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"Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" Review

By Jared Gendron
On February 15, 2019

If you are familiar with the realm of modern entertainment, then you no doubt know of Nintendo’s titan of a game franchise “Super Smash Bros.” Really, just ask anybody– every answer will be different. “It’s a party game,” “Yeah my little brother plays that,” “I actually happen to be quite versed in the brothers of smashing, and will definitely whoop your butt in a match sir– items off, of course.” Every entry in the series has been highly acclaimed and offers an endless array of replay value. The latest crossover to come to Nintendo Switch, “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate”, is an ambitious amalgamation of ideas and trends that span from older games of the series. Casual and diehard fans will appreciate the lengths Nintendo went to satisfy their smashing-sweet tooth, and then some. From the game’s E3 2018 reveal: “Everyone is Here!”, and truly, everything is here!

Whether you’ve heard of the name in passing or you’re a lifelong fan of the series, the “Super Smash Bros.” series means something different to everybody. Although the gameplay can be categorized as a “platform fighting game,” “Super Smash Bros.” is gifted with the uniqueness of being one of the most versatile video game series on the market; with a wide assortment of modes, options, music, characters, and stages, the series is remarkable in letting each individual player fine-tune their playing preferences to cater to their ideal experience. The series has built itself a legacy spanning two decades.

Each entry since “Super Smash Bros. Melee” was designed to lean more on the side of casual and beginner-friendly gameplay, implementing more randomization, slower attacks, and fewer options for characters to utilize in a competitive space. The design behind “Ultimate” is a response to community outcry for more “offensive” combat. Series director Masahiro Sakurai tailors each game based on the state of the gaming industry and the game console it was developed for; systems like the Wii and Wii U were marketed for casual player base, and controllers such as the Wiimote and 3DS needed to be taken into account when balancing gameplay speed. With Nintendo catering towards their core fans with a Switch, there is no better time to go all out with Smash, both in the gameplay department and content-wise.

If you’re worried about things to do as you go into “Ultimate,” fear not because this game has a wide array of modes to sink hours into. Smash prides itself for being a game which can be played in many different ways, and “Ultimate” is no exception. Have enough controllers for everybody on the couch? Head into the eponymous “Smash” mode and duke it out in a free-for-all! Up to 8 players can tussle it out on over 100 stages, and with over 70 characters to pick from, no two matches will be alike. There is simply an indescribable amount of battle conditions and matchups in this game to keep your battles fresh. In casual play especially, items and stages help to keep each battle action-packed and full of surprises. If a fairer, more traditional mode of combat is what you’re clamoring for, then you will be pleased to find that in this edition. The pacing of the battles is fine-tuned to service both a casual and competitive crowd. Just to name a few additions: 1-on-1 battles have been sped up, as a damage multiplier was put in place; movement is slicker and spammable, “braindead” options such as consecutive dodges are nerfed; nearly every character is buffed, with the gameplay engine favoring aggressiveness and character interaction. This game was designed to please all crowds. To prove it further, look at the character selection.

Every single fighter from previous entries return to the fight with revamped move sets and animations. And even though there aren’t a whole bunch of new additions, the developers have incorporated several clone characters, officially known as “echo fighters,” to pad out the roster and include fan-favorites like “Fire Emblem” of Chrom and “Metroid” of Dark Samus without the need to develop unique moves for them. We get to have more characters that essentially act as cosmetic model-swaps for already existing fighters, and each of these characters have a few unique gameplay tweaks and animations to match their individual personality. It doesn’t stop here because the new characters (not clones) are diverse character concepts as well.

Nintendo’s new IP “Splatoon” brought the Inklings to Smash. “Metroid” antagonist Ridley sized down for the battle, clawing his way in along with a vicious move set. The starter Pokémon of “Pokémon Sun and Moon,” Incineroar, has a neat kit based around professional wrestling. Konami allowed the Smash developers to take the vampire hunters Simon and Richter Belmont from their famous “Castlevania” franchise of games. These characters are long-ranged zoners and have far-reaching whips to keep their opponents out. The killer-croc from “Donkey Kong Country”, King. K Rool, is another villain addition just like Ridley. Isabelle from “Animal Crossing” is a cute dog and fights very similarly to Villager, but she has many unique special moves to separate her from her series colleague. As of this review’s initial publication, a new fighter is available in “Super Mario’s” Piranha Plant. Who wouldn’t want to play as a potted plant? Furthermore, Nintendo has announced that new characters are in development and will be included as downloadable content in the coming months.

So far, I’ve been raving about the game. However, there are a few little nitpicks: the online portion is pretty garbage. In the last entry for the Wii U, you were allowed to change your character in between matches. That feature is gone; if you want to change your current character then you have to leave the lobby you’re currently in and re-enter, which means you can only play against an opponent with one character. There are no collectible trophies in this game. Series creator Masahiro Sakurai cited that they took a lot of resources to make and that in this entry he wanted to focus on other aspects. I understand his mentality here– if trophies returned it’s possible the development team couldn’t pull off getting every character to return. So, the trophy aspect is forgivable, especially since the game has effectively replaced them with an alternative; collectible figures called “spirits” which are more interact-able in gameplay than trophies ever were. Still, these gripes with the game are minor and don’t take away from the core experience (except online; they took away the ability to taunt and now everybody is forced to do the uncouth “teabag” motion to communicate with their opponent. Please fix this…)

If you have a Nintendo Switch or know anybody with one, then “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” is a no-brainer for your shopping list. As of writing this article, the game is Nintendo’s fastest-selling video game, period. Nintendo started developing games in the 1980s. This game was released last December and it has risen to become Nintendo’s #1 bestseller in the shortest amount of time. People around the world want their hands on this game, and you should too. With the Nintendo Switch functioning as a home-console / handheld hybrid, there are many opportunities throughout the day for you to pick up and play “Ultimate.” Playing anyway you want, anywhere, and with everything you could ask for, “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” is an instant buy for anyone remotely interested in gaming!

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