Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is Smash Bros. done right and done bigger than ever before.
As the series director Masahiro Sakurai said himself, it's a miracle Super Smash Bros. Ultimate exists. Having Mario and Zelda ducking on Street Fighter's Ryu and Final Fantasy 7 Cloud on a Metal Gear Solid Battlefield is a strange, amazing thing that only the Smash Bros. series can deliver ̵
With 74 fighters (depending on how you count), 108 stages, nearly 1300 Spirit characters to be gathered, and a single player adventure mode that took me a full 24 hour play time to hit Super Smash Bros. Ultimate offers far more in a single package than any of its four predecessors. And while it sometimes felt like pruning, some of its weaker bits could have made Ultimate an even stronger and more consistent whole, good new mechanical and aesthetic supplements make it stand out more than just a rehash of old ideas. It's nothing less than the brand new Smash Bros. game I had imagined as the ideal sequel to the switch.
Smash Bros. has always been a battle series that succeeds in two crowds that are usually in odds: those who are seeking the sheer, chaotic joy of an eight-player handsome mashing fight and those who prefer exciting battles of hard-battled, high-level skill. While more competitive players can turn off items and fight only on the flat endestation stage (or the functionally identical "Omega" versions of any of the other stages), others may find that unexpected items, dangerous scenarios, and epic final smash finishing moves take care of the core of what makes Smash Bros. great. Both – and each setting in between – exist beautifully in Ultimate.
Smash Bros. has a rare availability that keeps its high skill cap from frightening.
More than any previous games in 19-year Smash Bro's story, Ultimate is about collecting so many iconic characters as possible from the whole game – stretches far beyond the Nintendo-only origin – and lets you throw them towards each other, but you want. It's a digital action figure toy box crowded with childhood memories from countless players but with the striking heart of a competitive battle game.
It's also incredibly easy to jump in, choose favorite characters and just start fighting since it does not. It does not take much more than the control pin and two buttons to access most of a fighter & # 39; s movement. Unlike Street Fighters, Mortal Kombats and Tekkens of the World, it's not complicated entry combinations without pressing A or B together with a single direction, making it easy to l honor what a sign can do just by playing around instead of looking up moving lists and spending time in a practice mode.
The fact that warriors do not have health bars gives Smash Bros. a rare availability that keeps its high skill cap from feeling scary. Instead of wearing an opponent's life, you increase your percentage – the higher it goes, the easier they are to dodge with a strong attack, and to knock them off the map will give you a complete CO. Even though it is still scary to be high, this system avoids the depressive feeling of "every little hit and I'm dead, so it's pointless" that traditional fighting games can sometimes cause when your health falls to a sliver. In Smash Bros. Ultimate, it feels like you still have a chance of fighting.
And while accessibility is important, those looking for more technical nuances will find much of it in dodges, grabs, shields and a veritable ballet of mid-air movement strategy – not to mention how all this changes with different abilities , attack and even weight of each character. A fast, small character like Pichu feels different from the hard-striking Bowser, and it's important to learn the finesses to play both as and against them. It's a deep well with combos and counterplay for those who want to dive into it all and it feels like Nintendo is more actively aware and supportive of that side of Smash Bros. than it has been before.
None of these features are New to Ultimate in particular, but it is important that the most important elements of what makes a Smash Bros. game a Smash Bros. game are all alive and good here. And while the frames and DNAs of the Super Smash Bros for Wii U are very clear, it does not feel like a single port or a "Deluxe Edition" in any way. Because there were just not so many Wii Us out there, I would not be surprised if many of the people who played this recent iteration missed the latest Smash Bros. completely, but Ultimate does not look at the assumption as a crutch, and
Tuned for Destruction
Fighters in Ultimate feels a bit faster and much harder to beat all over. Starting an enemy with a smash attack now feels like knocking a balloon, with fighters flying faster before losing speed faster. That means there is often less ambiguity about whether a hit will be a CO, with less of the frustrating moments where you slowly go against an unexpected death. (There is even another radar that appears when a player is screened to show where they are in relation to the edge of the destruction – an addition I liked but can be turned off for those who do not.)  In one-way camps or when only two fighters remain, it's a serious epic freeze-frame zoom effect when landing a hit that almost certainly will result in a KO, like that already happened with Little Mac's KO hit. That alone makes the big smash attacks even more satisfying and makes it even clearer when someone actually has a chance to get away from a hard hit or not.
