I remember when X-Men meeting Street Fighter was pretty much the pinnacle of crossovers. Two diﬀerent and wildly popular series in ONE game?! That’s the stuﬀ of wet nerd dreams! It’s honestly great that collaborations are the norm now, but Super Smash Bros Ultimate has just cranked things up to 11.
The game truly lives up to its “Ultimate” title. It includes every single fighter from past Super Smash Bros games, alongside all-new fighters to make up a massive roster of 74. That’s an INSANE number, blowing past Marvel vs Capcom 2’s already impressive 56. And Nintendo did it by doing what sounds like the impossible: roping in other companies to toss their characters into the ring.
Metal Gear Solid, Castlevania, Final Fantasy, Sonic… these are just a sampling of the many diﬀ erent franchises present. I love that Super Smash Bros Ultimate keeps most of its roster locked up; you only get eight at the start. After playing a couple of matches, you’ll get the famous “A New Challenger is Approaching” notice before taking on that challenger. Win, and that character is added to the roster; lose and you’ll have to wait till you can challenge them again.
There are also a bevy of modes to explore, with support for custom matches too. New to single-player is Spirits mode, which has you navigating and fighting in a large overworld to unlock Spirits and fighters.
Spirits are non-playable characters from a ton of diﬀerent franchises that can be equipped, sort of like gear, to boost stats or grant special abilities to fighters. However, after a while you’ll realize that Spirits is just busywork with little impact on the main game.
It’s also a shame that the overworld map is boring and uninspired. The flat 2D visuals looked so out of place among the slick UI that permeates the rest of the game.
If you’ve never played Smash Bros before, the games support up to eight players in battles. You and your opponents are dropped onto a stage, where you then have to whack each other until somebody falls oﬀ. The moves are simple to execute, with dodges, blocks and throws available, though some fighters can even counter. It’s a very pick-up-and-play type of game, which makes it perfect for parties.
It’s a shame that loading times can take a while, especially for Spirits mode. While it’s understandable that normal matches take a while due to their size, the smaller 1-on-1 Spirits fights can sometimes take nearly as long as regular fourplayer battles.
Oﬄine multi-player is where the game truly shines. You can customize match rules to your heart’s content and there are a ton of diﬀerent modes to try. Best of all, frame rate is smooth even with eight players duking it out, which isn’t something to sneeze at considering how chaotic things can get.
Sadly, online multiplayer (which needs a paid subscription to the Nintendo Network) is a mess and I heartily recommend avoiding it as much as possible. It lacks the variety and fiexibility of modes in single-player and the matchmaking is a joke, treating your preferred match settings as suggestions instead. Want to play a one-on-one match? Tough luck, the matchmaker wants you in a four-player deathmatch instead.
Even if you do get paired correctly, good luck finding a game without lag. Input lag is so bad that it makes playing on a 56K modem seem like broadband. Playing on a wired connection seems to be marginally better, but that’s not an option when you’re in handheld mode.
The game’s biggest allure weirdly comes not from the fighting itself, but from the huge amount of extra content. I’ve mentioned the unlockable fighters and Spirits, but there’s also a ton of extra material, and chief among them is the Music Gallery. It has some of the best tracks from the series represented, and while there are curious omissions like Symphony of the Night’s “I am the Wind” or paltry selections from Final Fantasy, you’ll never find a more eclectic Music Gallery in existence.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate might very well be the best incarnation of the series, with a massive list of unlockable content to keep players occupied for an obscenely long time, but there’s still a ton of issues that could be improved.
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Unlock the full roster by challenging and winning against each character.
Besides the playable roster, Spirits mode features many other cameo characters that can be equipped.
A massive brawler best enjoyed with a regular oﬄine group.