Four years after Super Smash Bros. launched on both the 3DS and Wii U, the series returns on Nintendo’s latest console. With the tagline Ultimate, Masahiro Sakurai hopes to give the fans the greatest fighting game experience with new fighters and every single former fighter making a return. Loaded with content and being the final first-party release from Nintendo, we’ll dive in and see if this is the game we’ve always wanted.
Release Date: December 7th, 2018
Approximate Size: 13.6 GB
Genre: Fighting Game
Developed By: Bandai Namco Studios, Sora Ltd.
Published By: Nintendo
Reviewed On Nintendo Switch; Console Exclusive
The story in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate comes in the adventure mode called World Of Light. The plot is pretty straightforward and clear to understand. Galeem is the Lord Of Light and seeks to recreate existence in his own image and has no qualms over sacrificing those who may stand in his way. With an army of Master Hands at his disposal, Galeem decimates and obliterates the game’s fighting roster, with exception of Kirby, and everything up to a galaxy with his powerful blasts. It’s like that scene in Dragon Ball Z when Frieza destroys the Saiyan planet but on a much grander scale. From here, the sole survivor Kirby will embark on a journey to save the remaining cast and other victims. You’ll also be able to switch who you play as after certain time and requirements are met and your journey will conclude with one of three endings.
We live in a time where story modes in Fighting games are not as prevalent as they used to be. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate doesn’t have anything as grand as the story modes in NetherRealm Studios produced games but, then again, Smash doesn’t really need it. The development team could have disregarded a story mode completely and it would have been fine and justifiable with how much content is crammed into the game, but they didn’t, and I appreciate that. For those wanting something on the scale of the wonderful Subspace Emissary will be deeply disappointed. What this game mode does well is open with a strong story cutscene, that is beautifully crafted, and afterwards, you are placed right into the action. The different endings are also a nice touch and I like that the story mode gives you a purpose in saving those who have become victims of Galeem. It also helps that the mode offers challenging, satisfying, and fun gameplay.
At its core, Smash Bros. has always been a fighting game. Over the years we’ve seen mechanics change to cater to those more casual to the genre and we’ve had decisions made to focus onto the hardcore players. Ultimate completes the vision, it takes the form of a fighting game that is not only accessible to those not entirely enthralled to the genre but also has more than enough substance available to keep the hardcore gamer engaged. Sakurai and his team have finally reached the perfect balance that they have no doubt been searching for, and anyone and everyone can have enjoyment with this game. Before I break down every mode, let me detail the core aspect of this game and how it performs: the actual fighting. Every fighter has a block button, a grab, you can use the left thumbstick to jump beside two face buttons, there is a button for normal combos, and you have a button dedicated for more special attacks. On the surface, this seems simple, casual, but as you alter the direction of the left stick you will see different attacks or modified ones and knowing when to chain these different types of attacks together can make a strong difference in the outcome in a fight. This also makes mastery of a fighter not as easy as one may have expected at first glance. You’ll also learn that some grabs can save you from falling off the stage, holding down some face buttons can result in a more powerful attack, and the double jumping into an up special can save you from falling to your death. This is, at the barest of bones, the core aspect of the fighting in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Character mastery and knowing what moves to use and when to use them is only one layer of combat. Smash Bros. has never been about fighting one on one to see who the best player is based on skill alone, though the option is available to play that way; it has always been about the chaos that presents itself through the various items one can use. Playing with items on, normal rules, you have many items you can use to fight off opponents. Various different versions of swords, guns, and bombs are available to knockout you and other players from the fighting stage. There are even more obscure weapons and items you can use, like a flower that drains life from whoever is hit by it, a plate of food that will cause fire to come out of your character because it’s spicy, and there are several weapons that require a set of three pieces to collect that will result in a weapon that can kill, depending on damage taken, with one hit. The most important of all the items, however, can be the now iconic Smash Ball. The fight for this item will stir everything into a frenzy as players desperately try to land the final hit that causes it to break and gives that player access to their special. The special is a cinematic finisher that will more than likely kill opponents with one hit. Some of these items and weapons are unique to the Smash Bros. franchise and some are taken from the games represented by the fighters present. Let us not forget the Assist Trophies and Poke balls.
