All right, so it's not THAT big a deal. The Play Nintendo 2014 Tour was in Atlanta today, and while I didn't see well-known local games writer Mike Fahey on site, I did get what a Nintendo rep told me was the very first opportunity on the entire tour for ordinary folks to play Super Smash Bros. for 3DS. Yes, Nintendo chose Atlanta to be the first city where the demo would be available. What luck!

What did I think? To be perfectly honest, I'm not an ideal candidate to review a Smash Bros. game. I own both Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 64 and Super Smash Bros. Brawl but I have not played either a great deal, and neither in a couple of years, so I was, shall we say, a bit rusty. I lost nearly every battle I participated in! Fortunately, I stopped by on a Friday morning, and since Atlanta kids are already back in school, there was no line and the Nintendo employees invited me to play as long as I wished. I gave it about half an hour.

My impressions: I have to admit... I was mildly disappointed. Don't get me wrong — this looks like it will be a very good game, and I should note I was playing a demo version which does not include all the playable characters and stages. But I think my expectations were rather lofty due to the massive hype leading up to what should be the biggest 3DS title of the year, besides the upcoming Pokemon remakes.

The game runs at a flawless 60 FPS, and the graphics are good for the most part. But I couldn't shake the fact that every fighter appeared to be, well, very small. It seems like an obvious consequence of a handheld screen, but I don't have this feeling when I'm playing Super Street Fighter IV or Tekken 3D or Dead or Alive: Dimensions. But owing to the wide-open nature of SSB gameplay compared to traditional fighting titles, the dynamic stages take up a lot of real estate on the screen. I found it difficult to focus on where my fighter and my opponent were, while also trying to snag items and Smash Balls and whatnot. I should mention I was playing on a 3DS XL, so if they seemed small to me on this screen, they would be nigh impossible to see on a standard 3DS or 2DS.

I wasn't thrilled about the controls either, although a Nintendo rep assured me they would be fully customizable in the retail version. The biggest problem was the requirement I use the analogue circle pad to control the fighter, rather than the digital + directional pad, which has always been my preference. With the slightly slippery circle pad — perhaps because this was a well-used traveling demo 3DS unit — I frequently had difficulty nailing down+B or diving attacks, sometimes inadvertently doing a side+B or nothing at all.

The other thing — for lack of a better word, the game felt a bit "sluggish". It wasn't chugging, processor-wise or anything like that; I just expected the fighters I used to move a bit more swiftly. Bowser was INCREDIBLY slow, much more so than expected; Mega Man and Samus Aran were not a great deal faster. Toon Link and Pit were pretty decent. I didn't play as any of the traditionally quick fighters, such as Sheik and Marth, so maybe that makes a difference.

Again, this was a demo version, so the final one might be tuned differently. If you've had an opportunity to play SSB 3DS at any events this summer, let us know what you think!


Aside from the SSB demo, the rest of the Play Nintendo event featured games I already own and seemed geared more toward kids. It still looked like fun, especially the Mario Kart 8 tournament, in which I did not partake, as all the participants looked to be younger than ten years old, and the result would be utter dominance and humiliation. I'm not sure whether I'd be on the giving or receiving end.