The idea of what the Super Smash Bros. games are and what they can be has been different things in the 20-year history of the series. What started as an accessible multiplayer game also became a very competitive one-on-one game. But it has also been noted for an extensive single-player adventure, as well as becoming a kind of virtual museum catalog that displays knowledge and audiovisual artifacts from the stories in its increasingly diverse crossover cast. Ultimate includes all of these aspects, and each has been refined, added to and improved for the better. Everyone, and virtually anything from previous games, are here – all existing characters, almost all existing phases, along with the flexibility to play and enjoy these things in different ways. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a comprehensive, considered and charming package based on an already strong and lasting combat system.
If you've ever spent time with a Smash game, you probably have a good idea of how Ultimate works. Competitive players treat damage to their opponents to more easily knock them off the stage. The controls remain relatively accessible to a competitive fighting game; Three different buttons in tandem with basic directional movements are all you need to access a character's many attacks and special abilities. There is a great selection of things and power-ups to mix things up (if you want) and interesting, dynamic stages to fight (even if you want). You can find complexities beyond this, of course – when you quickly experience the width of a character's skills, you can start thinking about shades of a match (again, if you want). Thinking about the optimal location, finding out which attacks can easily come out of someone else, educating what the best feature for each situation is, and playing mind games with your human opponents can quickly be considered and the enchantment of Smash as a fighting game, how easy it is to reach that stage.
The complexity also comes with the many different techniques provided by Ultimate's staggering large roster of over 70 characters. Smash's continued accessibility is a lucky feature in this regard, because once you understand the basic idea of how to control a character, many of the obstacles to trying a brand new one are gone. Each fighter who has appeared in the previous four Smash games is here with some brand new and the presence of so many different and unorthodox styles to both drive and compete is as attractive as the presence of the properties. In fact, it is still amazing that a game of characters from Mario Bros, Sonic The Hedgehog, Pac-Man, Metal Gear Solid, Final Fantasy and Street Fighter all interact with each other actually exists.
At a more technical level, Ultimate makes a series of under-the-hood changes, which at this early stage seem like positive changes that make Smash feel significantly faster and more exciting both to see and play. Draw takes more damage in one-on-one matches; Continuous dodging is punished with increased vulnerability; Warriors can perform any terrestrial attacks, including smash movements, immediately out of a running state; and short-term air attacks (formerly a moderately demanding technique) can easily be performed by pressing two buttons simultaneously. Improvements like these may possibly be avoided, but they help define Ultimate's core game as a concrete development of the series core mechanics.
A number of Ultimate's more superficial changes also help Smash's overall quality of life. Some make it more readable game – add-ons to the user interface communicate previously hidden items like meter charges and Villager's captured objects, a simple radar helps keep track of screen signs and a slow motion zoom in visual effect when critical hits connect These moments are more exciting to see. Other changes help streamline the core multiplayer experience and add convincing options. Match rules can now be predefined with a change of modifiers and saved for speed dialing later. Stage selection takes place before the selection of characters, so you can make more informed decisions about which fighter you need.
On top of a built-in tournament fitting mode, Ultimate also features a number of additional Smash styles. Super Sudden Death returns, like Custom Smash, which allows you to create battles with crazy modifiers. Squad Strike is a personal favorite that allows you to play 3v3 or 5v5 tag-team matches (think of King of Fighters) and Smashdown is a fantastic engaging fashion that makes the most of the game's big roster by disqualifying characters that has already been used as a series of matches continues, challenging your ability to cope with characters that you may not be familiar with.
However, the most significant addition to Ultimate is in its single player content. Ultimate again has a classic state where each fighter has its own unique rise of opponents to defeat, but the bigger deal is the World of Light, Ultimate's surprisingly large RPG style campaign. It's a terrible setup – begins like Kirby, you go on a long journey through a big world map to save Smash's other warriors (which have also been cloned in large numbers) from the control of the great wickedness. Along the way you will fight with Spirits, characters coming from other video games that are not directly involved in combat, have taken control of clones, changed them in their pictures and released them on you.
Although there is some light confusing, the world is naturally filled with hundreds of hundreds of matches – there are over 1200 Spirit characters, and most have their own unique battle stages that use the game's match variables to represent their essence. For example, the Goomba spirit will set you up against an army of little Donkey Kongs. In the meantime, Excitebike Spirit can throw three Warios to you who only use their Side + B motorcycle attacks.
It may seem like a hesitant idea first, but these matches are incredibly entertaining. It's hard not to appreciate creativity by using Smash's assets to represent a thousand different characters. Zero Suit Samus can face a battle with The Boss from Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater by donating a silver palette costume and battling you in a flowery final destination, but she also stands for Alexandra Roiva's spirit from eternal darkness by using a black-palette costume and fight in the haunted Luigi's Mansion stage, with a modifier that turns the screen occasionally on the head (Eternal Dark was a GameCube scare game whose signature function was "Sanity Effects", which crooked play in terrible ways to represent the character's loose grip on reality). If I knew the grade, I often thought that I was thinking how clever your spirit match was.
