Smash Legends sounds interesting on paper. While not a mobile spin-off of Smash Bros (as great as that would be), the game certainly advertises itself as something adjacent to it. The marketing frequently talks about common Smash-isms like knocking your friends off of platforms, as well as chaotic free-for-alls.
In reality though, Smash Legends isn’t really a party fighter, instead a game that feels like it’s made of everything currently popular and mashed into a game for maximum playability.
It’s A MOBA, Guys.
So I’ll start off this overview by getting something off my chest- I really wanted Smash Legends to be a fighting game. The idea of a party fighter on mobile is genius, and it’s disappointing more games aren’t doing it. I thought with Smash Legends, we’d finally have that niche filled. Instead, what we got is basically a MOBA.
The game has a MOBA-esque camera, with MOBA-esque health bars, as well as MOBA-esque skills. The only difference between Smash Legends and a MOBA is the number of gametypes, and the fact that kills are signalled with a Smash Bros style launch effect.
I think that’s the biggest sin this game commits. In Smash Bros the launch effect makes sense, since there’s no health- taking more damage just makes it easier to launch you. Having you suddenly launch because your health hits zero feels super disingenuous, as if the game was expecting you to mistake it for a platform fighter.
The characters’ skills are also very MOBA-esque, with the Red Riding Hood character straight up being the MOBA Assassin archetype. She turns invisible, getting a crit on her next attack. On another note she’s also the most fun of the three characters I’ve got to try, specifically because once you get over the betrayal and just play it like a Party MOBA her skillset is really easy to get the hang of.
One gripe other gripe is your buttons. Characters skills all feel largely similar with the exception of their ults, which really only leaves their basic and special attacks. Their special attack is basically always a forward lunge, with the only difference being in stats and side effects. These attacks also have no homing, so good luck trying to steer it into any targets if you’re in a pinch.
I’ve only tried out two of the game’s game types, the team-based Dominion as well as the Battle Royale mode which is a one-life free-for-all. Dominion definitely feels like the Main Mode, since many characters such as mascot Peter’s attacks are clearly designed around the concept of bunching up your enemy team and hitting them all at once with a big sweep.
You know, like a MOBA.
Battle Royale is a cool concept, removing everything I hate about the Battle Royale genre by letting you keep all your skills at the start of the match. Instead you’re attacking objects to get points, which is a great way to draw people into fixed points in the map. The one thing I hate about the game’s battle royale mode is that you need to jump to get up to higher levels, and the game’s camera was not built for this. I’ve lost rounds simply because I couldn’t tell I was supposed to jump, getting killed by the circle of shame.
Royalty-Free Roster Of Characters
Smash Legend’s characters are all based off of fairy tales, for reasons I can’t assume are any deeper than “they’re the only public domain source we can use”. They’re not too badly designed, they’ve all got this cute super-deformed aesthetic to them. My gripe here is that you’re forced to play through your first three games as the mascot Peter.
I mean nothing against Peter, he’s actually one of the better characters thanks to his sweeping normals and specials. But three games is way too long to not let me get another character, especially if I’m not a fan of the playstyle. In other MOBAs like Heroes of The Storm, you could pick a new character pretty early on. Sure it may not have been the one you wanted, but at least you weren’t stuck playing as Jim Raynor for more than the tutorial.
Worse still, the next character you unlock is Red, and other characters are locked in lootboxes with no option to just buy them. At the very least a free rotation would have been good, especially since the gacha doesn’t appear to have any guarantee for characters (or if it does, they’ve done a piss-all job of disclosing it).
I feel like the direct-buy option is a mandatory for anything that’s not just a gacha game, because for a lot of people (myself included) the ability to pick a playstyle you like is a make-or-break for the game.
Worse still you can upgrade characters using shards you get from opening Lootboxes, meaning just because you both chose Peter at the start of the match doesn’t mean your opponent’s Peter isn’t more likely to kick your ass thanks to better skills.
Aside from that, Smash Legends has all the other goodness you’d expect from a live service game. There’s a Battle Pass because of course there is, what feels like an endless amount of different currencies, as well as boosters to get you more keys for free loot boxes. Naturally Lootboxes are also tiered, meaning that all the free ones you get are basically junk and you only really want the good loot boxes.
It’s really hard to not assume the worst of the game because it gives off the vibe of a game that was designed to just take what’s popular now and pray it works out. On the other hand, if you don’t care about the glaring gentrification of mobile games, it’s fine I guess. Characters are cute and it’s a MOBA you can play without worrying about someone being too tryhard about it.
Heck, it’s even got cross-play with PC, so if you’ve got a group of friends to play with you’ll probably really have fun beating each other up.