As expected, Nintendo officially announced the next entry in the long-running crossover fighting series Super Smash Bros. during their E3 presentation Tuesday. Called Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the big takeaway from the presentation is that the game will feature a roster of 66 fighters, with every fighter from previous installments included. Of course, it was a big ask of Nintendo for fans to sit through a long-winded showcase that went into detail about every change they’ve implemented to every character, so some are probably wondering what else there is to the new game other than the expanded roster.
I’m not going to go into the finer details of every tweak made to each individual fighter – check out this in-depth breakdown on Reddit for all that information – but here are the most important things you need to know about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, starting with the biggest question:
When Is It Coming Out?
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will arrive December 7, 2018, nearly four years to the day from the release of Super Smash Bros. on Wii U. I’m going to go out on a limb and predict that Nintendo is going to move a lot of Switch consoles this holiday season with the timing of this launch.
Every Previous Character Is In It
True to its name, the new Super Smash Bros. aims to be the “Ultimate” Smash game by featuring every single character from the franchise’s history. As reported by The Verge, this was game director Masahiro Sakurai’s vision from the very beginning and evidently, his team were stunned when he pitched the idea to them, overwhelmed by the task ahead of them. “From where I stood, all I heard was dead silence,” Sakurai said. While cynical fans may decry the decision to introduce less new characters in favor of bringing back old ones as a cop out, having a cast of characters numbering over 60 strong is no small task, especially when you consider just how much balance tweaking needed to be done to make them all work together.
From cosmetic changes to characters like Link and Mario to reflect their appearances from their most recent adventures to tweaking the speed of certain characters to bring them in line with later gameplay tweaks to the series, bringing everyone together for the ultimate Smash experience was much more difficult than it would appear, “I speak from the depths of my heart when I say it’s a lot of work,” Sakurai explained.
Ridley Is Officially Joining The Fight
Smash fans have been begging Nintendo to put Metroid villain Ridley in the game for over a decade at this point and their pleas have finally been answered with Smash Ultimate. One of the big concerns with Ridley — and probably the main reason why he’s only just showing up now — is his large size, as it was unclear how the character would work as a Smash Bros. fighter. While Ridley is still huge and perhaps the biggest character on the roster, his size has been scaled back substantially in order to accommodate him. That being said, Ridley is no pushover now that he’s been reduced in size, as his move set looks suitably brutal and cruel – just what we’d hope to see from our favorite Nintendo dragon.
It’s possible that a few more characters will be announced in the leadup to the game’s December release but as of right now, the only new fighters in Smash Ultimate are the Inklings, the aforementioned Ridley and Princess Daisy. Unlike those two characters though, Daisy is an echo of an existing character, meaning that her move set is nearly identical to Peach’s. It’s certainly nice to see her in the game, as it completes the trifecta of Nintendo princess with Rosalina already added in Smash 4, it’s hard to imagine Daisy was at the top of most fans’ wishlist. I mean, Waluigi isn’t good enough to be a playable character and is instead stuck as an Assist Trophy? Come on Nintendo!
Assist Trophies Have Been Tweaked
Unsurprisingly, assist trophies are back in Smash Ultimate but with a new twist this time – you can actually KO some of the more annoying ones. This means that you don’t have to wait for annoying attacks from say, Knuckle Joe, to end. There will be over 100 assist trophies in total, with over 50 available from the start, including the Squid Sisters from Splatoon and Bomberman, the latter of whom I would have much preferred as a playable character to be honest, but I’m glad he’s showing up in some capacity at least.
GameCube Controller Support
The Nintendo GameCube controller has long been a favorite input device in the Smash Bros. community and Nintendo clearly recognizes this since they’ve enabled GameCube controller support on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. I can only assume this means we’ll see another round of adapters released, though third-party options will likely be pretty easy to come by. Additionally, every Switch controller option will be supported, including single Joy-Con use. I don’t know why anyone would opt for a GameCube controller over the Switch Pro Controller at this point but then, I’m not looking to compete in any Smash tournaments so I’m sure there’s some important detail I’m missing here.
So far, only four new stages have been revealed for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, but it’s safe to assume that more will be added in the lead-up to the game’s launch in December. These include Frigate Orpheon from Metroid Prime, Great Plateau Tower from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Magicant from Earthbound, New Donk City from Super Mario Odyssey and Moray Towers from Splatoon.
Here’s hoping you hung onto all those amiibo figures, as Nintendo has confirmed that all existing amiibo will be supported in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Previous data from those amiibo can be transferred to the game, but it’s unclear what (if any) new functionality they will have in the game. With over 60 characters included in the game (and that’s not counting all the assist trophies), you’ll need to have one heck of an amiibo collection to take advantage of everything Smash Ultimate has to offer.
Nintendo Seems To Have Designed The Game With Esports in Mind
The Smash tournament scene has always existed seemingly in spite of Nintendo, who have really not wanted much to do with the community from day one. That looks like it may change with Smash Ultimate, as the game includes a number of refinements targeted directly at the competitive scene. For one thing, the game is fast again, which is sure to please pros who live and die by 2001’s Melee. Additionally, advanced mechanics such as the wavedash are back, and you can now use a Smash attack to cancel Dashes, as well as have increased mobility during Air dodges.
Plus, every stage will have Final Destination forms, which strip away items and platforms so as to make the arenas more competitive. I assume that the pro community will find numerous imbalances among the game’s 60+ roster of characters but if Nintendo can stay on top of things with timely balance updates, there’s a very good chance Ultimate could supplant Melee as the game of choice in Smash tournaments.
But It Also Caters To the Casual Crowd
Of course, the majority of people who pick up Smash Ultimate could care less about technical intricacies, so it’s a relief to see that the game is going out of its way to appeal to both ends of the spectrum and everyone in between. The inclusion of every Smash character ever is just the start, as Ultimate looks to hit you with a dose of nostalgia around every corner. For example, a number of stages are coming back and while we don’t have a complete list yet, we do know that Saffron City is one of them, which is sure to please fans who have been with the series since the beginning.
There are also a number of quality-of-life improvements meant to make things a little more comprehensible for casual players, such as a small box that appears when a fighter is off-screen but not eliminated. There will also be clear labels on clone characters such as Lucina and the newly-announced Daisy to let players know that their movesets are reskins of other fighters’.
It’s Not Just An Updated Version Of ‘Smash 4’
With all the Wii U ports that have made their way to the Switch, there was a very good chance that Nintendo would just port over Super Smash Bros. 4 and call it a day. After all, with the Wii U’s low install base, it would have seemed like a new game to many and the previous edition was so feature-rich that it was hard to know where an all-new Smash game would be able to go. As confirmed by Nintendo’s Bill Trinen, Smash Ultimate may look a lot like Smash 4 but it is indeed a new game.
“If you look closely, it’s not [Smash 4],” said Trinen. “They’ve done a bit of a toon shading to it. There’s quite a bit of effects work they’ve done that’s different from the previous game. They’ve completely redone the game for Switch.” Essentially, Smash Ultimate is Smash 4 but with faster gameplay, some quality-of-life enhancements, and a whole bunch of fighters and maps, old and new. In other words, it’s perhaps the most complete Smash to date.