The custom rule set feature is a godsend, even though it means making small tweaks is a bit clunkier.
Many of the Final Smash attacks have been made easier to handle too. Some of the more inconsistent like Pac -Man, Pikachu and Donkey Kong have been modified to hit more trustworthy and Final Smashes that lock enemies to an animation for guaranteed injury are more common across the board, making them feel less imbalanced when playing with Smash Balls on (which are almost frustratingly difficult to catch now) and the introduction of an optional Final Smash Meter that slowly takes up a weaker version of the pace, provides a whole new way to weave these exciting finishers in a match.
Fortunately , if you do not want to play Smash Bros. just as I do, Ultimate made it much easier to adjust the rules of a match. You can now create custom rules to save and choose whenever you want. I had one for my town dard setting, one to use the Final Smash Meter, one without any thing or scenarios at all, one where the only items are Poker Balls, and as many more as I wanted. Save rules are a godsend so you do not have to keep making the same big changes over and over when the mood to play is another way, but it makes some tweaking rulesets on the fly (say, if you want to add to an extra life for a round or two) more cumbersome and let me wish we had the best of both worlds.
A new rule option called Stage Morph, quickly became one of my absolute favorite supporters for Ultimate. It allows you to select two maps in the scene selection and then specify how long in a match the level will change from one stage to the other. It's a great way to experience more of the absurd 108 maps Ultimate has to offer and can even let you do interesting things like starting on a big map, but then transitioning to a lesser time some of the matches have probably been eliminated – just make sure you're not against the edges of the stage when it happens or you're likely to escape an undeserved death.
But the level-level user interface itself is not ideal. It's literally just a giant grid of hardly traceable images of each stage organized by the date of their debut Smash Bros. game. I prefer this to have to scroll through the alternatives one by one as some other games have their scene choices set but there are so many levels so tightly packed that I forgot someone existed and often have to spend a lot of time chasing specific one I want have. It's a pretty spoiled problem to have, but I still wish I had the ability to sort them alphabetically or after games, or at least noticed someone as favorites.
However, the levels themselves are generally beautiful. It's not every single level that has ever been in Smash Bros. As the drawing list is (I do not care what somebody says, I miss you, Poké Floats!), But it certainly feels comprehensive. It's a bit of a bummer that only four of them are brand new, but earlier 3DS-only levels like Tortimer Island and Paper Mario still feel like fresh additions to the Switch – some of the classic returns have also been visually touched and look amazing , especially Fourside and Corneria from Melee.
Still, there are a few bad apples in the gang who had confused me why they did cut when others did not. Pretty much the only good thing really terrible stages like Pac-Land and The Great Cave Offensive bring to the party are interesting skins for their Omega and Battlefield variations – the map pool would be stronger overall without falling down the average. 19659006] Similarly, while cool new things like Beastball and Rage Blaster are added, stupid and busted like Boss Galaga, Gust Bellows and Beetle are stuck. These extreme elements and scenes are not a big issue since Ultimate gives you the tools that make them turn off when you make your rules, but it makes it feel like Nintendo focuses more on quantity over quality when deciding on these lists .  Choose Your Fighter
However, I am pleased that Nintendo took this approach to Ultate's characteristics. Having each character ever, good or bad, was back an ambitious and excellent decision. Ultimate's roster is simply amazing, with a wealth of attitudes, games and playing styles represented. The decision to classify certain characters like "Echo" fighters instead of full new characters, also comes a long time, making glorified reskins like Daisy and Dark Pit, feel less as they steal a roster point from someone else.
" Have all grades, good or bad, back an ambitious and excellent decision.
Six brand new non-echo challengers have joined the game, with six coming as DLC during that next year or so – Piranha Plant will be free until January 31st before you get paid DLC like the other five, who also come with new stages with them. None of them specifically breaks the mold of what a Smash Bros character may be (even whether it's diverse and explored territory already), but they are each varied in their own way and everyone feels at home in Ultimate.
