I went to a Super Smash Bros. 3DS launch party, but I didn’t buy it. I don’t want to buy it. If I had money burning a hole in my pocket, that would be a different story. However, given the choice between playing Super Smash Bros. on my 3DS or on my Wii U, the Wii U version wins every time.
Despite the differences, version exclusivity wasn’t a big sale for me. The better choice boiled down to portability, controls, and graphics.
Both versions offer nearly similar gameplay and the same roster of characters, but there are differences between the two. Since I was limited to purchasing only one of these games, I had to take these variations into account. I had to ask myself, “Which game would I enjoy playing more?”
Each version has some unique stages, trophies, and assist trophies. This is mostly dependent on the type of platform the game is being played on. The 3DS version features primarily handheld games, whereas the Wii U version focuses on console titles. Super Smash Bros. 3DS also offers a few exclusive game modes such as Smash Run and StreetSmash.
Isabelle (Animal Crossing) Assist Trophy.
Saria (Zelda) Trophy.
Lumiose City (Pokémon) Stage.
Despite the differences, version exclusivity wasn’t a big sale for me. The better choice boiled down to portability, controls, and graphics.
Let me start off by saying…
Super Smash Bros. 3DS is Good
By now, I’m sure everyone who owns a Nintendo 3DS has tried the free demo available on the Nintendo eShop. If not, you should really give it a shot.
This is the fighting game’s first foray in the portable scene, and it handles the transition superbly. It looks good, handles well, and it is a portable version of Nintendo’s best fighting game. I can play Smash Bros. where ever I want. It is definitely convenient for someone who is always on the go.
This does not reflect my gaming lifestyle though. The time I spend playing games is usually when I’m relaxing at home. If I’m sitting in front of my Wii U anyways to play games, why not use it? With this in mind, portability becomes much less of an issue.
Controls: New vs. Old
The 3DS controls are surprisingly fluid. It’s almost as if I’ve been playing Smash Bros. on the 3DS all along. The keyword here is “almost.” I’m sure with enough time, I may get accustomed to the 3DS controls. Quite frankly, I’m not ready to give up the familiarity of a Wii U Pro controller, or even better, the GameCube controller.
That’s right, it’s time to dust off those old GameCube controllers. Nintendo is introducing an adapter ($20) that lets up to four Nintendo GameCube or WaveBird controllers work with the game.
If you’re lacking one of these bad boys, standalone Nintendo GameCube controllers emblazoned with the iconic Super Smash Bros. insignia are being made available for $30. There is even going to be a special bundle that includes Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, one Nintendo GameCube controller and one adapter for $100.
This shows how Nintendo recognizes the importance of the GameCube controller to veteran Super Smash Bros. players. I certainly appreciate it. Now if only I could use it for Mario Kart 8 too…
Graphics: 3D vs. HD
Controls aside, the most obvious difference between the Wii U and the 3DS are the graphics. The 3DS has exclusive access to stereoscopic 3D with adjustable and optional character outlines. The Wii U shows off Super Smash Bros. in glorious high-definition .
Toon Link and Pikachu in SSB 3DS.
Toon Link and Zelda in SSB Wii U.
While the 3DS variant looks pretty good as it is, I never see myself fully appreciating Super Smash Bros. in stereoscopic 3D. I rarely use this feature as it is. Being able to play in HD gave the Wii U version a boost.
Super Smash Bros. Wii U is Better (For Me)
I have an excuse to use my favorite GameCube controllers again. In the graphics department, I vastly prefer HD over 3D. One day, I may lament over not being able to play Smash Bros. on a plane. Still, the Wii U version was the clear winner.
Although not for me, Super Smash Bros. for 3DS definitely has its own merit. Eventually, I may own both. I certainly would love to take advantage of this excellent Super Smash Bros. soundtrack promotion.
