Played side by side, it’s difficult for the 3DS version of Smash Bros. to keep up with the Wii U iteration. Smashing on consoles means HD visuals on a large screen, all playable with multiple controller types. Despite the advantages of portability, how can the 3DS release even compare? Well, at E3, the handheld iteration of the fighter is easily the most fun to play in single player.
The E3 2014 demo of Super Smash Bros. 3DS has the expected four player matches over wifi, which are enjoyable even if the screen feels a little cramped. But things get more unpredictable when I entered the Smash Run mode. Played solo, Smash Run begins by dropping you into the a massive sidescrolling stage that’s randomly generated. Your chosen character searches out treasure to collect and opponents to fight, gaining items that boost your character’s stats. It becomes a lengthy platfomer filled with well-known Nintendo enemies like Shy Guys and Dodongos getting wiped out by the likes of Samus and Mega Man. If you dreamed of seeing Little Mac knock out one of Super Mario’s Hammer Bros., this is your chance.
Beating up enemies earns boosts to stats like strength and speed, making your fighter uniquely skilled by the time they reach the end of Smash Run’s five minute time limit. At that point, your uniquely skilled version of Fox McCloud or whoever faces off against other altered characters in a brief battle with somewhat random rule sets. The previous exploration defines your character and makes you extra invested in the outcome but even if you lose, Smash Run is still great solo fun for the time invested. Smash Run is exclusive to the 3DS version, so it looks like you’ll have something beyond multiplayer to keep you company while waiting several weeks for the Wii U version.