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Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS review: Smashing it on the small screen

The Good Super Smash Bros. for 3DS makes a splash on the portable console that includes a smattering of iconic and oddball characters, all with their own unique fighting styles and special abilities.

The Bad The button mashing that Super Smash Bros. demands isn't the most comfortable experience on the 3DS. The small screen sometimes has a tough time containing all of the action.

The Bottom Line Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is a blast to play, with an endless amount of value and variety packed inside, although at times the chaos can overwhelm that small screen.

Does it seem like it's been a while since the last time there was a must-have 3DS game? You're not crazy. Just as the platform seemed to zone into a steady groove of hit after hit, 2014 has cast some doubt on just how much gas is left in the portable's tank.

That purgatory is about to be challenged with the arrival of Super Smash Bros., a franchise that Nintendo purists hang their hat on. When you think of "Nintendo" and "hardcore" together, Smash Bros. is all you should think of. Its over-the-top brawler action brings out the competitiveness in every player it touches, all while paying homage to some of Nintendo's classic (and not-so-classic) characters from down the years.

The next evolution of Super Smash Bros. is finally upon us, oddly hitting Nintendo's portable a few months before its Wii U debut. Smash Bros. has been a mainstay of sofa gamer parties for well over a decade, but has never hit the small screen. So how does Nintendo's most anticipated franchise of the year fare on the 3DS?

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Nintendo

At the height the game's action, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS is almost too much to handle. There's the issue of what we're calling tiny-screen syndrome. Even on the huge Nintendo 3DS XL, there's so much happening on some of the stages that it all gets a little squinty. The whole translation to handheld form is still admirable, but Mario Kart works better.

Check out GameSpot's coverage of the game

Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, the first of a one-two punch that will include a Wii U version later this year, works as advertised for serious fans. There are dozens of characters, many weird selections including non-Nintendo mascots like Pac-Man, Mega Man and Sonic. Somehow, they do an amazing and ridiculous job of fighting together. Dozens of power-ups, special moves and many, many stages and customizable battle modes, plus single or multi-player contests, feel inexhaustible.

A fair warning though: Super Smash Bros. on 3DS assumes you know a lot about the franchise. Newcomers will have to endure a sizable learning curve. Even if you're a Smash Bros. veteran, controlling characters and performing specific attacks using the circle pad can be frustrating.

The 3DS version also features a new game mode, where you take characters through random mazes of crazy enemies collecting power-ups. This not only leads to character customization, but feels like a bizarre indie-style mobile game.

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