By Steve Wright
Its hard to put into words how exited I was to get a chance to sit in a room with Masahiro Sakurai for the Super Smash Bros. roundtable event, but I claim to be a writer so here goes. After waiting in line for the doors to open for around 70 StreetPass hits (this is how time is measured at E3) the room was absolutely buzzing with anticipation. After only another 20 or so more hits the show began and the fans in attendance were rewarded immediately for their patience.
Mario briefly appears on screen, followed by a red line.
Sonic and Mega Man do the same and a blue line appears parallel to the red line.
A yellow line appears on screen between the two and the crowd begins to murmur and shuffle. They know a new character is about to be announced. But who? The yellow line envelops the entire screen then pulls back into a circle. The circle splits and Pac-Man opens his mouth as the crowd (myself included) loses its mind.
How do you follow that?
A live match between Pac-Man, Mario, Sonic and Mega Man. That’s how.
Sakurai plays as Pac-Man showing off the new character and some of his moves. My favorite is easily his side special where he throws a Pac-Dot in front of himself, looks like his 2D form in 3D and eats the dot while attacking players. He also has the ability to cycle through items from previous games (mostly fruit) and make them appear on the stage.
Announcing a new character is always exciting, but with the roster now at a whopping 33 there are more important things to discuss, like game mechanics.
Previously characters only had 4 Special moves available. Standard, side, up and down, but with the addition of customisable move sets the number has tripled. You now have the ability to change how you want to attack. Mario for example has three possibilities when it comes to fireballs. The standard fireball, the fast fireball (believe it or not it's faster, but does less damage) and the flame orb. The flame orb looks incredible, is almost as tall as the plumber producing it and…you guessed it, slower but more powerful.
Custom moves are only allowed in local play and with friends online, so if you’re planning on building a souped-up Fox McCloud that’s quick with a lot of firepower you wont be using him to annihilate random people online.
The customisation doesn’t end with moves, you can also equip items to characters to boost attacks, defense and speed stats. How many items you can equip is directly related to how much the character weighs. Bowser and DK will be able to equip almost twice as many items as Fox and Olimar. Players will also be able to use customised characters on both the Wii U and 3DS and transfer them between the two games. When asked how this will be done Mr Sakurai said it would remain a mystery to gamers until the Wii U version of the game is released later this year.
Earlier in the day, in Nintendo’s Digital Event, it was revealed that the NFC equipped figurines, now known as Amiibo will be launching with Super Smash Bros. Sakurai-san was happy to elaborate on how the titles will utilise the new feature. When scanned on the character select screen the Amiibo character will fill the empty slot, allowing players to add them to battles. They can’t be controlled by players and they function more like a customisable companion. Over time each Amiibo will level up to a maximum of level 50, making them potentially much more powerful than other AI characters. More importantly they'll learn how you play over time and adjust their fighting style to make the most of teaming up.
While not being able to play as an Amiibo I will have spent my hard earned cash on is disappointing, the possibility to challenge a friend and their Amiibo to two on two battles has me really excited.