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Like A Ghost

REVIEW: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Like all of the various entries in Nintendo’s historic franchises, the latest entries are like brand new experiences for me. I played the original game or games, went on a hiatus of sorts from the hardcore gaming, and then came back in full force recently. The Super Smash Bros. series is one that I haven’t played in a while. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a great time to come back.

My first introduction to Smash was way back in 1999 when the original Super Smash Bros. was released for the Nintendo 64. Along with GoldenEye 007, Super Mario 64, and Mario Kart 64, Smash was a necessity back in those days. I can’t even begin to recount how many countless hours were spent with friends battling it out on the living room floor. With a dozen characters to choose from, all from a wide range of familiar Nintendo franchises, it was great fun.

Truth be told I actually did get and play both of the last entry in the series (Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS), but I missed both Melee for GameCube and Brawl for Wii.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate feels very much like the Wii U title from a few years ago, but has so much more packed into the game that it is so much fun.

In the core battle mode of Super Smash Bros. you’ll take control of any one of dozens of characters as you battle to knock the other fighters off of the stage. With every hit they’ll take damage and raise their damage meter. The more damage they have the further they’ll fly when they’re struck. Damage them enough and they’ll fly into the off-screen barriers and be defeated.

Of course there’s much more nuance than that. You can grab and throw your opponent, perform double jumps and special jumps to save you from falling off the stage yourself. You can perform standing attacks, bring out more powerful smash attacks, or strike from above and below.

But that’s not all. There are items which drop and appear into the levels which cause so much more craziness. Some of these items will give you weapons to weild in your battle. Others may unveil booby traps which can cause all sorts of chaos. There are also assist trophies that will give you an ally character for a brief period of time.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate features every single fighter from every past entry in the series. From the original 12 fighters from the N64 game, there are now 76 fighters in the game, which includes all of the DLC characters and stages from the Wii U/3DS games. (This number doesn’t include the upcoming DLC fighters). New characters introduced in Ultimate include Simon Belmont, King K. Rool, Inkling, and Ridley. There are also brand new stages based on the Castlevania series, Super Mario Odyssey, and The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

Aside from the obligatory battle modes there is a new mode introduced in Ultimate, Adventure Mode: World of Light. In the story of the game, something has caused the numerous video game characters in the game to lose their bodies and transform into spirits. These spirits serve as a power-up of sorts for a player’s main playable fighter. There is an incredibly large number of different spirits in Adventure Mode. You can equip primary and support spirits to power up or add additional abilities like speed or strength to their fighter during battles. Mixing and matching spirits will help players get the upper hand against certain opponents, adding quite a bit of strategy to battles. Equipping spirits is similar to equipping a charm or accessory in an RPG.

Making a return in the game is classic mode, which was the quasi story mode in the original game. You select a character and play through a series of levels until the end. Once you are victorious in all of the levels you’ll face a boss character and then get the chance to unlock another playable character. And with the sheer number of playable characters in the game they’ll just keep coming.

In addition to the characters that you can unlock, Mii Fighters make a return in Ultimate. You can create a new Mii or import one into the game from your Switch. Then you can really get into the game.

The game supports local multiplayer as well as online multiplayer. Though I’m not a big online gamer and haven’t tried the mode myself, there are apparently issues with the speed and consistency of the online component in the early going.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate supports the Switch Pro Controller and also the Nintendo GameCube controllers. Some people swear by the GCN controllers and won’t play with anything but. Having missed Melee I don’t have the same attachment to the controller, though it’s nice that Nintendo made an adapter to give those fans of the series the option to use one.

Customization is another big part of Ultimate. Not only can you customize the controls, you can fully customize the battles (except story ones) that you participate in. Don’t like items in the battles? You can turn them off. Only want to have Pokéballs as the item that spawns; you can do that too. You can have one or more levels morph into another mid-battle. Control how many CPU fighters you’ll face in a battle, decide whether victory is based on smashes or stock lives, give a character an advantage or handicap, and more.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a well rounded and fun party fighter with lots to keep you interested. Grab some friends and a controller or two start Smashing.

Gameplay 10
Graphics 10
Sound 10
Overall 10