Nintendo invites us to take things to the ultimate level in Super Smash Bros Ultimate. Part sequel and part compendium of all things Super Smash, Ultimate offers a mindbending amount of content. Deep single player offerings provide countless hours of unlockables, brand new modes and modifiers keep multiplayer exciting, and the inclusion of every character and stage from the franchise’s history rounds out the entire experience. It’s no secret that Super Smash Bros is the best fighting game experience Nintendo has developed. That said, is Super Smash Bros Ultimate the true all encompassing package that has been promised?
Choose Your Fighter
The roster in Ultimate contains every single fighter from the series. It’s a huge list, and considering the variety, can be overwhelming at times. There’s a slew of immediately recognizable faces like Mario, Link, Pac-Man, Pikachu, and dozens of others. Quirkier characters like Mr. Game and Watch are a joy to play, while more technical characters like Shulk take practice and strategy.
Considering the size of the roster, balancing is pretty fair. There are a few very powerful characters, but each character has their own strengths and weaknesses. Whether you love cuddly characters like Kirby or sword wielders like Marth, you’ll never feel less powerful because of your choice. Super Smash Bros Ultimate strikes a good balance between casual enjoyment and high-tier competitive play. The list of characters is inviting and recognizable enough to be inviting, but nuanced enough to keep players invested.
It’s also important to note that you only start with a handful of characters, containing the roster of the original Super Smash Brothers on Nintendo 64. In order to unlock all 76 unique fighters, you’ll have to play for a little while. Simply playing through the Adventure mode, Classic Mode, or local Smash matches with friends will unlock new fighters. I found it the easiest to unlock the roster by playing Classic Mode mixed with Adventure mode, but there are a handful of ways to grind it out. This is both a positive and a negative, depending on your preference. Competitive players will surely want every character available from the start, while more casual players might enjoy unlocking everyone.
Create Your Fighter
Much like Smash for Wii U, Smash Ultimate allows you to create your own custom fighters via the “Mii Fighter” option. You can either select a preexisting Mii, or create one from scratch. Then, you choose whether they are a fighter, swordsman, or gunner. You’re then able to pick their various special moves, add some fun accessories or costumes, and save them for further use.
I had a great time tinkering around with the Mii Fighter creation. It was cool to turn my personal Mii into a fighter, create some of my friends into virtual opponents, and even think up some original characters. It’s a nice feature to still see included, given just how much content is already included in the character roster.
Like the character roster, the stage selection includes every map in the Super Smash Bros series. You can duke it out in a vast number of fun and colorful landscapes from your favorite game series. Battle in the Pokemon Stadium Kanto or duel on Peach’s Castle. There are a few new inclusions as well, including Super Mario Odyssey and Breath of the Wild inspired stages.
Old stages have nice graphical updates, but with some fun heart and personality. Sprite-based Pokemon pop out in retro Pokemon levels, and other small details make the stages feel alive. Most stages are interactive as well, with various hazards and obstacles. Luckily, you can toggle these options off and on to your liking. Customization is a bit part of stage selection, so you’re guaranteed to find something you’ll like.
Choose Your Mode
There’s a ridiculous amount of content in Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and that includes a great list of modes. Besides the fully customizable multiplayer offerings, there’s a crazy among of content for solo players as well. The biggest focus is on the new Adventure mode called “World of Light”. This expansive journey has you collecting spirit cards and leveling them up, all while exploring an overworld map and fighting themed battles.You can also collect spirit cards on the Spirit Board, which resembles a wall of bounties. There are over 1,300 unique cards to collect, which will surely take you months of play.
There’s also Classic Mode, where you’ll take on custom fight ladders for each character. Each ladder is unique, and often ends with a fun boss or cool themed fight. For example, Donkey Kong’s classic mode ladder sees him fighting from the jungle to the streets as he travels to New Donk City.
Take the Fight Online
Super Smash Bros Ultimate also offers online competitive play, with both private and public lobbies. Playing online requires the Nintendo Online service, which will run you an additional few dollars depending how long you wish to subscribe for. Players are able to set their preferred rules (timed match, stock, item availability, etc), and queue up for matchmaking. Besides matchmaking, you can also create a custom arena for you and your friends.
In terms of lag and slowdown, Super Smash Bros Ultimate occasionally falls prey. Some matches are spotless and lag-free, where others are choppy and nearly unplayable. The experience is satisfactory, and is line with past online Smash offerings.
Should You Buy Super Smash Brothers Ultimate?
Generally speaking, Super Smash Brothers Ultimate is a worthy successor in the series and tons of fun to play. There’s a good selection of modes for both competitive and casual fans, with a boatload of customization to boot. The lengthy new Adventure mode provides dozens of hours of solo fun, the new characters and stages are fun to try out, and the overall amount of content is staggering. There are a few balancing issues and some online connectivity problems, but these will most likely get solved with time. That said,what Nintendo has created for Super Smash fans is admirable, as Super Smash Brothers Ultimate is one of the best games on the Nintendo Switch.