Here Comes A New Challenger!
December 6, 2018 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the very best of the Smash Bros. series. [Kotaku] “Some say Smash is a party game for tweens idling away a Friday night with a two-liter of Pepsi on their parents’ sectional sofa. Others, myself included, say it’s a fighting game. I think that because I’ve played Smash competitively, obsessively, and adoringly, for a very, very long time, and know that after crossing its childishly low barrier to entry, there is a world of knowledge and sport so in-depth that it’s spurred its own language: “edge-guarding,” “DI” (directional influence), “fast fall.” I think of controllers—GameCube controllers—thrown furiously across a couch after a missed, and subsequently punished, attempt at a grab. I think of crowds of hundreds or thousands thrusting themselves out of folding chairs to bellow at a Smash pro who, after minutes of cat-and-mouse, deftly dodged, threw, and spiked an opponent deep into the void.” [YouTube][Game Trailer]

• Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Still no playable Waluigi, though [Nintendo Life]
“Crossovers happen all the time in games, films, TV shows and just about every other form of media out there, but none of them can really be compared to Super Smash Bros.; no, not even that film that you’re thinking of. So it’s beyond a bold move to name the latest entry in a series ‘Ultimate’, thus raising expectations to dizzying levels, so can Super Smash Bros. Ultimate really live up to its name? That’s what we’re here to discuss, because this is a review of it. The core idea of Smash hasn’t changed at all really; you’re still setting up characters from the world of Nintendo (and from other developers, too) to beat the living snot out of each other until one of them is so badly damaged or poorly controlled that they fly or fall out of the intangible boundaries that Sakurai and his team have imposed upon one of the 104 included stages. Special moves, items, supremely fanatical hardcore community – it’s all largely the same as it was. It’s chaotic, high-octane and an incredibly replayable lump of fun. However the devil, appropriately, is in the detail.”
• Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Reviewed: [Polygon]
“This is a Smash Bros. so full of ideas, wishes and demands pulled from the player base that it can be overwhelming. This is no longer the simple game from our childhood, and it’s not shy about rewarding the series’ biggest fans, whether it’s through the choices made for each fighters’ designs, music track curation, unlockable bonus art, or the wild and varied army of spirits. For a company often concerned with accessibility, there’s quickly a point where Ultimate will drop casual Nintendo fans into the deep end. But Ultimate is also the most enjoyable entry since Super Smash Bros. Melee devoured the free time of my social circle through most of college. Because I can fine-tune the options I want, and pick the characters and stages I love from the franchise’s whole history, I’m almost guaranteed to be able to craft a fun match with whomever I’m playing with. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s gameplay is so snappy and fluid, its characters so rewarding in their variety, that it feels destined to dominate living rooms once again.”
• Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review: a kitchen sink approach and improved solo mode [VG24/7]
“That sandbox is World of Light, where players must rescue the all-stars of Smash in order to build their character roster, while facing off against and partnering up with Spirits. Spirits are essentially representations of characters from the series’ in Smash that aren’t available in character form. Sonic the Hedgehog’s arch nemesis Dr. ‘Eggman’ Robotnik isn’t a playable fighter, for instance, but he shows up as a spirit. In this, the world of Smash expands, and Ultimate is a better representation of the history of Nintendo as a whole than any previous game in the series. In fighting terms, Spirits are represented by existing playable characters with unique tweaks to make them more like the characters they represent. [...] It’s incredibly clever, and some of the ways the many rule changes and modes in Smash are used to represent a wide range of characters is really impressive. Spirits aren’t even just limited to series’ on the playable roster, either, as you’ll encounter the likes of Rayman or characters from indie hits like Shovel Knight and Shantae as spirits. Strangely, Square Enix let the side down here – despite Cloud being playable, there aren’t any other Square Enix spirits, not even from FF7. In World of Light you journey across a cutely-drawn map battling spirits in order to recruit them and ultimately awaken fighters.”
• Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s spirits mode turns Nintendo’s fighter into an RPG [The Verge]
“Now, this could’ve just been a series of battles with unlockable gear, and it still would’ve been pretty fun. But virtually every aspect of the adventure is tuned to make it feel like an RPG, only with Smash fights in place of turn-based battles. You move around an expansive map, for instance, one with different regions, all based on a different Nintendo franchise. You’ll pilot a hovercar around an F-Zero race track and delve into the fiery darkness of Bowser’s castle. And it’s all rendered with an art style reminiscent of an old Dragon Quest map. Along the way, you’ll encounter a range of RPG staples: shops to buy useful items, hidden treasure chests, and dojos to train your spirits. And the structure forces you to experiment, using different fighters and spirit combinations to tackle some of the trickier battles. It’s a cohesive package that stands on its own: it’s not just a fun diversion for when there’s no one around to play with. Instead, spirits is a big, meaty adventure to dig into that offers a completely different way of enjoying Smash. It combines two things that don’t immediately seem compatible, and it will give you a whole new appreciation for Kirby.”
• Smash has spirit, oh yes it does. [Gamespot]
“On a more technical level, Ultimate makes a number of under-the-hood alterations that, at this early stage, seem like positive changes that make Smash feel noticeably faster and more exciting to both watch and play. Characters take more damage in one-on-one fights; continuous dodging is punished with increased vulnerability; fighters can perform any ground-based attack, including smash moves, immediately out of a running state; and short-hop aerial attacks (previously a moderately demanding technique) can be easily performed by pressing two buttons simultaneously. Refinements like these might go unnoticed by most, but they help define Ultimate's core gameplay as a tangible evolution of the series' core mechanics. A number of Ultimate's more superficial changes also help Smash's general quality-of-life experience, too. Some make it a more readable game--additions to the UI communicate previously hidden elements like meter charges and Villager's captured items, a simple radar helps keep track of characters off-screen, and a slow motion, zoom-in visual effect when critical hits connect make these moments more exciting to watch. Other changes help streamline the core multiplayer experience and add compelling options. Match rules can now be pre-defined with a swath of modifiers and saved for quick selection later.”
posted by Fizz (29 comments total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Also: School misinterprets Smash Bros anticipation message as threat
posted by porn in the woods at 8:05 AM on December 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'll never be one who does the amazing frame perfect blocks, hell these days I'm probably going to be happy to get various unlocks/achievements after the kids are asleep, but Smash has always been a capable entry into the category of "fun games that exude fun for fun people while making fun memories in a fun way" and I expect this iteration to be no different.

