Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Is The Infinity War Of Fighting Games
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the most ambitious crossover event in history. Sorry, I just wanted to make fun of Marvel’s over-the-top tagline for Avengers: Infinity War one last time. Moving along!
Everyone has a favourite Smash Bros. title. Whether it’s the old school simplicity of Super Smash Bros. on the N64, the flawless controls in Super Smash Bros. Melee on the GameCube, the robust story mode in Super Smash Bros. Brawl on the Wii, the convenient portability of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, or the endless array of collectibles in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, all these games have got something special to offer, and no two are alike. As this list shows, while the series has gradually improved in the looks department, that doesn’t mean each instalment has been superior to the last. There are a lot of variables to consider.
Having played a handful of offline hours with the game, I can safely say Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be a strong contender for best entry in the series. It’s truly the ultimate fan-service game for Nintendo lovers and beyond, with a level of brand crossover like nothing before. We’ve all seen Mario beat the snot out of Yoshi and even Sega mascot Sonic the Hedgehog, but Ultimate’s roster of 70+ characters and 100+ stages creates some truly bonkers scenarios your 10-year-old self wouldn’t dare fantasize about. Eccentric fighters Ness, ROB, Pac-Man, Wii Fit Trainer, Duck Hunt, and Mr. Game & Watch return, along with age-old faves Peach, Donkey Kong, Samus, Pikachu, and Kirby.
In addition to containing every single fighter from the series, there are also a dozen of new ones, with even more promised via DLC. Here’s who’s new: Splatoon’s Inkling, Metroid’s Ridley and Dark Samus, Animal Crossing’s Isabelle, Donkey Kong Country’s King K. Rool, Pokémon’s Incineroar, Castlevania’s Simon and Richter Belmont, Super Mario’s Princess Daisy, Fire Emblem’s Chrom, Street Fighter’s Ken, and if you purchase and register the game before January 31, Super Mario’s Piranha Plant (but how does it move???).
If the staggering number of characters makes you feel like you’re reliving Infinity War, the game’s robust single-player adventure mode, called World of Light, will hammer that feeling home. Clearly the most ambitious campaign the franchise has ever seen, the adventure begins with Kirby setting off to save his fellow fighters, who’ve been transformed into evil shadowy versions of themselves after getting vaporized by a bunch of disembodied hands and a boss baddie named Galeem. As Kirby traverses the overworld map, he must defeat his opponents to rescue his friend and obtain spirit orbs, which play a crucial role in updating how Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s fights play out.
As if having over 70 fighters to choose from wasn’t overwhelming enough, spirits introduce even more character diversity that power up your fighter’s stats during battle. While these deep cut characters aren’t playable, their inclusion alone is mighty impressive. From Snipperclips’ Snip and Clip to Punch-Out!!’s Mr. Sandman to Pushmo’s Mallo to Mega Man’s Dr. Wily, these spirits are divided into two categories: Primary and Support. The former can be equipped to increase your fighter’s attack power, while the latter can be equipped to the Primary’s available empty slots (so you can combine multiple) to provide enhanced abilities, like falling immunity, wind immunity, or temporarily being coated in unyielding metal. Primary spirits are further divided into strengths based on their specific type: Grab, Attack, and Shield. As the difficulty ramps up, it becomes essential to know which one to select based on your opponent. Think rock, paper, scissors, but more fun.
Spirits add a whole new layer of customization to each battle, so even the most seasoned players will feel like they’re experiencing a fresh take on a 20-year-old formula. Super Smash Bros. has always been a series that’s brimming with content, but levelling up your spirits takes things in a unique, RPG-esque direction that should give players even more incentive to keep brawling. There are several more no-key ways to level your spirits: you can have them explore for treasure, train in the dojo, or feed them snacks (no, seriously).
All the other beloved modes and customizations are present, including tried-and-true Smash, in which you select your stage, fighter, rules with up to eight combatants; Squad Strike, where you can create teams of either three or five to duke it out with others squads; Tourney, where you enter a 32-player tournament via multiple brackets; Special Smash, where you can grab a pal and take on a gaggle of fighters to see who reigns; Classic Mode, where you smash through increasingly tough opponents to reap rewards; Training, where you can practice your moves to a T; Spectator Mode, where you can pick up some vital tips watching other players battle online; and finally Mob Smash, where you take on an endless army of foes until you’ve thrown your last punch. There are actually several more features like Replays, Challenges, a music library to jam to even in sleep mode, Mii fighter creation, and the ability to scour your records from previous battles—phew!
As I mentioned, online play (which supports up to four players) is locked until release day, but I’m sure with Nintendo’s new and dandy online service it’ll purr like a kitten. If you prefer your matches old school and IRL, you can go the local wireless route with up to eight players, or you can join a friend on one console to play as a team or to beat each other to a pulp.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is out December 7 exclusively on Nintendo Switch. Check out the latest trailer below.