Standouts for I'm undoubtedly Simon Belmont of Castlevania (and his Echo, Richter) and King K Ronn from Donkey Kong. Simon's abilities feel extremely true to his game, throwing axes, boomerangs and explosive vials with holy water, with a whip-based smash attack that rewards precision and careful timing. Meanwhile, King K. Rool feels like the giant , unheated kroko The dilemma he is: a wonderful mix of crazy, scary and extra beef.
Animal Crossing's Isabelle is also amazing in the sweet charm she brings, but feels quite derived from Animal Crossing Villages compared to her actual move. Inkling shakes things drastically with a difficult and slightly unintentional ink-ammo system that you must fill in when you're fighting. But no matter how new or old they feel, each of the 11 new hunters and Echos is a welcome and creative addition to the roster.
Just do not expect to play any of the ones you want straight out of the gate. While there are 74 fighters in total, you only start with 11 unlocked – the original eight from the first Super Smash Bros. on N64, plus the three custom Mii fighters if you make them. It's not hard to unlock more – a new one tends to show up every few matches or you can hunt them down in Adventure and Classical mode – but with so many, it will probably take you at least 10 hours to fill out your roster through multiplayer alone. There are cheesy ways to speed up, but raising my collection naturally while I was playing with friends was really exciting.
The more you've played with you, the faster the locks will come, and Ultimate has luckily broken down barriers between four player and eight-player smash. While playing with more than four people, previously referred to certain big maps, it's all a mode now. Eight Player Smash Bros. is still an unfortunate but fun mess, but being able to seamlessly get a fifth player on the action was appreciated.
And if you do not want to subordinate to that chaos, the on-one is as easy as it ever has been. There are even little extra touches here, as the number of lives each player has left to be enlarged on screen whenever a player dies. It's also cool new mode called Squad Strike, which lets you choose between three or five different fighters and fight in a "Best Of" style from top to top match. This mode can also just let you play what really is a 1v1-layer match, but where every life is a new fighter.
Smells like Team Spirit
While multiplayer is really the point of Smash Bros., the big single player in Ultimate is a new system called Spirits. There are nearly 1300 Spirits in Ultimate, each of them is a sign or recognizable thing from video games as ubiquitous as Super Mario Bros. and as fuzzy as 1992 Japan's only Game Boy game Kaeru no Tame ni Kane wa Naru, and each one is represented by a piece of art from the source material. While I miss detailed trophies from previous Smash Bros. games, the ludicrous large selection of Spirits makes it a worthwhile balance – another example of Nintendo that chooses quantity over quality.
There are almost 1300 Spirits in Ultimate, each of them a sign or recognizable thing from another game.
While you see so many Spirits from all the games, it's extremely fun, all about it The system to which the Spirits are used feels over-designed. In certain modes, you can equip a Primary Spirit at a time (which has three types in a Rock, Paper, Scissors-style weakness system) along with up to three Support Spirits, all giving you buffs or new Abilities like poisoning or power poisoning. Primary spirits can be leveled up either by fighting or feeding them (which also cost a currency called Spirit Points) or Spirit cores, which you get from rejecting duplicate spirits – but you can Also use kernels to receive new spirits, but only if you have the very specific right to do it.
It's fun to set your Spirit Battle in Adventure Mode, the World of Light, or while you collect Spirit on a timed, randomized menu called Spir It Board, but navigating this system is a mess. As with level choice, the system for organizing and equipping Spirits is just a big ol, eventually hundreds of Spirits long. There are filters to help you find specific abilities like immunities against certain types of injury, but if you want to find a very specific effect – say, start a fight with a Beam Sword – and do not remember which unclear character that belongs to you pretty much must go through them one by one to find it. Because of that stress, I usually stuck with a few I found powerful and used the "Auto-fill" recommendation button otherwise.
