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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is here, and every past fighter is back in what is the ultimate Super Smash Bros. package. Ultimate is without a doubt the word befitting of this game. There are more fighters, stages, music, and overall content than ever before, and despite the fact that most of the content is repurposed from previous titles, there are still plenty of new characters and modes to tinker with that make this game feel entirely brand new.

Everyone is here!

Much like the other Super Smash Bros. titles, the game doesn’t have an overarching narrative, however the game’s adventure mode ‘World of Light’ does have a little story that sets the mode into action. The mode begins with the Smash roster standing on the iconic cliffside looking out to what appears to be an army of Master Hands, as well as a mysterious glowing, winged creature known as Galeem. Galeem attacks the Smash cast with beams of light that seemingly destroy everyone, except for one single fighter. Kirby somehow manages to warp just in time, leaving him alone on a quest to return the spirits of his fallen pals. Those who inherit the Earth that aren’t Smash fighters were turned into spirits, who Galeem then forces to inherit clone copies of the Smash fighters, creating an army of fighters who aim to stop Kirby from rescuing the others.

It’s all up to Kirby now

Things happen throughout the world of light that add to the narrative slightly, but in terms of actual story progression there isn’t really much more here. It’s also a shame that the opening cutscene is the only one in the game, as seeing the Smash cast speak in that scene ignited a desire for more cutscenes and character building. The small opening story segment did however serve as a perfect way to add purpose and meaning to the World of Light mode, as well as justifying the existence of the spirits, which serve as crucial items throughout the World of Light and Spirit Board modes.

I wish there were more cutscenes like this

Spirits as mentioned previously are the characters who perished from Galeem’s light attack, and they serve as a type of power-up throughout the game’s Spirit modes (and in multiplayer if you choose to use them). Spirits have traits that align with the character they are. For example, a Rayman spirit can increase your jump height, while a Deku Link spirit may leave you more immune to fire damage. The spirits can easily feel overwhelming initially, as their are attack, defence, grab and neutral types, alongside primary and support spirits, but it doesn’t take too long for you to grow accustomed to them, leaving you free to tinker and find a team that best suits your playstyle. If you can’t be bothered with the logistics of crafting a team, the game also allows you the option to auto pick, meaning the game will create you a squad best fit to take down your opponent. Spirits can also be levelled up through battling and snack upgrades, and they can also be broken down in order to craft better spirits.

Spirits take some getting used to

Despite the absence of trophies, a staple of the series since Super Smash Bros. Melee, the spirits manage to still be decent fun to accumulate and collect. Being 2D images reminiscent of the stickers in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, they aren’t quite as exciting as the far more detailed trophies, but it’s still undoubtedly fun to fill out the scrapbook that they reside in. Spirits play a huge role in various Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s modes, and thankfully they are an enjoyable addition to the game (I still miss trophies though).

Collecting spirits is a fun time

Classic Mode and Spirit Mode are the two meatiest single player modes, where you’ll be spending the majority of your time. World of Light and the Spirit Board are the modes which incorporate the use of spirits. World of Light sees you complete battles against spirits hosting the body of a fallen fighter, in order to progress towards Galeem on the world map. Each battle is tinkered to ensure that the fighter resembles the spirit that inhabits it. For example, the Goomba spirit sees you fight a bunch of tiny Donkey Kongs, whilst a battle with the The Imprisoned spirit from The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword sees a huge King K. Rool assume the identity of The Imprisoned, while Ghirahim protects him from damage as an assist trophy. Each spirit fight is creative and brilliant, and it’s always interesting to see how the spirit is represented in the battle. The Spirit Board provides the same types of battles as the World of Light, however you can pick who you want to battle from a constantly rotating bulletin board.

The World of Light provides plenty of challenges

Classic Mode is where Smash veterans will feel the most at home, as spirits have no role to play in this mode. Despite having similarities to all previous classic modes, some changes have been made, which has led to the most enjoyable and creative Classic Mode yet. What I love about Smash Ultimate’s rendition of Classic mode, is that each character seemingly has a list of opponents and stages that are themed around themselves. For example, Ryu fights characters that resemble the Street Fighter cast, with the battle music playing to match that character. Zero Suit Samus can be seen to resemble Chun-Li so she battles with Chun-Li’s theme, while Zangief’s theme accompanies the fight with Incineroar, whose bulky appearance is similar to that of Zangief. Each fight is also a stamina battle instead of the usual damage percentage, referencing the Street Fighter games health bars. Each character has references like this, and it’s extremely fun to try and dissect and figure out each reference. Some characters even have different boss fights than Master Hand and Crazy Hand, such as Link being able to fight Ganon. Classic mode is undeniably awesome, and I can’t wait to keep going through with each character. In terms of single player modes, you also have Mob Smash which allows you to fight against armies of fighters, as well as a training mode for you to learn how to best utilise fighters.

