Super Smash bros. for Wii U, whether you like it or not, was a very important entry in the franchise. It introduced many new characters, DLC, balance patches and gave us the most balanced Smash game we’ve ever had. Smash 4 had its faults but it is certainly a huge milestone for the franchise. Competitively speaking it was very inclusive and yet still maintained a skill gap. Smash Ultimate is a little under two months away, the feeling is almost (ALMOST) bittersweet. Smash 4 is going to be replaced by Ultimate, so let’s take a look at all of the good Smash 4 had to offer.
The transition from brawl
Super Smash Bros. Brawl has commonly been looked at as the black sheep of the franchise. Melee purists thought it was too slow and additions like tripping really hurt the games’ competitive identity. When changes like tripping were put into the game, they seemed to be a direct response to the hardcore competitive Melee community.
Series creator Masahiro Sakurai was quite vocal about how he wasn’t a huge fan of the competitive melee community. This love hate relationship between Sakurai and the community made the Brawl days a time to forget. The game didn’t last long at all after the release of Smash 4 and really wasn’t praised too much while it was the current release.
In my opinion Smash 4 is where Sakurai began embracing the Competitive community. The first Smash invitational was a Smash 4 event. Tournaments were beginning to get official Nintendo sponsorships and Sakurai was finally beginning to listen to the community. Balance patches were a huge indicator of this. Many of the complaints about overpowered characters were addressed with balance patches throughout the games life-cycle. In previous titles, overpowered characters stayed overpowered, forever. Smash 4 gave devs the opportunity to carefully balance the game as much as possible. Smash 4 was also faster compared to brawl and in my opinion provided a decent middle ground between Melee and Brawl.
No game can be 100% “balanced.” The Original Street Fighter is an exception to the rule, because there are only two playable characters and they’re exactly the same. While this is balanced it’s certainly not fun to watch, or play for an extended amount of time. It’s foolish to think that a game with over 60 unique characters could ever be completely balanced. At least not while still being fun and interesting to play. With that in mind I don’t think it’s far fetched at all to say that Smash 4 is the most Balanced of the Smash games. As good as Melee is as a competitive game, the roster isn’t anywhere near as balanced as Smash 4. With less than half of the cast being seriously viable in tournament, many characters get left in the dust.
Brawl took this and cranked it to 11 with how broken Meta Knight was. When the Meta of a game begins to revolve around one character, or tactic, it needs to be readjusted. This wasn’t an option at the time for Brawl so players had to adapt. Meta Knight was so good that a characters spot on the tier list was heavily dependent on how well they did against him. No characters in Smash 4 are anywhere near this level of broken, not even Bayonetta. Even if Bayonetta was as broken as MK at least we had two good years before she was introduced as DLC. Meta Knight was broken from day one with no fix in sight.
When Smash 4 was getting dominated by the likes of pre-patch Diddy Kong and Sheik, they were nerfed, while other characters were buffed. When the meta was getting dominated by characters, patches put a stop to it. There are many viable characters in Smash 4. This is incredible considering it has the biggest roster to date. Of course Smash 4 isn’t perfectly balanced, but it is by far the most balanced of the series.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U was the beginning of something special. Brawl had left a sour taste in the mouths of many a Smash fan. For a time it seemed as if Sakurai would never consider the concerns of the competitive community, but thankfully he did. In my opinion Sakurai saw the potential of Smash as an esport with Smash 4. If he honestly just saw Smash as a children’s party game then he would never have balance patches put into the game. Although things weren’t perfect throughout Smash 4’s life-cycle, they were very important. Smash Ultimate looks like the perfect game every other entry has been leading up to, and Smash 4 played a big part in that.
Players showing their passion for the game, expressing their joy for a new buff/nerf and coming out to support a game on what is one of Nintendo’s least successful consoles. If Smash 4 wasn’t all that it was, and wasn’t received as well by the community, Smash Ultimate might not even exist, at least not in the same form. Even though Smash 4 had its gripes, it is still a landmark game in the franchise that paved the way for the Ultimate future ahead of us.
Featured image courtesy of Nintendo.
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