Assist Trophies are exactly as the name implies, a trophy that houses a fighter inside who will assist the player who uses it. These fighters range from a large cast of characters from different franchises with no fighter available, such as Akira Yuki from Virtua Fighter, and some from represented franchises like Gray Fox from Metal Gear Solid. It is so cool, not exactly the most professional phrase but one that encompasses the feelings completely, so see these characters interact with the main cast. Poke balls act exactly as they have in their own franchise and cartoons, they have Pokémon within them. Using the Poke ball will unleash that Pokémon upon your opponents. The abilities and range of these Pokémon are, like every single aspect of this game, impressive. You have some that require players to be in close proximity, for such abilities as to put players asleep, some are directional, and some can attack at full screen. Factor in the Master Balls and you have a spectacular sight on screen. With all the items and weapons, there is yet another layer to factor in when it comes to gameplay and that rests within the environments. Not all environments are a simple plain with some elevation where players can fight to victory, no; some stages are hazards in their own right. For example, some stages constantly move, change, and have hazards of their own. Some characters work with some stages and some are at a disadvantage on these stages. You have to know these strengths and weaknesses. Locations like the Spirit Train and Rainbow Cruise will have you constantly on the move with platform elements and stages like the Pokémon Stadiums are constantly changing environmental conditions that you have to adapt on the fly with caution.
With all of these different elements of gameplay, how do you win? The goal is to cause enough damage to your opponent that a more powerful hit or combination will send them flying off screen for the K.O. Most will play, offline and socially, in this Smash mode and here you can customize the rules. You can make it so there are no items, a certain selection of items, or everything. As for how long a match will play out, you have two options: Time and Stock. To win within the Time option is it comes down to who can get the most K.O.s within the time amount selected, with a time limit set between one minute and infinite. In the Stock mode, you can choose between each character having one life or up to one hundred and the last player standing will be the winner. There may be times where you find yourself in a situation where two players kill each other at the same exact time or the time runs out and you and another player have gotten the same amount of K.O.s. When this happens, you enter Sudden Death where each player has one life and three hundred per cent damage. Normally, one hit would end things but I’ve been in, and have seen, fights where this just makes a more technical fighting display happen as both players tactically try to end things while staying alive. With anywhere between one to eight players, or NPCs, you can have some of the most chaotic or technical fighting game experiences imaginable and with this massive roster and nearly endless amounts of items to use, this is the pinnacle of what fighting games can, and should, be.
Squad Strike is an interesting mode where you have the concept of three versus three, or five versus five, in competitive fighting where each team member takes turns entering the fight. This is broken into three modes within it, regardless if you choose 3V3 or 5V5, and those are Tag Team, Elimination, and Best Of. Starting with Tag Team, each player will choose their fighters (Pro Tip: after you pick a character, click their icon to change their costume). Once both players or you chose for the CPU, then you can select the order in which you use the fighters. Once that’s selected, you’ll begin the fight and it will be represented by Stock with each life representing the other characters you selected. For example, my first team was Bayonetta, Incineroar, and Donkey Kong. When the fight started, Bayonetta started off the fight but when she was finally defeated, Donkey Kong became my playable character. This continues on both sides until only one character remains, resulting in victory. Elimination works similar to Tag Team but instead of lives working as Stock, things take on a more gauntlet style approach. Every time a fighter is eliminated, it goes down to the next fighter and a new stage is picked. This continues until one side has had all their members defeated. Finally, we have Best Of. Best Of places your characters against one another in a timed one on one battle. Your order will face off against the opponent and the way to be declared the winner is to win the majority of the battles. So, if you choose three versus three, you would need to win two of the battles to win completely. This is a nice mode and great for playing socially with friends and, if I’m being honest, it was actually fun to play against the CPU.
