I had never owned a Smash game before the Wii U incarnation, so I didn’t really know what to make of all the popularity surrounding the franchise. I was curious about the game, but I was also disinterested enough to wait for a sale. A few months ago, walmart.com gave me the sale I had been looking for, so I went ahead and ordered it.

I was willing to give Super Smash Bros. for Wii U a shot in order to see what all the hoopla was about, but I didn’t anticipate that I would eventually regard it as the best fighting game I’ve ever played.

A Welcome Change Of Pace

Unless you want it to be this way (by choosing a special mode), a Super Smash Bros. match is not a tense one-on-one affair that involves blocking and countering your opponent’s moves like you’re playing a really violent game of chess. A four-player Super Smash Bros. match is more like a barroom brawl. And just like in a real barroom brawl, you can’t focus too much of your attention on one opponent unless you want to leave yourself open to being blindsided by somebody else. This dynamic takes away the tension of a typical one-on-one fighter and creates a reactionary flow to the combat in which nobody can dwell on what any one player is doing for too long.

But that flow might have been hampered if the moves were difficult to execute. Thankfully, they’re not. The same easy-to-execute move template applies to every character, and only Ryu (a DLC character pulled from Capcom’s Street Fighter series) has optional moves that are more difficult to execute. Moves are actually so simple to execute in Super Smash Bros. that the gameplay focus is entirely on using the right move at the right time.

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Most of my time playing Super Smash Bros. is spent in the online For Glory mode. I think special items (including Smash Balls) make the game as unbalanced as Mario Kart and I don’t like multiple platforms and shifting stages getting in the way of gameplay, so I tend to avoid For Fun mode. For Glory, on the other hand, is a pure test of fighting skill with no items (except the ones Pac-Man has as part of his character) and a very basic platform to fight on.

A Happiness Dispenser

Winning matches has been difficult to be sure. I think I’ve won matches only about 19% of the time out of the hundreds of matches I’ve played in For Glory mode. I can win a match here and there with Mega Man, Bowser, and Toon Link, but trying to win with any other character is problematic for me.

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But I’ve discovered that despite the automatic stat-keeping in For Glory mode, winning doesn’t really matter. I have such an incredibly fun time just playing the game that my 8 out of 10 loss rate is no big deal. This may sound a little odd to some of you; but for me, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is a happiness-inducing game. I’ll explain...

Before I got used to it, seeing that adorable pink blob named Jigglypuff bounding across the platform with his face turned toward the screen cracked me up. There was also the rare but special hilarity of Kirby (another adorable pink blob) wearing Little Mac’s hair. But more than anything else, my long playtime in For Glory has been filled with amazement at the skill of other players. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve jubilantly laughed out loud at somebody Meteor Smashing me or doing some other precision mid-air move that KOed me. It’s great! I’m losing, but it’s awesome! Don’t get me wrong: I like to win. But losing can be just as much fun when somebody lands an impressive Ganondorf Meteor Smash on you out of nowhere. I’ve only landed 12 Meteor Smashes in all the hundreds of For Glory matches I’ve played, and I think most of those were unintentional. I find them so difficult to pull off that I rarely try for them, so I’m impressed whenever I see somebody pull one off — even if I’m the target.

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There have been times while playing the game when I’ve turned into a laughing, giddy mess over what I was witnessing onscreen. I don’t think I’ve had such a flat-out wonderful experience with a video game in decades.

An Outlet For Creativity

One of the pleasures of owning Super Smash Bros. for Wii U has been making custom stages. My favorite creations so far have been a stage with high walls that are lined with lava, another lava-themed stage with a lava-lined interior in the shape of a bowl and an ultra-thin platform as the only thing separating you from it, and a wavy asteroid with a barrel cannon at each end. The stage creator offers you a wide variety of design combinations for your stage, and it’s great that you can share your creations with just your online friends or with every Smash Wii U player in the world.

Playing With Friends

I’m not able to take advantage of couch matches due to a lack of video game playing friends near me, but I can at least play online with my TAY friends. Now, I know it’s pretty apparent for anybody around here who has played against me that I’m not a great player. I’m fairly reckless with my attacks and I don’t like to block or use those dodge move things. But even though I’m often the guy who is just along for the ride and is probably going to get knocked out of contention early in a Stock match, I’m still having fun by just being a part of the action.

While Mario Kart 8 has a fairly enjoyable but pretty soulless multiplayer experience, I feel like I’m right there with my TAY friends when I’m playing against them in Smash. We all have a constant presence on the screen (rather than just occasionally seeing each other in passing on a race track), and we’re all continuously reacting to each other’s moves. When it comes to multiplayer interaction, Super Smash Bros. is top tier.

Conclusion

Like I said at the beginning, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the best fighting game I’ve ever played. The character roster is beyond expansive (and continuing to expand via DLC), the gameplay is exciting and fluid, and the fun factor is off the charts. If you own a Wii U, I hope you also own a copy of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. If you don’t, you might be missing out on the very best gaming experience the Wii U has to offer.