Friday, November 18, 2011

A Smashing Good Time: Super Smash Land

In an ever-popular avenue of indie games development wherein people "demake" classic games for older consoles, Dan Fornace has given us Super Smash Land, a free "GameBoy rendition" of the Super Smash Bros. franchise. Everything about it screams nostalgia, harkening back to the good old days of the early 90s portable gaming scene and the usual fun of smashing classic Nintendo characters to bits. Super Smash Land is definitely worth some of your time; it's impressive and fun, but I do have some minor nitpickings to lay against it. Video footage and my full run-down after the jump.

As a "demake," the game naturally lacks a lot of features of even the original N64 game. For starters, there are only four starting characters (as opposed to the eight starting characters from the N64 game) and only a handful of stages. There's far less to unlock and far fewer move sets for each character; it really is quite primitive.

But that's the whole point of it, since it's supposed to fit the feel of the GameBoy. So in that regard, it's quite impressive and works really well. It's still fun to beat up Nintendo characters, and the combat is simple and effective---none of this super-complicated, confusing nonsense that happens in Super Smash Bros: Brawl. This is just good, plain fun, condensing the thrills of the series into a poignant experience. 

But my main complaints are these: (1) knocking characters off the edge of the screen takes a little too much effort, often requiring over 150% of damage before they start getting close to death, (2) the computer-controlled AI can be pretty dumb at times, getting caught in repeating movement loops and doing nothing, (3) some of the moves are very easy to cheese with and thus ruin the balancing, (4) the move sets are perhaps a little too restricted, and (5) there are no difficulty levels. 

Granted on number 4, the GameBoy only has two buttons, but I wonder if Dan Fornace considered making "up" the jump button, thus opening the "A" button for another move set. It might also have been nice to see more "smash attacks," like the difference between holding an attack button down and just pressing quickly, but this is a relatively minor criticism. Either way, the other problems I have with it can blemish the overall experience.

Despite these minor flaws, Super Smash Land still does some fun, new things. For example, there are new stages that have never been featured before in the series, as well as a couple of unique characters and enemy types, which are essential for making this game stand up for its own merits, besides just being an amusing demake. With these new additions, the game becomes a genuinely good gaming experience, and not just a novelty.

Super Smash Land is a free download that you can pick up here. Below is the game's original trailer, which demonstrates some of the stages and characters battling it out, complete with extra GameBoy emphasis:

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