Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch) Review

ssb ultimate

It only feels like yesterday the mammoth marathon counting down the days to this game’s release started on this blog, but now it’s been over a month since its release and it’s time to review the game itself! Ultimate is certainly a fitting subtitle as not only does it have every previous character playable (plus new ones!) but it has a mode where you can collect “spirits”, and each of these 1,000+ spirits are based on other characters and concepts from games from all over gaming history. It’s just one giant celebration of gaming, and thankfully it’s damn fun to play as well! Let’s have a closer look then…

Background:

ssb ultimate 6

… Metroidvania!

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was released on December 7th 2018 on the Nintendo Switch. As of the date of this review (January 12th 2019) it’s already start to break sales records all over the globe.

In terms of the characters? Well, for once there is nobody to mention in the missing cast side, as “everyone was here”, all dropped characters, from Pichu to Solid Snake, are back, alongside the entire cast from Wii U / 3DS (including all the DLC characters). As for new characters? Well, Inkling from Splatoon, Ridley and Dark Samus from Metroid, Simon and Ritcher Belmont from Castlevania, King K. Rool from Donkey Kong Country, Chrom from Fire Emblem, Ken from Street Fighter, Incineroar from Pokémon, Daisy from Mario and Isabelle from Animal Crossing are all added to the roster, with DLC to come… (see below!)

Gameplay:

ssb ultimate 10

The New Pork City stage finally has enough fighters on it to justify its size!

The core gameplay remains the same: up to eight players fight in arenas filled with obstacles and weapons falling to the ground, and instead of you traditional HP method of fighting game, Smash has a damage percentage where the more damage you have the more likely you are to be “launched” off of the stage with a powerful strike. You can change the rules to a more traditional HP set up as well if you like, and both can be decided by either each character having limited lives or a score / time limit based mode. Attacks are basic strikes, holding a certain direction and the strike button will make you do a Smash attack (the longer you charge, the more powerful it will be), and then there’s the Special attacks, which are done by pressing the Special button either on its own, or in different directions for different attacks (with the Up Special normally being really handy for recovering from falling off the stage). You also have blocks, dodges, side steps and other things, plus a Final Smash, an extremely powerful attack that can be gained by either breaking a Final Smash ball or just building up a meter like a traditional fighting game, if you turn the modifier on…

There are other modifiers too, like starting with certain abilities / weapons, turning certain weapons off, or some new features to do with the 100+ stages, like being able to turn off stage hazards or even a new feature where you can pick two stages and they morph from one to the other during play. New weapons have been added, like Death’s Scythe from Castlevania, and plenty of new Assist Trophies (other characters from the featured games who, well, assist whoever summons them. There are even a few from games not featured in the Smash Roster too!) and Pokémon (same deal, but with Pokémon), so the games can get even more hectic!

ssb ultimate 3

This is the best screenshot ever, and it came about because I was just getting myself used to the pause screen’s camera controls!

Alongside the regular Smash modes, you have tournaments, a new 3-on-3 or 5-on-5 team battle, the return of Classic Mode (where you pick a character and run a gauntlet of several different fights, then a bonus game, then a boss, with a few variations. Each fighter has a different Classic Mode path this time though!) and multi-man melee (where you fight a whole bunch of people in a row with one life continuously), plus a training mode.

Then we get to spirits, while I’ll get to the “World of Light” story mode in the story section, there are other aspects and spin-off modes to it. Basically, Spirits come in two forms, one increases the strength of your chosen fighter and sometimes come with an extra benefit (stat buffs and the like), they’re called Primary Spirits, then you get Support Spirits which are attached to Primary Spirits and have just the benefits like stat buffs, extra health, start with a weapon and so on. There is also a rock-paper-scissors thing going on, with “Attack, Defence, Grab”, with each being stronger or weaker against each other.

