Super Smash Bros Ultimate has been out for over a week now. Just like you would expect from the title, there is a lot to process from it. Between the massive roster of 74 characters (so far), the updated Classic Mode, the online gameplay, and of course, World of Light, there’s a lot to play. So much so, that the game is too big to be reviewed by one person! So, the crew over at the Nintendo Entertainment Podcast have come together to review it, with each of them taking a part of the game. Enjoy!
Game Name: Super Smash Bros Ultimate
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 12/7/2017
Classic Mode – By William Kok
The Classic Mode of Super Smash Bros Ultimate is as you expected from past Smash games. However, this time around all characters have a set route of 8 characters based on a theme to face off against. These vary from Mario goes to face off against Giga Bowser, Link against Ganondorf’s final form, Falco taking on forces of darkness and so forth. When going through each character set path, it’s interesting how each match represents the series of the character.
After you pick your character, you pick your level of intensity/difficulty. You can only pick up to an intensity of 5.0 difficulty at the start. The way you move up in intensity is by finishing matches. The game will judge you on how much damage you took, and how quickly you finish a match. This goes all the way to 9.9 intensity with AI-controlled opponents that are merciless. If you are able to reach the end of 9.9 intensity, consider yourself great or lucky. A nice touch is that you see the entirety of the Smash mural.
If you do fail a match in Classic mode, you can continue on at the cost of some coins and intensity level as it will decrease. You can continue and not cost you intensity level if you have a Smash Ticket in your possession. You can get these tickets by either play the World of Light single player or buy them at shops. Of course, these things are rare items, so you should really use them sparingly.
For my 9.9, I used Ice Climbers as the duo power of two charters help out a lot in the final fight. Though it did require a ticket at the end, it helped me stay at 9.9 and get that achievement picture.
Course there is some criticism I have here. In prior classic modes, it always random of who you face. Here in Super Smash Bros Ultimate, you will face the characters of the set path again should you got back into it. So there really isn’t much variety unless you want to go for the high score and the 9.9 intensity level.
Also, another note is the bonus level. The first game there was two bonus stages in Break the Targets and Board the Platforms. Here in Ultimate, there is only one bonus stage that applies to all characters. It’s a basic race to the finish while grabbing gold coins along the way. All this while a black hole creeps its way to you. While simple as it is, I only wish it would vary, as a different layout for each character’s theme or even randomized.
Regardless, the Classic Mode is a fun time with all fighters and the boss fights that end it. From the Master and Crazy Hand to Dracula himself, it is open to newcomers but not afraid to challenge veterans of the series.
World Of Light Review – By Todd Black
When it comes to Super Smash Bros, you think about the multiplayer, not the singleplayer. But, with Brawl and now Ultimate, Nintendo has been at least attempting to delve into more meaningful singleplayer content. World of Light was revealed in the best way possible via its opening movie, but the question later became, would it hold up? Yes, yes it does.
World of Light is nothing like Subspace Emissary, which was a side-scrolling adventure mixed with 1-on-1 battles. Instead, World of Light takes you through a massive world/worlds and has you fighting hundreds of battles in order to free the Spirits that were made because of the Lord of Light known as Galeem. As shown in the reveal video, all the fighters are “dead”, or more accurately, captured and turned into clones for Galeem’s use. Your job is to travel throughout the world, free the spirits, free the other fighters, and defeat Galeem, along with other foes I won’t spoil.
The worst part of World of Light may just be the opening part. No, not the video, that looks epic despite everyone “dying”. Rather, since you start off with Kirby, you are forced to use him for a bit. Then, you’ll reach a path break where you’ll only get to choose one of three characters. When you do, the other two will be blocked off. Thus, you’re stuck on that path until you work your way around. My mains in Smash are Link, Ike, Pit, and sometimes Pokemon Trainer. So I had to train myself in using Kirby, Marth, Mario, and others until I could get one of my mains (as a note, unlocking someone outside of World of Light does NOT allow them to be used in World of Light). It was annoying, to say the least.
However, once I got Link on my path, things got a lot more fun, and I got to see exactly what World of Light had to offer, lots and lots of nostalgia. Serious, Sakurai and the dev team went all out here in order to make you feel like you were not just in a universe full of characters, but ones that have connections to each other even when they aren’t from the same game.
