Review: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch)

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It is finally time to review a hotly anticipated game, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch. This game series is very popular, and had come with a lot of hype. It is time to see if it lives up to the hype, or if the game falls flat. With that out-of-the-way, let’s get started.

The main advertising draw of this game is that every previous character from earlier Smash Bros. games are playable in this game. The Smash Bros. games feature characters from many different games, though most of them are from games made by Nintendo. A few other characters have been added to the roster from other companies, such as Capcom’s Megaman and even Sega’s Sonic the Hedgehog. This game is the biggest video game crossover in video game history.

SmashFox
Fox from the Star Fox games is one of many video game characters in this game.

For those who don’t know, Super Smash Bros. is a fighting game with a twist. Instead of lowering the opponent’s health to zero, you have to build up damage to make it easier to launch the opponent of the stage. If they can’t get back, they lose a life. The match continues till all lives are lost for all but one player, or till time runs out, depending on the rule settings.

Now, for the most part, this game feels like an iteration of the previous games in the series. With all the old characters being included, with only 11 new additions, there might not be too much new for players that have played every game in the series. To further emphasize this point, most of the old stages to play on are back too, and there are only a handful of new locations to try out.

That isn’t to say that the game is boring, not by a long shot. The controls are as smooth as ever. The game has many small (and a few not so small) adjustments that only the most observant players will notice. I wouldn’t have known about changes to shielding and dodging if it wasn’t pointed out to me. When a match is a 1 on 1 situation, the damage output is different, and the game exaggerates a potential knockout. These are nice touches, and add some extra punch to the game.

The game looks fantastic, and faithfully recreates and enhances the characters and locations from other games. There is also a huge soundtrack that can be played even when the switch is in sleep mode, turning the console into a music player. With over 800 tracks, there is plenty of retro gaming music to entertain for hours on end, if you so wish.

Like other Smash Bros. games, you have to unlock new characters to get the game’s full collection of characters. This game starts with the 8 characters that the original N64 game began with. However, there are 74 characters (not including currently unavailable DLC) in the game. Interesting enough, the method of acquiring them is very vague to the player. The game does nothing to show the player when a new challenger is ready to join the fray.

It seems that the game tracks how much distance the player has moved throughout the game. After reaching a distance threshold, either after a match, or finishing an alternate mode will trigger a fight with the new character. If you win, you can play as them, but if you lose, there is a chance to try again in a new menu option called challenger’s approach. You may need to wait 10 minutes before the next fighter shows up, but there is an exploit that allows you to not wait as long involving closing the game after encountering a new fighter, restarting the game, and triggering the next condition to find the next fighter. Due to the large cast, it may take a while, or become repetitive, depending on how you attempt the gain the next fighter.

The main draw of the game is to play with others or against the computer. Some changes include customizing the rules, and quickly selecting the rules you saved. You also choose the stage before your character. This feels a little uncomfortable at first, but makes sense overall. You wouldn’t want the play as a character that does poorly on the selected stage, would you?

Another rule option is to turn on or off a new final smash meter. In previous games, the final smash attack could only be used after hitting the smash ball item. The final smash meter builds up as you fight, and when full, you can use a final smash. Only one character can use a final smash at any given time, and the final smash meter final smashes are weaker than smash ball final smashes. It is a quick way to add a lot of chaos to some matches, if you like this sort of thing.

FinalSmash
Final smashes are powerful and add a lot of chaos to matches.

The other modes have some nice changes. Classic mode has different fights depending on the character you choose. This mode even has some end bosses that vary per character selected, and even has fun, interactive credits.

Now it is hard to fully discuss this game without addressing the adventure mode, World of Light. In this mode, you start out playing as Kirby, and have to free characters and spirits as you wander the game world. The new spirits are upgrades that level up and grow stronger the more you use them. They can add other effects too allowing you to customize your character. Spirits can be used in World of Light, the Spirit board, or optionally used in Vs. mode.

smashultimateTree
World of Light also features a a large skill tree for your fighters.

Most World of Light fights are against fighters enhanced with the spirit you are trying to free. There are other conditions as well, such as certain items being on, or the floor is made of lava, and so forth. Some spirits you acquire can negate these changes, making somewhat normal fights. Luckily, this mode has some neat surprises and bosses for the very persistent, and the mode ends with a fantastic climax.

Of course, there is an online component to this game. In the few online matches I played, I had a match that featured some inconsistent lag, though some other matches had little or no delays. You can even have the game look for a match in the background as you play other modes.

You can also set some preferred rules when looking for a match. I had so far not found much of a close match to my preferred rules, though that may be due to how the players that were on liked to play (for your reference, I wanted 2-4 players, 3 lives, 3 minute matches with all items on, any stage. I usually didn’t get any items whatsoever, but consistently got 3 lives.) This system tries to find some thing close, but not always exactly what you would like to find.

Overall, this game is filled to the brim with gaming history. From a large cast, hidden spirits, and small details, there is plenty to discover and enjoy, especially for long time gamers. There’s plenty for casual, and skilled players to enjoy in this game, and is worth a look if you enjoy gaming in general.

Now for some play recommendations:

  • This is a multiplayer game at its heart, so play at your own pace, and with other players if you can.
  • Unlocking characters in the fast way isn’t as fun as playing at your own pace, and seeing what happens next.
  • The World of Light mode is lengthy, but worth your time to see what surprises are in store. It is the slowest way to gain new fighters, though.
  • Completing all the challenges are for the most persistent players, or for those bored with everything else the game has to offer.
  • Gaining all the spirits are for the most persistent players, as there are nearly 1,300 of them.

Now let’s go over the pro’s and con’s:

Pro’s:

  • This game is very refined, both in controls and in content.
  • Features plenty of game history.
  • Plenty of content for those who want it.
  • But the extra content can be ignored, if you like.
  • While large, World of Light has an excellent climax.
  • Awesome graphics.
  • Enormous and fantastic soundtrack.

Con’s:

  • Not as much new content for long time fans.
  • Unlocking characters is either time-consuming, or isn’t fun if done the fast way.
  • Online play might feature lag, and happened in my case.
  • World of Light might be too long and arguably repetitive. It might not be everyone’s cup of tea. (possible con).

So, what is the verdict?

9.3/10 A superb party fighter for newcomers and veterans alike.

My only serious concern about this game is that the next Smash Bros. game won’t be able to top this one, as this game has most of the features and all the characters any player would need. It is hard to imagine the next game having more content than this one overall.


And that is my review of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. What did you think about this game? Which character is your favorite? Who do you want as DLC, or in the next game? How do you feel about world of light? Let me know in the comments below!

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