20 years ago, Super Smash Bros. took the world by storm when it came out on the Nintendo 64. It was innovative enough to feature characters from various Nintendo franchises such as Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, Samus, Yoshi, Kirby, Fox, and Pikachu fighting each other in the same game for the first time. Instead of life bars, players were instead encouraged to knock characters off of the stage. The game wasn’t complicated like most fighting games were at the time. You didn’t need to know a bunch of button combinations just to be good at the game. You and three other friends could just pick up the game and play.
Over the years, Nintendo released Super Smash Bros. for its various consoles: Melee (GameCube, 2001), Brawl (Wii, 2008), Super Smash Bros. (Wii and 3DS, 2014), and the current installation for the Nintendo Switch, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It was widely rumored that it would be the final Super Smash Bros. game ever released. Game creator Masahiro Sakurai is known to be a workaholic and deeply immerses himself into his projects. This is not unusual in the Japanese culture, with some workers clocking in 100+ hours a week, but there is even a term for this: karoshi (overwork death). Sakurai himself suffered from health problems during the development of the previous Smash Bros. game, and was largely mum on whether or not Ultimate would even be made back in 2015.
Ultimate retains all previous game modes and characters from the previous Smash games, including 11 new characters: Inkling from Splatoon, Princess Daisy from the Mario series, Ridley and Dark Samus from Metroid, Simon and Richter Belmont from Castlevania, Chrom from Fire Emblem: Awakening, King K. Rool from Donkey Kong, Isabelle from Animal Crossing, Ken from Street Fighter, and Incineroar from Pokemon Sun and Moon. Players will start off with only the eight original characters from the 1999 game, which means players will have to unlock 66 other characters. Several other characters will be available via DLC namely, Piranha Plant from Mario, and others through the Fighter’s Pass. The first paid DLC fighter will be Joker from Persona 5. He is the only known paid DLC fighter as of writing.
Players will be able to play in several new modes, such as Smashdown where you can only play each character once, Squad Strike where players will battle in teams of multiple characters, and Tournament Mode that allows up to 32 players to fight in tournament brackets. There is a new mechanic known as spirits, which replaces the previous games’ collectible trophies. These spirits can be used to power up fighters, earn new spirits and can be obtained through character-themed battles. For instance, to obtain the Rayquaza (from Pokemon) spirit, players must beat a larger- than-usual Ridley with wind blowing across the battlefield. These spirits can be found in the single-player adventure mode, the World of Light, where Kirby must go around rescuing captured fighters and spirits who have been locked away by the evil Galeem.
Whether it’s your first Smash game or you’ve been playing religiously for the last 20 years, Ultimate is a great way to bring the younger generation into the Smash series or bring nostalgia back to people who have been playing since the Nintendo 64 edition. Players will enjoy the simple yet addicting fighting style that has come to define two decades of Super Smash Bros. action.
Developer: Bandai Namco Studios, Sora Ltd.
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Words by Jose Alvarez
Layout by Jael Mendoza
Also published in GADGETS MAGAZINE February 2019 Issue