Super Smash Bros. 4
Super Smash Bros. 4 (also referred to by shorthands such as Smash 4, SSB4, for (スマブラfor), or more informally Sm4sh, and officially as Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U) is a term used to collectively refer to Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, two games in the Super Smash Bros. series created by Bandai Namco and Sora Ltd. In an interview with Kotaku, Masahiro Sakurai has stated he considers the 3DS version the fourth installment and the Wii U version the fifth installment. The games feature mostly identical gameplay, but with several differences in other areas. The 3DS version is the first game of the series to be released on a handheld console.
The 3DS version launched in Japan on September 13th, 2014, and in most other parts of the world on October 3rd, 2014. It was released in stores one day earlier in Germany on October 2nd, 2014 to avoid coinciding with German Unity Day, and was released one day later in Australia on October 4th, 2014 because of time zone differences. Hong Kong and Taiwan received a release of the game over ten months later, on July 24th, 2015, while South Korea got its release on September 10th, 2015, nearly a full year after the game's initial launch in Japan. The Wii U version was released in North America on November 21st, 2014, and was released on November 28th, 2014 in Europe, November 29th, 2014 in Australia, and on December 6th, 2014 in Japan.
Both versions have received positive reviews; critics applauded the fine-tuning of existing gameplay elements but criticized some issues with online play. The 3DS version sold over 9.63 million copies worldwide as of September 30, 2021, and the Wii U version sold over 5.38 million copies as of September 30, 2020.
The opening movie exclusive to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is composed of footage from both gameplay and the various character introduction trailers shown since the game's reveal, barring the trailer for Duck Hunt.
Both games feature identical playable character rosters. In total, 51 characters are playable in the base game and 58 characters are playable overall, 34 of which return from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, three of which return after being cut in the transition from Super Smash Bros. Melee to Brawl (Dr. Mario, Mewtwo, and Roy), and 21 of which are new to the series. Of these 58, 39 are starter characters in both versions and eight are unlockable characters in both versions, while four characters are unlockable in the 3DS version but starters in the Wii U version. Additionally, seven characters appear as downloadable content. A further twelve "characters" exist as alternate costumes for other preexisting characters: Alph as a palette swap of Olimar; each of the seven Koopalings as palette swaps of Bowser Jr., and alternate genders for Villager, Wii Fit Trainer, Robin, and Corrin.
Five characters do not return from Brawl: Star Fox's Wolf, Pokémon's Squirtle and Ivysaur (alongside the Pokémon Trainer himself), two-time veteran Ice Climber's Ice Climbers, and Metal Gear's Snake. Lucas initially did not return in the base roster, but he would later return through DLC. Additionally, The Legend of Zelda's Young Link and Pokémon's Pichu do not return from Melee.
As for the new characters for already represented franchises, two newcomers come from the Mario universe being Bowser Jr. and Rosalina & Luma, Greninja for the Pokémon universe, Kid Icarus introduces Palutena and Dark Pit and finally Fire Emblem introduces Lucina, Robin and, as DLC, Corrin.
New characters slots are given to Punch-Out's very own Little Mac who first appeared as an Assist Trophy from Brawl, the Wii Fit Trainer from the Wii Fit series, the Villager's inclusion marks Animal Crossing's first playable character, Shulk, who introduced the Xenoblade Chronicles series and finally Duck Hunt consisting of a dog and duck from their series of the same name.
The two games feature considerably different stage selections, which is one of the primary differences between the two games. The 3DS version features a total of 42 stages with seven unlockable stages and eight DLC stages, 30 of which are new and 12 of which are familiar. The Wii U version features a total of 55 stages with six unlockable stages and nine DLC stages, consisting of 34 new stages and 21 familiar ones. Only 13 stages are shared between the two versions, six of which are DLC.
In general, the 3DS version's new stages are based more on handheld console games, while the Wii U version's new stages are based more on home console games, though there are several exceptions to this in both games.
Past Stages in both games are now known as "Familiar Stages." Only three Familiar Stages are shared between the two games, all of which are DLC.
The Wii U version also has an option to create custom stages with the Stage Builder.
Bold denotes unlockable stages.
Wii U version
Bold denotes unlockable stages.
During the official unveiling of the Wii U at E3 2011, then Nintendo president Satoru Iwata remarked that a new game in the Super Smash Bros. series would be made for the system, though no further information was given. The vagueness of these comments are due to the game not having entered production at that time. The game's development was not slated to begin until sometime after October 2011, after the completion of Sakurai's other project, Kid Icarus: Uprising. He had stated, in response to a fan asking him about whether a "child Link" would be in the game, that he had not at the time decided on which characters would appear. However, he had also said that he "can't say that it's entirely out of the realm of possibility that some Capcom character could appear in the next Smash Bros."