The most impressive part of Spirits is the battles you must win to collect them. Almost every Spirit has a struggle specific to the modeled by the character itself, using Ultimate's roster and special effects to reliably recreate them. Some are funny, like Snorlax is a giant gray King K. Rool who does not move an inch while others are challenging and mimic the games they are from, like Dr. Wily, who is really a "Boss Rush" where you have to defeat eight Mega Man-Warriors in a stamina-based match before a Dr. Mario appears to meet you.
The spirit card is great, but the post-war mini-game forces you to earn a Spirt feel meaningless and annoying.
Turning these Spirit's matches serves you the Spirit in the world of light, but annoying, that's not the case with Spirit Board, where to beat, gives you a strange roulette wheel challenge where you must try to shoot that character through a spinning shield. Hitting gives you the Spirit while missing means you have to wait for them to happen again, turn them over and hit them again shoot again with a smaller shield guarding them.
There is a pointless and frustrating step to add to this process, especially when there are over a thousand spirits to be collected. I never found a spirit struggle, I did not find entertaining or smart, which is impressive in itself, but they are also a news, and it's volatile. The Snorlax fight is fun once, but it quickly lost its charm when I was forced to do it again of one bad shots after the match. And unfortunately, for the fighting I found good enough to want to come back, for example Dr. Wily, there is no way to refute an Spirit you already have except hoping it will appear on the Spirit Board again. Nevertheless, there are only so many Spirits here that the completely different Spirit Board makes it quite fun alone.
Blinded by the Light
Spirits really feel that they were designed with Light of Light in mind, though the model ends up being quite a-tone because of it. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Adventure Mode has a shockingly elaborate and long campaign that took me 24 hours to play to beat, and even with just 84% completion. It's a consistently fun mode, but despite it being longer than many full games today, I came away from it and felt it was still quite a good glaze to follow Smash Bro's good multiplayer cake.
World of Light have explored a massive wide array of winding lanes, all blocked by hostile spirits along the way. You start with just Kirby unlocked and wander the board picking the matches, collecting and leveling out Spirits, and unlocking characters as you go. There are smaller dungeon cards to come in, some easy puzzles to solve, and even massive unique bosses to fight, as well as a whole bunch of secrets to gathering.
While the world of light's supernatural can begin to feel just a bit – a series of arbitrary paths across a varied and beautiful 2D map – the dungeons offer some really exciting surprises. Standout for me was a whole section modeled after a Street Fighter World Tour mode, with custom rules that make it low-jump Stamina-based to mimic Street Fighter games. Others are similar hits of nostalgia that recreate or give homage to different games and they are worth discovering on their own.
The problem is through all this, you still make endless spirit struggles. They are theme pretty around every part of the map – a racetrack is where I fought Captain Falcon and Excitebike Spirit while I found Star Fox's Peppy and Super Mario RPG Geno among the stars – but it's really the same way of fighting against spirits on the Spirit Board, just look at a hodgepodge map of unique areas.
Everything you do in the World of Light is centered around getting and improving Spirits, but I found enough strong Spirits to get me through almost any battle about 10 hours into the campaign. That meant I played about 14 hours without any kind of significant progression for my grade, and most extras I was inclined to gather were quite meaningless. Seeing what creative New Spirits matches were waiting for was still consistently fun and fun, but my strategy did not have to change so long, it began to get boring at the end.
The world of light never ceases to be fun, and the struggles of the spirit are consistently clear, but the simple progress of the mode causes it to go after the first twelve hours.
It is also a world of light skill that allows you get some massively powerful abilities. At the 13-hour mark my smash attack was charged extremely quickly, healed me could be indefinitely charged and gave me superpans so that I could not be interrupted during them. that I could win most of the Spirit's matches in two or three well-placed smash attacks, which trivialized most of the matches I met. That also made the huge amount of unlockable spirit training Dojos and merchants similarly meaningless, despite being super cool from one flavor point.
While they are also significantly easier, the bosses continued to enjoy themselves. I was blown away by the fight against Monster Hunter Rathalos in particular, as it recreated the feeling of the game lan gt more faithful than expected. You had to first hunt Rathalos around a dungeon card to your nose, then you could use Pitfall and Deku Nut elements to catch and relax to handle damage. It was extremely cool, although it was not too difficult for that point in the campaign.