I can't wait to pick Samus and sit her off to the side of the other three folks engaging in a melee frenzy, quietly charge up a super shot, and then send it trundling across the map into the fray to insta-blap someone who was a bit low on health and in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't often win against good players but by god it's fun and effective for spicing things up as a moderate skill player and I generally survive longer and have more fun that way than by button mashing angrily as Falco, Fox, or Peach bash my brains in and juggle me or I get shocked to kingdom come with cries of 'Pika!!!' as that little shit runs around at knee height.

Smash isn't about winning anyway. It's about fun. That's laudable in my book.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:09 AM on December 6, 2018 [4 favorites]

OK, but it is also "a party game for tweens idling away a Friday night with a two-liter of Pepsi on their parents’ sectional sofa."
posted by East14thTaco at 8:14 AM on December 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

*throws controller on the couch and walks away in frustration*
posted by Fizz at 8:21 AM on December 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

Got an email this morning telling me the pre-ordered copy shipped and would be here ASAP.

Now all I have to do is wait until Dec 25 for my son to upwrap my I MEAN his new game. YAAAAY
posted by caution live frogs at 8:33 AM on December 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

The hype train has left the station and I cannot wait for it to arrive tomorrow. I enjoyed sm4sh but didn't have the time then to get deep in, so I am very very happy for this entry. Plus my eldest son will enjoy watching me play a bit I hope.

posted by Twain Device at 8:33 AM on December 6, 2018 [1 favorite]


posted by Fizz at 8:36 AM on December 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

I pre-ordered this as a Christmas gift for my nephews who are getting a Switch this year. The trailer looked so exciting that I wouldn't mind watching them play it. If they'll put down Let's Go Pikachu, that is.
posted by gladly at 8:41 AM on December 6, 2018

Having played it with some kids I taught way in backwoods rural Japan twenty years ago (we also played Golden Eye) and now with my two sons, all I can think of is button-mashing.

Over the years my sons have humoured me by creating a ridiculously overpowered player for me, so I can finally win some games, or at least last for more than a few seconds.

