated Battle," create scenes inspired by other Nintendo games. In A Fated Battle, the player must use Link to defeat Ganondorf, the main villain of the Zelda series. If Ganondorf is still alive after 90 seconds, he will summon two Dark Links aide him.

I blew through the Event Matches like wildfire, and though my time was short lived, it was hands-down the most fun I had in all the single-player modes. Progressing through its board-game style setup and beating every challenge gives players a clear objective, and each Event Match was both fun and memorable.

The main mode that Super Smash Bros. for Wii U likes to advertise as its standout new idea is called "Smash Tour," a board game mode where players all roll their dice and make their moves at the same time. Each space has a stat boost that improves your characters in some way, but you can also use items before the turn starts to lay traps for your opponents. You’ll pick them up as you’re walking, but if another player is ahead of you, you’ll get nothing. If you land on all five different checkpoints, you’ll get a bonus, and if any two players bump into each other on screen, the whole group begins a battle. At first, each player has two random characters, but they can either gain new ones or lose them to their opponents, depending whether they win or lose in these matches.

And if you had any trouble following that last paragraph, there’s good reason: Smash Tour is an convoluted, unexplained afterthought that tries to cram way too many ideas into way too little time. No one thing that Smash Tour does is inherently flawed, but when it’s all thrown together, it makes for one of the most complicated board games I’ve ever seen, where so much happens in any one turn that it becomes impossible to strategize. By relegating battles—the core mechanic of Smash that works flawlessly—to minute-long events that happen by chance with everything on the line, Smash Tour buries everything that Smash Bros. does right deep within, and as a result, it’s easily the weakest mode the series has ever seen.

Smash Tour does have one brilliant idea, however, and that’s the final battle at the end of the game. Players can cycle through all the fighters they’ve acquired in Smash Tour, switching to a new character each time they’re knocked out. How many characters you have by the end gives you a slight advantage, but the goal is still to earn the most KOs, rather than to survive the longest. The idea itself is nothing short of genius, but it’s been criminally underserved by appearing only at the end of Smash Tour. The mechanic is clearly in place to let players switch characters mid-battle, so it’s an enormous opportunity that they’ve missed to bring this concept back into the main multiplayer game and give people even more reason to keep coming back to Smash. But unfortunately, for as wonderful as the idea is, it’s not worth the time and frustration you’ll spend in Smash Tour just to play it.

Throughout this plethora of modes, you can collect all sorts of goodies, from new music for My Music, to custom moves and equipment, to trophies, in-game figurines that display some of the greatest characters from Nintendo’s history. Trophies feature intricate models of characters, items, and more, complete with details about the history behind the characters or what they do in their games. Many of the models have been built from the ground up, making for truly gorgeous collectibles—Mega Man fans in particular will be thrilled to see how much care went into bringing these characters to life.

You can view your collection of trophies inside "The Vault," the menu system where you can access data like sound clips, screenshots you’ve taken, and your battle records. You can also view them in a trophy box display mode, where trophies are organized by groups, and the game lines your trophies up to show you how many trophies of each group you have—and how many you don’t. It’s a simple enough design choice, but it does a great job at showing the player just how badly they want to keep earning more and more trophies.

You can fill your collection out by purchasing trophies in the trophy shop with the gold you’ve earned by battling, or by playing a new mode called "Trophy Rush," where boxes rain down from the ceiling, and you need to attack them to destroy them and keep the stage clear. It’s a simple idea that gets extremely repetitive after a few play sessions, but it yields so many trophies that you’ll want to come back for more and watch your trophy collection swell faster than ever. And there’s a great sense of satisfaction after putting in some time in Trophy Rush, and coming back to the trophy box to see that you’ve finally gotten that last one you needed to complete a collection.

And finally, The Stadium is a series of challenges entirely their own. Fan-favorite modes Multi-Man Smash and Home Run Contest return to test the player’s skill—the former is a battle through a wave of foes, while the latter tests the player’s ability to rack up damage in ten seconds and send an opponent flying. But The Stadium also introduces a new mode this time around, called "Target Blast."

Target Blast serves as a replacement for Target Test, a mode that would appear in previous Smash games designed to test a player’s skill with a given character. Target Test featured a unique stage for every character, and each stage was designed specifically to make the best use possible of all the moves in that character’s arsenal. The goal was to hit all ten of the stage’s targets in the shortest amount of time, and the character-specific courses gave players an opportunity to learn the play style of each character and a focused way to improve their skills. It was effectively a training ground that gave players a fun and compelling reason to test out every character and maybe discover something they didn’t expect to like.

Target Blast, however, works more like an Angry Birds kind of game. Players are set in one of three stages and given ten second to rack up damage on a bomb and send it flying before it explodes. The character the player chooses only matter for their own personal preference—everything else is as standardized as can be. You launch the bomb into a field littered with targets and obstacles, and when the bomb explodes, targets shatter, and the obstacles go flying. The obstacles can then destroy more targets, knock other obstacles around, or set off smaller bombs scattered throughout the area. The player gets two bombs with which they must clear as much of the field as possible.

When judged on its own, it’s a decent enough mode, but it doesn’t do anything terrible unique or inspired that other modes don’t already do better. As a replacement for Target Test, however, it’s shamefully skeletal.

