First, I will congratulate NS-Games
on winning the "Cross Cross" contest. He was able to correctly guess 7 of the 14 characters in the roster extension. He has received a download code for Mighty Gunvolt as his prize.
Now I have to mention Super Smash Bros. again. The 3DS version is already out in Japan, and the leaks that were referred to before seem to be legitimate. That said, I'm actually going to focus on the game demo in this posting. Japan got the demo less than a week ago, and it was stated during the Treehouse streaming event that the demo would also make its way to North America on September 19. They also mentioned, however, that Club Nintendo members that reached certain criteria were able to get a special version of the demo on that very day -- the "special" thing about it is that unlike the normal demo, there is no limit to how many times you can open it.
The demo allows you to play 2-minute Time battles. The available characters are Mario, Link, Pikachu, Villager, and Mega Man, and you can freely choose the number of computer opponents and their respective difficulty levels. Only Battlefield is available in terms of stages, but you can fight on either the normal version (with items) or the "Ω Form" (without items). In addition, the demo allows for local multiplayer, so other players with the demo can fight each other on their own systems. It also has a tips section which show various bits of information and tips on various aspects of the game, including those not available in the demo.
Anyway, I was eligible for the demo, so I downloaded it on the first opportunity I had. And after a good amount of matches I have to say it's pretty solid.
Speaking personally, the controls seemed to work just fine on the 3DS XL. If given the chance I might swap around a button or two, but the default control scheme didn't feel so awkward as to make it unplayable. In fact, I've been able to play the game fairly well with the thumb pad, iffy skills aside. It has been recently mentioned that the 3DS could be utilized as a controller for the Wii U version; while it isn't exactly a Gamecube controller, it does feel more welcoming than a Wiimote or Wiimote+Nunchuk setup.
The action feels just right to me. Not too fast, but not too slow. I was able to follow the action fairly well on the 3DS XL's screen, though I'm not certain if the character outlines played a role in that. The only times I felt lost were in four-character scuffles, but that's not hard to do in Smash Bros. on any other system. Speaking of which, the graphics are quite nice. Watching all the action play out in a 60 fps-ish rate is very good; the fact that it can maintain this in 3D is fairly impressive as well, though at the sacrifice of making certain other details such as assist trophies, items or Pokémon move at a 30 fps-ish rate. This conflict of framerates is especially evident when the Nintendog is blocking your screen.
And epic music is epic.
So of the five characters in the demo, I think the one I've been enjoying the most is Mega Man. He's quite different in play style, with a lot of projectile attacks. I do find a number of his moves satisfying to pull off, though I'm still trying to figure out the usefulness of other moves (i.e. Leaf Shield). I will say, though, that I find this depiction of Mega Man a slight bit unsettling. When he stands still he is completely motionless, occasionally doing some small motion or pose. He doesn't even blink when doing so. To make things more unsettling, it's the same for his victory poses; once he's set in the final pose, he remains still like a statue, never blinking. The camera in the Victory screen seems to wobble a bit like a living being is holding it, maybe to assure players that the game hadn't frozen? And the thing about all this is that I suspect this was intentional; Mega Man is a robot, so more organic motions aren't as likely to happen. Still, it's a slight bit eerie to me...
In any case, the Villager has been the second-most enjoyable. He/she has a a lot of tricks I haven't seen before. The pocket ability is excellent; not only can you grab projectiles from other players and use them later, but you can do the same for items. Pocketing a hammer is a pretty cunning strategy, as you can save it for later when the opponents have more damage. The tree move is also surprisingly handy. Saplings are hard to see, and you can cause others damage by making it grow. And then you can chop down the tree to hit close opponents hard. Or you can just use the axe on the other players and let the tree wither away. The only real bummer I've had so far is the Final Smash, which so far hasn't offered a significant punch for me, and requires an opponent to be very close to make it work.
I don't really have so much to say about the other three veterans; they have one or two alterations to the way they play. Link has different motions for some moves (up-air attack, dash attack), and Pikachu's Volt Tackle has an odd orb nearby that shows which way you're tilting the thumb pad. Mario was probably the most underwhelming; he didn't seen much different to me, and I was never too keen on the FLUDD move.
That said, I can at least say that the demo left me convinced that the portable version will be just fine. The most concerning aspect -- the control -- ended up being a non-issue, and the experience as a whole felt like a proper Smash Bros. game. I'm looking forward to the full game on October 3, but the demo will be enough to tide me over until then.
-- Malamite Ltd.