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- Super Smash Bros. has long pulled characters from all corners of the Nintendo universe into one game where they can battle.
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch is the latest in the franchise and offers every character that’s ever appeared in Super Smash Bros. series. That’s 74 characters out of the box and more as you progress through the game.
- Solo mode can take a while to play, but players will love the depth and variety of characters, difficulty levels, and new features.
In 1999, Nintendo brought all of its characters into an ambitious cross-over game called Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo 64, and it’s been an icon ever since. Last year, the video game gods released the latest in the franchise called Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Switch, and to no one’s surprise, it’s the fastest-selling Nintendo Switch game of all time.
I’ve been playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for a few months now to find out if the latest game lives up to the reputation that Super Smash Bros. has built over the years.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is set up pretty much the same way as previous Super Smash Bros. games. There’s a way to play matches with your friends on the console using the Joy-Con controllers and online, and there’s a story, or solo, mode called "World of Light" in which you’ll play through the game, unlock characters, and battle the big bad boss at the very end. The game is as easy to navigate as previous versions, and if you’ve been a longtime Super Smash Bros. fan, you’ll appreciate that things are pretty much where they have been.
That said, Nintendo has added a few extra features to the game. For example, you can save your favorite game settings for future matches and in the solo mode, you can collect "spirits" that act as power-ups during the World of Light mode.
There are plenty of ways you can play too — with both Joy-Cons at once in solo mode, a single Joy-Con for multi-player mode, the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller for those who want a classic controller, or my personal favorite, the PowerA wireless GameCube-style controller. Some of those controller methods are easier to use than others, but the variety is definitely helpful for many players.
Gameplay is immediately recognizable. Graphics are a little crisper and characters look a little more modern than previous games, but this is still Super Smash Bros. and fans will be happy to know that it still looks and feels like the classic.
This may look and feel like a Super Smash Bros. game, but there are a few things that put it ahead of its predecessors. Perhaps the most important is that the game offers 74 fighters, all of whom can be unlocked by playing through the World of Light mode or simply over time by battling characters that appear, though both methods can take a while. Nonetheless, it’s nice to see so many fighters and game modes.
In the solo World of Light mode, you’ll start out as Kirby and set out to save your friends who have been possessed by "spirits." You battle characters that come across your path and eventually play against big boss Galeem in a final match. The spirits that you fight kind of replace the trophies that you would have won in previous versions of Super Smash Bros., but they serve a more tactical purpose too — they can power up your fighter during matches and the spirits themselves increase levels.
One of the best things about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is that it’s made to give fans what they want — an updated classic on Nintendo Switch —and it does so pretty well. Nintendo has already ported a few games from the Wii U over to the Switch and it could have done the same with Super Smash Bros. Instead, it built a new game from the ground up with plenty of characters and new game modes along the way.
Playing online was a little messy at launch late last year, but Nintendo seems to have ironed out most of the issues since then. Obviously, you’d be best to get a pretty good Internet connection for a seamless experience.
Cons to consider
You can set preferences like the frequency of items received and number of players, but depending on the matches that the game can find, you may still end up being placed in a game that doesn’t adhere to those preferences. It’s not a huge issue for me personally, but if you’re ultra-specific about how you like to play, you may not appreciate when the game puts you with players who play differently.
There’s also arguably too much to play through if you just want to game with your friends and unlock characters. Serious fans will enjoy World of Light, but it’ll take hours to get through it and as such, you may not end up playing many characters or ever get even close to unlocking a good number of the spirits. That won’t be a huge deal for most players, but for those that want to quickly unlock all the characters for multi-player mode, that might be a point of frustration.
The bottom line
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a great game for longtime fans and new players alike. While it’s a significant time investment to take on World of Light in solo mode, eventually you’ll be able to get through unlocking many of the characters just by playing itself and the game still excels in multiplayer mode. There are so many characters, levels, and options that I think any gamer will find something to enjoy — something we’d expected from the iconic Super Smash Bros. franchise.
Pros: Tons of characters and levels, lengthy solo game, versatile controlling
Cons: Can take a while to unlock everything
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