Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 12/17/2018 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
I’m not the world’s biggest fan of Super Smash Bros. The obnoxiously toxic competitive scene (which includes a couple of my friends – you know who you are) kind of ruined it for me. When I bought Smash Ultimate, I did so out of a bizarre feeling of obligation more than anything else. As an avid Switch fan, a collector, and a Nintendo fanboy, I felt like I HAD to buy Smash. Turns out, though, the title “Super Smash Bros Ultimate” is quite fitting as this truly is the best of the five Smash games.
Normally any “single player” in Smash is kind of an afterthought. Brawl made a solid effort with Subspace Emissary, but even then, it was clearly never the focus. Ultimate is different. The adventure mode in Ultimate is a fully fleshed out single player that could easily stand alone as its own game. It kept me busy for around 30 hours, and that’s longer than I spend on a lot of full price retail games these days. In addition to that, each of the more than 70 characters has their own unique classic mode. All of that is in addition to the standard local and online multiplayer that Smash is known for. It really feels like they tried to balance the expected multiplayer aspect with a legitimately great single player, and for that, I give some major props.
The adventure mode in Ultimate has you go through a fairly large map fighting TONS of matches against clones of the heroes that have been possessed by spirits (basically replacing the trophies from Melee). Each match you win frees a spirit which you can use to customize a spirit team that enhances your fighting abilities. You can have your fighter start off with a beam sword, start off giant, do extra damage to metal enemies, etc. It adds a TON of options for varying approaches. They also added a Fire Emblem style type triangle to the “primary” spirits that dictate your type so to speak; Attack spirits beat out Grab spirits, Grab spirits beat out Defense spirits, and Defense spirits beat out Attack spirits. There’s also a Neutral type that’s neither strong to nor weak against any type. Very much like Fire Emblem’s Sword > Axe, Axe > Spear, Spear > Sword with magic being the neutral equivalent (before they added the magic triangle). Through adventure mode, you can unlock all of the game’s characters, and there are three different endings you can get.
The standard multiplayer Smash mode is exactly what you’d expect; up to eight fighters with a TON of playable characters and a TON of stage options. It’s nothing new or exciting aside from a few new items, but it doesn’t have to be. They perfected the formula back in Melee; all they’ve had to do since then is add characters and stages. In that regard, they hit the nail on the head. The toxic competitive try-hards are whining about how they need to nerf this character or buff that character, but speaking as someone who plays Smash to have fun and not stroke my e-peen, it’s fine. I mean, I also said that about Brawl, so take that for what it’s worth, but if you’re just trying to enjoy the game and not turn into CS:GO levels of competitive BS, it’s great.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate really is the “ultimate” Smash Bros. Every aspect of this game is clearly carefully crafted. The single player is a truly fantastic experience that could easily stand on its own as an independent game. The fact that the multiplayer remains as masterful as ever makes this about as truly perfect a game as Smash has ever been. This is the perfect Smash package and a definite must-have for all Switch owners.