Super Smash Bros. will come out this year — but in a big surprise, it’s going to hit the 3DS first, not the struggling Wii U home console.

Nintendo revealed today in one of its Direct livestream shows that its mascot fighting game is going to hit the 3DS this summer. A Wii U release, which features some of the same characters and stages, will hit the home console during winter (which doesn’t start until Dec. 21). This is the first time Nintendo is releasing a Smash Bros. game on a portable, and it’s also the first time it will come to both a handheld and a portable.

Nintendo is likely focusing on the 3DS version because that system has a much player base. At the end of 2013, the publisher revealed it had sold 45 million 3DSes. That’s compared to less than 6 million Wii Us worldwide. This gives the 3DS Super Smash Bros. a much better chance of selling well.

The Wii U’s poor sales is causing a number of problems for Nintendo. It’s struggling to reach profitability, and a big hit like Smash Bros. — one of its most important franchises — coming out sooner on the 3DS may help the Japanese publisher pad its bottom line.

In addition to the release timing, Nintendo detailed some of the new features it’s planning for the this new Smash Bros. For example, both versions will have online play, but the Wii U and 3DS versions can’t play against each other. Online will have a variety of modes that will enable fans to play with their friends or with strangers.

On the technical side, Nintendo noted the game will run at 60 frames per second at all times on the 3DS. That’s even when the game is running in 3D mode. Some characters only have 30 frames of animation per second, but that is a design choice, not a tech limitation.

Finally, this new version of Super Smash Bros. will see some changes to familiar characters. Samus no longer changes into Zero-Suit Samus. Instead, these are two separate characters. Likewise, Zelda cannot transform into Sheik. Once again, Sheik is a unique character. Yoshi is getting a big change as well. His character model now stands upright rather than hunched over as he does in Super Mario World.

Super Smash Bros. debuted in 1999 with the original release on Nintendo 64. It quickly joined titles like Mario Kart 64 and Goldeneye 007 as popular games that offered up stunning local multiplayer. Nintendo continued the franchise with Super Smash Bros. Melee for GameCube in 2001 and Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Wii in 2008.


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