That said, the new game will be under the tree this Christmas.
posted by JamesBay at 8:58 AM on December 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

My wife got me a Switch and Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu for my birthday this week. I've hooked it up but haven't actually played it yet because I want to play it with my kids and we only have time for that on weekends. So I've kind of been looking for a game I can get for just myself and think it's going to be Civ VI but maybe I need to get Smash Bros as well so that we have something to play together.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:07 AM on December 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Although we can still play Smash Bros on the WiiU so maybe there isn't a rush to get it for the Switch.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:09 AM on December 6, 2018

and now with my two sons, all I can think of is button-mashing.

The term button mashing typically applies to players who don't know special move controls and thus mash buttons and directions hoping to get a special move. And honestly, this is the most accessible fighter game design. There is one attack button and one special button. All characters have the same inputs for those controls: one of those two buttons plus an optional direction. Virtually all characters have an up-special move that adds an extra jump getting back on stage. The one 'twist' to this simple formula is the titular "smash" which is a strong fast tap of the joystick from neutral to max in a given direction.

The combat itself is rock-paper-scissorsy. Blocks (shields) beat attacks, grabs beat blocking, and attacks beat grabs. Much of the 1:1 game is about predicting your opponent's pick, and reacting during the lag time between their moves. An example: Captain Falcon can get in quickly with a Falcon Kick to start attacking, but Falcon has to wait a bit before he can move again. So if you see him far away, be ready to block the kick and counter attack right after. Naturally, good Falcon players avoid the kick because of that move end lag is so easy to punish. So what you predict you opponent do to depends on your observations of their behavior and skill level.

In casual games (items on, 4+ players) the above matters less. You basically rush either to an item or attack your opponent to prevent them from picking an item up. Knowing what all the items do and how to use them is about half the battle, and the other half is getting to them first. Faster characters get more items, naturally.
posted by pwnguin at 10:26 AM on December 6, 2018 [5 favorites]

Although we can still play Smash Bros on the WiiU so maybe there isn't a rush to get it for the Switch.

Yeah, I'm kind of underwhelmed with the Switch. Besides the new Zelda game, the games aren't particularly "new" and just seem to be reskins of older Nintendo games.

The thing that irritates me the most about the Switch is there are few games were you can do group play. I bought Splatoon last Christmas in hopes of playing it with my sons but, nope, need another Switch device.
posted by JamesBay at 11:40 AM on December 6, 2018

The term button mashing typically applies to players who don't know special move controls and thus mash buttons and directions hoping to get a special move. And honestly, this is the most accessible fighter game design.

Too chaotic for me, unfortunately. Reminds me of the hellacious din and flashing lights of a Pachinko parlour.
posted by JamesBay at 11:40 AM on December 6, 2018

I realized this morning that I will be using my GameCube controller from 2002 and the requisite adapter from 2014 originally made for the Wii U to play this 2018 Switch game. Who says Nintendo isn't backward compatible?
posted by Servo5678 at 12:41 PM on December 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you're looking for good couch co-op games for Switch, check out the Overcooked games and Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime. Both very fun and easy to play and only require one console.
posted by Peccable at 12:42 PM on December 6, 2018 [3 favorites]

Now all I have to do is wait until Dec 25 for my son to upwrap my I MEAN his new game. YAAAAY

I am in this very same boat, caution live frogs! Hurry up, Christmas.

We are a foster family, and I am eternally grateful to Nintendo for both the Super Smash Bros. and the Mario Kart franchises. They are the closest thing I have found to a universal video game language: each kid that comes through our house can pick up a controller and participate. Some will be good and some will be terrible, but the games have a way of simultaneously offering that super low barrier to entry and making it interesting and complex for kids who are skilled. Everyone has fun.
posted by AgentRocket at 12:54 PM on December 6, 2018 [2 favorites]

I just realized that the local EB Games in my area is having a midnight release party. So I just put mine on order and I'm heading there with a friend. Going to get my smash on!!!
posted by Fizz at 1:53 PM on December 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I'm kind of underwhelmed with the Switch. Besides the new Zelda game, the games aren't particularly "new" and just seem to be reskins of older Nintendo games.

