Where on earth do you draw a line under Super Smash Bros. games, to be able to confidently give them a review? A seemingly endless game, packed-full with fun, collectibles, game modes and spirits.
Worse still, how do you review a game in a series as iconic as Super Smash Bros?
Easy, really. All Smash Bros. games are excellent. Every iteration in the series has been a refinement, an improvement and worth every single penny.
Thankfully, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is no exception. The largest roster ever, easily accessible online modes, portability thanks to the nature of the Nintendo Switch, and hours upon hours of things to do.
I had to set myself a couple of goals before I would let myself write anything.
Firstly, I had to unlock all fighters. Secondly, I had to play all modes multiple times, and finally, I had to invest a good chunk of time into the new “World of Light” mode.
I think I succeeded. Certainly I played all modes and unlocked every single fighter. My time in the World of Light mode was just shy of 15 hours, which, when tied-in with time spent in all other modes, plus lots of local and online multiplayer, is not an inconsequential chunk.
World of Light
The big new mode, and one massive time-sink in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, is the “World of Light”.
Narratively speaking, all of the heroes are banished to darkness when Galeem and an army of Master Hands attacks.
All except one. The hero with such a good, strong name. Kirby!
Soon, you’re set to going around a shrouded world map, finding fighters and rescuing them. At the same time, you’re fighting and collecting spirits.
If I was to describe the mode, the only way that works for me is to say that it’s a world-map, with fights that have different twists and special conditions. Mixed with a kind of rock-paper-scissors card game, utilising famous (and not-so famous) characters from hundreds of games.
You’re constantly challenged with unusual circumstances and different variations of the main roster of fighters. Always working to unlock spirits and get closer to unlocking the team of fighters.
The map is massive, and you need to activate switches and unlock spirits with specific abilities to keep uncovering it.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has an odd single player mode in World of Light. There’s very little story, short of the opening clip, the fights and spirits are just thrust upon you, and there’s very little reason to progress, unless you’re trying to unlock the fighters for the other game modes.
I wouldn’t say I disliked this mode, but some of the fights were brutal (M. Bison anyone?!), and the rewards were a little underwhelming.
Levelling up spirits, and constantly changing teams around to give you boosts and perks, and any little advantage you can get, is a nice pseudo-tactical element. But it all just feels a little superficial.
Fun mode, sometimes infuriating, and much bigger than I had anticipated.
I haven’t finished this mode yet, but I will. It’s a bit of a grind, and I don’t need to finish it to unlock everyone, thankfully.
So, the “main” story mode element is fine, not excellent, but fine. It’s a fighting/brawling game anyway. Story rarely matters, right?
I don’t play Super Smash Bros. for a deep narrative. In fact, some of the characters (all?) have such rich lore and back stories from their own series’ that it’s a little moot.
My favourite mode is the “Classic Mode”. Pick a fighter, go through 5 or 6 fights then do a boss. After the boss play the shooter mini game in the credits. Rinse and repeat. Proper, classic Smash. Varying degrees of difficulty, some themed fights and bosses, it’s exactly what I want.
Beyond that, there’s online, with tournaments and one vs one etc. My initial impression was that of a seriously laggy fight with two internet strangers. Unimpressed, I persevered and have spent quite a lot of time online now. Each game has been a much smoother affair, and loads of fun.
People are good online……..I am not.
There’s a horde mode “Mob Smash” which is a great deal of fun. Get those smash attacks in and get rid of the enemy as quickly as you can!
Training, Home Run Contest, Special Smash, Squad strike. All fun, all worth dipping in and out of and always a good element of challenge.
One of my favourite things, is the “Challenger’s Approach”. If you fail at getting one of the fighter when they appear to challenge you. You can go straight back to their fight and get them! Luigi and Little Mac did a real number on me, and I thought I’d lost them for a while. Thankfully I could just go here and get that sweet sweet rematch.
Standard Smash is absolutely the bread and butter of the series. Local multiplayer. What an absolute joy it is, too.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate takes everything great about the series, then squeezes in more maps, more music, more fighters (74 at present!), more items and more chaos than ever before.
It runs so smoothly, both on a big screen and in handheld mode.
Up to 8 local players can play at once (I’ve only managed up to 6 so far) and it’s just good, clean fun.
Looks and sounds
Nintendo know how to make their characters shine, and make their games sound wonderful. Of course, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is no exception.
With a massive array of tracks to listen to, buy and unlock. Classic Mario themes, different iterations of the Hyrule field theme. Honestly, if you’re looking for high quantity of high-quality, you’re in the place.
Music sounds stunning, I’ve played through the TV, using the on-board speaker in handheld mode, and used headphones. Everything is crystal clear and just fantastic.
Item sounds, classic smash sounds (falling off a stage, a punch, my favourite “Falcon Punch!), it’s all there. Mixed so well as to never miss out. Every audio cue for the things going on around you, is there. With so much going on, it’s a wonder that they’ve made each sound so distinguishable, but they really have.
According to nintendoeverything.com “When docked, the game runs at full 1080p resolution. It drops to the standard 720p resolution when in portable mode. For both modes, Smash Bros.Ultimate runs at 60 frames per second.”
All I can really tell you is that if you love the bright and colourful world of Nintendo games, you’re good to go. The fast-paced action has never been hampered by drops in framerate and everything has been very slick.
Never have I seen anything noticeable in terms of input lag, dropped frames or poor textures. This is a game that is delivered with a high-sheen level of polish, smooth as butter.
Just keep going
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is so full of things to unlock and purchase in the in-game store. It’s unbelievable.
Sure, I’ve unlocked every fighter (no mean feat in itself). But there are pages and pages on in-game challenges. Varying from simple things like “finish a fight with x character using their special” to things that I’m not sure I’ll ever pull off like “deal x amount of damage with x character, without being hit, or within a specific time limit”. It’s deep, it’s challenging and it always gives you something else to work towards.
I know full well that whilst I’ve had my time with the game to be able to review it, I’ll continue playing it for years. Random fights with friends, dipping into online bouts and trying challenges. I have plenty to keep me going here.
New downloadable content in the form of new fighters, with their own stages and music. New tournaments with themes to keep it interesting.
If you love Smash, you’ll love this.
I’ve deleted more words than I’ve written here. Struggling to create a proper, cohesive review. Not because I’m an idiot (I am), but because all I can honestly do, is gush about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
This is a series that I love, and to see it get given so much love and attention through each iteration of the series, is amazing. In a world of free-to-play, pay-to-win, lootbox chaos. Having such a well crafted piece of art is more important now than ever before.
If you have a Switch and haven’t bought Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, all I can do is tell you it should be an essential addition to your collection.
There was never any doubt that it would be good, but the proof of the pudding is in the eating right? Well, I’ve had my fill for a little bit and it was exceptional.
The highest possible ninjarefinery.com rating doesn’t even seem enough for this gem.
Time to get back to practicing with Link and Snake, those remote bombs are next-level!