That Extra Stick on the Wii U Gamepad Will Change Everything
Since the release of Super Smash Bros. Melee, players have been able to use a second analog stick for certain commands. Typically, it can allow for slightly faster attacks than you’d be able to get just with the buttons. That doesn’t seem like a big deal, but if there’s one thing Smashers are really good at, it’s pushing these games to their limits.
Brawl was known to have a few… balancing issues on release. Meta Knight garnered a reputation for being completely broken and far and away superior to every other character. Except for one: the Ice Climbers. The Ice Climbers are actually two characters that fought together. Typically, one would do the exact same thing as the other, but it’s always been possible to desynchronize them so you can cover more ground.
The second stick (on either the GameCube controller or the Classic Wii controller) made desynchronizing them and managing the two characters much, much easier. It’s difficult to stress just how powerful the pair was, but Meta Knight was so broken as to be effectively unbeatable in many tournaments except by Ice Climbers.
Why does this matter now? After all, the Ice Climbers aren't confirmed for the Wii U, right? Well… there is another character that could prove to be as interesting as the Climbers. Rosalina also has a dummy character that helps her out in battle, Luma. And even on the 3DS, some players are already abusing Luma's abilities for some cheap wins. When the Wii U is released, we can expect that trend to get much, much worse. But even if you’re not a professional player, the added stick is almost certainly a good thing. Pulling off combos will be easier, and the controls will be a bit more accessible.
Sakurai has publicly stated that they had to cut a few corners to get Smash Bros. running smoothly on the 3DS, and one of the biggest casualties were stages. Given that Sakurai had to give up 3D models for pixel art in some stages to avoid straining the 3DS hardware too much, the lack of a really big, free-for-all friendly stage like Hyrule Castle or New Pork City isn't surprising. But it's still disheartening.
Larger stages allow players to better embrace the true spirit of Smash Bros. The open spaces leads to all kinds of cat-and-mouse style of play, with players chasing down the items they need to turn the tide in a close fight. When I’m playing some casual rounds of Smash with friends, I love my big stages. When I was 13, my friends and I had different rules that we came up with for the different parts of Hyrule Temple in Melee. If you and another person landed on some of the lower areas, you’d have to bow and have an "honorable duel", with the loser being whomever got knocked out of the small area first. That kind of fan-driven play is something that very few fighters can even support, limited as they are to being for competitive and tournament play only.
Perhaps more enticing is the return of the level editor, another feature of Brawl that lead to countless hours of stupid fun. There’s so much variety available even with the few tools we had, that I can’t wait to see what we’ll be able to do this time around.
You'll be Able to Use a Gamecube Controller
If you ask anyone who’s really played a decent amount of Smash Bros. which controller is the best to use, they’ll say they prefer the original GameCube controller.
Demand to use GameCube controllers for Smash Bros. Wii U was so high that Nintendo’s releasing yet another peripheral "to honor the devoted loyalty of fans." While the PS2 and Xbox both had their four main buttons arranged in a diamond pattern, the GameCube’s layout looks more like a sideways Y. The benefit of that is that the most commonly used button was huge, and you could more easily shift between the other three. The controller was remarkably comfortable, despite it’s odd appearance, and it’ll be much nicer than the boxy, cramped design of the 3DS' controls.
More Characters (maybe)
While it’s been solidly confirmed that the Wii U release of Smash will have all the same characters as the 3DS version, there have been a few rumors floating around that connecting the two consoles will unlock four new fighters. At this point it’s impossible to say with any kind of certainty whether or not that’s true, but it is possible that the Wii U version could bring in characters that people have long suspected would show up (like Ridley, for example).
Easier to Play with Others
By far the biggest selling point of Smash Bros. is the multiplayer. While I’ve had a great time playing with some friends with the 3DS version of Smash, it’s not quite the same as getting some friends huddled around a big screen TV. It’s been the highlight of every Smash Bros. game I’ve played to-date.
Playing a song over the car radio and having everyone in the car isn’t nearly the same experience as those same people listening to the same song on their separate headphones. In the same way, having a bunch of people on a couch all staring at their 3DS screens isn’t quite the same as being focused on one large TV. It may not seem like a huge shift, but when everyone’s focused on the same thing, it ties them together. And at its heart, that’s what Smash Bros. is about bringing people together to have a good time.