When Nintendo announced that their next Nintendo Direct was going to focus solely on Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U, I was overjoyed. I jumped to forums here and there, rummaging through rumors and speculation. The most popular topic of conversation was the release date - would we finally be able to play Super Smash Bros. this year?
Namco Bandai and Nintendo knew this was the case. Almost immediately - at the 1:20 mark - Sakurai tackled the issue head on: "The Nintendo 3DS version will be released this summer," Sakurai explained. "With the Wii U version targeted for release this winter."
I was overcome with a conflicted feeling of joy followed by confusion ('Hoorah! We will be able to play this year! Wait, what? Did he just say what I think he said?').
"Yes, the 3DS version is coming out first," he continued. "These titles are packed with content, so we need time to do them justice."
I didn't see that coming. But has Nintendo just made a brilliant decision or an awful one in choosing these respective release windows?
Super Smash Bros. has been a Nintendo staple on every console since its introduction on the N64. It has become a franchise highly acclaimed by critics for its well-balanced fighting mechanics and inventive gameplay. I spent many nights in dorm rooms playing Melee and Brawl with friends, and I highly doubt I'm alone in having such fond memories. Smash Bros. is a series near and dear to many a person's heart - even those who are not fond of fighting games! Each game has been proclaimed a system seller, and the numbers don't lie.
Since the announcement of the 3DS and Wii U versions last summer, during Nintendo's homemade E3 presentation, it was assumed by many that these two versions would see a release date near to one another. If anything, wouldn't the Wii U version be released first? That's the more important one, right? Or so goes the assumption.
Super Smash Bros. is built to be played with your friends on a couch. It's a party game that thrives on local multiplayer. Playing with other friends locally was the only way to play it until online play was introduced in Brawl. When Nintendo announced a 3DS version, I was pleasantly surprised - I am looking forward to playing it on the go - but I do not plan to sit on a couch with my friends looking at our individual screens if I have the Wii U version to play instead.
Stating that the handheld version will be released at least 3-4 months before the console version felt like a small betrayal of sorts; akin to saying, "the 3DS version is more important, therefore we will release it first." Shouldn't it be the opposite? The Wii U needs the software well before the 3DS does.
It is a well known fact that the Wii U has seen lackluster sales. Critics and gamers have been wailing on it for its lack of a "system-seller" title, even though it has seen the release of excellent games including: The Wonderful 101, Pikmin 3, Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze, Super Mario 3D World, and many others. If none of those releases could claim the throne of "system-seller", what could? Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. Wii U are Nintendo's best bets. Releasing Super Smash Bros. Wii U as soon as possible would be the proper thing for Nintendo to do, if they want to see a jump in sales.
Perhaps these release windows are akin to saying "The Wii U version is more important, therefore we need to take more time to work on it. In the meantime, enjoy the 3DS version!" If this is the case, hurrah! I would love to see Namco Bandai take full advantage of both systems. Especially in terms of the second screen experience.
And maybe that really is the case. Maybe the hype train got me to rattled. Maybe my expectations were too high. At the end of the day, a new Smash Bros. is on the way, and my body is so ready.