This is the tournament mode or King Of The Ring for WWE enthusiasts, and it allows between four and thirty-two players to fight. The game utilizes a bracket system, as most tournament style games and events do, and you can put in CPU fighters if you are playing solo or with little real-world friends. The game does offer whether you want these fights to be one on one affairs in the first round or you have round one be against three or four fighters. Semifinals will be one versus one, however, and so will be the final encounter. Once you choose all of this, you’ll be able to customize and set the rules to your tournament. After this has been done, you’ll choose your character and be placed in the bracket. There is no stage selection as its all randomized with different stages used for different fights. The game offers the option to shuffle opponents around or you can just get right into it. Fights you’re not participating in, such as CPU only fights, you can choose to either skip it and have a winner simulated or you can watch the fight for yourself and see who the better CPU fighter was. Here you’ll climb through the ranks until you make it to the finals and win or lose somewhere in between and be out of contention to be the king of this tournament. Once you finish and win the tournament, you’ll be declared the champion. Overall, it’s a really fun mode and perfect for parties to see who the best Smash player amongst family and friends is.
The first mode you’ll come across in this selection is Custom Smash and you’ll actually find a nice selection of custom effects you can add to a fighter. You can change the size of the characters, add a head effect, add some effect to the fighter’s body, give them a certain status, change how heavy they’ll feel in battle, customize the speed in which they move, and you can even mess with the camera angle. One of the most chaotic games I’ve ever played was when I turned everyone mini with the bunny head effect, which makes everyone move faster, and I made everyone clear while decreasing the weight of each fighter and increasing player speed to fast. With the camera angled and only the Reflect status to identify where players were, it was beautiful chaos. I still don’t know what was going on, what I did, or how I was able to come in second, but I do know we all had an absolute blast embracing the chaos together. This is one of the best party modes you and your family and friends can engage in because of how bizarre and crazy it can get.
This is a really cool mode that was shown off earlier in one of the Directs but I had forgotten all about it until we tested it at a family event. Essentially how this mode will work, after selecting your rules, is going through a series of matches until you’ve either gone through the entire roster or finished the number of battles you wanted to partake in. The catch, however, is that once a character is selected, they cannot be used in the next round. This makes it so there is a race to choose your favorite characters or the ones you are proficient with, before others. This mode has been one of the best ones to make it into this franchise and adds some variety to the wonderful formula of fighting each other. It was interesting to see who would choose which character first because of either their love for that character, because they are fairly good with that fighter, or to pick them out of spite so another cannot. Not being able to choose the stage will also play a role into things because you may select a character who is terrible at a certain stage, a real sign of Karma for stealing my character (you know who you are).
SUPER SUDDEN DEATH
So, you want to talk about destructive chaos? This mode can either provide you with some of the most tactical, cautious, gameplay or a frenzy of destruction because a single hit can result in an instant K.O. What ends up happening after you set your rules and select your stage, every fighter will start with three hundred per cent damage. I’ve seen one of two things happen, depending on the situation. In one on one encounters, me and the other player faced off like we were the finalist in the EVO tournament and played in the most strategic and careful way possible. When I played with four players, it turned into 80’s WWE where our characters went into a chaotic cocaine frenzy instant death because we rushed each other button mashing for those instant kills. Don’t sleep on this mode, give it a try because it’s actually really fun and blast with friends.