This is so damn awesome

When it comes to multiplayer fun, your time will be spent in Smash mode, where you have various means of playing locally with friends. Smash mode is your normal Smash experience, while Special Smash allows you to create the wackiest of game modes. Tourney mode allows for the creation of Tournaments which is great fun if you have a decent amount of pals over, and lastly Squad Strike serves as a mode in which you can pit 3v3 or 5v5 teams against each other. I quickly fell in love with Squad Strike mode, as building a team up of your favourite characters to battle a friend’s favourite assortment of fighters is a really good time.

Squad Strike is a brilliant new game mode

Speaking of characters, there are a lot of them, 74 in fact. You only start out with the initial Super Smash Bros. roster from the Nintendo 64 original (and the three Mii fighter variants if you choose to create them), but you’ll slowly build your way up to having the full roster. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is amazingly balanced considering the sheer amount of characters available, which is a testament to the game’s design. I found myself utilising characters that I’ve always loved such as Link, Marth and Fox, whilst also growing an affinity to new characters such as Richter and Simon. It was also nice to be reunited with characters that were lost between installments, such as Young Link, who hasn’t featured in the series since Super Smash Bros. Melee.

Shoutout to my homie Young Link

Super Smash Bros. may arguably be Nintendo’s most refined and content-filled Smash game to date, however I still found myself finding some negatives amongst the myriad of positives. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate may boast that every fighter is playable, however some of the series’ most established modes seem to have been forgotten. In terms of modes, notable absentees include Break the Targets, Home Run Contest and the Stage Builder. The stage builder mode has never really been feature-full enough to warrant making levels in it, but the lack of Break the Targets and Home Run Contest feels a little blasphemous to say the least, considering they are mainstay modes in almost all prior series entries. It can be argued that these modes may arrive later on in the form of free DLC updates, but I can’t help but be disappointed in their omission from the game at the current point of time.

Where is Break the Targets?

My biggest gripe with the game however, is the performance of the online mode, which in my experiences thus far has been basically unplayable. Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS seemed to eliminate the horrid online the series was known for due to the weak online of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, yet for some reason the online in Ultimate has been absolutely abysmal. I know some people have reported the online being okay, but it does seem that plenty of people are having issues such as mine. Attempting to move my fighter and seeing him move more than a second after moving the thumbstick is unforgivable, as is the lag that turns matches into a battle reminiscent to that of a flipbook, where you can see the game chugging through each frame. It’s 2018, and games far more demanding than Smash manage to be playable on a wireless internet connection, so I can’t really give Nintendo a pass on this. Future patches may alleviate my annoyances with the online, but as of right now, I don’t want to touch it again. Nintendo did state that a wired connection would be the best way to play the game (duh), but the fact that the Switch requires a $50RRP ethernet adapter in order to establish a wired connection just feels like a rude and greedy slap in the face (include an ethernet port on your console next time Nintendo…).

Online at this current point in time doesn’t work too well

Final Thoughts

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate truly is the ultimate Super Smash Bros. game, with a crazy amount of content to sieve through. There are an insane amount of interesting and diverse characters to play as, alongside a myriad of modes both new and old that offer up their own unique and enjoyable experiences. Classic mode is better than ever, while the Mission Mode/Adventure Mode hybrid known as World of Light is enormous and is packed with Nintendo references and exciting battles that’ll keep you enthralled from start to finish. Yes, it’s undoubtedly sad to see modes like Break the Targets and Home-Run Contest absent, and the online is currently a lag-filled mess, but the game is still worthy of your time. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a celebration of all things Nintendo, and with more than 70 fighters both new and old to fight as, alongside more than 100 stages to battle on, you’re sure to have plenty of fun with it for years to come.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch | Review code supplied by publisher

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