The next iteration of Nintendo's "Super Smash Bros." franchise provided a focal point for the console manufacturer's June 10 presentations at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.
The side-on, family-friendly fighting game emerged in 1999, providing an own-brand alternative to the harder-hitting fighting game titles of the time, backed up by an all-star roster of recognizable video game characters: Mario was joined by personalities from Pokémon, Zelda, Donkey Kong and many more.
Despite its simple controls and proven accessibility, 2001 GameCube sequel "Super Smash Bros. Melée" revealed a hidden, almost unending depth, and became a cult favorite with a loyal and devoted fanbase.
But even so, and as recently as 2013, the typically protective Nintendo had tried to block "Super Smash Bros. Melée" from appearing at one of the world's biggest game tournaments, EVO; "Super Smash Bros." for Wii U and 3DS is now the story of reconciliation between a multinational corporation and a niche of dedicated fans, with the potential to send ripples throughout the gaming community.
As a result, Nintendo is keen to show that it's pulling out all the stops for late 2014's "Super Smash Bros." double header, with the franchise going portable for the first time on 3DS, and the Wii U version arriving at a critical time for the once-flailing machine.
There'll be a $19 USB hub that provides compatibility with GameCube-style controllers on Wii U, Lady Palutena of "Kid Icarus" and Pac-Man are the latest to join a significantly expanded cast of 35, personalized Mii characters will also be accepted, and the ability to customize special moves when playing with friends is another new addition.
In addition, the Wii U version will be the first retail title to support the Amiibos, Nintendo's new line of collectible figurines, designed to go head-to-head with Activision's "Skylanders" and the Disney Infinity brands.
With "Mario Kart 8" an unqualified success, but the Wii U's 2014 slate relatively sparse in terms of exclusives -- "Bayonetta 2," Zelda spin-off "Hyrule Warriors" -- Nintendo still needs one more big hit to cement the Wii U as a serious contender against the Xbox One and PS4. The stage is set for underdog competitor "Super Smash Bros."