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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review (Switch)

The ultimate Super Smash Bros. game is finally here, so grab some friends and some controllers, and get ready for the ultimate crossover fighting series. This game features all the characters and stages from past entries as well as some flashy new techniques to master. Whether you are a newcomer or a veteran, Super Smash Bros. has something for everyone. What are you waiting for? It's time to smash!

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review (Switch)

introduction

At this point, Super Smash Bros. really needs no introduction, but ultimate, is nevertheless, a very ambitious addition to the long-running series that debuted on the N64. It's being labeled the greatest video game crossover of all time and every character and stage from previous entries in the series is available. It's almost overwhelming, and new characters, stages, modes, and franchises have been added to make the game even more grandiose than it already was.

If you were born under a turtle shell, or you're just not a Nintendo person, Super Smash Bros. is a Nintendo series that takes characters from across their franchises (and lots of 3rd party franchises) and puts them in a 2D arena with stage hazards, items galore, and special moves. It's a 2D fighter that is very easy to pick up and play–not requiring the crazy combos of most 2D fighters–but is also very nuanced with stuff like roll dodging and perfect shield maneuvers etc. for more skilled players.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – Accolades Trailer – Nintendo Switch


Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is now out for the Nintendo Switch. Check out the eShop here for regional pricing.

plot

This game doesn't need to have a specific plot per se. Players who want to just brawl can go right into smash mode and just have fun with the traditional smash matches with friends (or solo). You can still unlock characters this way (maybe all of them, not sure).

While the Classic Mode still exists (the traditional one player mode from the original Smash games) it's World of Light–Spirits Mode–that will probably capture players. This is the new mode created for Ultimate, and it is pretty immersive given that Super Smash Bros. isn't really tailored for the single player experience.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review (Switch) World of Light Map
Spirit Mode emphasizes the use of spirits: these are characters from other Nintendo franchises who you equip to gain certain skills in combat. I liked that a lot of these characters were from series not represented in the game. I saw series like Advance Wars and Fatal Frame pop up. Some of the spirits are quite hilarious like Rabbid Kong who is this giant white bear-pig with the DK tie.

There is a beautiful 2D map you walk on that has branching paths and battles. You can choose your route and how you want to explore, but there are obstacles: for example, bodies of water and control panels etc. may require special spirits to traverse. There are opponents, shops, characters to unlock, and unique areas such as caves that require exploration by just the spirits themselves.

You battle enemies, and they also have spirits. Each spirit has a different ability. For example, one may allow you increased speed and jumping ability while one may let you start out with a certain item. the idea is to pair good spirits against the foes to exploit their weaknesses. Luckily the game can automatically do this for you, but you get larger rewards by going into battle weaker.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review (Switch) Master Hands
You can also level up spirits, which makes you stronger in battle. You get items that you can give them to level up faster, which are acquired in battle, and there are assist spirits as well, so you may have a couple spirits helping you at once.

The story is surprisingly robust (20ish hours) and has an actual plot, revolving around the lord of light and dark battling and taking over all your heroes. This mode won't be for everyone, but for those who want a single player experience that is quite unique, and more than just brawling friends, Spirit Mode will keep you occupied for quite a while.

gameplay

Veteran players may want to skip to the "changes" section due to understanding the game mechanics already. 

If you are a smash veteran, you will feel right at home. At its core, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a 2D fighter with some platforming elements and some randomness thrown into the mix via items and stage hazards. Each character has a special set of moves: using the "A" button (I use a Gamecube controller) does regular strikes, and by holding it down, you can unleash more powerful attacks. The "B" button is where each character's special move comes into play. Pressing "B" with a different directional button will result in a different attack. For example, Pikachu's down "B" sends a lightning bolt from the sky that zaps anyone close to it. Pikachu's right/left and "B" sends him flying across the screen in a kamikaze shock attack. Outside of striking, you need to worry about using a shield, and you may also grapple other opponents and toss them.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review (Switch) Ness
You can also alter gameplay settings to fit your specific playstyle. Time mode sees who can get the most kills in an allotted amount of time while stock gives each player a set amount of lives. There is now a stamina mode where you start with a certain amount of HP and taking damage sends that number down. If you fsll to 0HP then you lose.

The items haven't changed much. Smash balls still unleash ultimate attacks, and the staples like the baseball bat, Pokemon balls, and trophies all exist. You can still choose the frequency of when items appear and turn on/off any items you wish.

So you have selected your level, played with the settings, and now it is time to choose a character. You can battle with up to 8 players on screen at once, and unlike the previous game for Wii U, all stages are available with 8 fighters. Computers can be chosen, and they are between level 1 to 9, 9 being the hardest. 

changes

Stage Select

The stage select screen is now chosen before selecting a combatant. This seemingly small change may affect professional players, but I usually like to keep it on random anyway. There are so many levels available that it can be hard to choose from the massive list.

Every level now has two inversions. There is a battlefield form and an omega form. You can also choose any theme music you want for any stage. This means you could listen to some vampire-slaying Castlevania themes while battling on Peach's castle!

There are also four new stages added specifically for this game.

