Light theme

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review
by JustCozzie

It's good, really damn good, but it just isn't Brawl 2. And after putting in 40 hours I've realised that's what I really wanted - especially when it comes to single-player. Recommend if you have even 1 person to regularly play with/against, skip if not.

I love that they give you so (comparatively) few characters to start with and then unlock them super frequently, so new players don't get overwhelmed by choice and the rewards are constant. It's weird they didn't take this approach with the stages too though - best I can tell they're all there from the start, crammed in one huge list - and I miss the "new stage has appeared" feeling. Classic mode is super fun. Each character has their own rule tweaks (like Kirby's campaign starting you damaged but dropping food items everywhere) and the adaptive difficulty seems perfect: I almost beat it first try, the final boss launching me on literally the last hit of health, but every fight was so close as to be super tense and satisfying when I won. CPU difficulty in general seems geared up, with the random challengers posing a very real challenge now. The idea of having the beautiful mural as joint reward, difficulty select and payout multiplier is a cool one, although the payouts being several different types of virtual currency in Smash Bros of all places makes me feel a bit melancholic, as do having mobile game real-time wait periods in the single player mode. Music is amazing, as you'd expect, all the menu theme remixes of World of Light are beautiful, my only complaint so far is my personal favourite is still the Brawl theme, and it's woefully under-represented: you can listen to it in the menu, but for some reason can't select it to play on the non-character themed Smash stages despite every other Game's theme (and even the Brawl remixes of earlier ones) being there in the list.

On the subject of Brawl I'm going to be honest - Spirits are a weak replacement for trophies, and I miss them. I get from a development point of view how much of a nightmare trophies were - having to custom make gorgeous 3D models of obscure retro games that may have only ever been seen in 2D - but that amount of time and love put into them was what made Smash feel like such a celebration of gaming, both old and new. I could deal with the comparatively basic licensed 2D sprites and artwork if they hadn't also got rid of the interesting written paragraphs that went with each one, saying which games they appeared in and obscure trivia about each of them. Sure this let them double the amount (544 trophies to 1297 Spirits) but when they're reduced to just a single picture and a gameplay trait (or lack of) it's not an improvement, they're just Stickers again.

The World of Light single player mode is an interesting concept of fighting hundreds of 1v1+ matches with fighters themed to match those spirits/stickers (for example fighting an Arcanine would really be a giant sized, firebreathing Duck Hunt Dog), there are loads of creative ways these have been implemented - with by far the best being a recreation of the whole Street Fighter 2 story mode (I found it amazing even as someone with barely a familiarity with Street Fighter, I bet a fan would've been freaking out) - and the Spirit levelling/combining adds some complexity, as does the FF sphere grid of upgrades, and it's all set in a 2D painted overworld in the vein of Cuphead (although nowhere near as beautiful) but I'm really not enjoying it as much as Subspace Emissary, and it's not just those cheap feeling wait timers. While in Brawl the singleplayer had a whole host of gorgeous cutscenes to tell a progressing story, and for everyone's inner fanboy to mark out at, there's only the introductory World of Light cutscene and a few variants on an ending cutscene at the end. There's no co-op and without those cutscenes as well you don't get that great feeling of seeing all these famous mascot characters teaming up to fight the big evil.

The world which Brawl put together with its interconnected levels and well laid out map screen felt cohesive in a way that Ultimate's doesn't, merely being a flat backdrop between warps to random stages, and most of all there needs to be some variety. Subspace's platforming-y levels got a mixed reception but playing them inbetween the boss fights and more traditional Smash stages felt like a journey, and added somethng different. Now they're gone it's revealed just how samey playing hundreds of CPU Smash matches in a row can get, even with the creative rule changes. I guess it could be argued that the tougher Spirit fights could be called boss fights - they certainly feel like one when you run into the massive difficulty spikes - yet they mostly feel unfair because of how many advantages they have to give your opponent to negate the randomness of a one-stock Smash match. Prepare to get rocked 20 times by Rayman before you get his health down to where yours even starts, as he has every possible advantage, but then you'll get into the fights immediately before and after that one only to cheese a win in ten seconds and 3 attacks, without even getting hit. Difficulty settings really don't seem to do much to even this out either, and when you've almost learned one of the difficult one's patterns enough to beat it they'll jump off the stage and die leaving you the world's least satisfying victory and no way to get a proper rematch.

20 hours on and whoo this single-player is long, I just got to what I thought was the ending only for a twist and a whole second half that looks about the same size. If you were loving World of Light I'm sure that'd be a great surprise but to me, even though I'm not hating it, I'd kind of been ready to be done. Easy to hard battles are now at a 10:1 ratio and I've stopped even looking at the special rules because they normally don't matter for the 2 seconds the matches last. I've fought the same horde of tiny squirtles so many times that the lack of variety is grating. In fairness the second half seems to have a greater concentration of boss fights and cool themed areas like the Street Fighter one that do break things up nicely although the basic gameplay is still the same. I got unlucky with Giga Bowser being the first boss because, while they haven't all been great, that is the only one that is straight up bad. My only problems with them are how many are repeats of Brawl bosses lacking their original impactful entrances and story relevance and how they're all just easy enough to beat in one go - even the supposed main antagonist was a million times easier than the more bullshit Spirit fights with jobbers like Pauline and Dr Wily. Dracula is actually really good though, and the others are at least pretty decent. The final fight is legit really hype and adds some of that variety at last with a Doodle Jump-like vertical platformer and the really cool chance to play as Master Hand (!) plus taking on both big bads at once, and it is the only fight in the whole mode that gives you more than one stock and therefore that feeling of all these cool characters actually working together (although still no much needed co-op mode). Naturally I took Kirby to strike the final blow - starting it as it ended, and with the being most experienced at hunting Eldritch horrors. The reward for completing World of Light: getting to pick the menu music, and having an almost full roster of characters now, is a pretty damn good one. The whole story mode took about 25 hours but I would suggest skipping it and just playing the other single-player offerings like Classic Mode which, except for the lackluster bonus stage that now remains the same for every character, is pretty damn great.
«Better with friends»