Development of the game began in early 2012. Sakurai and his company Sora Ltd. returned as director, with Bandai Namco being contracted as lead developer. The game went unmentioned during E3 2012, something which many fans were disappointed about despite the known extremely early state of the game; the "first step of the process" was taken shortly after in mid-June. Sakurai expressed disappointment that fans would be waiting for longer than expected for the game to be released due to the earliness of the initial announcement. Shortly afterward, it was revealed during a Nintendo Direct that Namco Bandai (as Bandai Namco was previously named) was the primary developer alongside Sora Ltd., and had already completed a working prototype.
On July 2nd, 2012, Sakurai posted a whiteboard drawing on Twitter which was drawn by the game's staff. It depicts Donkey Kong, Fox, a Heart Container, Kirby, Link, Luigi, Mario, Marth, Meta Knight, Mr. Game & Watch, a Mr. Saturn, Pikachu, a Pikmin, Pit, Sandbag, Wario, and Zero Suit Samus; some argue that the curved lines in the background form the shape of Master Hand. The sketch also has what appears to be large block letters hidden below the visible area. While the post came with no explicit confirmation of any of these characters or elements as reappearing, it did show that they were in some sense acknowledged by the staff; everything depicted would, in fact, appear in the final game. The image itself was later removed from the original Twitter post.
Sakurai remarked the 3DS title was intended to offer a new experience for veteran Smash Bros. fans, and that neither the 3DS game nor the Wii U game would simply be sequels like Melee and Brawl were, and that they would do more than just add characters and stages. It had also been revealed that they were looking towards co-operative play for the Wii U title. Official Nintendo Magazine said, "there is merit in having skilled and unskilled players play together, so one emphasis will be on elements of players helping one-another." They also stated that the graphics would be significantly stepped up, as the Wii U can handle high-quality graphics, dynamic effects and smooth character movements in HD at 60 frames per second. Sakurai was also quoted as claiming that the new game was unlikely to emphasize new playable characters, focusing instead on gameplay balance and distinctiveness of its characters.  Indeed, SSB4 initially introduced fewer newcomers than Brawl did.
While both versions could not play cross-platform due to unique content causing logistical issues, Sakurai had remarked that one feature of the 3DS Smash Bros. title would be that players can improve their character through battles and rewards, then transfer them to the Wii U Smash title to play against friends; such a function was ultimately made possible through character customization. The Nintendo 3DS hardware proved difficult to work with for the team, which led to several compromises to both versions. The systems inability to load multiple fighters to the same player meant transformations and multi-character fighters were not possible. Since both versions were required to have the exact same roster, characters had to be greatly altered, like Sheik and Zelda being split into unique characters that could not swap with each other, or cut entirely, like Ice Climbers. The team also had issues implementing the Circle Pad Pro, which meant all mechanics involving the C-stick were inaccessible, though still in the game code.
After over a year of silence, The first official gameplay was revealed at E3 2013. To the surprise of many, a trailer on June 11, 2013 would reveal that the game would release as two unique versions: one for Nintendo 3DS and one for Wii U, with both having a projected release window of 2014. The trailer confirmed Villager as the first new fighter for the game, with Capcom's Mega Man also confirmed as playable towards the end of the trailer as Sakurai teased years earlier. Later in the day, a special trailer for Wii Fit Trainer was revealed on the E3 show floor. Shortly after the initial E3 2013 trailers, Sakurai said there would be a single-player story mode included in the new Smash Bros., but that it would be different from Brawl's Subspace Emissary in that there would be no cutscenes, since he did not want them to be uploaded to the Internet. However, he would later recant this and announce that he decided to cut any story mode altogether .
Sakurai had stated that there were no plans to implement downloadable content or touch screen controls of any variety. However, he also said that once the game was released DLC was something they would take into consideration. 
After the first reveal, new information was regularly released in Nintendo Directs and standalone presentations throughout the rest of 2013 and into 2014. Notable example include high budget animated trailers for Rosalina & Luma, Little Mac, Charizard and Greninja, Palutena with a stealth reveal of Dark Pit, Pac-Man, Lucina and Robin, Shulk, Bowser Jr., and Duck Hunt. Another major trailer is for Mii Fighters featuring Satoru Iwata and Reggie Fils-Aimé. Mii fighters were intially planned for Brawl as a way for players to play as any character they want, but were cut due to Sakurai not feeling Miis were appropriate for a fighting game. Sakurai himself opened the Director's Room in Miiverse, where he posted screenshots of the game on a regular basis.
