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What’s Next for Super Smash Bros?

We’re nearly there – the final piece of DLC for Super Smash Bros Ultimate is on the horizon and then the biggest celebration of video games will come to an end. But what a legacy it will have.

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But it also marks a fork in the road for a franchise that has reached its peak. Do the developers continuing doing exactly the same thing, just with less characters? How does that go down after the success of Ultimate?

Do they just keep releasing this one again and again, with slightly fancier graphics and balance changes? I mean, it’d depend on their contracts with third parties, but it’s possible.

Or do they go back to the fundamentals? Do they reach back to the N64 era and start again, building up something similar but different?

All we know is that Smash today means something very specific, and it can no longer mean that thing going forward.

Super Smash DLC and Beyond

You could write article after article about characters who deserve to be in Smash as DLC. And, yes, Sora from Kingdom Hearts would top that chart every single time.

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That says a lot about how high-quality Ultimate is, but also about the attitude that has been fostered around it. This is a celebration of video games, and it is done in a way that doesn’t feel cheap or cheesy.

With that said, there can be only one. There is a single DLC fighter left to announce, and that’s a lot to stick on one content drop. If it’s Sora, a lot of people will be very happy. On the other hand, it could very easily be that one character from Fire Emblem that isn’t represented yet.

Whatever happens, that’ll be it. Ultimate will be complete, and the next release, one way or another, will not be Ultimate. It’ll be sub-ultimate.

Characters and maps will almost certainly disappear. Whatever comes next will be lesser than Ultimate in some way or form. How that is handled is vitally important.

Changing the Future

Smash will never go away. Smash is a fighting game for people who can’t play fighting games. That’s perfect, because most people can’t.

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It’s fun, it’s addictive, and it sells ridiculously well. The idea that Ultimate can just be the full stop is laughable. Granted, they could re-release over and over again. But as the years go on and the roster gets smaller, it’ll start to feel more and more like a copout. Not that Nintendo are above that, but it seems like the shortest of short-term solutions. Re-releasing a Zelda game isn’t going to stop a new Zelda game being made, and the same is true for Smash.

So the developers must decide where they go next. Could Ultimate 2 have the same gameplay, but a brand new roster of characters? Save the biggest like Mario and Link, naturally, but beyond that new faces?

Alternatively, you go back to basics. You ask yourself if this is the best way of presenting this style of fighting game. I’d say yes, and changing the fundamentals would be a huge mistake, but it’s a question that needs to be asked.

Which leaves you looking at the game modes, at the movesets, at the graphical style… A story-based Smash with less characters but a new style of move to learn would make up for the massive loss of numbers after Ultimate. Why does Mario still need to be fighting like Sunshine just came out? Why is Young Link still glued to much the same moves he had in Melee? Is Jigglypuff even worth mentioning in 2021?

Now is the time to cut loose. The Super Smash Bros we’re talking about in five years will be very different than the one we’re talking about today.

 

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blank Mat Growcott has been a long-time member of the gaming press. He's written two books and a web series, and doesn't have nearly enough time to play the games he writes about.

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