Super Smash Brothers Ultimate matches all the hype

By Jobert Leong

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Most of you have probably played a video game before. Whether it is Angry Birds on your parent’s phone, CS:GO or League of Legends with your friends at school, or simply just a session of Minecraft or Fortnite by yourself, video games are ubiquitous in the life of a modern teenager.

Throughout playing a video game, you get to know the characters, settings, and background of the world the game developers are trying to envelop you in, just like reading a book or a movie. Before you know it, you find yourself knee-deep in wiki articles and fanfiction, trying to get more of the characters that you fell in love with. Sometimes, you’ll even wonder to yourself what would happen if all your favorite characters from different video games came together and met each other.

Thankfully, this dream is already a reality courtesy of video game giant Nintendo.

Enter Super Smash Brothers, Nintendo’s multiplayer fighting game franchise spanning five generations of video game consoles with six games and twenty years of history under its belt. What separates it from other fighting games is that while most fighting games have a player slowly whittle down their opponent’s health bar by attacking them until they reach zero, Smash Bros. instead has the player attack their opponent so that their percentage goes up, making them easier to launch off the platform they are fighting on and subsequently off the screen.

However, its main selling point is that it unites characters from all sorts of video games together to battle it out, from all-stars such as Nintendo’s own mascot Mario and Pikachu from the Pokemon franchise to more obscure picks such as Ness from Earthbound and Olimar from Pikmin (No, I am not making these games or names up; Google them if you don’t believe me), with even characters from other gaming companies joining the fray, such as Solid Snake from Konami’s Metal Gear Solid and Cloud Strife from Square Enix’s Final Fantasy VII. In total, seventy six characters from thirty two gaming franchises are represented, with eleven of them being third-party (i.e. not owned by Nintendo).

Throughout its various games, multiple fighters have come and gone from the roster, but in the latest installment and the one featured in this game review, Super Smash Brothers Ultimate, Nintendo has pulled out all the stops this time, bringing back every single character from every game in the franchise for the brawl to end them all, and even adding in highly requested characters such as Ridley from the Metroid franchise and King K. Rool from the Donkey Kong Country franchise (again, not making these up) to satisfy long-time fans of the series.

To top off all these reveals, they revealed Joker from Persona 5, a game exclusive to Nintendo rival Sony’s Playstation 4 console at the Game Awards as a playable character mere hours before the game released in America as the first piece of paid downloadable content, sending fans’ excitement into overdrive. However, one question still remains: is this game worth all the hype? My resounding answer is a big fat YES.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a game jam-packed with heaps of content, making it a game that defies the current trend in the gaming industry of selling a half-finished game on release day and adding everything else much later as paid content. Besides the traditional multiplayer fighting mode, Ultimate adds in Squad Strike, where one team of players faces off against another in successive battles until one team loses all its fighter’s lives (called ‘stocks’ in Smash Bros.) to the other team. While players have attempted to set up their own ‘crew’ battles in previous games using similar rules, this is the first time that the game has a system for this purpose, expediting the process. Squad Strike also has a mode where two players face off against each other instead of multiple people, using different characters for each stock. This has been another highly-requested feature for some time, showing how Nintendo really is listening to the fanbase this time around.

The series staple Classic Mode has also gotten a major overhaul from the last game. Instead of all characters having a random set of challenges ending with facing series boss Master Hand (a giant floating hand, don’t ask questions), each character now has their own predetermined set of fighters they face with more bosses this time around. Though this may seem more rigid, each course now has a set theme based on the character, with some of them being rather fitting such as Pac-Man (yes, he’s in the game) having to face other classic video game characters such as Mario and Donkey Kong, and Luigi (Mario’s brother) having to face off against ‘scary’ characters such as ones with ‘dark’ palette swaps and Bayonetta from the eponymous games, culminating in a boss battle against Count Dracula from the Castlevania franchise. Small bits of fanservice like themed challenges is what pushes this game above its predecessors, leaving no stone unturned for persistent fans.

However, the single biggest addition to this game has to be the single-player Adventure Mode: World of Light. Remember that question back at the beginning of what would happen if all your favorite characters from different video games came together and met each other? This mode intensifies the question, turning it into: What would happen if all those characters were DEAD? Well, not quite dead, but turned into trophies used to make empty shells for ‘spirits’. These ‘spirits’ are of other videogame characters, from iconic picks such as Ubisoft’s Rayman to obscure characters like Bio Rex from F-Zero that don’t have any representation in the game, giving players a chance to feel like they are fighting against a wide range of characters from different games. To intensify this illusion, extra battle conditions like high gravity or a sleep-inducing floor that matches a character’s traits are added during each spirit battle, making it feel like you are really fighting that character.

But how, you ask, did those videogame characters end up dead? Well, let’s just say that a big floating ball of light named Galeem (again, don’t ask questions), Thanos-snapped them out of existence and turned them into trophies, leaving it up to the sole survivor Kirby (a pink ball of cuteness and absolute terror) and the player to save them all.

Super Smash Brothers Ultimate truly lives up to its name as the ultimate Smash game, and it has never disappointed me in the sheer amount of content it has to offer. From characters that cover all facets of video games to its exciting, fast-paced, yet easy to learn combat system, it is truly a video game that any person could pick up and enjoy.

See you in Smash!