Nintendo at SDCC 2014: A Hands-On Preview of Super Smash Bros. Wii U & Hyrule Warriors

We venture into the Nintendo Lounge at Comic-Con to get our hands on experience with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and Hyrule Warriors.

San Diego Comic-Con is a genre landmine that must be crossed by only the most dedicated pop culture enthusiasts. Superhero news, movie news, and of course, superhero movie news, can dominate the whole weekend. Yet, any pilgrimage to San Diego must inevitably include (if possible) a hands-on experience of Nintendo’s latest offerings, which still mostly rely on the unique concept of gaming as a communal affair!

And so, in the midst of all the other madness, I trekked to Nintendo’s gaming lounge to get my hands-on experience with their latest swag.

First and foremost, Super Smash Bros. Wii U provided a trip down memory lane by offering a welcomed familiar experience. Even the harshest Nintendo critics who are quick to note the sameness of certain franchises cannot deny that the Super Smash Bros. formula has been more or less perfected since 2001’s Super Smash Bros. Melee. Nonetheless, this does not mean there aren’t certain perks that come with tweaking the combat.

The Super Smash Bros. Wii U kiosks were set up with the fair rule of each gamer getting two three-minute rounds of button smashing goodness before handing off the (still beloved) GameCube controller to the next Smasher. When I got my hands on the control, my first decision was to go with an old favorite from the first Smash Bros. roster: Link. However, I chose one of his new costume accessories, purple, which gave him a streak of Mindy Macready cutting across the screen.

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The level chosen at random moved the combat to a moving airplane from the game Pilotwings Resort. The stage more or less feels like the F-Zero games that dominated moving stages in the previous two Super Smash Bros. games.

Alongside three other gamers, I relived nostalgia in a new environment. The long and short of it is that the controls had not changed since Brawl, and I could use the C-stick for quick smashes, the Z-button to fire the hook-shot, and up-B to deliver the trusty spin attack. Like slipping on a glove, using Link made grabbing the Smash Ball and dominating the stage a breeze.

However, I wasn’t here just to play characters that I was familiar with! So, I soon switched in the second round to a character I had yet to play: Rosalina. Dressed like a latter day Elsa from Frozen, Rosalina cuts a floating and ethereal quality across the classic Battle Stage. Handling similar to Zelda (another Smash favorite of mine) with a touch of Peach thrown in, Rosalina has the ability to float from the heavens and use one of her star-buddy Luma to hit enemies. She can also charge the attack by holding down the B-button before sending an enemy in close range flying off the stage. Rosalina’s up and side-B attacks also allow her to cut a fiery image that’s perfect for saving herself from dangerous falls and hitting an enemy just right. The attack is not unlike Captain Falcon’s kicks from previous Smash games.

Alas, the new combination of features made her very difficult for me to use in this scenario, and I unfortunately came in third for my second round.

I got the chance to play with Zelda in a totally new environment that is nothing like any Zelda game I have ever touched. Hyrule Warriors was at SDCC in force with about a dozen game stations ready for play. Yet, with the demo offering roughly 20 minutes of fun, any gamer who wanted to touch the sticks had better be ready for over an hour wait.

Playing much more like Dynasty Warriors than previous Zelda games, the feature requires using the Wii U pad in a way that I had previously not enjoyed.

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At the start of the demo, gamers are given the choice to pick between Link, Zelda, and Midna. Normally, I would pick the less protagonist-likely impish Twilight Princess, however—probably due to my thorough beating as Rosalina—I selected Zelda, who has never been so efficient at defending her own castle as right now.

The game plays like any good hack-and-slash fare, requiring the player to hit a button to slaughter as many enemies as possible while leading Hyrulian soldiers into battle to defeat a castle.

The Hyrulian forces, who mostly tell you to go meet/save Impa from being overwhelmed, offer little back-up, but then again where would the fun be if they did? So, as soon as they are done telling you what to do, the smashing actually begins with a sword that allows dozens of strikes within seconds. However, it is once you get to charge magic and hit the A button that things get interesting.

Zelda’s charged attack includes the ability to shoot Light Arrows into the air and cause deadly rays of goodness to rain down.

The demo includes the quest to pick up an item that is hidden in (what else?) a chest. Once retrieved, the new item (bombs) proves handy in repelling the evil forces of Ganon. Once that is accomplished, the classic King Dodongo appears, and he must be vanquished in a way that should make any Nintendo 64 player misty-eyed.

After chucking bombs into the beast’s throat with the Y Button, the monstrosity collapses on the ground long enough for you to hit him, not unlike how Link finishes off Ganon in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time.

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Overall, it was traditional hack-and-slash fare that has the gamer go from area to area and just lay waste by bashing buttons. Yet, there is an immediately addictive quality to it all, especially when the bright light of energy comes raining down following a perfectly fired arrow blast. It is easy to see why this will become a bestseller on Wii U when it arrives on Sept. 26.

Happy SDCC 2014! Keep it locked here for all of your SDCC information!

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