It’s no secret that the Super Smash Bros. franchise is one of my favorite of all-time. Of course, being a competitive Smasher (Melee fo’ life), I’ve always been extremely hesitant at the idea of Smash without a GameCube controller, no less being controlled with nothing but a d-pad. (Brawl’s Wiimote-only control option proved that’s a terrible idea.) However, after going hands-on with Dan Fornace’s latest creation, Super Smash Land, my opinion of a d-pad-only Smash can be considered changed.
Super Smash Land is completely redone with the original GameBoy in mind, capturing the nostalgic essence with two button controls and piss-green visuals, an interesting aesthetic choice to say the least. Some would argue that the Smash series has some of the most intricate controls in the fighting genre, so the concept of condensing those down to the A and B button could be somewhat baffling. Smash Land uses A for jump and B for attack – there’s no block, dodge or grab. Despite missing these critical elements, the game still plays remarkably similar to its N64 counterpart, which is to say it’s a freaking blast and a half. Check out our video below of The Intern and I duking it out for glory:
The most interesting dynamic is, without a doubt, the lack of any sort of shielding. Not only does this leave you constantly vulnerable to attack, but disables the “rock-paper-scissors” formula Smash is famous for. Conversely, it adds an interesting element of strategy and planning. Now, positioning before and after attacks is absolutely critical, making punishing for not only startup and ending animations but bad attack placement the true key to victory. While we’ve only played as the two available characters – Mario and Kirby – they both feel incredibly balanced, and we haven’t uncovered any truly broken tactics yet (though we’ve certainly tried).
Famous for his chiptune covers, musical artist Inverse Phase is the brain behind the audio of Super Smash Land. Not only has he created 8-bit remixes of the famous original SSB soundtrack, but he’s redone every single sound effect to fit the GameBoy’s original hardware. Needless to say, the game is both looking and sounding great.
Super Smash Land has no official release date, however Piki Geek will be bringing you the official PC demo this Friday, so be sure to stop back so you can get your black-and-white Smash on.