WORLD OF LIGHT (ADVENTURE MODE)
This is Smash’s story mode and the best way for newcomers to learn the game. I also found this to be the best place to learn what Spirits are, what their purpose is, and how they work. When you first enter this mode, you’ll choose your difficulty and watch the opening cinematic cutscene, which is beautiful, before taking control of Kirby and beginning the journey through the World Of Light. You’ll travel the gorgeous, painting-like, overworld and engage in battles to proceed forward and unlock both characters and spirits. The way it works, the battles, is when you select them, you’ll notice that a Spirit has control over that character that stands in your way. These Spirits can act as buffs, debuffs, and other effects. You’ll encounter Spirits that can grant you the ability to be immune to fire, make it so armor is increased, and many other tweaks to the general gameplay that really alters the way the game is played and how you’ll approach an encounter. What makes Spirits particularly wonderful and special is that they take on the form of other characters across all the various properties owned by all the major publishers and developers represented within the game. You’ll see characters and creatures from the Legend Of Zelda series, the Metal Gear franchise, Street Fighter series, and a plethora of others. Spirits, I’m convinced, are innumerable because there are just way too many. Not only that, they change perks and how they look visually as you level them up. It’s remarkable and makes you truly appreciate Nintendo as you’re filled in awe at just how large this game truly is. Not only that, but it’s on a tiny little handheld machine that you would never believe has the capacity to run it.
Anyways, your goal is to go through the World Of Light to reach the final boss and liberate the galaxy, achieving one of three endings. It’s a game of balance, where you have to find the Spirit that counteracts the one the enemy has, when possible, in order to win. Sometimes you’ll find encounters where it doesn’t really matter what Spirit if any, you have equipped but you will find some where it can make all the difference. World Of Light has a lot of substance to it, a lot more than I would have ever imagined. What makes this mode really, truly special are the hidden Easter eggs and secrets within it. I’ll leave it there in terms of hidden special areas because I don’t want to spoil anything but there are a lot of cool things in this mode, I would have never expected Sakurai and his team to include. This further has me scratching my head because of how much has been crammed into this game on a tiny cartridge.
This is similar to daily challenges found in other games in other franchises but in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate it centres around the Spirits. These events can last for five minutes or longer and offer some of the most challenging scenarios this game can present. What you’ll want to do is select the event you want to challenge, select your fighter, and choose the Spirits you want to aid you in battle. This goes back to what I mentioned in the World Of Light section, you want your selection too, at the very least, even the odds to make these challenges actually accomplishable. If you are successful, you’ll enter a minigame in which you’ll have to shoot a laser at the character as a semicircle spins around him. Should you miss your shot, it simply damages the circle and increases the opening for next time. This is my most frustrating fun mode when playing solo because you find some nearly impossible scenarios here that result in the most satisfying feelings upon successfully overcoming them. It also makes the Spirits feel more premium, more special, because you have to earn them, and it makes the ones already unlocked serve a greater purpose because they can make a real, actual difference. One success Nintendo has found with Spirits is that they have made me want them all and want to level them up, thus keeping me engaged with this game for a long, long time.
In this area you’ll find the ability to see what Spirits you have unlocked and how many remain, you’ll also be able to level up your Spirits and sacrifice the ones you don’t want by dismissing them. The Spirits that have been sacrificed will give you cores that can be used to summon other Spirits. It’s a nice one spot for all ecosystem for the Spirit mechanics in the game, allowing you to enter and take care of all your needs concerning Spirits. You can even create preset Spirit team set up that you can use on the fly in other Spirit areas.
All this talk of Spirits and all the mechanics surrounding it can seem overwhelming by reading this review and seeing its own section on the main menu but it’s actually not. Nintendo has done a great job at streamlining it all and making it all user-friendly with its simple and clean menu system and explanations littered throughout the game. Trust me, you have nothing to worry about and you should definitely dive head first into this area and these mechanics of Smash because they are pretty neat and completely fantastic.
