It’s no secret that it can be a major event when a new Super Smash Bros. releases on a Nintendo console. But can it be even bigger when you have the biggest culmination of every entry in the series jam-packed into one game? That’s exactly what Super Smash Bros. Ultimate feels like on the Nintendo Switch. Every fighter and stage to ever appear in the series’ history is back and primed for fast-paced action that will make any Nintendo fan super happy. Although we get more than just a few familiar faces from the past making a grand return, including new fighters and stages, as well as a brand new game mode to keep you busy for a long time. Does it all come together very well? It does, but not in every way that you might expect.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is arguably the biggest video game cross-over in history. The amount of Nintendo characters and franchises, along with some third-party friends from other games, is so abundant and offers a large variety of playable characters and stages to fight on. With so many characters showing up you’d think there was already enough for everybody, but Super Smash Bros. Ultimate goes beyond that by adding new characters and opening up the potential for new downloadable content. Newcomers like Simon Belmont from the Castlevania series join with other Nintendo characters like Inceniroar, Ridley, King K. Rool, and many others to make an already large roster even bigger. You simply will not get bored trying to find a character to play with. Like the game’s slogan suggests, everybody is here.
But what about the gameplay? Is it still Smash Bros. the way it should be? It is and even more beyond that. There’s still the free-for-all game types and big brawls that can put up to eight fighters in one match, all of which are just as chaotic and frantic yet fun for everyone. Getting into matches is quick and easy, but if you’re more of the solo type then there’s a lot of game to dive into alone. Classic Mode is the standard arcade ladder with six battles for each character, with each one having a certain theme for that particular character and special boss fight towards the end.
Completing Classic mode each time allows you to face a new challenger and unlock another character for the roster. However, regardless of what difficulty you set the Classic mode on, the level of CPU you fight during these battles can skyrocket and offer a surprisingly unwelcomed challenge. Losing to them doesn’t mean you have to grind Classic mode to challenge them again, however, instead you try again in the menus through the Challenger Approaches option. This offers a solution for anyone looking to unlock everybody quickly, but the difficulty spike is so blatant when it happens. It would’ve been far better to have the CPU level match up with what Classic mode is set to.
The biggest addition to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the adventure mode known as World of Light. Unlock previous single player campaigns from older Smash Bros titles, this one has a heavy emphasis on the Spirits system and navigating a large map throughout its more than 40-hour experience. Spirits are extra characters, based on all kinds of Nintendo and non-Nintendo games, which appear and boost the stats of your fighter and manipulate conditions of battles.
Gathering spirits is like gaining loot for each fight you win in World of Light and can be managed to grow in strength by increasing their levels one of a few ways. If this sounds overly complicated, it’s because it really is. Spirits are a nice addition to the game, but the need to micromanage and have specific ones on hand throughout World of Light can get very tedious.
Some battles are simply unwinnable and supremely difficult without gathering certain spirits to give you a balanced edge in battle. This is only made worse by a number of very harsh difficulty spikes in some battles within World of Light, where the CPU fighters go from incredibly easy to monstrous difficulty without much warning. If you’re clever enough come up with the right combination of spirits and have fast reflexes, then these fights can be conquered. But the journey to do so and the rewards you gain afterward might not always be worth it more often than not. As a whole, World of Light is a great idea for a single-player campaign that features the whole roster, but it becomes drawn out and overextended early on, which may leave some players disappointed.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate multiplayer is where many will be spending most of their time. But while offline games are a perfect joy to play with others, online and local wireless play are a different story. Local wireless games can suffer from stuttering during matches, depending on the area you are located in with your Nintendo Switch. While this doesn’t always happen, it can be a frequent enough occurrence to impact the quality of matches, even with just two people participating. The online modes in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, however, have far bigger issues. Despite the quality of internet connections online, matches can suffer from very bad latency and even at times abruptly end with communication errors. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate doesn’t have any options to filter out bad matches or terrible connections, despite there being a few options available that feel somewhat meager.
Connecting with friends online can be a hit or miss affair, especially when it is still difficult to invite friends into battle lobbies that you create. Besides using friend codes and passwords to make rooms, there is no simple and quick way to just invite those on your friend list into your lobby. Part of this is due to the Nintendo Switch Online service, but almost no alternative or attempt is made in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to help make this easier. For some, the online modes will be totally manageable, but others will see many of the missing things that would make playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate online so much better overall.
Is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate a perfect entry in the series? Not at all, especially with the areas that need some major improvements. But is it still a fun and addictive game for those who have a Nintendo Switch? Most definitely. Playing Super Smash Bros. is still very fun and will constantly make you want to keep going with just one or two more matches with friends. World of Light might be hyperextended much, but it still is a neat idea that offers a lot of playtime to everyone looking to take a break from the other game modes. Bumps and bruises aside, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a must-own for anyone that has a Nintendo Switch.
This review is based on purchased a physical copy of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch.