Review – Super Smash Bros Ultimate
When I played Super Smash Bros Ultimate at E3 2018, I wrote about how great the gameplay felt, but I wasn’t impressed with the show floor demo on account of the small number of characters as stages available at the time. Little did I know what Masahiro Sakurai was cooking up behind the scenes. After playing this game for more than forty hours, I can safely say Super Smash Bros Ultimate is the best Super Smash Bros. ever made. Yes, even better than the “untouchable” Melee.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate is a love letter to the Smash Bros franchise. This game features every single character from the history of the series, over a hundred stages, tons of modes and collectibles, and the best gameplay the series has seen yet.
The gameplay is the perfect combination of the accessibility of Super Smash Bros for Wii U and 3DS and the sheer speed of Melee. The game runs at 60fps even when there are eight players onscreen, with the exception of a few online lag issues. A few new moves have been added in order to balance things out, most noticeably the addition of a Final Smash meter. Throughout the match, if you keep beating people up or if people keep beating you up, you’ll slowly but surely fill up a meter located underneath your damage counter. You don’t need to constantly hunt for Final Smash icons anymore, as this addition allows for anyone to unleash their character’s best attacks no matter the level of skill. As always, purists can turn this setting off.
When it comes to new fighters, well, Super Smash Bros Ultimate didn’t add a lot of new ones. Yes, we’ve all heard multiple times that this game would include every single character that had previously appeared in any game in the series, but we all know a lot of them are pretty much useless, like Pichu, Dr. Mario and god damn Dark Pit. Some of the new additions were just reskins, such as Daisy and Dark Samus, while others turned out to be a bit underwhelming, most notably the disappointment that is Ridley. Then again, I honestly didn’t care due to the single fact that both Simon and Richter Belmont are amazing additions to the roster. Their move-set is creative and loyal to the source material; the same can be said about their respective stages.
Unlike Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, new characters weren’t the main focus of this game. Masahiro heard your complaints about the previous iteration of the franchise, and added a brand new single-player adventure mode called World of Light. If Nintendo was any other publisher, I can safely say World of Light would have been released as a full-priced standalone game. This mode is just immense. Combining elements from tabletop games, RPGs and exploration adventure titles, this is a gigantic world you have to explore, all while collecting new characters and “spirits” in order to beef up your stats.
The spirits are this game’s combination of both the trophies and Brawl‘s stickers. When I first heard that Super Smash Bros Ultimate wouldn’t feature trophies for the first time since Melee, I was a bit disappointed. I loved spending hours collecting those things and spending even more hours just strolling through my collection. Then again, when I noticed the sheer amount of spirits you can collect in both World of Light and another separate event mode called Spirit Board, I stopped caring. There are thousands of spirits to unlock and collect, and you can even fuse them in order to create even more spirits.
The good old classic mode has also been massively revamped. Gone are the randomized battles. Each of the 70+ characters has his/her/its own campaign, with some of them being themed after the respective franchise the character came from. Bayonetta‘s campaign has her fighting solely against white winged characters in order to resemble angels, with Palutena as the final boss. Snake fights a huge tank as his final boss, paying homage to Metal Gear. Ryu’s campaign, on the other hand, features trap-free stages with no extra platforms and a focus on stamina fights, paying homage to the Street Fighter franchise; the list goes on.
At the end of each campaign, you will be able to fight against and unlockable character. You’ll do that a lot, given the fact you start the game with only the original eight fighters from the first Super Smash Bros. Those fights are completely random: my first unlocked character ended up being Inkling from Splatoon, while a friend of mine had Pac-Man as his first unlocked fighter. You can also trigger these fights by completing a handful of events on Spirit Board mode, as well as during the World of Light campaign. In the latter, those fights aren’t randomized, though.
If you think I’m done with talking about how much content this game has, you’re dead wrong. I need to talk about Super Smash Bros Ultimate‘s score, and dear lord this is colossal. Let’s just say that the game features more than nine hundred tracks to choose from. Nine hundred. Want some Castlevania music? You got it. Want Jump Up Super Star? You got it. Want music from 1080 Snowboarding? Believe it or not, you got it. Super Smash Bros Ultimate features more tracks in its soundtrack than the average person has in his/her Spotify account.
If I had to point out one minute flaw in this game, that’ll be the visuals. No, Super Smash Bros Ultimate isn’t an ugly game, it’s actually ridiculously colorful and it runs well both on docked and handheld modes, but this is basically a Wii U game running on the Switch. Main characters are well built and animated, and so are the arenas, but any other character besides the main ones almost always suffers from having lower quality textures. The only real exception I could think of regarding this situation was Monster Hunter‘s Rathalos.
There’s not a lot else to say about Super Smash Bros Ultimate. With the exception of just a few minute nitpicks here and there, this is the ultimate realization of Masahiro Sakurai’s project. This is a love letter to gaming, one mammoth-sized work of art with more content and enjoyment than dozens of games combined. This is going to be the game that’ll finally make Melee players rethink about which Smash Bros game is the best, as there’s no more competition. Ultimate is the game to own on the Nintendo Switch. Your rooftop parties will never be the same.
For all intents and purposes, it’s the same graphic fidelity you’ve seen on the Wii U. Charming colors and rock-solid 60fps at all times, coupled with the occasional poor texturing.
Very fast-paced and very responsive. The controls are pristine like a Super Smash Bros game should have. Playing on a Pro Controller was phenomenal. While the Joycons are also decent in their own right, playing the game in portable mode for extended periods is uncomfortable.
There are more killer tunes in this game than on the average person’s Spotify account.
Fun Factor: 10
Super Smash Bros Ultimate has more content than all of the previous Smash games combined. This is a game you’ll play non-stop for the next five years.
Final Verdict: 9.5
Super Smash Bros Ultimate is available now on Nintendo Switch.