When you first enter this mode, you’re given two choices: Smash and Spectate. Let’s knock the Spectate section out of the way because I haven’t spent much time here and I don’t think anyone really will. When you go here the game will find you a match to watch, randomly and very, very quickly. I was actually pretty surprised how quickly it found a game and how smooth the whole thing ran, thus making it a nice novelty mode for anyone who wants to watch a quick game or two before venturing off into online combat for themselves. With that out of the way, let’s Smash. Quickly, for those who have grown to appreciate the mechanic, Background Matchmaking is present in this game. Within the Smash section, you’ll be given two choices: Quickplay and Battle Arenas. The way Quickplay works is the following: you’ll set up your preferred rules on how you want to play, and the game will search for the quickest game that matches as close to your rules as possible. Now, I’m a simple guy and, so, when I first heard this was the route they were going, I instantly hated it. Super Smash Bros. Wii U/3DS had a more simplified and clean approach to matchmaking as that was: For Glory or For Fun. I much prefer that because it was the best way to place you in the type of fighting you wanted to engage in. Want to play chaotically with a bunch of items and weapons? Then you would have selected For Fun but if you wanted a more tournament style fight, you’d select For Glory. It is, in my opinion, hands down the best way to do things in this type of game.
With that out of the way, the route they’ve decided to go in this iteration of Smash is slowly winning me over. More often than not, I am placed in the type of game I want to be in. Yes, there are times where I’m thrown into a set of rules I didn’t particularly want to participate in but it’s so rare and this game is so much fun to play that I didn’t mind the occasional hiccup in where I was placed. It helps that the online experience is silky smooth and out of, I couldn’t even begin to number how much online I’ve played, I’ve only had a handful of less than desirable experiences. I still think the Wii U/3DS handled online better in terms of player placement, but this Switch version is way better than I thought and, well, I’ve been forced to eat my words.
Battle Arena is similar to the Battle Lounge in Street Fighter V. Essentially these are rooms created by either you or another player with a set of rules and you all fight one another within these parameters to see who will reign supreme. The setup, however, is unlike any game I’ve seen implement a similar mode before. Each player has a token and they put them in the ring to fight, can put them in literal seating stands to spectate about, or remain on the ramp to form a line to enter the battle next. It’s all designed sleek and implemented well, it’s also another area in which Nintendo can take something done in other games and twist them to perfection in their own. Oh, yeah, if your one of the people who use the phone app, you can use it here to chat with other players.
Note: nearly all other modes in this game support local multiplayer on one system and/or local wireless with another Switch owner.
GAMES & MORE
You’ll find quite a few modes and things to do here. First off, it’s here you’ll find the Amiibo section where you can train Amiibo fighters and use them in other player’s games or test yourself against them. I’ll be honest that I haven’t really messed around with the Amiibo functionality here, but I have faced off against a maxed out Amiibo fighter and they are no joke. Seriously, it’s some next level stuff. This section also houses where you can create your Mii Fighters, customize them, and choose the fighting style for them. At first, the choices are slim but a lot of Mii customization options will be unlocked over the course of playing the game, which was both unexpected and appreciated. Mob Smash is also here, and this is a gauntlet style mode in three variants: Century Smash, All-Star Smash, and Cruel Smash. Century Smash will see you fight against one hundred Mii Fighters with the goal being to defeat all of them as fast as you can. This can get competitive and addictive, especially when competing against other friends and family. All-Star Smash is all about survival to see how long you can last against the entire roster of characters. Cruel Smash is exactly as the title suggests, it’s cruel. Here you’re once again facing off against Mii Fighters only this time they are at maxed level and the CPU is unforgiving. I’m not bitter, I’m not. I’m not…
Training Mode is also here and its pretty deep, even adding a layer that other fighting games don’t have. In this game mode, you’ll choose a stage and a fighter and be placed on a large grid-like area in the Training Stage. This grid shows you some pretty helpful things, your characters abilities, their strengths, and their weaknesses. You’ll be able to see how far an attack can send an opponent and how their damage can change that. For example, at the very beginning, a strong attack may not send another fighter very far but damage them a certain amount and that very same attack will send them flying farther. You want to be a viable threat at EVO or any other fighting game tournament, dive deep into this mode because you can do a lot here with just using that grid structure to your advantage. Another element that compliments the grid well is the option to set a Trajectory Guide which will show you where your opponent will land based on how damaged they are, giving you three arrows of a predicted path for zero, fifty, and one hundred per cent damage. You can also mess with the frame’s speed, add more fighters, and input items. You also have other options found in similar modes in other fighting games, such as how you want the CPU to act and how much damage you want them to have. This mode shows the commitment from Sakurai and his team to those more competitive players because they have implemented an astounding amount of study material for the next World Warriors out there.
