Few video games have as much hype and rampant speculation before being publicly revealed as the Super Smash Bros series. It is regarded as one of the best fighting series of all-time and the next installment has fans anticipating it more than any Smash Bros before it.
With the Wii U you can be sure that there will be changes to how Super Smash Bros plays. Nintendo likes to use the term “Asymmetrical Gameplay” to describe local multiplayer on the system. Four players use more traditional controllers (like the Wii U Pro Controller) while a fifth person plays the game from a different perspective.
We’ve seen in Nintendo Land, Zombi U, New Super Mario Bros U that this fifth player role is uncharted territory. No one has done this before. If anyone is going to make you understand why asymmetric gameplay is something you’ve been missing out on it will be Nintendo. There has to be a compelling reason to cram five people into one room if they want this asymmetric aspect of the Wii U to blossom beyond just a passing gimmick.
And with this asymmetric game mechanic being so popular with Nintendo’s early push for their new console you know that they will fuse this into the next Super Smash Bros game.
Here are just a few ideas on how asymmetrical gameplay could be implemented into Super Smash Bros.
A brand new mode called Hot Potato.
Okay, I’m sure the nice game designers at Nintendo will be able to come up with a better title for this mode but I can explain to you the general premise. Five players are playing and each selects a character and votes on a stage. One of the players is chosen at random to be the fifth player who assumes a semi-spectator role. This player doesn’t actually control a fighter right away. They control the stage (and it’s hazards) itself.
By giving the fifth player control over stage hazards you could create an even more intense, zany and unpredictable Smash Bros battle. The other four players battle like standard Smash Bros fare while the fifth player plans when to strike everyone else. And when the fifth player uses stage elements to successfully eliminate a player they switch places with that person and now they are using a character to fight the others while the player they defeated assumes control over the stage.
But how would you stop a person from being overpowered in this role? If they control dangerous objects on the stage they could easily knock a player off the stage given the right circumstances. To alleviate this concern you would have to limit the fifth player on how often they can attack the others.
Perhaps there is a meter that drains every time they perform an action. This would make this fifth role much more challenging because you would need to pick and choose the right opportunity. There would be no spamming of asymmetrical attacks at all and the other four players would simply try to avoid putting themselves into scenarios where they are susceptible to attacks.
Imagine a stage based off the stellar WiiWare game Fluidity. In that game you tilt the entire world in order to navigate water to your goal. Four players could battle on a Fluidity themed stage where the fifth player can tilt the entire stage in a random direction with water rushing players captive in its wave towards the edge.
Or the fifth player could make the water on the stage explode just like players did in Fluidity and inflict damage on others.
Real-Time changes to stage by drawing with your stylus
Take the pictochat stage in Brawl for example. When that particular stage was announced I was giddy with excitement because for whatever reason I got my wires crossed on exactly how that staged played. I hoped that players would be able to use their Nintendo DS to draw the pictochat stage in real-time during battle.
Nintendo could design a new pictochat stage where the fifth player can draw certain characters, animals, enemies and they come to life for a short time to do damage in hopes that they eliminate someone. Or the asymmetric player could simply draw odd objects in hopes to confuse the others. I don’t know about you but a pictochat stage where one player improvs the level’s design as the battle progresses in real-time sounds amazing to me.
The most important thing would be that this fifth player’s stage related attacks aren’t very powerful and that they should target those who already have taken a lot of damage. Each stage in the game could have elements for the fifth player to control but by no means would you have to put up with this if only two to four players want to battle in the traditional sense. This would have to be a feature that could be turned off at all times much like items.
Let’s say you have two very good Smash Bros players and two less capable fighters. Instead of having a traditional four-player brawl you could have two players using Wii U Game Pads to perform a very different role. Two teams of two players would be required for this mode.
In this “Assist Mode” two players control two fighters in a fight for supremacy. The other two players use the touch screen on the Wii U Game Pad and play some sort of mini-game in order to gain items for their teammate.
If you’ve played the great DS game Henry Hatsworth you might see where this is going. Perhaps the two Wii U Game Pad users assist their teammate by solving a match three puzzle that constantly is pushing puzzle pieces to the top of their Game Pad’s screen. Much like Hatsworth these puzzle pieces could contain enemies that will attack that specific person’s teammate should players not be able to match them before they reach the top of the 6.2 inch controller screen. When enemy pieces passed this mark they would appear on the TV screen to attack that person’s teammate.
The goal for the person in this “assist” role would to stop the puzzle pieces from unleashing enemies while at the same time trying to match pieces that had power-ups so that their teammate can use them in battle. During all of this the two players in the “assist” role would be competing with one another. When each of them destroy puzzle pieces containing enemies it could shove pieces onto the other “assist” role player’s Game Pad screen (like Vs mode in Dr.Mario) in hope that it would overwhelm them and cause them to allow enemies to attack their teammate on the TV.
Like I said if you’ve played Henry Hatsworth you will have a better idea of how this would work.
Those are just two ways I can imagine Nintendo’s asymmetric gameplay changing Super Smash Bros for the better. Both of these modes sound like a blast to me but I’m sure the folks developing Super Smash Bros 4 will come up with even more ingenious ways to incorporate the Wii U Game Pad’s unique features into a fighter that doesn’t need a whole lot of changing.