What gives purpose to these countless methods of play, beyond the sheer fun, of course, is a series of Challenges, Smash Bros.’ system of unlocking new content by accomplishing specific goals. Challenges are laid out on a grid, and once you’ve completed one, it shows you the challenge—but not the reward—for all adjacent squares. Challenges are relevant to every single mode in the game, and often ask you to go far beyond your comfort zone with their difficulty. It’s ultimately is a great system for giving players clear goals, the motivation to accomplish them, the nudge to try out all kinds of new thing, and tons of fun rewards in the process.

The single greatest difference between Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and its predecessors is the lack of an Adventure Mode, featured in Melee and Brawl. In past games, I do find that these Adventure Modes did the greatest amount of work in establishing Super Smash Bros. as an epic crossover, rather than just a fighting game with an assortment of familiar faces. Whereas Melee brought Nintendo characters into each others’ home worlds and posed unique scenarios inspired by classic games, Smash Bros. for Wii U does not. Whereas Brawl featured a large plot wherein we see the meet ups and collaborations between our favorite characters, with cinematic cutscenes, Smash Bros. for Wii U does not. But that’s actually okay. I do find myself lamenting the loss of Adventure Mode, but only when reflecting on what it accomplished in past games—not when enjoying Super Smash Bros. for Wii U as its own title. The game is so jam-packed with content that there’s no obvious void where Adventure Mode once was.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U also boasts a heavy integration with Amiibo, Nintendo’s new line of action figures featuring all sorts of their most famous characters. In Super Smash Bros., Amiibo work as an AI fighter that learns new techniques and gets better as it gains more experience in battle. Simply tap your Amiibo to the GamePad, and it will join the fray just as any other player or CPU opponent would. You can choose whether you’d like to fight against it or have it on your side, but either way, your Amiibo will level-up in the middle of battle, right before your eyes.

In this way, Amiibo are the ultimate sparring partners. As you fight against your Amiibo, it begins to learn your attack patterns before you even realize you have any pattern, and it recognizes and develops ways to counteract your strategies. If you want to keep up, you must constantly develop new techniques. And because Amiibo are based on recognizing patterns and developing their own, more often than not, you’ll be able to pick up on what they’re doing, develop a strategy to counteract it, and take that knowledge back with you when you play with friends or family. Amiibo will show you exactly where your faults lie, and if you can pinpoint those weaknesses and break your habits, you’ll improve that much more by fighting Amiibo compared to you average CPU.

After battle, you can power up your Amiibo with custom equipment, so they can grow stronger with stat boosts. This makes your Amiibo a more formidable foe, but it also makes it a better teammate to have on your side when playing with friends.

Of course, the main appeal of Amiibo is to have a gorgeous action figure of your favorite characters. It’s going to look great having a small collection of figurines sitting on your desk, in your room, or on your mantle. But their worth in-game depends largely on whether or not you have friends and family who are willing to play the game as often as you are. If you expect to spend a lot of time playing Smash by yourself, they’re an excellent way to improve your skills and battle a foe that’s custom-tailored to provide you personally with an engaging experience. But if you’re mostly interested in multiplayer, then Amiibo don’t offer terribly high gameplay value, and you’re better off buying them because you want to—not because you feel like you should.

The Verdict: A Must-Have for Kids and Adults Alike

It’s amazing how much value Nintendo has squeezed into a game that could have so easily been nothing but a single-mode fighting engine. There’s impressive content at every turn whether you’re playing alone or with seven others—those long afternoons spent playing Smash with your friends that have shaped so many memories are only going to get even better.

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is not only an informative history book, but an amazing portal into the expansive worlds of Nintendo. It features a massive roster of characters and enough to do to keep it entertaining for what seems like eternity. Its rich diversity in content, from the expressive faces of its goofier characters, to the realism of a medieval castle under siege, and everything in between, and its ability to make it all mesh so well, makes for what I dare call the best crossover ever made. The modes that Nintendo is advertising the most are ironically the ones worth playing the least, but that doesn’t diminish from what is truly a magical experience. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U provides endless fun for players of any kind, and the younger kids out there will be so enchanted that they’ll never want you to buy another game again.

**UPDATE** Online features are now available, and after several hours play-testing, I’m very impressed. The game features options for both competitive and party-oriented players, so each can get their fill. While online functions in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS were spottier than one would hope, I’ve experienced little trouble with Smash Bros. for Wii U. I’ve played with tons of different people, played 1-on-1 matches and four-player free-for-alls, and most matches had slight hiccups, but not a single one gave me serious delays—and I have a slow 7mbps connection speed.

I did experience some slight input lag from time to time, which means it’s not the most conducive for competitive play, but all-in-all, it was a good experience. It has a long way to go in offering match customization options when playing with anyone around the world instead of your pre-registered friends, but the online experience as a whole was much better than I expected.

Our Verdict


Why To Get It:
Perfect fighting engine; Different play styles for everyone; Vibrant, diverse characters and locations; Custom moves for endless experimentation; Tons of fun modes; Amiibo make for great single-player fun

Why To Avoid It:
Overcrowded Smash Tour mode; Miserable Stage Builder; Limited communications with the 3DS version

Sorted Under: FeaturesReviewsWii U