A dedicated Nintendo Direct for the game was released on April 8, 2014. Major highlights were the announcement that both version will contain different stages, with 3DS focusing on handheld games and Wii U focusing on console games. Both versions were also getting entirely different single-player content, with 3DS receiving Smash Run. Online for both versions have also been entirely reworked from Brawl. The mode is now split into two modes: For Fun, which is an unranked mode that is just meant for players to have fun, and For Glory, which has a restricted ruleset of Final Destination or Ω forms of all stages, with no items naturally spawning, and with character customization disabled for competitive players that want to be ranked. Global Smash Power was also introduced as the game's ranking system where all players are numerically ranked, with 1 being the floor and higher numbers increasing in skill level. The game would attempt to match players with as close a number as possible.
The initial planned release dates were Summer 2014 for 3DS and Holiday 2014 for Wii U. The reason given for this gap was that quality assurance could have dedicated time for both versions to make each as polished as possible. The release date for 3DS was later delayed to September 13, 2014 in Japan and October for the rest of the world.
In August, 2014, a collection of screenshots and videos of what appeared to be the entire base roster were leaked onto 4chan. Dubbed the ESRB leak, it was eventually confirmed to be 100% accurate despite initial skepticism from the community. This deflated some of the hype and speculation of more character trailers going forward.
After Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS officially released world wide, marketing pivoted to focus on Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. This included a special presentation on October 23, 2014 titled 50-fact extravaganza. Major highlights include all exclusive stages, the final new characters, and Wii U exclusive modes like Classic mode, Master Orders, and Smash Tour. Mewtwo was also revealed as the first piece of downloadable content for the entire series, meaning Sakurai was convinced to implement the practice after previously having no plans. Club Nintendo offered a limited-time deal where Mewtwo can be downloaded for free as long as both versions of the game were registered on the same account. registering both games to Club Nintendo also allowed account owners to receive Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS / Wii U: A Smashing Soundtrack for free for a limited time.
For the first time in the series, Smash 4 received regular update patches due to the process now being possible. These updates introduced a variety of new content post-launch. The most common is free patches for both the 3DS and Wii U that introduced or adjusted content in both major and minor ways. Examples include the introduction of features available on New Nintendo 3DS like amiibo support and proper C-stick functionality, and Tourney mode and YouTube integration for the Wii U verison, and the Share function for both versions.
On April 1, 2015, Nintendo announced the Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot, where players can vote for what character will officially be in the roster as DLC. The ballot ran until October 3, with the winner being announced at a later date.
Downloadable content was eventually implemented through several additional fighters, stages, and costumes for Mii Fighters. Large amounts of content were released at specific dates. April 15, 2015 introduced Mewtwo for Club Nintendo members, a wave of Mii costumes and trophies, a standard amount of content going forward. Mewtwo was officially made for purchase later on April 28. Mewtwo received an official trailer, though no unique animation was made, a trend for DLC fighters. June 14 introduced Lucas, Roy, Ryu, Miiverse, Dream Land (64), Suzaku Castle with several Street Fighter music tracks, a wave of Mii costumes and several trophies. This remains the biggest collection of DLC released on the same day. A Mii Costume based on K.K. Slider was released between June 19 and July 11 in Japan as part of a promotion with 7-Eleven. The costume was released worldwide on July 31 alongside Peach's Castle (64), Hyrule Castle (64), and a wave of Mii costumes. September 30 introduced Super Mario Maker, Pirate Ship exclusive to Wii U, and Duck Hunt becoming cross-platform, alongside a wave of Mii costumes.
A final video presentation was released for the game on December 15, 2015. Major highlights include Cloud releasing that day alongside Midgar with two Final Fantasy music tracks, a Chocobo hat, a Geno costume, and several trophies. the announcement of Corrin, who was the first of the DLC fighters to receive a proper animated trailer, and Bayonetta as the final fighter for the game and winner of the fighter ballot among realizable and negotiable characters. Sakurai revealed years later that Bayonetta was not the actual winner of the ballot, hence the disclaimer. The actual winner was Sora.