We boarded the ひかり (Hikari) shinkansen again to head for the historic and cultural heart of Japan: Kyoto. Upon our arrival, we immediately went to 龍安寺 (りょうあんじ/Ryouan-ji), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and saw its famous Japanese Zen garden. This particular garden is considered the finest example of 枯山水 (かれさんすい/”dry landscape” gardening). These type of gardens are designed to imitate the essence of nature and serve as an aid to meditation. I’ve always pictured this particular garden as small islands among a vast sea. The surrounding temple grounds were just as gorgeous.
Nearby was also 金閣寺 (きんかくじ), or the Golden Pavilion. This is probably one of the most famous sites in Japan. For me, it is definitely one of the first that comes to mind when I think of Kyoto. The building itself is three stories, with the top two covered in pure gold leaf.
For the Pokémon fans out there, like myself, it is interesting to known that this is the home of ホウオウ(Ho-Oh). Ecruteak City is representative of Kyoto in the Pokémon world. The Golden Pavilion also has a Pokémon equivalent. The Bell Tower/Tin Tower, where Ho-Oh can be found and captured.
I guess it would be safe to assume that 銀閣寺(ぎんかくじ), the Silver Pavilion, served as the basis for the Burned Tower in the Pokémon series. However, in reality, it was the Golden Pavilion which burned to the ground in 1950 by a monk. The Golden Pavilion as we known it today is the reconstruction of it from 1955. Very symbolic of a phoenix who is reborn from ashes.
The following day was a special one. As part of our printmaking class and service learning project, when went to visit Richard Steiner, a professional woodblock printmaker. Originally from America, he’s been living in Japan and studying woodblock printing since 1970.
He studied under woodblock print master, Masahiko Tokumitsu. Originally imitating the representational black-and-white style of his teacher, Steiner has since adopted colorful abstract themes into his work. After years of study, Richard Steiner was given an artistic license and the artistic name of Tosai. Today, Steiner also teaches at 京都精華大学 (きょうとせかいだいがく/Kyoto Seika University. He also heads the Kyoto International Woodprint Association (KIWA).
His quaint studio is located in central Kyoto in a 町や (まちや/townhouse) with 畳 (tatami) floors and sliding 障子 (しょうじ/shouji) doors. Within this space, he covered a brief history about 木版画 (もくはんが/woodblock prints) and shared with us techniques used in the woodblock printing process. However, since his space was too small to accommodate the entire class, it was necessary for us to break up in groups. Therefore, a good part of the day was spent exploring the surrounding neighborhood of 中京区 (なかぎょうく/Nakagyou-ku).
The following day we went to 二条城 (にじょうじょう/Nijou Castle), another UNESCO World Heritage Site, in the morning. On the way there, I had a “Justin Beiber” moment, when I waved to some passerby school girls and then they all unanimously squealed. That was a little surreal.
The castle itself is similar to Nagoya Castle, although, a little smaller. The architecture lends itself very well to the social hierarchy of the Edo period. Therefore, there was many informative displays showcasing this.
After Nijou Castle, we headed for the 京都御所 (きょうとごしょ/Kyoto Imperial Palace). It was the former residence of the Emperor and his family in Kyoto until 1868 when they moved to Tokyo. The palace that exists today is the reconstruction of it in 1855 after it had burned down. Situated within 京都御苑 (きょうとぎょえん/Kyoto Imperial Park), the palace grounds are enormous. I can’t stress how huge this place is.
Within the Kyoto Imperial Palace, the class went on a guided tour. We learned a lot about the castle architecture and daily lives of the royal family. For example, the roof is created using a special bark from a Japanese cypress called 檜 (Hinoki) and the color vermilion is used in 神道 (しんとう/Shinto) to ward off bad spirits. Something I found particularly interesting is that a notch is created in the northeast corner of the palace walls to prevent bad spirits from entering the palace grounds. This is because the northeast is believed to be where they originate from. Also, red tatami is used for lower social status, while white tatami is used for higher class.