Even if many of the games are just reskins of previous releases there are some great games on the Wii U that never really hit anyone's radar because the system sold so poorly. So updating the graphics, adding a bit more content and making the whole thing portable is still pretty good. Maybe not good enough to re-purchase the games you already have but for most people these'll be totally new games.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 2:56 PM on December 6, 2018

Finally a definitive answer: Chanukah is obviously better than Christmas this year because I get to play it - I mean give it to my kids- tomorrow.
posted by blahblahblah at 7:04 PM on December 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

The switch is so great for same-room multiplayer games if you look around. Some of the obvious picks are worse than you'd think (splatoon) but some indie titles are absolutely incredible for casual multiplayer- Ultimate Chicken Horse, Crawl, Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, Overcooked, or really niche stuff like Moonhunters that I've spent a lot of multiplayer time on. Those all on other consoles but those other consoles can't come out at a bus stop or a restaurant or a break at work. There's also exclusives like Mario Rabbids, Puyo Tetris, MarioKart 8, mario party, ugh I wish I could have a part time job and still afford videogames.

And apparently Marvel Ultimate Alliance 3 is a switch exclusive.

Smash bros has been my favorite game series since december of 2001 and I am at maximum hype levels to try out piranha plant.
posted by fomhar at 7:13 PM on December 6, 2018 [1 favorite]

For anyone wondering if there's enough content here, the answer is yes. This game is packed with all kinds of various play modes, story-mode, classic, multiplayer, online, etc. I don't have the online subscription service yet because I haven't felt it necessary and I'm mostly a solo-gamer. I'm going to be busy unlocking characters, skins, etc for a while. There's a lot of meat to this game. :)
posted by Fizz at 8:35 AM on December 7, 2018

I'm very excited about the online multiplayer mode! Super Smash Bros was a classic party/sleepover game for me growing up, but I now live very far away from my friends from then. Definitely looking forward to keysmashing my way through battles with them remotely.
posted by devrim at 8:49 AM on December 7, 2018

Also, delighted they brought back ice climbers...!
posted by devrim at 8:50 AM on December 7, 2018


Good news: They have all the characters!
Bad news: You have to unlock basically all of them.

There's a online match background option, which theoretically lets you do other things while waiting for a match on your preferred rules type. In practice virtually everything I've tried puts it on pause. Shopping and creating Mii fighters both pause it, and I'm pretty sure playing solo also pauses it.
posted by pwnguin at 7:51 PM on December 8, 2018

Good news: They have all the characters!
Bad news: You have to unlock basically all of them.
I think this is super fun though. There are a number of ways to unlock them. I'm playing through the World of Light story-mode and it has this super fascinating RPG mechanic where you use spirits to buff and boost effects that impact your play-style, environment, etc. It's a lot of fun.
posted by Fizz at 6:47 AM on December 9, 2018

I bought the game on Monday evening, as a physical copy, and it is taking all my willpower to finish grading before I start playing it.

I've honestly never been very good at Smash but I love the button-mashing part.
posted by invokeuse at 10:44 AM on December 12, 2018

Just cleared the adventure mode, and wow, that finale was unbearably epic. This game really lives up to its name.
posted by NMcCoy at 4:05 AM on December 13, 2018

Been playing this the last few days, and it's mostly amazing.

I grew up playing the original N64 Smash (Pikachu 4 life) and a good bit of Melee on my brother's Gamecube when it came out *checks notes* SEVENTEEN YEARS AGO, but totally missed out on Brawl, the Wii U version, etc. So getting this was both nostalgic and kind of a trip in terms of how much the features, graphics, and breadth of content have advanced. The stages are inventive and beautiful and the expanded roster is great fun to mess around with.

Maybe I hadn't been following the pre-release news closely enough, but the mechanics of the Spirits system was a really cool surprise. So you've got this luscious 2D overworld with ~1000 individual battles to work through, each named after a random character from Nintendo's vast archives. It's disappointing at first when the battles turn out to be against the standard fighters, but after a few matches the conceit becomes clear: each enemy fighter is chosen and tweaked to resemble the lore of the associated spirit character as closely as possible. So an 8-bit insect is represented by a minuscule Mr. Game and Watch, Slowpoke is a giant pink Kirby that doesn't move, etc. The spirits you unlock in these battles can then be used to give your fighter various traits and buffs to help out in tougher matches. It's all very clever.

The online isn't as great, but only because the UI is crappy. You can only play online with friends by creating custom rooms, and room management is an awkward mess. The gameplay is still very solid, albeit a bit laggy. Still highly recommended, though.
posted by Rhaomi at 9:00 PM on December 16, 2018

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