Characters

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has 70 characters (not including DLC). New players will be shocked to see a paltry 8 characters available the first time you play. That's right, you need to unlock characters by playing. You can unlock characters in Smash or Spirit Mode (maybe others), and new fighters will randomly challenge you after matches. If you want a quick tip, there is always a challenge after the initial match after booting the game.

If you lose a challenge, a little door will appear allowing you to challenge them again by choice, although this is not always available.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review (Switch) Mario Vs. Samus
Here is a list of the new characters added to Ultimate. Some are brand new whilst some are echoe forms from previous games (like Dark Samus who shares the same exact move set as Samus). 

  • Ridley  
  • Inkling  
  • Lucina  
  • Dark Pit
  • Daisy
  • King K.rule
  • Simon Belmont
  • Richter Belmont
  • Chrom
  • Dark Samus
  • Isabelle
  • Ken
  • Incineroar
  • Piranha Plant

My only gripe here is that some characters seem completely unnecessary. Why add dark characters as a playable choice when they have the same exact move sets and could just as easily be a skin option for the original character? Characters like Dark Samus and Dark Pit just seem superfluous, and I would have chosen to have a completely new character or fewer fighters overall. 

Fighting Mechanics

While Smash is still Smash, there are a few minor changes that might be bigger than you think (I may not have discovered all of them yet either).  

The first is dubbed "perfect shield". While you can hold your shield and possibly dodge an attack, the perfect shield is guaranteed to parry any blow. You need to tap the shield button (not hold) at the exact moment of an incoming blow. You will avoid it and be able to strike your opponent immediately after.

The second technique is what I will dub the "extended air dodge". You could always press the shield button in mid-air to avoid a blow, but now you can use it for lateral movement as well–to help reach a ledge or move further away from an opponent–and it allows you to glide further to the right or left. You cannot use it in tandem with the up and "B" jump, so it isn't overpowered,  but this could be a game changer for more advanced players.

Special Character Gauges

Certain characters, like Inklings and Little Mac etc. have a special gauge next to their names. Inklings gauge tells her how much ink she has left before needing to recharge, and Little Mac has a K.O meter telling him how powerful his punch will be. Other characters have this too, and it just helps the player's ability to read their own character and assess their next moves.

1 Vs. 1 Matches

1 Vs. 1 matches have a higher damage rate meaning that attacks do more damage. This makes the matches move faster. The damage remains normal with matches involving more than two fighters, but this change may be welcome to people who want the pace to move more quickly.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review (Switch) Ink!

Stage Morph

This is a really neat new feature where you can choose for the stage to change in the middle of a match. You can choose for the stage to morph after a certain amount of time. For example, you may choose the stage to morph after every 1:00 of gameplay.

You can manually choose the stages or go random, but you can only choose two stages for a morph (unless you go random). My friends and I love the feature, though it will cause an occasional suicide death since the level changes can be abrupt.

Graphics and Audio

The graphics look great on the Switch. It runs at 60FPS, and this is crucial since there is just so much happening at any given point in the game. I also tried the game docked, and outside of a very slight resolution drop, the game ran beautifully with no extra slowdown, so have no fear about performance issues.

The graphics themselves are nice, and I especially enjoyed the remastering of some of the older stages from the N64 and Gamecube. The graphics fit the style of Smash, and character sprites look better than ever, but for me, graphics never stand out in a Smash game as much as the gameplay or music.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review (Switch) Character Select
The music comes from all the different franchises. It's really cool to hear classic Mario tunes next to the ripping guitars from F-Zero or the odd woodwind sounds from Pikmin. The songs are well selected and definitely invoke nostalgia and energy into the matches.

I did have a slight gripe with the fact that the stages have random music though. I like the ability to manually change the music if I wish, but I would have preferred each stage had a set musical piece. I want to hear the Saffron City music from Pokemon when I play that stage, not a random tune from the game. Maybe others will enjoy this, but I felt like it detracted from the stages I grew to love so much over the years.

conclusion

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is truly the premium Smash experience we all wanted. It keeps the gameplay completely intact while making a few small changes to keep it interesting. I loved the addition of new maneuvers like perfect shield and stamina mode, and the game ran at 60FPS, even with 8 fighters in handheld mode.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review (Switch) Brawl
The staggering amount of stages and characters can be a bit overwhelming, but I loved some of the new characters, especially Inkling, and it was awesome to see old stages remastered. The ability to have 8 fighters be a playable option on all stages was welcome, and I love the Gamecube controller support. Even without a classic Gamecube controller, the pro controller and joy-cons work as well (those Hori USB Gamecube controllers are excellent).  

World of Light was the best one player campaign ever created in a Smash game, and that adds in a 20-hour experience that enthusiasts will undoubtedly adore.

This is one of the best multi-player games on the Switch, and everything you expected is here plus more. There are 70 fighters, and more to come with DLC. You can play with friends, enter online matches, and the whole experience is classic Smash packaged with lots of cool new features and well-fleshed out gameplay. This is a must-have for almost all Switch owners.

PROSCONS
+ 70 fighters– Some unnecessary characters
+ All stages from past games– Didn't always love random stage music
+ No performance drops– Some bad stages return
+ Wide controller support
+ World of Light is fun
+ Multiplayer goodness
9.5
Amazing

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