Super Smash Bros. Wii U BoxGet. Ready. To. Rumble. It’s real, it’s here, it’s Smash time. The highly anticipated release of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is finally upon us, and let me just say—it is glorious.

Since Super Smash Bros. debuted 15 years ago on Nintendo 64, the franchise has expanded immensely, and now encompasses nearly 50 playable characters, including those from Pokémon, the Legend of Zelda, Pac-Man, Sonic, Metroid, Kid Icarus, and more.

On the heels of Super Smash Bros. for 3DS, which released in October and has since sold more than 2.8 million units worldwide, the Wii U version has even more content, game modes, and features for users to enjoy (not to mention 1080p HD graphics). Which brings us to….

Traditional Smash

Super Smash Bros Classic Smash

For long-term fans of the game, the traditional Smash we all know and love has everything you want it to— and more. The familiar stages, such as Final Destination, Bridge of Eldin, and Donkey Kong Kongo Jungle are all present, but with beautiful, crystal clear graphics for the modern age— I’m talking texture, people! Intricate blades of grass, fluffy pillow-soft clouds, and fire with so many shades of red I can hardly stand it.

New stages will please all audiences as well, such as Woolly World, which will get players excited for the upcoming installment to the Yoshi universe, and Mario Circuit, complete with gravity-defying tracks reminiscent of this year’s Mario Kart 8. Speaking of stages, each one presents players with new challenges, such as projectile-shooting pirate ships, fast-moving platforms, and an onslaught of Shy Guy-inhabited go-karts.

And the items— oh, the items. While the ever-coveted Smash Ball still reigns supreme, there are tons of new items that will have your opponents KOed in no time, such as Bullet Bill, which will plow through everyone in your way, and the Fire Bar, which is made of fireballs that launch slowly. My personal favorite is the X Bomb, which sends bombs hovering through the air only to blast fire in four directions. The items are abundant and frequent, which is much appreciated when you are playing…

Eight-Player Smash

Super Smash Bros. Eight Player SmashForget one—four is now the loneliest number. Button mashers, rejoice! This is the game mode for you. It’s a smashing free-for-all chaos frenzy, where Kirby can slam his mallet in any given direction and surely hit an opponent. Pikachu’s Thunder Jolt has never been more effective, and Smash balls are taken to a whole new level. Not for the faint of heart, beginner players have double the chance of getting KOed quickly—and it’s really hard to keep track of where everyone is (or even where YOUR character is) in such a fast-paced game. However, if you are seasoned player who knows your moves and has really good vision, the eight-player smash provides an exhilarating brawl, with more opponents to KO, more damage to be done, and exciting new stages to play on (which are ENORMOUS and constantly moving, hence the vision requirement). Don’t know your moves? New to Smash? Can’t even THINK about playing with a character who can’t fly? Let’s talk about…

Smash Tour

Super Smash Bros. Smash TourImagine a world where Mario Party and Smash Bros. collide—now stop imagining because this world exists and we are all living in it. Smash Tour allows players to choose a course, spin a wheel to see how many spaces they move, collect objects along the way, and engage in different types of battles—much like mini-games in Mario Party. During the battles, each player is given a random character, which is an easy and quick way to familiarize oneself with different characters without risking a loss in a classic Smash battle. Additionally, players have the option of allowing the CPU to play for them, which is a huge gamble—unless you are terrible and you know the CPU will be miles better than you are, in which case, this is more like a huge advantage. Smash Tour is great for younger players, novice players, or groups of people who appreciate slow, turn-based play. It does not have the same enthralling game play the classic battle provides, and it has lots of downtime, especially when players are deciding which items to use, which direction to move in, and how they want to battle. However, it does allow you an easy way to collect items. Now, let’s get to the…

Stage Builder

Pick your size, pick your background, pick your music— and get to building. With games like Disney Infinity allowing for tons of customization in Toy Box mode, the Stage Builder allows players to create their own stages start to finish, and the options are sky high. For heritage players, the music is the best part, as it’s basically like scrolling through the soundtrack of your childhood, from Sonic to DK, everything is there. When users are building, it’s easy to undo, erase, and start over with easy touches on the Gamepad. Kids simply use the stylus to outline where they want their platforms, springs, moving parts, ledges, etc. Once you have a good basis, you can even test your stage out with a pair of Marios to see how it’s coming along and where you may need adjustments. Much more intuitive than previous generations, the Gamepad makes the entire experience interactive and easy. In addition to the Gamepad, players can also utilize a wide variety of…

Controllers

Smash Bros. ControllerThe Gamepad, Wii Motion Plus, Wii U Pro controller, Nintendo GameCube for Wii U controller—you name it, you can use it in this game. Additionally, if you have a Nintendo 3DS, you can even use THAT as a controller with the Wii U. The options, I tell you! My preference will always lie with GameCube, since it’s a classic, and now there’s even a specially designed Smash Bros. GameCube controller for hardcore veterans to indulge in. But wait! There’s more…

Adding amiibo

Super Smash Bros. AmiiboToys to life is at the forefront of video games this year, and Nintendo will grab a piece of the pie with amiibo, physical figures that bring characters to life inside of Smash (and other Nintendo games). However, the amiibo model is much different than what we’ve seen in this category so far. First of all—you don’t need a base. Players simply tap the amiibo to the Gamepad they already have. Nothing extra. No starter pack. Big win for the pullers of the purse strings. Secondly, you don’t actually control the amiibo character. Instead, he or she acts as a battle companion who can fight along with you during team play, or can fight against you in a traditional Smash.

Kids can also customize the amiibo by changing its outfit on-screen, giving it a nickname, feeding it items, and training it for battle. The amiibo level up quickly as they fight, learning from their opponents as they go, and before long—you’ll have the ultimate fighter in your pocket, ready to Smash your opponents into the ground. Especially great for an eight-player Smash, it’s exciting to get to play using your amiibo instead of just a CPU fighter. Even when you lose to the amiibo, it’s still beneficial because the character will continue to level up and you can use it to your advantage in future battles. Twelve amiibo are available at launch, with more to come later in the year.

With ALL. OF. THIS. PLUS: tons of exciting new characters, including Little Mac, Pac-Man, Rosalina and Luna, and more, long-term fans will find lots to love about the latest Smash installment, while new-comers will find themselves suddenly NEEDING a Wii U of their own. Get your Doritos, pull on those sweatpants, and settle in, folks: It’s Smash time.