Other reviews19

One of the happiest days of my life was when Banjo was revealed
«Blew my mind»
the content is so fucking great the gameplay meh it s slow and it privilege anticipation over reaction i dont like it
«Better with friends»
«OST on repeat»
I write this after completing Adventure mode, trying out most of the other features, and downloading the DOC characters.  

Smash Bros Ultimate is a fantastic multiplayer game, with lots of character choices from across the video game universe.  I have almost no complaints.  I wish the adventure mode was more of a story mode, and I wish the collectibles went a little deeper into the Lord of their respective series.
In concept it's a masterpiece, but a number of mechanical and engine changes from Smash 4 (buffer, etc) and unplayable online make this installment a real disappointment.
12/10 - A MASTERPIECE of the fighting games!
«Just one more turn»
«Can’t stop playing»
This may be my favorite game EVER, and one of my most played. The combat is silky smooth and perfect for all skill levels whether it's at a party with first-timers or competing with friends, this game is welcoming for all. All this not even considering the oogles of characters, stages, music, new mechanics that pushes this series to its absolute limits.
While the online functions can be laggy, nothing beats this game for a good old group smash fest.
«Just one more turn»
I feel i'm one of the few people who isn't a huge fan of this one. I am a massive fan of the last installment but in my opinion the lack of singleplayer content really brings this down. The story mode 'World of light' which i was hoping to be a sucessor to the very fun 'Subspace Emissary' from Brawl., ended up being abysmal and very dissapointing. While it is amazing how they brought every character back aswell as some very cool new ones such as Ridley and K Rool, i also feel the bar has been lowered more so than Smash 4 which was infamous for adding alot of pointless, unneeded characters.
After playing a lot of Smash 4, you'll find yourself quite familiar with Ultimate's mechanics and tweaks but it also has some things that may shake your ground a little.

Initially, the gameplay feels incredible and more polished than ever, a lot of characters feel so different (except for the "echo" ones for obvious reasons) and in its massive roster, you'll mostly find at least one character that is suitable for your playstyle. Everything in this game is massive to the point that is overwhelming, you have a lot of stages, characters, music, options, etc. a lot of them are originally from past games but they're updated to the point that they feel fresh and new, also, the fact that they're adding a lot of content with the season pass it is just amazing. There are several game modes to play this game, there's a pseudo story mode which is serviceable but not as memorable like space emissary in Brawl, you can play classic modes and obviously multiplayer, also, an addition that I really like and I have spend hours on it, is that now you can set up the massive soundtrack to every stage of your liking, is not perfect but it's cool.

Although I'm certain that this is the best Smash game to this point, it has also things that keep it from being a masterpiece, the bigger one might be its online play, from matchmaking to playing with friends, is quite bothersome, in matchmaking often you'll fight with rules that you didn't apply, for example, I like to play in final destination only, zero items, stock, etc. but at least 2/6 fights I'll play on battlefield with items or timer, it doesn't sound like a big issue but trust me it really is, I'm not criticizing anyone's playstyle but what I'm trying to say is that nobody wins. Another issue on matchmaking is that if you find someone that you want to fight over and over, you're stuck with the character you choose, unlike in Smash 4 where you could switch between chars to make things more fun, it makes no sense. Its worth note that playing online with friends is also a hassle and it has its fair amount of issues but let's leave it at that.

There are several nitpicks that maybe I'm the only one in this, as I told you, the roster is massive but you literally start with the original roster of 8 characters, and you have to unlock every one of them, they're not that hard to unlock mind you, but it keeps you from playing your mains for at least some hours, if this wasn't an all-star game I wouldn't have a problem with this, but its kind of pointless and frustrating to wait at times. Finally, I know that I'm alone in this one, but I liked a lot the customization mechanic of special moves they introduced in Smash 4, I know that they were banned in professional tournaments but from a semi-hardcore point of view, they added a lot of fun, I hope that they have a comeback of some sorts in the future or future entries.

When all is said and done, and every character is at your disposal, be prepared to have an incredible time, especially when playing with friends locally or online (forgetting some issues there mind you). Smash Bros has this amazing quality that it doesn't matter that you're not great in fighting games, you'll certainly find a character or a playstyle you'll like the most in here and when you have that moment after an 8 player battle where you are the last one standing, it's truly glorious. Smash Bros Ultimate is a must for every Nintendo Switch owner, period, even when I have problems with it, they feel so minimal in comparison to its positive things.
«Just one more turn»
«Can’t stop playing»