Each Spirit battle (which is indicated by a small orb of light and darkness) has you fighting a Smash Bros character with a Spirit infusing it with special abilities. Each battle is different. Sure, there are similarities, but every single battle is unique in certain ways. You’ll face a trio of Jigglypuff’s in one match that’ll love using Lullaby, and then in another, you’ll face a giant metal R.O.B that’s protecting a Doctor Mario you have to kill. It’s great stuff.
The variety of the battles, matched with the Spirits art is a true treat. Because you get to see just how far down the rabbit hole Nintendo dove into this. And with HUNDREDs of Spirits available in Super Smash Bros Ultimate? That’s a very deep rabbit hole.
Another treat was the boss fights, which were inspired by Subspace Emissary no doubt. You’ll see some familiar faces, but also, some surprises, including one I have no doubt your jaw will drop on. Speaking of which, the Overworld for World of Light may seem simple at first, but when you enter the “Dungeon” areas, you’ll see detailed areas that are references to certain games, like this area for Legend of Zelda!
The mode is LONG, especially if you try (like me) to get every Spirit you can. Which I recommend, because World of Light has obstacles that can only be fixed by certain Spirits, which can honestly be annoying. And the length will get to some players. But, if you’re willing to go for the long haul, and enjoy the nostalgia ride, you’ll no doubt enjoy World of Light for all that it has.
Smash Mode/Online Review – By Tyler Kelbaugh
Remember back in March, when Super Smash Bros. was revealed to be headed to Switch? The community was divided into two groups – those who believed Ultimate was a Smash 4 port and those who believed it was an all-new game. Even after the game’s full E3 reveal, people still did not believe this game was truly “Smash 5”.
Make no mistake about it, Smash Ultimate is no mere port with single-player enhancements. Smash 4 veterans will feel like Link entering the Dark World. The game looks familiar, but something about it feels different. New mechanics speed up the second by second gameplay to levels just shy of 2001’s Melee, and that’s not all that’s different here.
Battling has never felt so good. Smash Ultimate has a bit of a skill curve to learn the basics of movement, but the reward makes the bumps and bruises worth it. Ultimate takes away some of the defensive tools that defined Smash 4 and Brawl, creating a game that rewards creative offense.
Ultimate is a different beast, one that will appeal to aggressive players and may frustrate those used to the defensive mechanics of games past. Those changes are for the better, however. I’m a bit of a Smash nerd, so I won’t subject you to an in-depth Smash Ultimate guide, but there are a few key mechanics worth highlighting. A parry system allows players to play a risky game, as dropping shield at just the right time allows for powerful punishes to moves that otherwise would be unpunishable. Short hop aerials can now be done by pressing jump and A at the same time, making it easier than ever for players to pull off aerial strikes low to the ground. Shielding has been nerfed, with shield grabs coming out significantly slower than in previous iterations of the game. Moves that previously were easily punishable using shield, like Palutena’s forward smash, now require greater reaction time to counter.
With 74 characters to choose from, you could easily play Ultimate for years and barely scratch the surface of what each fighter has to offer. Though it’s super early in the game’s life, Ultimate feels incredibly balanced. There is a fighter for everyone. Mario, Pit, and Lucina have great kits to learn the game. Heavies like Bowser, Donkey Kong, and Ganondorf can erase stocks with one well-placed punch. Speed characters like Pikachu, Pichu(!!), and Inkling rack up damage fast but get launched easily. Tricky fighters like Rosalina, Palutena, and Snake may take some time to learn but are well worth the investment.
Some returning characters have been reworked for the better. Ness, for example, feels like a much stronger character thanks to his new up-air and improved yo-yo smashes.
As for the newcomers, they shine brightly. King K. Rool’s moveset reflects his unhinged personality, his blunderbuss serving as a powerful tool to catch enemies who get too close to him. Simon and Richter Belmont use their projectiles to great effect, trapping opponents in no-mans land. Their whips cover an incredible distance, making these zoners a real threat.
Echo fighters are a little more hit and miss. It’s awesome to have Daisy on the roster, but she and Peach have no differences in their moves. The same goes for the Belmonts. Meanwhile, Chrom feels like an entirely different character than the character he echoes, Roy. He has an entirely different up special, and his balanced sword demands a different playstyle. I’d like to see Daisy get some new properties patched into her kit in a future update.
