Super Smash Bros. 3DS is the fourth game in the series. If you compare Super Smash Bros. 64 to Melee, the primary differences are in the sheer evolution of the series. Smash 64 was the first game, so with Melee, the development team knew they had a hit and were able to get far more creative with Melee. The transition from Melee on GameCube to Brawl for the Wii was far more brutal, as the game mechanics changed significantly. From 64 to Melee, you still feel as though you're playing the same game, but from Melee to Brawl, the difference is far more jarring.
When it comes to Super Smash Bros. 3DS and the evolution the series has taken, we see quite a few changes. Some of those changes will be readily apparent as soon as you dig into the game, while others will only be clear to competitive Smash players who pick the game apart to find every little detail. Let's examine how Super Smash Bros. evolved from Brawl to 3DS.
Ice Climbers and Transformations
While gamers have been waiting a long time for a handheld version of Super Smash Bros., portable systems rarely have the same raw power and specs as home consoles. Sometimes, when games are developed for consoles and handhelds simultaneously, some sacrifices need to be made. In the case of Super Smash Bros. 3DS, that sacrifice comes in the way of removing the Ice Climbers and character transformations.
The Ice Climbers will be missed, but they weren't super popular to begin with. Even in Smash Bros. Brawl, while they have a place in the competitive scene due to their throw shenanigans, the Ice Climbers are rarely used by most players. It's never fun to see characters removed from a series, but the 3DS simply wasn't powerful enough to handle the duo. Even though they didn't make the cut this time, there's still a decent change we'll see them in the future.
When it comes to the character transformations (Sheik to Zelda, and Samus to Zero Suit Samus), the 3DS wasn't powerful enough to handle all of those move sets. When you take into account the fact that you could have four Zelda players in one match, that means the 3DS would have to load eight potential characters. Even still, the lack of transformations isn't a bad thing. In fact, most players are embracing the change because it allows the character to be more individualized, and it means that fighting against them is easier because you only have to worry about one character instead defending against multiple strategies from two different characters at any point in the match.
Custom Special Moves
Everyone envisioned new special moves or alternate versions of special moves for their favorite characters. In Super Smash Bros. 3DS you can customize the special moves of the characters with two variants of each special move. These special moves are collected as you play through the Smash Run mode, but cannot be used in online play (to maintain game balance).
The inclusion of altered special moves allows for considerably more variety in character choices. For example, one of Pikachu's special moves is the Thunder Jolt. Normally it's a basic projectile attack, but if you select one of the alternate versions you can turn it into a projectile that stuns the opponent. While the opponent is stunned, Pikachu can perform a combo. This completely changes how Pikachu players use the Thunder Jolt attack and keeps the character fresh, even if you've been playing as Pikachu since Super Smash Bros. 64.
Single Player Experience
Super Smash Bros. Brawl featured the Subspace Emissary single player adventure. While no such mode is available in Super Smash Bros. 3DS, it has been replaced with Smash Run. This takes the side-scrolling segments of Subspace Emissary and converts them into a puzzle-like labyrinth. Four players go in, collect various power-ups by defeating enemies, then emerge into a battle of some sort. It's more interactive than Subspace Emissary, and allows for quick bursts of play time while on the go.
In addition to Smash Run, the Classic mode has seen a few adjustments. You still battle against a series of computer-controlled opponents, sometimes in teams, other times against a giant or metal opponent. However, in Super Smash Bros. 3DS you get to choose your path to victory. The paths determine the difficulty of the next battle, but if you choose an easier fight, the rewards won't be as lucrative.
Gold earned in Classic mode is used to change the overall difficulty by adjusting the "intensity" before each play through. Think of the intensity level in Classic mode like you would a difficulty setting. A 2.0 intensity setting is essentially "normal" difficulty. If you crank it up to 7.0 intensity (infernal), you're basically setting the difficulty to "hard" and it goes even higher for players looking for a real challenge against the computer.
One of the most infamous features introduced in Super Smash Bros. Brawl was the random trip. Some players have tried to narrow down exactly why a character will trip, but most maintain it's completely random. Tripping leaves a character unable to move and vulnerable to attack. To the relief of competitive players worldwide, random trips have been removed in Super Smash Bros. 3DS.
The edgeguarding strategy has also changed somewhat. In Brawl and other Smash games, if one character hangs off of a ledge, no other characters are able to grab that ledge. In Super Smash Bros. 3DS, this changes so that the second character will grab the ledge, removing the first character. When this happens, the first character becomes invincible for a short time and takes no damage due to being removed from the ledge.
Many characters in Brawl had built-in combo attacks. In most cases this was performed by rapidly pressing the A button to do a three-hit combo. Now these automatic combos have a set finishing move. For most characters, after two attacks connect, the third attack will be the finishing move that ends the combo. This only applies to the automatic combos that are generally performed by pressing A. More elaborate combos do not have built-in finishing moves.
To learn more about Super Smash Bros. 3DS, check out Prima’s strategy guide.