Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has made the rounds at Australian preview events, and together with E3 2018, Stevivor’s spent around three hours playing the upcoming Nintendo mascot fighter.
As is the case with many Switch games, Nintendo’s stuck with the mantra of ‘if ain’t broken, don’t fix it.’ While Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze are straight-up ports of Wii U games, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a little different – think Super Smash Bros. for Wii U but with every possible fighter from the franchise’s history, alongside newcomers like Splatoon’s Inklings, Ridley, King K. Rool and Simon Belmont (and no, we didn’t get to play the latter two). The result is a game that feels ridiculously familiar, yet fresh.
Playing Pokémon Let’s GO at E3 2018 was rough; it had a lot of elements from both Pokémon GO and the more-traditional Pokémon franchise, but it also felt watered-down and unoriginal. Thankfully, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate doesn’t suffer from the same problem. As a group of four Stevivor staffers grabbed Pro Controllers in order to play the title, three of us admitted that we hadn’t played Smash in a while. By the time we’d finished, we all wanted to keep playing. One of us in particular was nodding his head in approval, remarking that it felt like a sped-up version of Smash on the N64.
As a Wii U player, I couldn’t really tell the difference between Ultimate and the Wii U (and 3DS) version of the game. Action was fast, frenzied and colourful – in ridiculous amounts of each. I did have trouble tracking my character when action was at its height, but the nature of the demo meant that it reset itself after every match, and as a result, allocations of Player 1, 2 and so on went with the reset. I acknowledge that my confusion could have simply been because I was watching P1 when I should have been watching P3.
Ridley is a heavy-set character in the vein of Bowser, Donkey Kong and others, though has a been of speed that’s most welcome. Ridley also has some pretty useful ranged attacks thanks to a long, powerful tail – just ask Mario and the other characters who’ve potentially been murdered by it. Ridley’s best feature is the ability to fly – almost Kirby-like – which is extremely beneficial after being knocked off the side of a stage.
The Inklings are ultra-speedy and have a couple amazing special attacks. A pulsating ink-gun is useful when camping at the side of stage, ready to pick off those who’re desperately trying to pull themselves back up. A roller attack seems to plant characters into the stage (though I wan’t sure if it was me doing that or another player until I found the screenshot below), and ink bombs are great to throw and forget.
Simply put, this is more Smash – if you enjoy getting friends around for some beers and some matches, you’ll love Ultimate. If you’re the type of player who absolutely destroys his friends with a character or two (I’ll always take dibs on Little Mac, by the way), the same will be true with this iteration. It’s another classic Nintendo franchise on the publisher’s latest (highly) successful console.
That is, unless you’re the type of gamer who looks at a group playing Smash — thumbs wildly flailing on controllers and screaming as the floor falls out from whatever stage is currently on-screen — unsure of what the fighter’s appeal is. Ultimate won’t change the minds of those who love the franchise, and certainly won’t impact those who hate it. It’s the nature of the beast.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate heads to Nintendo Switch on 7 December.