Super Smash Bros. Ultimate - The Last Smash Bros. We Ever Need?
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is great! It is by far one of the most consistently entertaining games on the Nintendo Switch since The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Super Mario Odyssey. But if you’re reading this, you already know this. Practically everyone on the internet who has the game has done nothing but gush about it, and I’m not much of an exception. Though instead of just a straight up review, I’m going to tell you about my experience with the game and why I believe this is the last Smash Bros. game we will ever need.
I got the game when most people did, on release day, December 7th, 2018. Friends of mine were coming up to celebrate my birthday a little early and one of their gifts to me was a brand new copy of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate! We wasted no time, and played that game practically all weekend. While we played, I came to appreciate just how great this game is.
Ultimate is by far the best looking the Smash Bros. series has ever been, with characters popping thanks to the realistic yet still cartoony looking designs, like the fur on Incineroar, or the scales on Bowser. Combat has been dramatically improved, with the return of air dodging and perfect shielding from Super Smash Bros. Melee. While I myself am not skilled enough to really do either of these on command, I can see how veterans of the series will love the reintroduction of this mechanic. The ultimate attacks, or Final Smashes (see right), as they’re called, have also been given a major upgrade. Transformation Final Smashes, such as Bowser turning into Giga Bowser or Sonic turning into Super Sonic have been largely removed or reduced to one attack instead of being a temporary transformation that beefs up your power. In my opinion, this is a much needed change, as I was never skilled enough with Giga Bowser to knock anyone out with him, making turning into a giant monster feel much less empowering than it should have. Changing it to one gigantic punch makes a successful hit easier, feels more satisfying and keeps battles going at a fast pace. Additionally, the last big change to combat is the addition of dramatic accents to battle. What this means is whenever you or your opponent hits or is hit with enough force to be knocked out, the camera zooms in and time slows, showing off the hit you made and feeling very satisfied or very destroyed. It’s a great little touch that makes battles even more engaging than they already were.
If I had to sum up Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in one word, it would be freedom. The game gives you so many options in every facet of what to do that it’s quite near overwhelming. Multiplayer battles can be anything from a typical 3-life-battle free-for-all to a sudden death stamina match where the only items that spawn in are Banana Guns, thanks to the completely customizable Rules for the Versus Mode. There’s also Tournament Mode, Super Sudden Death, Special Smash (Another thing brought back from Melee) and Smashdown, a brand new mode that has you play a versus match and every time you play, the character you used is locked out, so the roster gets smaller and smaller until you’re left with only two characters – perfect for the players who want to test their skills. Not only that, but ever since the previous game, Super Smash Bros. For Wii U & 3DS, we’ve had a whole new class of characters known as Mii Fighters. Basically, these are characters you can fully customize, from their faces to what they wear and even how they attack. Thanks to Mii Fighters, almost no character or person can be excluded from Ultimate’s roster! I’ve already put in 2B from Nier Automata, Rex and Nia from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and even characters from my own books in as playable characters! If you can think it, you can put it in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The game also introduces the Spirit system, in which you create a team of characters who aren’t playable in game (such as Shantae from the Shantae video game series and a Cardboard Box from Metal Gear Solid) to enhance the fighters you’re using in some way.
Speaking of Spirits, that brings us to our next topic of discussion, Spirits Mode and more importantly the Adventure Mode within known as World of Light. World of Light is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s answer to Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s Subspace Emissary – it’s a fully realized story mode centered around our cast of characters who have all been enslaved by an entity known as Galeem, save for Kirby. As Kirby, you must travel through the World of Light to free the other characters (unlocking them in the process), and fight the spirits Galeem has forced to inhabit their bodies. You traverse the map very similarly to the one in Mario Tennis Aces, which clearly laid the groundwork for this game. Though unlike MTA, I really do enjoy this story mode. The game creates battles that fit with the Spirits you’re battling against while still using the characters in the main roster. For instance, in fighting Dr. Wily’s Spirit, you must fight eight Metal Mega Men, and then Dr. Mario, just like how in Mega Man games you have to defeat the Eight Robot Masters before confronting Dr. Wily himself. The game is chock full of battles like that, which feeds into the core point I want to make here: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is absolutely at its best as a communal experience.
Now, what does that mean? Well, as I said, the game features a huge selection of characters, creatures and even objects from other games as Spirits, and the sheer breadth of games that Ultimate pulls from could have even the most seasoned gamer scratching their heads saying “Wait, who is that?” I did that myself more than a few times with some of the more obscure Castlevania, Fire Emblem characters and Megaman bosses, but luckily for me, my friends Rich, Steve and James were there to enlighten me on who the characters were and why the conditions on their Spirit battles made sense. By that same token, I could do the same when characters from extremely niche or unknown titles made their appearance, such as Raymond Bryce from Disaster: Day of Crisis, a Nintendo Wii game about a man saving people during natural disasters caused by terrorists. The game never made it the USA, but was made known worldwide for its cheesy story and over the top voice acting. Fittingly enough, the fight with his Spirit has the stage experiencing earthquakes or rainstorms periodically. Plus, when I would get stuck on a particular Spirit battle or one of my other friends would get really excited to see one of their beloved characters, I’d hand the controller over to them and we’d experience the game together. Spirits show that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate isn’t just a celebration of Nintendo’s characters. It’s a love letter to all of their video games. The sheer amount of things you can do is outstanding. For that reason, I’m honored to give Super Smash Bros. Ultimate my very first 10 out of 10 rating. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna get right back to playing it!