Battling has never been quite this engaging, and that is in no small part due to the incredible presentation. Familiar sights and sounds have been dramatically improved on the Nintendo Switch. Nearly every single stage in Smash Bros. history returns, from fan-favorite Hyrule Castle (N64) to Lumioise City (Smash 3DS). Old stages have received major visual overhauls while capturing the nostalgia of Smash’s past. Corneria (Melee) stands out as one of the best. The music that defined so many of our childhoods blasts as loud as ever in the background as the Great Fox soars through a beautifully rendered Corneria. It makes the old stage feel brand new – and that goes for so many courses. My favorite level is definitely Fourside. The sprawling metropolis has never felt more real. As an Earthbound lover, it was magical to see the Monotoli building towering against a glowing skyline.
Smash is a celebration of gaming, and it always delights with incredible remixes of beloved songs. Ultimate goes above and beyond to deliver a soundtrack that rivals, and in some ways surpasses, the legendary Brawl OST. There are over 100 new tracks to love, and almost everyone is a hit. A few personal favorites include Fourside’s remix, Donkey Kong’s “Level Select/Bonus Room Blitz”, and Mario’s “Fortress Boss”. Of course, nearly every previous track has returned for Ultimate as well. Fans of Fire Emblem’s “Together We Ride”, fear not! Additionally, some tracks have been taken from games that released after Smash 4 and been added to Ultimate. Fire Emblem Echoes’ “March to the Deliverance”, for example.
Across all game modes, the word “scope” best describes Ultimate. Sakurai and his team shot for the stars, packing as much Nintendo (and 3rd Party!) goodness into this game as possible. Nearly every assist trophy and Pokemon return for those looking for chaotic action, but items can be toggled on and off as well. For the first time in Smash’s history, Sakurai seems to have found the sweet spot to appeal to both casual and hardcore Smash players.
Before starting a session, players can create several rulesets of their liking for an insane variety of gameplay options. Those who love playing eight players Smash on Hyrule Temple, with all items on high will find Ultimate every bit as appealing as Smash’s past. On the other hand, those who enjoy a good 1 vs 1 item-less duel can enjoy the game’s stages without hazards! Stages like Frigate Orpheon, which would be great for competitive play if it didn’t flip upside down during the match, can now be enjoyed to the fullest. Turning hazards off makes stops the course from flipping!
As amazing as the options are, it would be nice if the hazards toggle was on the stage select screen rather than in the custom ruleset menu. Some stages, like the stunning Fountain of Dreams, lose certain elements that make them unique. I find that stage to be great for competitive play with the fountains changing the platform elevation, but turning hazards off renders it a near clone of the Battlefield stage.
The game does include four new stages. New Donk City takes you up the capitol building, with Mayor Pauline and her band belting out “Jump Up, Super Star” in the background. Great Plateau Tower from Breath of the Wild features an appearance from the Old Man, while Moray Towers and Dracula’s Castle provide tall and wide battlefields respectively. The upcoming DLC will introduce five new stages, once it is released.
Online play may not be perfect but thankfully the patch 1.2 improved things dramatically. At launch, there was no way to get the style of match you wanted. Players who set their preferred rules to 1 v 1 Battlefield only found themselves in free-for-all items games on random stages. In literally hundreds of matches after the patch, I have yet to be placed in one of these matches. The patch also reduced the lag dramatically. I can’t think of the last match I had that was plagued by it.
Playing with friends is a bit of a hassle though. You have to create a battle arena, which can only hold up to six people, and have people join your arena. The UI stinks as well – changing characters and stages requires you to leave the ring and select a new one. In the meantime, other players can skip you in line and take your fight. It’s not ideal.
That said, I find myself drawn to online matches more than any other mode. It’s highly enjoyable, and the opponents you meet that will challenge you and ultimately you’ll get better because of that. A Global Smash Power ranking system doesn’t seem to do a whole lot, but I find I’m usually placed with opponents within 100,000 points of myself. Rarely do I feel overmatched, or overpowered. The system doesn’t explain itself well, but the matchmaking has been pretty solid in my experience.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate Review
While World of Light and the online modes do have their issues, there’s no doubt that Super Smash Bros Ultimate is the game that we were hoping it would be. Bigger modes, bigger roster, bigger improvements, this is truly the Ultimate Smash Bros title.