That night, the class headed to 祇園 (ぎおん/Gion), a district formed in front of the 八坂神社 (やさかじんじゃ/Yasaka Shrine). Gion is well-known for the 芸者(geisha) and their apprentices, the 舞子 (maiko), who walk its streets at night. I was lucky enough to see three maiko walking down the streets. Seeing them in person is actually a pretty awe-inspiring experience.
I loved being in Gion. Kyoto for the most part has a quiet a night life in comparison to Tokyo and Nagoya. However, Gion is where Kyoto comes to life at night. I would love to return to Gion in the future.
Kyoto Seika University, the school Richard Steiner teaches at, is another college we got to tour during our stay in Japan. I was happy I got the opportunity to visit some colleges since I’m exploring options for the MEXT Scholarship. Something which I may or may not apply for in the near future.
Kyoto Seika University was particularly interesting since it offered many fields of study within new media: animation, manga, photography, etc. Of course, printmaking as well, which got some of the study abroad students very excited. It really seemed like a school out of ハチミツとクローバー (Honey and Clover). While visiting, there was a group of high school students learning to make 和紙 (washi) paper. As アメリカ人(アメリカじん/Americans), we were quite popular among the high school students.
Later that evening, I was determined to see 任天堂株式会社 (にんてんどうかぶしきがいしゃ/Nintendo Co., Ltd.), headquartered in Kyoto. With a little research, I discovered that Nintendo was located not far from the hotel. Two friends joined me on my quest. It was surprisingly easy to find! There was two buildings. One was obviously an older building, while the other, Nintendo Research and Development, looked much newer.
With the sun setting in the background and through the rose-tinted glasses of a fan, the cubical, white buildings probably looked more amazing than in reality. The locals obviously knew what we were up to, since they were all grinning from ear to ear as they walked past. There was even a little old woman giggling as she was walking her dog.
On our last day in Kyoto, once again the familiar band of adventurers assembled and we head for the 伏見稲荷大社 (ふしみいなりたいしゃ/Fushimi Inari Shrine)。This is the head shrine for the fox diety known as Inari, who also apparently loves fried tofu. いなり寿司 (いなりずし/Inari sushi) is sushi rice in fried tofu. きつねうどん (literally “fox udon” ) is udon noodles with fried tofu. As the god of rice, it is no wonder the Japanese people love him so much.
The Fushimi Inari Shrine isn’t far from Nintendo headquarters actually. In fact, Shigeru Miyamoto said that the shrine helped with the conception of Star Fox and the series’ main character Fox McCloud.
Aside from foxes, this shrine has lots and lots of 鳥居 (とりい), traditional Japanese gates. There is apparently over 10,000 of them, each one donated from a company or organization. Walking through a tunnel of vermilion-colored gates is not only beautiful, but also other-worldly. There truly is no other place like it. I’m proud that I was able to make it all the way to the top of the hill and see as much of the shrine as I could. I may return to enjoy it more when I return to Kyoto this July.
I rode the 新幹線 (しんかんせん/bullet train) for the first time to get to Nagoya, which was a lot of fun. The ride is very smooth and it was a beautiful day so I got to see a lot of the countryside and 富士山 (ふじさん/Mt. Fuji)!
When the class arrived in Nagoya, we headed straight to 名古屋城 (なごやじょう/Nagoya Castle). This is one of the many famous feudal castles in Japan. This one is the first of a few I get see in Japan. However, Nagoya Castle was destroyed during the bombings of World War II, so the castle I saw was not the original but a reconstruction of it. The architecture of Nagoya Castle is quite spectacular and it offered an amazing view of Nagoya from the top.
The 金鯱 (きんしゃち/golden dolphins) that adorn the roof of the castle are seen all over the city as the city’s mascot! They’re based off of a mythical creature from Japanese folklore with the head of a tiger and the body of a carp. It is believed that these creatures could summon rain, so they are put on the castle roof as protection from fire. Also, while I was at Nagoya Castle, I got to try green tea ソフトクリーム (soft-serve ice cream) for the first time. おいしっかたです！In Japan, soft-serve ice cream is a common treat and it comes in a variety of unique flavors. Being the adventurous eater I am, I’m tempted to try them all!