Corrin and Bayonetta released on February 3, 2016 alongside the music track Lost in Thoughts all Alone in both original and remixed form, Umbra Clock Tower with several Bayonetta music tracks, a wave of Mii costumes, and several trophies. Aside from a few balance patches, with one dedicated exclusively to Bayonetta nerfs, and a final indirect update that disabled Miiverse support, development for Smash 4 has officially ceased.
Main article: List of updates (SSB4-3DS)
Main article: List of updates (SSB4-Wii U)
Smash 4 is the first game in the series to recieve regular update patches post-launch. Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS recieved several updates before Super Smash Bros. for Wii U released, a few introduced while the game was still exclusive to Japan with the rest of the world never officially experiencing. After both games released, they recieved the same updates on the same day, despite occasionally having different changes within those updates. This means that there were no more major gameplay differences between regions; everyone gets the same experience barring languages and minor presentation differences. A unique issue caused by updates is replays being rendered unusable due to gameplay altering changes affecting the real-time recreation of a match. Nintendo's solution was to make replays created in older updates inaccessible, though uploading replays through Share mode or uploading them to YouTube would circumvent this issue. Nintendo often announced an update well before the official rollout and gave a warning about replays, giving players ample time to prepare if they wish to keep what they have.
Super Smash Bros. 4 adopted a simple incremental versioning system (i.e. version 1.0.0), with every update increasing the third number by one, rolling over the second number every tenth update. This caused some inconsistencies, such as Super Smash Bros. for Wii U jumping from version 1.0.2 to 1.0.6 to match the version of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS. In this versioning scheme, all updates were treated equally regardless of if they introduced new characters or stages, or simply fixed minor bugs. The last update released for Smash 4 was version 1.1.7, which added amiibo functionality for Cloud, Corrin and Bayonetta.
Changes from Brawl
Aesthetic and sound changes
Main article: Cross-platform comparison of Super Smash Bros. 4
The Wii U and 3DS versions of the game were shown to have distinct art styles from one another in that the 3DS version uses flatter shading and optional black outlines to make characters easier to see at a distance, a graphical style reminiscent of other 3DS games such as Fire Emblem Awakening and Pokémon X & Y. These outlines are customizable as Sakurai stated players can change the size of the outlines or get rid of them completely. As stated before, many of the stages are version specific, with the 3DS version having more stages based on handheld console games, and the Wii U having more stages based on home console games. There is no cross-platform gameplay between the Wii U and 3DS versions due to the exclusive stages to each version; however, one can create customized fighters in the 3DS version using the character customization feature and send them to the Wii U version. In addition to this, by connecting the two games (or using a special downloadable application), the 3DS can be used as a controller on the Wii U version. However, this doesn't apply vice-versa, as none of the Wii U's peripherals can act as a controller on 3DS hardware.
As in previous entries in the series, both versions allow for up to four fighters to battle simultaneously on any stage; however, in a series first, the Wii U version also allows for up to eight players at once on a limited selection of stages.
Each stage on the 3DS version has only two music tracks available, as was the case in Melee. On the other hand, the Wii U version sees the return of Brawl’s My Music option, with a large selection of tracks available for each stage.
The 3DS version received positive reviews, with a current rating of 85/100 on Metacritic and 86.1% on GameRankings. The game has been praised for its large and diverse character roster, its improvements to game mechanics, and its variety of multiplayer options. Some criticisms include a lack of single player modes and issues concerning the 3DS hardware, such as the size of characters on the smaller screen when zoomed out and latency issues during both local and online multiplayer. There were also reports of players damaging their 3DS Circle Pads while playing the game excessively, and to an extent, the circle pad can easily fall off. The 3DS version sold over a million copies in its first weekend on sale in Japan and had sold more than 3.22 million copies worldwide as of October 2014. The 3DS version was nominated for both Best Fighting Game and Best Handheld/Mobile Game at The Game Awards 2014, but lost to the Wii U version and Blizzard Entertainment's Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft, respectively.
The Wii U version received critical acclaim, with a Metacritic score of 92/100 and a GameRankings score of 92.39%, being among the highest rated games of 2014, is also awarded the Metacritic's Game of the Year and the second-highest rated game of the series after Brawl. The 2014 Video Game Awards even awarded the Wii U version with the "Best Fighting Game" award. The game was lauded for improving everything the 3DS version offered and significantly improving the online experience.
Super Smash Bros. 4 won "favorite video game" at the 2016 People's Choice Awards. As of February 2016, the Wii U version is the 5th best selling Wii U game, whereas the 3DS version is the 7th best selling Nintendo 3DS game.