Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Nintendo Switch Review
Where do you begin with a frantic party-fighting game that's over 70 characters strong, features tons of different game modes, and has way more than three decades' worth of gaming history embedded into it? The release of any new Super Smash Bros. Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, and factoring in some quite excellent and unexpected characters (Mega Man, Ryu, Cloud Strife, Bayonetta), the fourth entry in the series, particularly the console version, felt lacking as an entertaining solo game. The absence of a story mode and the way the 3DS edition had the superior single-player and Classic modes meant the game could get old rather quickly unless you got the most out of it through multiplayer. The main draw is that every single fighter that has been playable in a past game in the series returns for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, making it the largest ever roster. When you look at just how open even Konami and Capcom have been, throwing a shedload of fantastic music - originals and remixes - Nintendo's way to cram into Ultimate, it makes Square look just a bit pathetic.
The breadth of options, and nintendo switch joy con game modes, are tucked away inside a stylish and functional user interface. Experienced players will notice that Ultimate feels different, but mightn’t necessarily be able to put their finger on how or why. The "easy to play, hard to master" mantra still rings true, so exclusively as a local multiplayer party game, it doesn’t really matter. But for those planning to invest considerably more time into the intricacies of combat, the subtle tweaks will be mostly appreciated. Dodging is the biggest standout, as it can’t be spammed constantly and overuse actually makes you more vulnerable. This ties into the new air dash system, which allows dodging projectiles, but overdoing puts you at a disadvantage. There’s nothing that will radically change how you play, but it’s different enough to feel like more than a port of the Wii U game with extra characters. The newcomers don’t exactly excel star power. Ridley, Inkling, King K. Rule, Simon Belmont, Isabelle and Incineroar, plus a bunch of Echo characters, join the fight. While it’s fair to say none have been demanding selection before now (except perhaps Ridley), they’re all well crafted fighters.
My favorite way to play Smash as a party game was time mode, especially with assist trophies on. The ability to score points by knocking these assist characters out is actually really fun and gives more chaotic Smash matches an extra layer of depth. I will say that it’s harder to keep track of your character in the chaos of party matches than it has been in previous Smash titles. This is largely due to the extra graphical flourishes that Nintendo has added to the game. Smoke and hit-sparks fly everywhere every time you get hit, and if three or more people are fighting at once it’s hard to see anything. It’s also worth noting that the same mechanical changes that make the game so fun to play as a fighting game have made it somewhat frustrating to play as a party game. In short, you can’t run away anymore due to dodge degradation, you can’t ledge stall without falling to your death, essentially all the "cheap" things people would do to survive a massive eight person brawl simply don’t work anymore.
Smash Bros is best when experimenting with different fighters, and playing as one character all session is an assured cause for premature boredom. The staggered unlocks should encourage venturing beyond a bubble list of nintendo switch games main fighters. Stages take the opposite approach, with all 103 available from the outset. The classics are still the best, while the modern designs are hit and miss. The Splatoon inspired Moray Towers is awkward to navigate, while Great Plateau Tower has a restricted camera, but New Donk City Hall keeps things moving well in a relatively confined space. With Corneria, Battlefield, and Final Destination performing as well as ever in crisp 60 frames per second, list of nintendo switch games it’s hard to complain about the missteps of some of the more experimental zones and they all look great in motion. Like the 3DS game, expansive maps like Brinstar can be troublesome in Handheld Mode. World of Light and the concept of Spirits is a little overwhelming at first. It’s not a story mode so much as a series of scenarios, generating reasons to fight the CPU over and over again, while still being meaningful, and above all entertaining.
The Global Smash Power ranking system seems like a vague way to determine skill, like the game is obfuscating how much you actually suck as the player base increases. But it did feel great to become skilled enough with my main character Ganondorf to briefly enter the upper echelon of Elite Smash despite sucking with Pichu. The raw fighting has never been better. The shift towards more aggressive play, with altered defensive options, makes matches more exciting to watch and participate in. The speed and technical finesse finally create the perfect compromise with the hardcore crowd and the franchise’s inherent accessibility. Giving aerials the speed of L-cancelling without the fiddly input needed to actually L-cancel is fantastic. As we’ve noted in our ongoing character breakdowns, each fighter has received loving individual balance adjustments, however big or small. Unlocking veterans is addictive, not disappointing or tedious, because you’re excited to see how they play now.