Classic Mode is the first mode you’ll stumble across here and I saved it for last because, if you’ve been reading my fighting game reviews, I’m always emphasizing the importance of Arcade Mode in fighting games. I don’t understand, nor will I ever approve of a fighting game launching without one because it’s usually one of very few single player offerings in this era of online multiplayer and social battling. With all of that said, if any fighting game could get away with not having an Arcade Mode, that’s this game. Truth be told, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is loaded with content to the point that there is so much that an Arcade-like mode being omitted is fine. However, like the Sakurai Meme “don’t ask me for anything”, Arcade Mode is here under the name Classic Mode because this is the ultimate fighting game with everything in it. The way the mode works is, you’ll choose your fighter, you’ll pick an intensity for the CPU, and defeat six enemies and a boss fight. Now the intensity has a risk/reward element to it in that the harder you make it the better points you’ll get but enemies will be more vicious. Also, keep in mind, the better you do, the harder the CPU will be as it will continually increase. If at any point, you lose, you can use coins to continue right where you left off with the CPU retaining the damage it had when it killed you and with the intensity lowered. If you use a Ticket, you can continue without the intensity lowered. Now, don’t freak out, the game does not have microtransactions and gold is plentiful and rewarded for everything you do in every game mode. After the first five encounters, you’ll be treated to a Bonus Game. These give you a little breather before fighting the sixth fighter, but they can be intense as you race to complete it, also be careful to not get caught up with collecting items because that carelessness to what you are running from could kill you. Failure does not result in losing the mode completely. Boss fights are intense, that’s all I’ll say. No Joy Cons were harmed in playing Classic Mode until successful completion or from writing this review.
Moving along, the best part of this mode is how the paths are themed around the fighters. Based on what fighter you select, you’ll hear that character’s music from their franchise and fight on arena against characters that could fit within their worlds. It’s a wonderful touch, an extra mile so to speak, that Sakurai and his team didn’t have to do but did so anyway because that’s what they do; they give players more than they could ever ask. Beating this mode will get you Mii costumes, currency, Spirits, and other little things. No run ever feels unfulfilling and you always get something for trying. Play this mode, support Arcade Modes, and always Smash. Take that last part how you will.
Last, but certainly not least, we have the Vault. You’ll find all your statistics, a list of challenges that unlock awesome artwork and in-game character photos, watch videos, and listen to all the fantastic music in the game. You can also find some tips that even break down the fighters themselves and an in-game shop where you can spend the gold you’ve earned from playing the game. There is also an e-shop icon to go to the Nintendo Switch Online Store to buy the Season Pass and/or upcoming fighters. What is there left to say? Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is overflowing with content, modes, and unlockables. The game is filled with challenges and everything is earned through dedication to the game and the immense amount of fun this game provides. This is the greatest iteration of Smash Bros. ever. This is the greatest fighting game ever. Those two statements might be polarizing and hard to swallow but what game out there in this genre can say they offer a roster of over seventy fighters and a plethora of content for every kind of player? Ultimate is the standard bearer now and I hope this inspires other fighting games to take similar approaches. Why can’t other fighting games offer every fighter from previous iterations? Why can’t we see more fighting games implement more single player offerings?
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a beautiful game. Starting with the stages, you will not find a game that comes in with this sheer amount of locations and effects. Smash literally has it all. Ancient castles made of bricks, locations made of wood, and places with both. Depending on its purpose, the stones can be made to look worn from natural environmental erosion or new as if recently refurbished. You can fight in locations filled with lava, heat that could cause the average person to faint because of the blazing temperatures surrounding the stage. Likewise, you have locales that are surrounded by deep blue oceans and others that have clear waterfalls upon what could be a crystal flooring. The newer stages are welcomed additions, especially the Castlevania castle, and the older ones have been polished to fit perfectly in the upcoming 2019 standards of gaming. There isn’t a stage that doesn’t measure up, they are all wonderfully gorgeous battle stages to test one’s mettle to see who is the ultimate smash brother. The Wind Waker stage, in particular, has you fighting on a boat as the ship battles against the rough waves and, then, rain pours down viciously. The entire presentation as a whole is spectacular and impressive when you remember what you’re playing this gorgeous game on.
