Super Smash Bros. 3DS vs. Wii U

Super Smash Bros. 3DS vs. Wii U

SuperSmashBros_WiiU

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.

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.

Wii Fit Trainer and Villager from Animal Crossing in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS.
Wii Fit Trainer and Villager from Animal Crossing in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS.

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.

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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 .

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.

Nintendo and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Dress Up

Nintendo and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Dress Up

Being led by Japan’s most kawaii pop idol, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, Nintendo’s new New 3DS is turning heads with its customizable, cutesy cover plates known as “kisekae plates.”

“Kisekae” literally means to “change clothes,” and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu uses her trademark style to make Nintendo’s message loud and clear.

It’s not just the system dressing up. Joining the party are some of Nintendo’s most iconic characters: Hipster Bowser, Leprechaun Link, His Majesty King Pikachu, and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu Kirby. Seriously, who can ignore those adorable Nintendo character makeovers?

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Kisekae Plates

The most recent addition to Nintendo’s portable line suffers from Nintendo’s odd, maybe somewhat unimaginative, naming conventions. However, the Japanese trailer for it definitely makes the system stand out. “きせかえちゃお” or “let’s dress up” is the coined phrase for Nintendo’s latest marketing scheme. “Kisekae” literally means to “change clothes,” and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu uses her trademark style to make Nintendo’s message loud and clear.New_Nintendo_3DS_FaceplatesThe kisekae plates are a feature exclusive to the smaller New Nintendo 3DS. LL (the XL version) owners will still have to depend on limited edition versions to get a “customized” theme. Regular New 3DS owners already have a selection of approximately 40 designs, featuring a variety of Nintendo characters and patterns, to choose from. Prices vary from 1000円 – 3000円 or $10 – $30.

Menu Themes

An intriguing, and surprisingly rarely mentioned, feature of the kisekae plates are their ability to also customize the menu interface. Regular 3DS and 3DS XL owners can also join the fray. Riding in on Nintendo’s wave of customizability  are downloadable custom themes for the menu interface for all 3DS systems.

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In October 2014, a system update will add a new “Theme Shop” to the Home menu. Equipping these different themes will transform the menu background, icons, and folders. It will even change the music and sound effects!

The “New” in New Nintendo 3DS

The New Nintendo 3DS offers a ton of new features: a more powerful CPU (allowing New 3DS exclusives such as Xenoblade Chronicles), a new C-stick and two additional shoulder buttons, Micro SD card functionality, environmentally adjustable backlight, and NFC connectivity (Amiibo support). Oh, and my favorite, enhanced stereoscopic 3D which removes the dreaded “sweet spot.”

Surprisingly, out of all of these features, it is the kisekae plates which are becoming the most noteworthy new addition. More than ever before, Nintendo is allowing players to express their individuality, which is remarkably un-Japanese. Maybe this a sign of changing times in Japan or simply Nintendo’s awareness of a global audience.

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There is no doubt about it, the collaboration between Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and Nintendo is some of the best Nintendo marketing we’ve seen since the Wii era. It certainly caught my attention and I love those character redesigns. One day, I’m definitely going to cosplay the very dapper Leprechaun Link.

Brace Yourself, Yo-kai Watch is Coming

Brace Yourself, Yo-kai Watch is Coming

For decades, Pokémon monopolized the collectible monster scene. However, amid the Pokémon Centers of Japan emerges a brand new monster mania — Yo-kai Watch. Level-5 created a multimedia franchise that is now taking Japan by storm. Next is the world.

Japan may still love Pokémon, but with Yo-kai Watch’s booming success in Japan and inevitable release in the West, this is the largest rival to challenge Pokémon’s supremacy yet.

Imagine Pokémon mixed with Ni no Kuni, add a splash of Japanese folklore, sprinkle in some childhood reminiscence, and you got yourself the essence of Level-5’s Yo-kai Watch.

While Pokémon’s fantasy world is vaguely based on the real world, Yo-kai Watch definitely takes place in Japan. Of course, that means localization challenges are aplenty. Yo-kai Watch is so strongly rooted in Japanese culture, even its title requires a bit of a cultural lesson.

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What are Youkai?

Gashadokuro
One of many youkai, Gashadokuro (がしゃどくろ) are large skeletons formed by the bones of people who have died from starvation.

Japan loves monsters. They’ve existed in Japanese mythos for ages. In Japan, the term used to refer to these supernatural creatures is “yōkai” (妖怪). There are many different types of youkai: shape-shifting foxes, women with stretchable necks, walking umbrellas, long-nosed avian warriors, mischievous water spirits, and more.

Gashadokuro_Yokai_Watch_2
Introducing Gashadokuro (ガシャどくろ) from Yo-kai Watch 2. Its name is actually a word pun. It combines the youkai’s name with Gashapon, the Japanese word for capsule toys.

Yo-kai Watch brings all of these mythical beings together in a universe where they can be befriended and summoned by the press of a button on a special wristwatch.

Welcome to Yo-kai Watch

One day, you’re out trying to catch that one, amazing bug (think Animal Crossing) that will impress all your friends. You come across a large tree and at its base is a suspicious, and awfully old, capsule toy machine. A mysterious voice beckons you to insert a coin which releases the cutesy ghost, Whisper. He bestows upon you the Yo-kai Watch, a wrist strap which unveils the world of youkai that live all around you.

That is the prevailing theme behind Yo-kai Watch: “Everyday life with Youkai.” The game’s setting is an average, Japanese town called Sakura New Town. Even the main 11 year-old protagonists, Keita Amano (boy) or Fumika Kodama (girl), were purposefully designed to be flawed and relatable.

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On the outside, Sakura New Town appears completely normal and its residents are going about their normal, daily lives. However, it is actually bustling with all sorts of youkai. Some of them are good and others are causing mischief and mayhem. Which, of course, means youkai battles!

Yo-kai Watch vs. the World

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For a franchise with such strong Japanese roots, Level-5 is confident that it can take on the world. Prepping to take their successful monster franchise to the world stage, Level-5 is eyeing the West and have already begun testing the waters:

A trademark has been already filed for in the United States. Plus, Level-5 has clearly announced its plans to bring Yo-kai Watch overseas under the premise that it will be guaranteed to succeed. Japan may still love Pokémon, but with Yo-kai Watch’s booming success in Japan and inevitable release in the West, this is the largest rival to challenge Pokémon‘s supremacy yet.

Will Yo-Kai Watch make it big like Pokémon? Or is it just the latest monster fad? We will soon find out.

Game Localization Writer Protégé