Defeating a Spirit will add it to your collection, and Spirits also works as the World of Light's RPG system. There are two types of spirit: primary and support. Primary Spirits have their own power number and can be leveled up in different ways to make your actual fighter stronger. Primary Spirits also has one of four associated classes that determines combat effectiveness in a rock-scissors-paper-style system. It is both important considerations to take into account before a fight and make sure you do not go into a struggle with a massive disadvantage adding a nice dimension to the entertaining unpredictability of this condition. What you also need to take into consideration are the modifiers that can be activated at each step, which is where Support Spirits come in. They can be attached to Primary Spirits in a limited amount and can mitigate the effects of things like toxic floors, pitch black steps or reversed controls, or they can simply bend certain attacks.
However, there are a few spirit matches that can be frustrating. Stadiums, which are a 1v4 arrow-on, are quite annoying, despite how well equipped you are, like stadiums where you compete against powerful assistant trophies. On the front side, after the end of the match, there are certain loads that can trivialize most phases and earn you victory in less than a second. Whether compulsive quality to collect Spirits, and not only because they can make you stronger. It's exciting to see what unclear character you come into next, feel validated to recognize them and see how the game interprets them in a Spirit. There is also just a superficial joy to collect, saying the complete Elite Beat Agents cast (Osu! Takatae! Ouendan characters are here too), although these trophies lack the frills from previous Smash games.
Some hubs in the Light of World light are also the theme of certain games and bundled spirits together to great effect – Dracula Castle from Castlevania, which changes the card to a 2D side scroller and globe from Street Fighter II, complete with the iconic plane sounds, are personal standouts. Despite the dramatic overtones of the World of Spirit's setup, the tribute you will find within it is a good greeting of games and characters without feeling like a pandering nostalgia game. One of the most rewarding tribute of all lies in Ultide's large library of video games. Over 800 songs, including originals and great new events, can all be set as the stage's soundtrack, which also benefits from the game's music player.
There is a significant match that Ultimate opposes, which lies in the console's nature itself. Play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in Switch's handheld mode is simply not a great experience. In situations where there are more than two characters on the screen, the display of the action is often too wide, which makes the wars too small to look properly and it can be difficult to tell what you or your opponent does. The game's love for flashy special effects and bustling colorful scenes does not help things at all, and unless you play a one-on-one game, you're likely to suffer some incredible losses. This is a situationele disadvantage and can not affect all players, but it puts a damper on the idea of Smash on the move.
The need to unlock characters also has the potential to be a sincere annoyance, especially if your goal is to jump directly into multiplayer and start learning one of the six brand new characters. In my time of play, I shared my attention between playing World of Light (where rescue of characters locks them everywhere) and multiplayer matches where the constant drip feed of "New Challenger" locks up the possibilities (which you can easily try again if you fail) came on a regular basis. Of course, I've served the entire roster for about 10 hours of playing time, but your mileage may vary.
Your mileage may also vary in Ultimate's online mode, where the experience of competing against others was inconsistent in the 200+ matches we played. Ultimate matches you with players from your region, but continues to use peer-to-peer-style connectivity, which means that the quality of the experience depends primarily on the strength of the individual player's internet connection. A bad connection from any player can result in a noticeable entry delay, strain and even freezing as the game tries to handle latency problems. Things have the greatest potential to go bad during four-player matches, where there is a greater chance of finding a weak link.
There is some blame in being placed on the console itself – the only switch has the capabilities of wifi networks. You can invest in an optional USB LAN adapter to ensure your connection is stable, but because of the peer-to-peer nature, I found that the experience was equally inconsistent. You can be lucky – I will regularly enjoy sessions filled with slippery matches – but regardless of laggy matches, it's not a rare occurrence. It is also worth noting that you are required to have a paid subscription to Nintendo Switch Online Service to play online at all, so the suboptimal performance in the mode is disappointing.
Network performance aside, Ultimate's online mode is an interesting way to meet the many different ways to play Smash Bros. You can create public or private venues for friends and strangers who serve as personal spaces to dictate specific rules, but the primary mode is Quick Play, where you are matched to people with similar levels to you. Quick Play has an option where you can set your preferred set of rules – things like the number of players, availability and wind conditions – and it will try to match you with a person with similar preferences. Ultimate, however, also prioritizes getting you in less than a minute, which is amazing, but sometimes it means you might find yourself a completely different match style.
In my experience, I found out that there were enough people who wanted to play with my set of rules (one to one, three layers, six minutes, nothing, only Omega stages) and I would find myself in these kinds of matches or at least a very close approximation, most of the time. Being thrown into the occasional four-player, who was free of all, felt like a good and refreshing change in the pace of me, but it depends on how flexible you are playing, it may be a finish. But like so much of Ultimate, its diversity of possibilities and styles does not necessarily mean that everyone fits any player.
An inconsistent online mode and situational downers do not stop Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from rails as a flexible multiplayer game that can be as freewheeling or as fast as you want it. The entertaining single player content helps keep the game nice with interesting things to do, as well as strengthening its spirit of loving regards to the games that have enjoyed Nintendo consoles. Ultimate's content is convincing, its powerful mechanics are refined and the extensive collection is simply amazing.