And there is a kind of World of Light in general: it's fun, fun and extremely detailed, but also quite thin. The battles of the spirit are neat and their quantity is quite amazing, but the only difference between fighting them on Spirit Board and on a map is to give you access to abilities on an incredibly strong skill tree. The problem is not directly the length of the campaign itself, but the lack of significant change during that time. Nintendo could probably have trimmed five-hour fat and had a more convincing adventure mode for it.
It makes me a little sad, because it is undoubtedly pleasurable surprises worth experiencing buried among the tides of Sprit which is very difficult to access. The last hour of the world of light is especially one of the biggest video games I've played this year, and in fact the previous 10 plus hours of rehearsing worth it. There is not much history under the World of Light, with cutscenes that are beautiful, but only appear in the beginning, middle and end, but it still managed to get me invested and absurdly excited about what unfolds in front of me.
Still, despite the World of Light, it's probably not as deep as it's wide, it's a mode I generally liked. Smash Bros. Alternative modes have never traditionally been full-on slam dunks, which is not a problem as long as they do not break the multiplayer along the way. And while Spirit team can be turned on in PvP, there's no pressure to do that, which lets the world of light live happily like a fun distraction.
A twist on the classics
Outside the kingdom, Spirits, Classic mode returns a return with a slightly fine-tuned format. Each fighter has a tailored dress of six opponents to meet, themed loose around them – for example, Bowser must fight through every red character in Ultimate before turning away with Mario. There is also a surprisingly fun auto-scrolling platform player in every race, and the World of Light bosses are also used here again, making them easier to visit than the Spirit is fighting.
100-Man Smash returns a return, now called Century Smash, along with All-Star mode and the still fitting name of Cruel Smash. There is no goal or challenge mode, but there are enough performance-style challenges that give rewards to keep you exploring old modes in ways you may not normally think about. I'm also especially a fan of the new Smashdown multiplayer mode, which eliminates fighters from selecting the screen after using them once. Simply put, there's a lot to distract you when you need a break from standard Smash and World of Light.
Ultimate has one of the most impressive games of play music I have ever seen.
Another back feature from Wii U Smash Bros., which I absolutely love is the music selector. Ultimate has one of the most impressive libraries in the game music I've ever seen and you can choose which track a stage game plays when you choose. You can even create playlists of your favorite songs and turn off the screen to use your switch like an iPod, even though I had quite a rough results with buttons that were pushed and songs were jumping around while my was in a case in my bag, which made it better for home use than on the move.
That said, I was shocked at how great Ultimate looks and goes into handheld mode. This is a truly amazing game – a noticeable step up from the last – and it does not feel trimmed at all when playing mobile. (However, its level-selected problems are made predictable worse.) But there appeared to be no noticeable performance difference between the two modes.
Either anchored by handheld, the only real issues I noticed were related to load times, but mostly in places where it did not matter much. For example, if you wait for Mii-fighter attire to load into the creator, a character is annoying slowly and a fighter's alternate colors can sometimes take a few seconds to appear on the character selection screen, but matches menus and everything else Important loads quite quickly. There was also some very small frame storage under eight-player character selection, but it seems forgivable given that it disappeared during the game itself.
On the hardware side, it seems to be playing with the Switch's Joy Con controllers, but they do not really do the best Smash experience. I'm a big fan of Joy Con in general, but smoother joysticks and digital triggers are not ideal for the fast and accurate movements of the Smash Bros. requirements. I spent most of the time with Ultimate with my Childhood GameCube Wireless WaveBird controller with a USB adapter, but the Switch Pro Controller also works very well. It's nice that there are a lot of control options and you can even use a single side Joy Con in a clip (although I do not really recommend it), but getting an external controller feels more necessary here than with other switches -game.  Ultimate also has some pretty interesting electronic features, including a system that allows you to collect the virtual dog tags of anyone you hit online. Unfortunately, I could not test this because network features were not available before launch. We must monitor these after the launch and see if there are any problems, but if Splatoon 2 and Mario Tennis Aces are any indication, Nintendo seems to have a significantly better handle on online games than when Super Smash Bros. was launched on Wii U.