Review: Super Smash Bros Ultimate
January 17, 2019
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the fifth game in the long-running series about all your favorite Nintendo characters mercilessly beating up each other. This installment is the largest in the series, boasting over 100 stages and the tagline “Everyone is here!” with every returning character fighting, bringing the total amount of fighters to over 70. However, you have to unlock most of the roster, as it starts with only the original 8 fighters. There are two ways to unlock characters: Either you will randomly get a chance to beat them in a one-on-one fight, or you’ll unlock them in the game’s adventure mode. There are three main game modes—Smash, Classic Mode, and “World of Light,” the adventure mode .
Smash is where you play custom matches, either with friends or against computer opponents. Thanks to the Switch’s design, if you want to play with a friend you can break the controller into two and play together, improving the “party game” aspect that the series is known for. You can create custom rule sets limiting items, changing the win conditions, or just adding crazy modifiers, such as everyone being tiny, invisible, or just ridiculously easy to launch off the stage. There have been some additions to the game play, such as a meter that charges up a character’s final smash, as opposed to only getting it from an item. Overall, the game play feels fast and fluid with enough maps and characters to make coming back to this mode worthwhile.
In Classic Mode, you will complete a series of 8 fights culminating in a boss fight. You can set the difficulty from 1 to 5 with the difficulty being raised as you win each fight. Each fighter has a unique line-up of fights where they participate in fights reminiscent of their series, such as Samus only fighting on Metroid maps or going against fighters with similar styles. At the end of each set of battles you will fight a boss. Some fighters have a unique boss fight such as Mario fighting Bowser, while most just fight the recycled Master Hand. The idea of a unique set of battles for each character is a good idea, but it does lower the replay value for going through this mode as the same character.
The final major game mode is “World of Light” which is the game’s story mode. The story is not really important; all you need to know is that something called Galeem wants to remake the world in it’s image, so, to achieve this, it kills literally everyone but Kirby. The game takes place on a sort of game-board style map where you move around to try and open a path to save everyone and defeat Galeem. You will fight what are called spirits which replace the trophy collectibles from previous games and inhabit copies of the all the characters. You will fight them in unique battles that are designed to emulate a certain aspect of that character. This can lead to some fun nods to the series: e.g. a battle against a street fighter character using a health system as opposed to launching them off the stage. When you defeat them, you are then able to use them in your own battles, and each provides a certain effect to help you in battle, such as starting the battle as invincible, being harder to launch, or simply being immune to certain stage conditions. Some spirits are even needed to progress around the map. However, this can lead to the situation where you cannot beat a spirit until you have found another one that invalidates their gimmick, or you just get lucky and manage to defeat them quickly. Without spoiling too much, the mode is longer than it seems. My one major gripe with the mode is that certain fighters are not unlocked until late into the mode. If one of these is the one you like to play the most, you may only get to use them for a short period.
But in the end, this is the grandest Smash game to date and has more than enough content to keep you coming back for more, despite some smaller issues.