This game controls beautifully on the circle pad and button layout; it was jarring back during the Smashfest and the lack of a C-stick does still bother me a little but, I have acclimated and now I say with confidence that smash was 100% meant for the circle pad.
The physics feel very familiar, blending the floatiness of Brawl with the laglessness of Melee was a smart choice as those are indeed the best parts of both games’ physics. How knockback works is also specifically designed with combos in mind, and in this game if you aren’t fast enough you WILL be a victim of a zero-to-death combo — the game has been built with that in mind.
As for the playable characters of the demo, Mario doesn’t seem like he went through that much visible change but he feels much more powerful than any of the previous smash games. His forward tilt is a viable kill move now and that’s amazing (and overall he gives me high hopes for Dr. Mario).
Link is also buffed in terms of power. In previous games he had the lack of speed associated with a strong fighter but never really had the killing power you expected him to, with very few reliable finishers. Now his sword is a force to be reckoned with and with the increased knockback of his projectiles Link seems like a great choice for a noob: he can sit back from the fray and deal damage from a safe distance, and when the time comes to get a kill Link has the power to deliver.
I haven’t spent too much time with Pikachu as of this post but of the three veterans available he seems to be nerfed somewhat, not racking up damage as fast and requiring some setup to score a kill. An offensive minded Pikachu main will need to minimize any damage taken and basically fight a battle of attrition, because he goes flying fast. Any other fighter and I would say this ruins their viability as a competitive main but this is Pikachu we’re talking about; there isn’t a Smash game before this one where he wasn’t in the high tiers.
Mega Man controls like a dream. If there was going to be a new Mega Man game on 3DS I would love for Capcom to just wholesale rip the control scheme of smash and use it for said Mega Man game. He was meant for this control scheme. His basic special moves aren’t doing anything for me except for Leaf Shield, so I’m definitely experimenting with his alternate specials, but goddamn does the blue bomber kick serious ass. I thought he would end up being lower tier as back during Smashfest i picked him for smash run and i wasn’t doing much of anything to enemies, but that Top Spin and Hard Knuckle and shoryuken are amazing and any of his aerials that aren’t the buster or Hard Knuckle not only rack up the damage like nothing else but knock the opponent away so you have breathing room. I would say he’s the most broken fighter in the demo but that still goes to Villager.
It is straight up unfair what the Villager can pocket. Which is everything. He can cancel out your Final Smash with it and use Pikachu’s Thunder against him, and poor Mega Man can’t risk using his myriad projectiles because Villager will send them back twice as powerful. And even without that ability, Villager certainly earned his memetic status as a psychopathic mass murderer with all the kill moves he has, which basically amounts to all of them. If anyone is going to get banned in the early metagame it’s going to be Villager, because that crazy fuck is OP and we need to find his weaknesses fast.
But overall this demo gives me great feelings about both versions of the game with how it seems to play and balance everyone out. Items were also designed with the competitive scene in mind so if those particular tight-asses are ever going to experiment with tourney rules I recommend giving them a try. Smash 4 seems to have become exactly what Super Smash Brothers has wanted to be for so long: the deep fighting game anyone can play and enjoy. That makes my year right there.