You can collect spirits via fights in World of Light or on the “Spirit Board”, where you have to fight an in-game character in a fight tailored to the spirit attached to it, which is great fun if you know the spirit, or you can summon them Persona-style by sacrificing other spirits to summon another. Primary Spirits can be levelled up via battle or by feeding them “Snacks” or “Cores”, the latter of which you get by discarding spirits. All in all there are 1300 Spirits (as of this writing, they’ve already added three new ones during an event!), so it’s a lengthy task to “collect them all”, but one I am fully addicted to…

ssb ultimate 1

You can also send Spirits on missions to get extra loot… Man this would be a confusing screenshot taken out of context…

As for gripes with the game? Well, the actual gameplay feels more fluid and impactful than ever, so no complaints there, same goes with the roster and stage selection for obvious reasons, but I will say the lack of all-time classic “Home Run Contest” was a disappointment, just because… well, it’s always been there. I understand not doing “Break the Targets” or “Board the Platforms” because they were tailored to each character, but HRC was harmless… The other major gripe is the Spirit Board, as unlike in World of Light, if you lose you have to wait for the spirit to appear again, but even if you win in order to claim the spirit you have to play a timing mini-game with a spinning shield, meaning you can win a really hard four-star Legend Spirit fight and then not get the spirit because the shield was spinning too fast and therefore have to try and beat it again later on. Compare that to World of Light where if you got a difficult fight you could retry it over and over and then when you beat it, you got the spirit. Nice and simple…

Oh and there are quite a few bosses this time. You have Master Hand and Crazy Hand, back like usual, but you also have the new bosses from World of Light, plus a bunch of bosses from other games, like Dracula from Castlevania, Marx from Kirby, and even Rathalos from Monster Hunter, a series that isn’t featured in the game in any other way…

Then there are the other extras, like Challenges (basically Achievements / Trophies), and My Music (where you can listen to the endless amounts of music, create playlists and set how often each song is likely to play on each stage), but generally, the game is everything I wanted it to be and more, so… I can’t really complain too much…

Graphics and Sound:

ssb ultimate 9

Behold: the two extremes of “lizard / dragon type characters”.

The graphics are nice, bright and detailed, with some properly impressive lighting and draw distance making some older stages look brand new. The models all look great as well, and have great facial expressions for when they get hit and the like. Makes for fun screenshotting!

There are a staggering 850 songs in Smash Ultimate, which is just… madness. Quite a few brand new remixes and a good chunk of classic songs, plus the main theme of the game “Lifelight” remixed in multiple different ways to create boss music and menu themes. There is no other way to describe the music selection other than, well… crazy, in a very good way. Sound effects and voice work are still great too!

Story:

ssb ultimate 7

The Castlevania portion of World of Light, which was side-on perspective, rather than most of the mode, which was isometric.

The story in World of Light is pretty simple. Some giant creature known as Galeem turns the entire cast minus Kirby into “Spirits”, with the playable cast being cloned endlessly. Each spirit then inhabits one of these clones (explaining why the Spirit Battles have conditions similar to the character the spirit is based on) and it’s up to Kirby to free them. Of course, within a few fights your unlocking more playable characters, and by the end you’ll have the complete set.

SPOILER: About half way through Galeem will flee from its evil counterpart Dharkron, before the actual end where you fight them both off and free the planet. That’s all there is, there’s no big voiced cut scenes beyond the opening one, it’s basically left to your imagination.

Downloadable Content:

ssb ultimate 5

Cloud doesn’t care if it’s Shulk time or not… (a picture of a DLC character will probably replace this one down the line…)

As of this review we know a “Free to those who brought the game in the first two months” character of Piranha Plant (yes, Piranha Plant) and a “Fighters Pass” of five characters, each with a Stage and Music. The first Fighters Pass character is Joker from Persona 5, which was a nice surprise, and although the other four have had rumours break about them I won’t comment now, and hopefully remember to update my review later on…

Thoughts Now:

ssb ultimate 11

Charizard is about to find out that trusting King K. Rool isn’t a smart idea…

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lives up to its tag line, as it really is the Ultimate Smash Bros. A 75+ character roster, endless Spirits to collect, items, assist trophies, 850 pieces of music and over 100 stages from across the series history, plus new ones… it’s just insane. Plus, on top of all that nostalgia and fanservice, the actual gameplay is GREAT. I’ve had a blast, both by myself and with friends / family, and I can’t see that stopping any time soon…

5 Star Game New

Now, for one time only (because taking pictures was so much fun I couldn’t delete a lot of them) here are more pictures!

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Ryu and Ken have seen some weird stuff, but this may take the biscuit!

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… My money’s still on the boxer.

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Mega Man is hoping you don’t see him take the leaf…

There we go… sorry to those with slow internet connections…

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