Review: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Smash Ultimate is a great game to get into because of how simple it is to learn, but it is very difficult to master. I could not recommend playing this game enough, even if you have no previous experience playing Super Smash Bros. It is an excellent game for both competitors and casuals alike and will turn up any party in a heartbeat.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was the fighting game I dreamed of as a kid. There is a massive roster with tons of stages and music, all on a portable console that even your parents would love to play. It’s a series that brings everyone together by completely pulverizing your favorite Nintendo stars, as well as some outliers including Final Fantasy VII’s Cloud, and the recently announced Joker from Persona 5. Apparently Nintendo loves making dreams come true. If you traveled back in time 10 years to tell me that Mega Man would be beating up Simon Belmont, Sonic the Hedgehog and Snake in Dracula’s castle, I would’ve thought you were completely insane. Nintendo even added Ridley to Smash – a character who was such a meme to the community that Sakurai simply said, “Okay, fine,” and put him in the game.
With Smash 3DS/Wii U’s release four years ago, Ultimate begs the question as to what has changed. Are we simply playing a rehash of Smash 4, or has Nintendo brought the game up to a whole new level? Well, a lot has changed, but the game does tend to shadow its predecessor. Combos generally feel the same as Smash 4, despite aerial attacks having less lag. Aggressive play isn’t always available, and edge-guarding is similar to Smash 4, in which grabbing the ledge doesn’t really stop your opponent from recovering.
The game offers over 70 characters, over 100 stages, and over 28 hours of music. The sheer amount of content packed into the game is mind-blowing, and it’s hard to imagine ever getting bored. Smash Ultimate is without a doubt a faster-paced game than Smash 4, despite the similarities. As stated before, aerial moves have less ending lag, and character movement has become less restricted where characters are now able to more consistently dash, allowing for more control and more technical plays. Many Melee players who were not interested in Smash 4 have taken a liking to Ultimate; a lot of which have expressed wanting to pursue the game competitively.
The game also introduces new modes such as Squad Strike, where players can create crews and play matches in a 3v3 or 5v5 tag-team style match.
World of Light is the game’s single-player adventure mode in which an evil spirit, Galeem, has turned all of the fighters, with the exception of Kirby, into possessed versions of themselves. As you venture forth you rescue the other fighters, as well as spirits of various Nintendo characters through custom game challenges. To unlock Blanka’s spirit from Street Fighter, you fight against a green Donkey Kong with Samus’ screw attack item attached in a stamina battle. Thematically, the spirit fights are very clever, and despite the lack of story and cutscenes, I enjoyed playing them very much. It felt more like Melee’s Event matches than a story mode.
World of Light seems to be a common complaint from a lot of fans, but I think it will be appreciated more down the line. A lot of thought went into each individual challenge. It’s very charming to play through. I do need to establish that the whole mechanic of equipping spirits and leveling them up felt like a chore, and I never wanted to use the Dojo to do repetitive grinding for stronger spirits, all so that I could beat an annoying Shulk AI that I could’ve done if I just played slightly smarter than I did last time.
Classic mode is brief, with 7 short matches before one of several ending boss fights. All characters have differently themed classic mode runs, and while they were fun to play through, it became quickly repetitive to the point where I can’t see myself wanting to play more of them any time soon.
As far as online capability, I have hardly experienced any lag, even if my opponent was on Wi-Fi. The game does have 6 frames of built-in delay, which is the most out of any smash game, and just seems like a tedious addition that makes no sense from anyone’s perspective. The matchmaking is poor, and often pairs me with settings that I didn’t ask for, such as free-for-all matches when I specified playing 1-on-1 games. The “Elite” smash feature that unlocks once your rank becomes high enough is nothing more than an arbitrary achievement, as it means close to nothing in terms of matchmaking, which is honestly one of the only big flaws of the game.
This is probably the most balanced Smash game, despite the massive roster. No character seems unbelievably good, nor does anyone feel weak to the point where they can’t hold their own. Everyone seems viable, and the whole roster has been a treat to play as. On a side note, the game’s AI for all character’s has been far superior than that of any other Smash game. Everyone that I have spoken to has expressed that they have lost in attempts to unlock characters, which leads me to my next point: unlocking the roster was a bit annoying. You start with only eight characters, and attempting to gather over 70 was pretty laborious, even when using certain in-game shortcuts. All stages are available from the start, as is almost all of the game’s music.
Smash Ultimate is a great game to get into because of how simple it is to learn, but it is very difficult to master. It is not as technically demanding as Melee, but it offers this balance that takes a piece from all Smash titles. I can’t see myself ever putting the game down, even though it has only been out for a week. I could not recommend playing this game enough, even if you have no previous experience playing Super Smash Bros. It is an excellent game for both competitors and casuals alike and will turn up any party in a heartbeat.