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Smash Bros. Direct reveals new characters, game modes, online details, and more

Posted on April 8, 2014 AT 04:23pm

Today’s 39-minute Smash Bros. Direct video from Nintendo revealed a treasure trove of details about both the 3DS and Wii U versions of the crossover brawler.

The most attention-grabbing new might be the split release date, but there were plenty of other interesting tidbits strewn throughout. For starters, the confirmed roster grew a bit with the return of Yoshi (now standing upright instead of hunched over) and the addition of two Pokémon, Charizard and Greninja. We also learned that Zero Suit Samus and Sheik will now be standalone characters, rather than alternate forms of Samus and Zelda.

Director Masahiro Sakurai also outlined his plans for the game’s online multiplayer component, expressing a clear desire to accommodate both casual and hardcore Smash fans. To that end, the Wii U and 3DS Smash Bros. titles will allow you to choose whether you’re playing against strangers or your friends with different rule sets and options for each. When you’re with friends, you’ll be able to tweak every item, select individual stages, and fiddle with the ruleset just as much as if you were playing locally.

When you head into public matchmaking, however, you’ll be asked to make a further selection between two different rulesets. The first, called “For Fun,” will always have all items enabled and randomly select each stage, with the exception of the notoriously hardcore Final Destination. It’ll also only keep track of your number of wins, rather than any sort of win/loss ratio.

By contrast, the second, “For Glory,” will disable all items and always send you to Final Destination. Yep, Nintendo is officially canonizing the “no items, Final Destination” mentality of hardcore players. (Maybe they’ll add a patch in post-launch to make Fox the only playable character, as well.) If that sounds like it might get a bit tedious, Sakurai’s got you covered. To keep things from getting visually repetitive, every stage now comes with its own Final Destination variant, which keeps the look and ambience of the stage intact but reduces the geometry to a single, flat plane and nullifies environmental hazards. It’s an interesting idea that should keep high-level play from losing the game’s graphical charms. It probably goes without saying, but For Glory mode will also keep track of your complete track record, wins and losses both.

You’ll also no longer be playing anonymously. For better or worse, your actions online will now be tied to your Nintendo Network ID. Sakurai said there will now be a code of conduct similar to that of Miiverse, and also mentioned that the team is looking for ways to punish players for poor behavior, like leaving matches midway through, picking on a single opponent incessantly, suiciding, and cheating. While nothing is apparently set in stone at this stage, he hypothesized a ban system that keeps you from playing online for a certain period of time, with frequent offenders receiving longer bans.

The final piece of the online strategy outlined today was a new feature called “Global Smash Power.” Rather than setting up a ranking ladder that tells you how far you are from the top, the new Smash Bros. will instead present you with a number that tells you how many players you’re outperforming. The bigger the number, the more people you’re better than. This stat apparently won’t apply to the online multiplayer match-ups directly, but there will be some sort of matchmaking based on skill at play.

Another intriguing announcement was the ability to build custom move sets for each character that you can utilize during offline play or online with friends. Few details were given, but the footage seemed to indicate a fairly in-depth set of options. We saw Kirby utilizing some sort of freeze breath, Pit shooting off arrows that looped through the air, and Mario wielding new types of fireballs—one larger and slower, another smaller and more rapid-fire.

There was also new info geared specifically at the 3DS version of the game. We got confirmation that the game will run at a full 60 frames per second, even in stereoscopic 3D—though some assist trophy characters will display at 30 FPS to help lower the hardware load. Additionally, we learned of a new, 3DS-exclusive game mode called Smash Run, which drops up to four players in a large overworld dungeon populated by randomly generated enemies and tasks them with hunting down collectible powerups that boost things like jump height, speed, damage, and defense. Once five-minutes have elapsed, the players will be transported to a more conventional arena and the focus shifts to PvP. By collecting more powerups than their opponents, players can give themselves an edge during this showdown, meaning Smash Run will be a kind of hybrid between the traditional brawling the series is known for an a side-scrolling dungeon-crawler, with some of the progression and strategy of a MOBA thrown in to mix up the formula.

All in all, it was a fairly interesting glimpse into the sort of scope we can expect from Smash Bros. when it launches later this year, though it was clear that Nintendo is still keeping quite a bit more under wraps for the time being. Expect to hear a whole lot more about both versions of the game at E3 in June.

Josh Harmon, Associate Editor
Josh Harmon picked up a controller when he was 3 years old—and he hasn't looked back since. This has made him particularly vulnerable to attacks from behind. He joined EGM as an intern following a brief-but-storied career on a number of small gaming blogs across the Internet. Follow him on Twitter @jorshy. Meet the rest of the crew.

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