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Just How Ultimate is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?

Super Smash Background

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the latest iteration of the massively successful Super Smash Bros. series published by Nintendo. Starting with the original Super Smash Bros. game on the Nintendo 64 which debuted in 1999, Smash has brought together various classic Nintendo characters (and sometimes non-Nintendo characters in later editions) in epic, frantic, battles unlike most other fighting games. Since it’s inception, the roster of fighters has changed, the game modes have morphed, but the competitive nature has only intensified, whether in your living room with friends or on the professional scene.

So What Makes Ultimate…Ultimate?

So what does Super Smash Bros. Ultimate give the players that the previous entries in the franchise doesn’t? Nothing AND more!

Ok, I know that is a bit cryptic and non-spectacular sounding…but I mean this is the best possible way. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate takes what has worked so successfully from games past and, wait for it…SMASHES them together. While the roster of playable characters has changed from game to game, Ultimate decided to include all 63 previously included characters since the first game, bringing back characters who had been removed from certain versions. Additionally, 11 never-before-included characters have been added bringing the roster to a whopping 74 playable fighters. Nintendo also plans to release at least six more characters in 2019 as DLC, with the first available being a potted piranha plant free to all players who register their game before the end of January, 2019. I mean come on, a potted plant battling it out? How can that not absurdly awesome?

In addition to the massive number of fighters, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate also features over 100 stages in which to battle, with corresponding stages being included as DLC with their respective DLC fighters to come in the future. All of this, in addition to new and revamped game modes and mechanics, represent Nintendo’s recipe for the most ultimate edition of Smash to date…so how did they do?

Gameplay

As far as actual gameplay, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate thankfully kept things classic for the most part. This is clearly an example of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” If anything, they took the classic format and polished the edges a bit to make things smoother yet familiar. Battles range from 1 vs 1 up to 8 simultaneous combatants, though some alterations to this formula can be seen in some of the game modes available. Random items drop from the sky from time to time to spice up the battles a bit. But it is in the various game modes that Smash really hooks you and keeps you saying, “Ok, just one more battle.” And if that glorious “A New Challenger Approaches” screen pops up? You are condemned to battle forever! Or at least until you unlock all the characters…whichever happens to come first.

Game Modes

  • Smash

    • Afterall, how could you have a Super Smash Bros. game without the basic Smash mode? Ultimate offers the regular Smash mode in which players battle it out with other players/CPUs until a winner is chosen. Alternatively, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate also offers a Squad Strike version of Smash with a bit of tag-team action, Tourney for…tournaments obviously, and Special Smash in which you can manipulate the rules to make a customizable version of Smash for you and your friends to play.
    • Thanks to the Switch Online service, there are also ways of enjoying Smash mode against players all over the world. Too overwhelmed by this? You can also choose to just Spectate instead!
  • Classic Mode

    • As the name suggests, this is the mode in which a player chooses a fighter, sets a difficulty level, and battles it out alone for a number of matches prior to challenging a boss character. However, instead of simply being challenged by Master Hand (and Crazy Hand if the difficulty is high enough), a few fighters have special bosses instead. I particularly enjoy the fact that the fighters you fight against and the locations you fight in are determined by who your character is. When I attempted Classic Mode with Incineroar from Pokemon Sun and Moon, all of the fighters and locations were at least mildly brawler/wrestling related to fit with his style.
  • And of course, like previous entries, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate also gives you options to engage in training to boost your skills, Mob Smash (previously called 100 man smash I believe) in which the player is pitted against waves and waves of fighters, and obviously the ability to create Mii Fighters…because there weren’t already enough characters to choose from, right?

World of Light

Ok, while World of Light is technically one of the many game modes, I felt that it deserved a section all to itself to explain all of its glory. The Super Smash Bros. series has always struggled a bit with the single-player experience. Granted, it is essentially sold as a multiplayer experience. But we need something to do when we are still obsessed with battling when our friends are not around! In this writer’s opinion, World of Light mode has gone extremely far in redeeming the single-player value of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Without spoiling too much, stuff goes down and the bad guys try to take over the universe. But don’t worry, Kirby is here to save the day! Built around an RPG-esque map system, various battles are had to open up new map areas, new resources such as shops, and even puzzle elements to a certain extent. The story isn’t that deep, but the idea of having to rescue other fighters before having access to use them in future battles is a fun alternative to just waiting for “A New Challenger Appears” screens to pop up. And, unless I am just terrible, there is actually some challenge here! It will not just be a leisurely stroll around the map unlocking players just to get back to the main Smash mode again. In true RPG fashion, some areas are only accessible once your power gets high enough to defeat harder battles. Power, NOT skills necessarily, but power as in leveling up. There is a basic skills grid to help you fine tune the way you like to battle, but ultimately the leveling up and progressing comes more in the form of Spirits.

Rather than unlocking new skills/equipment/etc., winning battles in World of Light mode unlocks or “releases” spirits of fighters to help increase power levels and sometimes bonus abilities/items to help turn the tide in battle. The neat thing about these spirits in my opinion is the awesome level of nostalgia added by them. All spirits represent characters from the games of the main fighters, adding a bit of extra flavor, context, and depth to the adventure elements of the game. Spirits start at level 1 and can level up to level 99 either through battle experience or by feeding them “snacks” that are rewarded after some battles.

Conclusion

Other than the fact that I felt very rusty and out of practice when playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, I can honestly say that I have not found any faults at all to taint this genuinely ultimate experience thus far. I still have plenty of adventure map to uncover, quite a few characters to unlock, and many more spirits to rescue. And I believe the most honest and telling way of concluding this review is by stating that I frankly can’t wait to get back to the game to do all of those things! In just the one day since its release, I find myself wanting to go back over and over again for just one more battle, just one more challenger to appear, just one more spirit team combination to test out. While I will admit that the largest draw for myself thus far is certainly the World of Light mode, I can see this game being brought out anytime folks are over hanging out for quite some time.