For nearly 20 years, Nintendo's crossover fighting series has been entertaining fans with frantic multiplayer mayhem. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the most ambitious entry in the series so far with an absurd amount of characters and content so get ready to fight!
Super Smash Bros. has never been a deep fighting franchise. Instead, its wide appeal and easily digestible gameplay has rocketed it to be one of the most popular series in gaming history. One aspect that undeniably helped it achieve its success is its huge roster of fighters. Whereas the initial Nintendo 64 release only featured 12 characters, we now have a starting cast of 76 with more to come via DLC. First-time fighters include Daisy, Inkling, Ken, Chrom, Isabelle, Dark Samus, Ridley, Incineroar, King K. Rool, and even Richter and Simon Belmont from one of my favourites series of all time: Castlevania. Some characters have returned from their break in the previous game, too, such as Ice Climbers, Snake, Wolf, Pichu, Ivysaur, Squirtle, and Young Link. Having all of these familiar and fresh faces plus every DLC character from the previous game is just awesome. As a kid, I would have never imagined seeing Mario, Sonic, Kirby, Samus, and Simon in the same game and watching them beat the living heck out of each other is a treat.
Of course, to accompany all of these characters, there are loads of stages to battle within. A lot of them should be familiar to long-time fans of the series but there are a great deal of new ones, too. My favourite is the Pac-Land stage as it automatically scrolls while you try and avoid hazards and beat up your foes. As a huge fan of classic Namco arcade games, that stage blew my mind. There are also a couple of EarthBound stages that will make fans of the classic RPG thrilled to experience. Meanwhile, you'll occasionally encounter boss fights that are absolutely stunningly presented such as Ganon, Rathalos from Monster Hunter, and Dracula himself from Castlevania.
It goes without saying but each character and stage looks awesome and the music is phenomenal as well complete with classic and new melodies as well as modern interpretations of retro rhythms. Taking in the sights and sounds while playing match after match of frantic fighting will make any gamer smile. Thankfully, the gameplay remains familiar so both newcomers and Smash enthusiasts can enjoy each and every battle. Learning each character's moves is intuitive and easy to accomplish with a little experimentation so eventually finding your favourites is a rewarding endeavour. With so many characters to choose from, you're bound to find a lot that you click with.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate features a variety of modes yet the core gameplay remains basically unchanged. After setting up the next match's rules, you can fight solo against computer opponents or multiplayer via local or online. There are a few new modes as well including Squad Strike, Smashdown, and Tournament. However, the most substantial addition is the Spirits mechanic where you can unlock and utilize Spirits to grant your fighter of choice distinct attributes and abilities. This ties in with the new Spirit Board mode where you complete challenges to earn Spirits as well as World of Light mode which is an adventure that stars Kirby who's on a mission to stop the evil Galeem. However, even with all of these cool modes, I can't help but feel that the core gameplay is missing the next step up for the franchise as it definitely hasn't changed much and I frankly felt that it got repetitive and all too familiar quite early on.
On the plus side, there is a ridiculous amount of content to unlock in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. For starters, you only begin with 8 characters to choose from which are the same ones that you start with in the original Nintendo 64 game. Unlocking the rest can take quite a long time. While you're at it, there are 1299 Spirits to unlock as well as helpful Support Items and Cores. There are some superficial things to collect as well like the FMV Movies and you can listen to hundreds of songs whenever you'd like, too.
Finally, although playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate via multiplayer is where it shines brightest, the online component currently isn't fully realised. I found there to be plenty of lag which made some matches downright frustrating. Plus, you can't play with a combination of local and online players which is a huge oversight as far as I'm concerned. It all basically feels slapped together at this point but I have faith that Nintendo will release a patch that remedies these issues sometime soon, especially considering all of the online outrage.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is an impressive package to say the least. Although it doesn't quite elevate the already established core gameplay to the next level, what's here is still a frantic and fun fighter that anyone can easily enjoy.
- + Tons of incredible characters, bosses, and stages that all look and sound great
- + Classic chaotic Smash gameplay
- + Includes tons of content to unlock
- - Core gameplay doesn't do anything particularly new and exciting
- - Currently has major online issues