Video Game Review: “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” on Nintendo Switch

I love my Switch. I finally got one in January ’19 as a sort of “reward” for getting a bunch of work done. After dropping numerous hints (fine, begging), my husband didn’t budge. As they say, if you want something, you’d better get it yourself.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a must for the latest Nintendo console, of course. I downloaded it and dove (dived?) straight in.

I’ve been playing Smash games since I was a kid and battling my little brother on the Nintendo 64. Melee (was that 18 years ago? DAMN!), Brawl, and the Wii version were all great fun, and I was introduced to the world of online play when I got my Wii U.

Gameplay

Nintendo has, wisely, kept the dynamics of Smash pretty much the same as the previous games. You’re presented with a menu and energetic music, pumping you up for a fight. There’s an offline mode of regular ‘smashing’ where every ten minutes of gameplay, a new character challenge appears and you beat them to unlock them. There’s a one-player mode (which I haven’t played much of yet) and, of course, an option to play online.

Characters

I’m not going to jump on the meme bandwagon and get enraged that Waluigi isn’t a playable character because Wario is my waifu. Although I think Nintendo goes overboard with Fire Emblem characters (no doubt appeasing its Japanese audience; the game isn’t that popular overseas, as far as I know), we got a good selection (over 70!) characters to choose from.

I was delighted to see the return of my personal favorites: Princess Peach, Ganondorf (beautifully overpowered), Wario, Kirby, Zelda, Wii Fit Trainer (shut up, she’s cool) and Bayonetta (for aesthetic purposes only; I suck at actually playing as her).

Online

Smash Bros. Ultimate online has to be one of the most frustrating yet addictive experiences in the history of gaming. Do I suck at this game, or do other people really spend fourteen hours a day in multiplayer? The few times I do actually win I’m over the moon, and I’m not ashamed to admit that getting my butt kicked several times in a row has reduced me to tears more than once.

But whatevs.

Quickplay Mode gives you everything you need to quickly enter a battle. You can even adjust the preferred rules by choosing one-on-one, group smash, or team battles, and choose between stock or timed. If you’re happy with anything, you can switch the preferred rules off.

Stages

The stages are fantastic! As well as golden oldies like Pokémon Stadium 2, Hyrule Castle, and Corneria, we can see a huge amount of new stages. Some are upgraded versions of old ones, some are incredibly annoying and, best of all, we don’t have to unlock them. Of course, we also see the return of a hazard-free Final Destination.

Glitches

Nintendo is usually great at releasing virtually glitch-free games, as opposed to some western companies who are so full of bugs they need to release a bunch of patches to make it playable. However, Ultimate‘s Battle Arena Mode needs work.

More often than not, I can’t find my friends if they open an Arena, and vice-versa. It makes playing online with friends impossible at times, which is a shame as I have a few people I’d love to smash with. Hopefully, Nintendo will sort out this strange phenomenon.

Spirits

A new version of a game needs new features, of course; as well as extra characters and updated graphics, Nintendo decided to introduce Spirits, which power up your character and give boosts to your defense, attack, and grab.

I don’t think I’m the only one who has zero interest in Spirits.

I just want to play! Smash Bros. battles are a test of skill, always have been. It wouldn’t be fair to be beaten by someone sub-par just because they collected a load of Attack Spirits or whatever. Thankfully, Spirits can be switched off in Online Mode.

Smash Bros. Ultimate is a fun experience and a must for any Nintendo Switch owner. Playing online can be frustrating if you’re not amazing, but it’s motivation to get better and watch your global score rise (not so fun to watch it fall).

I’d give it five stars if not for the Battle Arena glitches and the pointless Spirits. I give Ultimate four stars out of five.

4stars