The most ambitious crossover in the history of video games.
Super Smash Bros. is a celebration of all things Nintendo, while with the addition of more and more major third party characters with each successive entry, it’s gotten to a point where it’s just a celebration of video games in general. As such, when a series like that gets what is inarguably the culmination of everything it has ever done and stood for, as it’s name Ultimate implies, you know it’s going mto be a big deal. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is looking like it’s going to live up to its name, many times over, and with its launch day getting closer and closer, the excitement surrounding the game is through the roof. In this feature, we’re going to take a look at fifteen most vital pieces of information that you should know about before the game releases.
As the game’s central premise – “everyone is here” – makes it clear, the core hook of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is that it brings together every fighter that has ever featured in a Smash game. That means that it has over 70 characters at launch, and over 80 in total, and is the first game in the series since Super Smash Bros. Melee to not cut any character that was included in the preceding game. Characters that have featured in the series but were missing from the previous instalment, such as Pichu, Solid Snake, Young Link, and Ice Climbers are all going to come back. At the beginning of the game, you will have access to eight characters – the original eight that were included in the original Smash Bros. on the N64 – and all the others will be unlocked as you play more of the game.
But of course, it’s not just about the older characters. Several new faces will also be joining the fight. Some of the most notable among these are long time Metroid antagonist Ridley, Animal Crossing’s Isabel, Donkey Kong’s King K. Rool, the Inkilings from Splatoon, and a few others that we’ll be speaking of in a bit. Notably, Simon Belmont of the Castlevania games is also stepping into the ring, joining an ever-increasing list of major third party characters in Smash.
What were previously referred to as clones in Smash games are going to be given a distinct category in and of itself- Echo Fighters. What are these? Echo Fighters are characters that are based on other characters that are already in the game, and have more or less the same movesets and attacks as the characters they’re based on, with some minor changes, as well as changes to their visual design. Daisy is an Echo of Peach, Dark Pit is an Echo of Pit, Dark Samus is an Echo of Samus, Lucina is an Echo of Marth. Meanwhile, three fresh faces in the roster, Fire Emblem Awakening’s Chrom, Street Fighter’s Ken, and Castlevania’s Richter Belmont, are Echoes of Roy, Ryu, and Simon respectively.
CHANGES TO POKEMON TRAINER
Anyone who picks the Pokemon Trainer as their main in Super Smash Bros. (all five of you) knows that the Pokemon Trainer is actually three different characters, not just one, with access to three different Pokemon that you send out to fight. And Pokemon Trainer is going to become a much more attractive choice for all Smash players with Ultimate (so now there will be at least fourteen of you). While earlier, you would automatically cycle through your Pokemon in a specific order, now, you will be able to swap out Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard at will and on the fly in the middle of battles and have much faster switching due to the removal of the Stamina mechanic. Also, you can now also play as a female Pokemon Trainer.
ASSIST TROPHIES AND POKEBALL POKEMON
Several new characters are also being added as Assist Trophies. These include Shovel Knight, Konami’s Bomberman, Alucard from Castlevania, Rathalos from Monster Hunter (who is also a boss in the game’s adventure mode, which we’ll get to in just a bit), Kapp’n from Animal Crossing, Knuckles from Sonic, Rodin from Bayonetta, Zero from Mega Man, and the Squid Sisters from Splatoon. New Pokemon, including Abra, Alolan Exeggutor, Mimikyu, Alolan Raichu, Ditto, Bewear, and Alolan Vulpix have also been added
But that’s not it as far as characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is concerned. When Masahiro Sakurai says “ultimate”, he fricking means it. …But perhaps delivering us six more characters through fragmented DLC is not that good an idea. Of these six characters, one has already been announced, that being Piranha Plant from Super Mario. The other five remaining DLCs will each include an additional character, and new music tracks and a new stage each. On top of that, those who have the Fighter’s Pass will get access to a Mii costume that looks like Rex’s outfit from Xenoblade Chronicles 2, while Xenoblade Chronicles 2 spirits (which we’ll get to in just a bit) are also going to be part of the package.
