As I watched yet another Nintendo Direct come to a close, this being the one streamed live on March 8, 2018, I was left with a feeling of discontent. Something was missing. Sure, plenty of deluxe editions of games that had previously been released for the Wii U were now coming to the Switch, and a number of new projects had been unveiled and elaborated upon. But I couldn’t get past the lack of a mind-blowing reveal. That is, until I saw a teaser for a brand new Super Smash Bros. title.
As the next nine months passed, hype among those within the Smash fanbase grew to an unprecedented level, and on December 7, 2018, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was finally released for the Nintendo Switch. Developed by Sora Ltd. and Bandai Namco Studios and published by Nintendo, the crossover fighting game is the fifth entry in the Super Smash Bros. series, and it is currently the fastest-selling game for the Switch.
When you start up Ultimate for the first time, you are greeted with a beautifully animated opening cinematic and a menu packed with both old and new single-player and multiplayer game modes for your friends and you to explore. You may be surprised to notice that you only have eight characters to play as at first, but fear not: this is part of the genius of the game, for this fact means that you are given a chance to experiment with each fighter–both before and as you begin to unlock all of your favorite characters–from past Smash titles without feeling overwhelmed. Before the game’s release, Nintendo advertised that the title’s roster would consist of every character from previous entries in the Smash franchise, and the game does not disappoint on that front: with 74 playable fighters, Ultimate has plenty of options to keep buyers entertained. Players who wish to gain access to all of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s characters quickly can rest easily, for the first several hours of playing Ultimate will reward you with an army of new fighters, regardless of the order in which you choose to tackle the game’s modes.
Smash titles have always been stuffed to the brim with content, and Ultimate is no exception. From game modes such as the World of Light campaign and the fan favorite Classic Mode to gimmicks such as the series’ famed items and Spirits, there is an ample assortment of features to keep players coming back to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The most crucial aspect of the game, however, is its core gameplay, and in that regard, things are better than ever. As in previous Smash entries, players control one of the many available characters, using a variety of attacks to weaken opponents as they attempt to knock them out of one of the game’s 103 stages. Where Ultimate shines, when compared to its predecessors is in its physics and speed of play, it ups the ante, making gameplay faster while keeping it fluid.
Graphically, the game is well-polished. Fighters’ movements are animated beautifully, and character models have clearly been refined since Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U. In terms of art, the game’s style is slightly more cartoonish than that of the previous entry in the Smash franchise. But I personally prefer the cartoonish look. Finally, Ultimate’s soundtrack is not only absolutely massive (It consists of over 800 tracks.), it also includes some of the best remixes of songs from older Nintendo titles that I have heard.
While I have admittedly not tested Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s online mode for myself, I have heard from a number of sources that online play is currently rather clunky, and much criticism has been voiced on the internet regarding this matter.
Ultimate has received universal acclaim from critics such as Famitsu, Game Informer, and Nintendo Life, earning scores of 38/40, 9.5/10, and 10/10, respectively, and it has received numerous awards including Best Fighting Game from Game Critics Awards and Best Console Game (Nintendo Switch) from Gamescom Awards. Should you wish to purchase a game that will provide both you and your friends with endless fun, I cannot recommend Super Smash Bros. Ultimate enough.