Speaking of effects, this game has some of the best. Any and every effect you can imagine is more than likely present in this game. An insane amount of detail that only a Mastermind could possibly come up with, and there is no doubt this team is filled with them. Fire effects, depending on the purpose of the attack and what it comes from, may simply slightly burn a character or engulf them in flames. Lightning attacks shock characters with varying degrees of electrical shock. Ice effects have characters frozen solid or, if it’s a part of a stage plot, have them tripping or sliding. Explosions are grand and extravagant. I could literally go on and on with the amazing effects in this game. Animations in this game are equally impressive with this massive roster each having their own unique walking, crawling, sprinting, or crouching movements, etc. Even the different versions of Link have different animations between them despite their similar move sets. It’s all overwhelmingly impressive. In a good way of course. Equally impressive are the effects you don’t see and this goes back to the developers being masters of their craft, an example being that you can’t use assist trophy Alucard on Wii Fit Trainer’s stage due to it all being mirrors and vampires have no reflection. What? Who thinks of that? The mid-game level switching is also an impressive technical feat that I am still in awe of every time it takes place. Video games are freakin’ awesome.
Character models are well crafted, and each character is faithfully recreated and implemented into the game. Not only does this game boast a roster of over seventy characters but each one of those characters have eight costumes each; yes, some of them just change color but others are actual different clothing and armor. Mario, for example, has his different colored trademark overalls but he also has a wedding costume and Mario Maker outfit. Another example is Link, who primarily has his Breath Of The Wild outfits in different colors but also has his Tunic Of The Wild. One of the most magical things this game does is take all of these different characters from different universes and games and make them all feel concurrent and never out of place. They even go as far as to keep some characters within their original art style, with minor tweaks I’d imagine, and they still don’t feel out of place. Toon Link is still in his cell-shaded graphical style and he fits perfectly in the game and doesn’t stick out when fighting a more realistic looking character, like say Snake from the Metal Gear franchise.
Assist trophies and items are also polished with a quality that is second to none. Some of them are detailed to a level the naked eye cannot appreciate, but thankfully the game provides methods to pause and zoom in on this great craftsmanship. The Assist Trophies that look the best are those that look as if they were pulled from their games and directly pasted into Smash Bros. Seeing Knuckles from the Sonic series looking just as vibrant and great as he did back on the Genesis just hits you with a wave of nostalgia. Likewise, seeing the blocky Sega Saturn polygonal figure of Akira Yuki from the Virtua Fighter series is absolutely stunning and a nice nod to the progression graphical capabilities of gaming has reached. One stand out feature this game has that I wasn’t expecting to be impressed with, or even notice, to be honest, is the lighting engine. The light in this game, particularly the sunset and sun rays, are really well done. Take a moment when you have a chance and are playing in one of the castle fighting stages and really soak in how much of a big improvement it is, more evident when compared to the version released on Nintendo WiiU.
The graphics in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are, well… smashing. The game runs like a dream with no hiccups, pop-ins, or graphical or performance issues of any kind. The game is colorful, vibrant, with the entire spectrum of the color wheel in use in some way or form. Character models are detailed and faithful to their designs and the games they come from. Assist Trophies also have received the same love and care as the fighter, as well as the items present. Stages and locations you’ll be fighting on are varied and colorful as well. The in-game effects, across all the modes and stages, are also polished and produced with the highest quality possible. The lighting in the game is something they could have gotten away with not showing a lot of attention to but, like everything else, it’s beautiful and no corners were cut. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a gorgeous game that has received a level of love and care, a level of attention to detail, that most will never see and we probably won’t see, to this degree, until the inevitable sequel years from now.