Not counting the five stages that will be added to the game post-launch, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will launch with a total of 103 stages. Of these, 96 will be returning stages from previous games, while 7 will be completely new additions. Smash Ultimate also adds the option to let players play in Omega or Battlefield forms of each stage. In Omega form, each stage will be reduced to a single platform, similar to the structure of Final Destination, while in Battlefield form, each stage will have a three platform design similar to Battlefield. In both these forms, the visual design and backgrounds for all stages will remain the same as their default forms.
Of these seven new stages in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate that we just mentioned, two will be new renditions of Battlefield and Final Destination, just like every other Smash game ever made, while Big Battlefield (which is basically Battlefield, but, you know… big) is also one of the new stages. The remaining four are Dracula’s Castle from Castlevania, New Donk City Hall from Super Mario Odyssey, Great Plateau Tower from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and Moray Towers from Splatoon.
WORLD OF LIGHT
Super Smash Bros. games have had a bit of a patchy history with single player campaigns. The Adventure Mode in Melee was a decent mode, but nothing too special. Subspace Emissary in Brawl was certainly ambitious, and depending on who you ask, either the best or the worst thing the series has ever done. The single player offerings in Smash 4 were completely forgettable, and were universally criticized. Smash Ultimate, however, is going for something completely bonkers. Called World of Light, it features what looks like a proper, dramatic story setup with stakes, voice acting, exciting new mechanics, actual progression- basically everything that fans of the series have been demanding to see in the adventure modes.
Another one of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s headlining additions is Spirits, which are essentially replacements for collectible trophies from previous Smash titles. Each Spirit is based on a character, and can be applied to your fighters to give them unique abilities depending on which Spirit you have used. Fighting against both, the AI and other players, gets you more Spirits, which, of course, you can use to power up your characters even more. Spirits will tie in with the core progression in the World of Light campaign quite a bit.
One of the main aims of the development team while making Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has been to speed up the action, for which they have made several changes to the gameplay. For instance, Final Smashes have been sped up, and as such several characters have received completely new Final Smash moves. Characters also have higher initial speeds, as well as higher deceleration while being attacked or launched. Air dodges are also much quicker, while full hops, midair jumps, and pummels have also been sped up. Additionally, taunts are also performed at a quicker speed, and can also be cancelled entirely. Screen KOs are also quicker, and shields also drop quicker, making the game more attack-oriented and less focused on defence.
Items are part of the chaotic charm of any Super Smash Bros. game, much like Mario Kart (although many Smash players do admittedly like to play with items turned off). In Smash Ultimate, on top of many returning items, there’re also going to be quite a lot of new ones. The most prominent of these is the Fake Smash Ball, which looks almost identical to actual Smash Balls. Fake Smash Balls will appear quite infrequently, and if a players breaks one of these, all characters around it will be launched in the air. Other new items include Healing Field, Black Hole, the Castlevania-themed Death Scythe, the Kirby-themed Bomber, and the Fire Emblem-themed Killing Edge.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is also looking like a game that, true to its name, will appeal to veteran fans of the series in several ways- chief among them has to be the fact that you can customize the game and its rulesets quite a bit. For instance, layers will also be given the option to turn off the Smash Ball and instead replace it with a more traditional meter known an the Smash Gauge that gradually fills up. Other things, such as how frequently specific items spawn (right down to zero), and handicap settings, can also be fiddled with. Stage hazards, of course, can also be turned off. You can, essentially, tailor a match’s rules to the kind of fight you want to have, while these rulesets can also be saved for future uses.
Another way Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is going to allow players to customize matches and their flow in new and unique ways is through a feature called Stage Morph. Using Stage Morph, players will be able to select two stages at the beginning of a fight, and in the middle of the fights that follow, the game will shift between the selected stages. That can happen either at random, or in ways that can also be pre-decided by players, adding yet another layer of customizability.
Here’s a staggering statistic for you- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate contains over 900 tracks of music pulled from across all the franchises it represents. That amounts to over 28 hours of music. Sorting through this massive library of tracks is also going to be made much more convenient, because they are now sorted by franchise rather than by stages, while playlists can also be created. Players can choose which tracks they want to listen to on which stage.