Super Smash Bros Ultimate Review
Although Nintendo has been publishing Super Smash Bros titles since the Nintendo 64 era, I’ve never really been able to get into any of them. The reasoning for that isn’t as apparent as I would have thought either. I like the idea of Super Smash Bros. I like the characters in Super Smash Bros. And I even love the level design. But for some reason, they’ve never grabbed me.
A copy of the game was provided by Nintendo of Canada for the purpose of this review.
I got close to pumping dozens of hours into Super Smash Bros on the Nintendo Wii U and Nintendo 3DS, but even that game fell flat for me after a few weeks. There is something different, although still very much the same, about Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and after nearly 30 hours across all the modes, I’m having a fantastic time. And I think I pinpointed the reason: a robust single player experience with tons of things to collect!
Going Single Player
Super Smash Bros has never been a single player focused title. We’ve had campaigns in the past, but those rarely lasted more than a few hours – or so it seems so many years later – and lacked any real grab that would make you come back to play time after time. Things are different with Ultimate, and in a good way. This time, Nintendo has created a single player experience that could almost sell the title as a single player experience! So why does this years campaign work so well? Collectable spirits, hundreds upon hundreds of them!
As the world of Smash Bros crumbled at the hands of an evil wizard Galeem, only Kirby remains to save each and every fighter available, and release hundreds and hundreds of spirits. Using an overworked, Kirby – or later those you unlock – will fight various enemies, sometimes unlocking new fighters for your roster, but more often releasing spirits that you can use to provide specific bonuses and buffs.
You’ll be able to use one main spirit that provides any number of benefits – sometimes it will start you with a specific weapon – and a number of slots to put in minor spirits, that provide you other buffs and perks. Some, more powerful spirits will require more than one spirit slot, and with hundreds to choose from after only a few hours, finding out which is best can become a bit of a nightmare.
Spirits level up as you play, and will max out at Level 99, at which point they will sometimes learn more powerful bonuses. I was overwhelmed by the number of choices after about a dozen hours and began focusing on a set few that I really liked. Each spirit has a type as well – Defence, Melee, Grab, and Neutral – and if matched up well against enemies (Grab tops Defence which tops Melee which tops Grab) can provide users fighters even more bonuses. Early on this is less important, but the deeper you get into the experience, the more vital it becomes!
The collectables make coming back to single player time after time a blast, and although I often felt overwhelmed by the number of spirits to sort and look at, it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. On top of the adventure mode, there is also a Spirit Board, which will allow you to fight against certain spirits in order to add them to your roster. Lose, and the spirit will disappear from the board, to return again at a later time.
These spirits are on the board for a limited time, so if you see one you want, be sure to fight it quickly. When defeating fighters and spirits, you’ll earn coins, skill tree points, and more that can be used to upgrade your fighters, buy items at the Nook shop, and more. Under power yourself in fights, and you’ll earn more rewards than normal, which seems great in theory, but makes the experience much more difficult. This is a must for hardcore smash players!
Multiplayer Is Still King
Thankfully, unlockables are provided across all modes, so even when focusing on multiplayer you’ll still unlock stuff at a steady pace. And ultimately, Ultimate is best when enjoyed with friends in the same room.
And with the entire roster of fighters ever released in a Smash Bros Title, there is no lack of available fighters for all fans of the series. Whether you like the classic Mario, or prefer to play as Snake, each and every fighter ever released is now available for players enjoyment.
While not every stage is available like the fighters, there are still dozens to choose from, many of which you will remember if you’ve been a longtime fan. While there aren’t any bad stages, some are much better than others. After a few hours, I had a few dozen that I preferred, and generally played on those. Still, when with a group of friends, doing everything completely random is still the best way to go!
The plethora of multiplayer modes makes for a great party experience as well. There are team battles and solo fights of course, but also more interesting modes like Smashdown, where teams are eliminated from future fights as they are defeated, and Squad Strike where teams battle with each other, swapping out fallen characters for new ones as the game goes on.
But the same craziness exists that has always existed in Smash Bros obviously exists again here in Ultimate. If you are not a fan of over the top, constantly moving arenas and fights, there isn’t anything new here that will change your mind. But I feel that is where the single player campaign, and a lengthy campaign at that, is so important. There will be tons of individuals who aren’t crazy about 4 or 8 player Smash, but will enjoy the 1-on-1 aspect of the single player experience. At almost 30 hours, it might be worth the purchase, even if you rarely dabble in the multiplayer portions of the game.
On top of multiplayer and single player experiences, players can also access the Super Smash Bros vault, which on top of other things, provides over 800 tracks worth of music from the various franchises represented in the game. And that aspect of Super Smash Bros will likely go unheralded with the media, but I don’t want to gloss over. Having all these tracks available to listen to at any time is fantastic, and users can even create custom playlists to use across their smash games. I think this is a wonderful addition by Nintendo, one that began with the last Super Smash Bros release, but has been expanded upon here!