From the very moment you start Super Smash Bros. Ultimate you are greeted by an anime-inspired opening that really begins to hype you up before playing. The vocals are solid, the lyrics as well, and the accompanying video package really reminds everyone that this is a celebration of an iconic franchise. Not only that, the grand scope of the melody that plays shows that there were no restraints on budget or on what the development team could do. It’s also pretty catchy. The rest of the tracks that are available in the game are from a wide range of franchises, which are represented by the fighters. Hundreds upon hundreds of musical selections for your ears to enjoy and every single one of them are fantastic. Despite that, let’s say you hate wonderful music, you can change the frequency in which a track plays or choose the track you want to listen to on repeat. In one of the Nintendo Directs, there was a scene in which a woman puts her headphones in her Switch, goes to the Smash music selection, and plays music while she continues on with her life. Do not sleep on this feature, it helped get this review written in a noisy environment.
With the excellent music out of the way, let’s get into the sound effects. It’s impressive, with so many items available, that there are a plethora of unique sounds. Whether it impacts or pick up, you can readily identify what the item is before seeing it. This is a huge advantage to a player engaged in a fight to be able to know what another player is up to. Some weapons can even let you know how much damage you’ll receive, whether it’s an instant kill or light damage, based on its sound. For example, the bar has it’s normal sound when it’s damaging the player and another sound once it’s powered up to launch you into the ether. Character movement sounds are different based on how they manoeuvre and how heavy, or light, they are. Sprints sound different from walking and the sound that plays seconds before eliminating a player is extremely satisfying, almost like a cherry placed at the top of a cake.
The menu sounds nice as well and character voices and sound effects, such as screams and grunts, are all reprised. It’s wonderful to hear Bayonetta sound like Bayonetta and for Young Link to sound like he did back in his N64 days, meanwhile Adult Link sounds as he’s supposed to and, yet, different from his younger counterparts. It may seem odd to praise this, but they could have taken an easy way out and tried to do something different but I’m grateful they didn’t. The little voice acting the game provides is also nicely done. Do note that hearing and seeing these iconic characters may hit you with a strong desire to play those games they come from. For example, I’ve started to reply Bayonetta again and have considered playing Ocarina of Time again.
The sound selection and design are at the highest level available in gaming. The development team have gone out of their way to give everyone what they want, and maybe what they didn’t know they wanted, in grand excess. Each character sounds how they are supposed to, each weapon and attack has a sound that suits it, and even the menus have audible care put into them. This review doesn’t do the game justice, doesn’t fully capture all the feelings and emotions you’ll feel as you play this game. That siren that plays when a new Challenger approaches fill you with a mix of adrenaline and excitement that few experiences can mimic.
A ton of care and love went into Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, a crazy ridiculous amount of detail into every minuscule piece of the game. It’s remarkable how much is here on the surface and even more so on the hidden things that you wouldn’t know until you accidentally discovered it. Masahiro Sakurai and his team deserve the upmost praise because of how much content and polish is presented in this game, which is arguably the greatest fighting game of all time. No game comes close to the amount of content here, to this level of polish, to all the effects, graphical capabilities, sound design, music selection, and character roster. There is something here for everyone and the game runs like a dream.
What it all comes down to are two things: Is game is good or bad? Is it fun or is it not? Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a blast to play, pure enjoyment and happiness when I’m engaged in this game. This is a great game, a phenomenal one, and the perfect exclamation point for Nintendo to end the year. What’s scary about all of this is that the Switch is only entering its third year and has a lot more coming to this amazing platform, and this also makes it possible for Smash to receive years or updates and additional content. I can’t wait. All I’ve wanted to do since buying this game was play it. It’s a fantastic fighting game for the complete spectrum of gamers, from casuals to the more hardcore, and it has made me disregard all other games. Don’t send help, I’m ecstatic.