With everything for everyone
Originally published January 8, 2019 at Doublejump.co
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate might look like a remaster but it goes far beyond the basic deluxe treatment. It packs in every character who’s ever been on the roster, almost every stage, it’s filled with more collectibles than ever, includes a wealth of options to customize your experience (hardcore and casual alike), and even has a lengthy, satisfying single-player RPG that succeeds where Brawl’s oft-maligned Subspace Emissary mode failed.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate aims to please everyone – and actually succeeds.
Super Smash Bros. games are essentially ‘platform fighters’, more about knocking players off the stage than dropping your opponent’s health to nil. As a fighting game, players balance keeping their feet on solid ground whilst dealing damage to the other players. Each level is also a unique platforming challenge – some scroll like a Super Mario Bros. game and force players to keep up, others have recurring hazards for players to routinely avoid, while others are plain and safe. With dozens of items and assist summons thrown into the mix, Super Smash Bros. tries to create an even playing field regardless of age or skill level, where each match plays out differently.
With all the items and level hazards stripped away, Super Smash Bros. is a simple and unique fighting game at its core. The controls and move sets are relatively straight-forward and, with a large, open map as the competitive standard, push agility and strategy more openly than other mainstream fighting games. It’s an ‘easy to grasp, difficult to master’ type of fighting game that focuses on weakening and outwitting opponents instead of outright defeating them.
In comparison to other games in the series, Ultimate is most similar to the previous Wii U/3DS release. It sees tweaks across every mechanic but, for most, these will be difficult to pinpoint without being a long-term fan of the series.
For the more casual players (which includes myself), the most important of these are overhauls to the Final Smash attacks, now typically quicker, short-range and no longer include full-on character transformations; a more Melee-like air dash; and a change to the parry-like perfect shield mechanic.
If you enjoyed the previous game, though, Ultimate will feel very familiar. It remains a uniquely approachable and intuitive fighting game that gives players all the options they want to make it a more comfortable experience.