Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch marks the fifth installment in the popular series. Ultimate brings together fighters from a plethora of Nintendo games, including Super Mario, The Legend of Zelda, Pokemon and Star Fox, as well as third-party games such as Sonic, Mega Man and Final Fantasy. The original Super Smash Bros. was released in 1999 for the Nintendo 64, with subsequent titles released for every Nintendo console thereafter.
Smash Ultimate boasts a massive roster of 74 fighters, with six more to be released as downloadable content in the near future. From a technical standpoint, Ultimate feels similar to its predecessor on the Wii U in terms of character attacks and general physics. Most fighters’ moves remain unchanged, with the exception of adjusted speeds and damage percent outputs.
Experienced players will recognize some new mechanics in the game, including directional air dodge, which was last seen in Melee, as well as advanced running and dashing techniques. Defensive moves such as rolling and spot-dodging remain in the game but will weaken over time if the player overuses them. All final smashes, which are powerful special moves unique to each character, have been shortened to brief yet powerful attacks. This serves to create faster and more streamlined gameplay.
Ultimate includes an eight-player mode, with the ability to use both Switch and GameCube controllers. The latter with an external USB adapter sold separately. The game also features a whopping 103 stages, each one capable of being switched between normal, omega form (flat surface) and battlefield form (three floating platforms). The sheer amount of characters and stages, along with the capacity for eight players, makes Smash Ultimate a great game to play with friends, while the amount of unlockable content makes playing alone fun as well.
Smash Ultimate features a new adventure mode called Spirit Mode, where you travel around a map collecting “Spirits,” characters that affect different stats, in order to better your odds against buffed up fighters. The map features a total of 11 different areas along with hundreds of unlockable Spirits. While Spirit Mode includes many unique Spirits and battle combinations, some longtime fans have criticized the mode for its lack of cinematic cutscenes and platforming levels, both of which were present in the story mode for Super Smash Bros. Brawl for the Wii.
While Smash Ultimate’s story mode has drawn both positive and negative reactions from the fanbase, the majority of fans agree that the online mode is lag-filled and difficult to use. This is despite Nintendo charging an annual $20 for online services. In addition to this, Nintendo has eliminated the more streamlined rules selection process seen in Super Smash Bros. Wii U, the previous game in the series. Despite the issues affecting online play, Smash Ultimate still manages to outshine its predecessor, and is the most conveniently playable title to date due to the Switch’s portability. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate proves to be another strong addition to the franchise, possibly the definitive title for the console and the series as a whole.