Later that night, the merry band of adventurers assembled and we went exploring around 栄 (さかえ/Sakae) district. We had dinner at a curry shop called 金沢ロイヤルカレー創 (Kanazawa Royal Curry Sou) that had some really great オムカレー. Close to our hotel was サンシャインサカエ (Sunshine Sakae) where I found and bought the PS3 version of テイルズ オブ ヴェスペリア (Tales of Vesperia) released only in Japan. Then we rode its giant 観覧車 (かんらんしゃ/Ferris wheel) called Sky-Boat (スカイボート)which provided a great view of Sakae’s night life.
The next day in Nagoya, the class met some students from 中京大学 (ちゅきょうだいがく/Chukyo University) and traveled with them to the トヨタテクノミュージアム産業技術記念館 (Toyota Commemorative Museum of Industry and Technology). I had a great time talking with and getting to know each of the students: Sonoka, Kyoka, Shodai, and Rinko. At the Toyota Museum I learned that originally the company specialized creating automatic looms and later evolved into the automobile company is known as today.
After the museum, we went to 大須 (おおす/Ōsu), home to the Buddhist temple 大須観音 (おおすかんのん/Ōsu Kannon) and the shopping district which surrounds it. I spent most of my time exploring this area with Shodai and two other students Alex and Jason.
The real fun began after the day’s itinerary was over and we had free time. Along with some other students, we traveled back to Sakae and went nearby shopping center called オアシス２１(Oasis 21). I remembered seeing this place on a YouTube channel I follow, “Rachel & Jun,” so I was quite happy to see it in person.
While we were there, we checked out a store dedicated to Studio Ghibli goods and we ate at a 回転寿司 (かいてんずし/conveyor-belt sushi) place. After dinner, we visited Oasis 21’s unique “Water Spaceship” roof and had a wonderful view of Nagoya TV Tower. Since the night was young, myself, Alex, Shodai, plus other students: Danielle, Janelle, and José, decided to go out for some カラオケ(karaoke). I’ve been out for karaoke before, but I this was honestly the best karaoke I’ve ever experienced. I had so MUCH fun! すごく楽しかった！
The following day we went to visit Chukyo University. We attended a class designed to help Japanese students to think logically about situations presented to them in English. I thought the scenarios presented them was a bit challenging, especially since it was a freshman course. One pair of students attempted to tell me the story of Momotaro in English. Luckily, I am familiar with the story, so I was able to help them along pretty well. It was a big challenge not to speak to them in Japanese though!
After a tour of the campus, we were treated to a curry lunch where we were also reunited with Shodai, Sonoka, and Kyoka. It was great seeing them again! Then we all went to Dibble-sensei’s printmaking class, where we work together with Japanese students. Afterwords, we said our sad farewells to Shodai, Sonoka, and Kyoka. I apparently gained the reputation of being ladies man. I’m not sure about that, but it’s an amusing thought.
For our last night in Nagoya, I showed my friends the wonders of ユニクロ(Uniqlo), a Japanese clothing store I’ve come to love when I was in San Francisco for GDC. I bought myself two pairs of jeans and even got them hemmed (complimentary) to my size! They’re made of “powder-soft” denim and they feel great! Plus, I got coupons for a future sale, so I’ll probably buy more Uniqlo clothes in the near future.
I’ve been told before that Nagoya is a boring place, but I found that far from the truth. I loved my time in Nagoya. I’m sure my time with the Chukyo University students made a huge difference. I’m actually a bit sad to leave this city, but Kyoto, our next destination, is bound to be lots of fun too.
Nagoya really proved to me that years of Japanese language study has been paying off. It has been especially useful on this trip. I’ve often been designated the impromptu translator for the other students. While I’m far from perfect, it inspires me to learn more and more. もっと日本語を勉強したいです！I can’t wait for the CLS program this summer, where there is an emphasis on Japanese language study!