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Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (Wii U) review: The total package

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the total package that delivers on nearly every level. With a seemingly endless amount of replay value, Super Smash should be the one staple in every Wii U library.

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Jeff Bakalar Scott Stein
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Jeff Bakalar

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Jeff is CNET Editor at Large and a host for CNET video. He's regularly featured on CBS and CBSN. He founded the site's longest-running podcast, The 404 Show, which ran for 10 years. He's currently featured on Giant Bomb's Giant Beastcast podcast and has an unhealthy obsession with ice hockey and pinball.

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Scott Stein

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I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets.

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3 min read

There's almost no point in discussing whether Smash Bros. Wii U is worth buying. Of course it is. Smash Bros. is a unique quantity among Nintendo franchises. It's an e-sport; it's a massive party game; it's a mad mashup of all Nintendo characters and lore, from the mainstream to the head-scratchingly obscure. And, it's a hard-core fighting game. If that doesn't express the franchise's surprising cult following, we found it to be the most obsessed-over game of the show back at E3 2014.

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Super Smash Bros. for Wii U (Wii U)

The Good

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U features fantastic chaotic fighting fun for up to eight simultaneous players and introduces tons of modes of play with an endless amount of replay value.

The Bad

Smash Bros. isn't the most accessible game out of the gate. It could definitely use a deeper tutorial. Also, the Amiibo toy-to-life angle feels underwhelming.

The Bottom Line

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the total package that delivers on nearly every level. With a seemingly endless amount of replay value, Super Smash should be the one staple in every Wii U library.

Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 3DS was its predecessor companion piece, a fairly similar shrunken-down experience that was incredibly impressive for its depth but was a little hard to control. A core fighting game is a puzzle to master on a handheld. That's no problem on the Wii U: there are a ridiculous number of ways to play, from the GamePad, to Wii remotes, to the classic GameCube controller -- or even using a Nintendo 3DS. Some work better than others, but you can't say Nintendo didn't offer plenty of alternatives.

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Nintendo

If you have one from the original Wii's legacy, we found its Pro Controller to be the best performing device, though Nintendo is selling a GameCube controller adapter for Wii U that can support up to four players. If you share the opinion that the GameCube console enjoyed the best controller Nintendo ever offered, Super Smash Bros.-branded throwbacks are also available for $30 each.

The difference on the Wii U, and what makes it a better experience than it was on the 3DS, are those improved control offerings, the sheer size and detail of the game's impressive fighting stages, and the ability to play either online or with friends, in up to eight-player brawls that become numbingly chaotic -- and undoubtedly difficult to follow at times.

Rest assured that the extra modes, power-ups, character leveling, newly added Mario Party-like board game battle modes, trophy collecting, character-unlocking and soup-to-nuts customization mean this game is inexhaustible. As a sport, it's also got infinite replay value. But you have to buy into wanting a game like this. If you're a Nintendo fan, which as a Wii U owner you have to be, this is the title you just need to blindly buy. Like a good bottle of whiskey, it'll be nice to offer to guests.

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Nintendo

At the same time, Super Smash Bros. doubles as a niche title that's been thrust into the mainstream. For the uninitiated, Smash comes off as nearly indecipherable. There's a distinct feeling of isolation for anyone not in the "Smash Club," which takes a fair amount of practice to permeate. This isn't necessarily a knock, it's just a warning to be prepared to get trampled if you're wet behind the ears. Like any fighting game, mastering Super Smash is a massive undertaking.

The Wii U's iteration doesn't do much in the way of welcoming newcomers to the series, not even a fleshed-out tutorial is anywhere to be found. For the most part, you're on your own with Super Smash Bros. -- and button mashing gets you only so far.

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Nintendo

With the introduction of the Amiibo line of toys that is launching side-by-side with the game comes a clear message from Nintendo that it's set on entering the billion-dollar toy-to-life market. Essentially, they're the company's version of Skylanders figurines, and well, they're not exactly must-haves. Each toy stores game data and becomes a little AI character of sorts -- you can pit them as self-fighting drones in matches, but there's not much need for them in a game that's as massive as Smash already is. Nintendo is banking on them, and Amiibo toys work with other Wii U games like Mario Kart 8. But as far as Smash is concerned, they're not a difference-maker. Also, disappointingly, they can work with only one game at a time.

Get Smash Bros. for Wii U, if you own a Wii U. And if you don't own a Wii U, consider getting one for Smash Bros. But wait on the Amiibo. Well, unless you just want to pick one up as a $13 desk toy.

CNET verdict: A must-own that epitomizes the Nintendo brand

Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the total package that delivers on nearly every level. With a seemingly endless amount of replay value, Super Smash should be the one staple in every Wii U library.

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Nintendo

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