It was a cold winter night in 1999, everyone was still waiting for the turn of the new millennium. Some stupidly believed the world would end, either by something mystical just because of a concept the universe understood the number, others because people were lazy a couple of decades ago and would somehow cause planes to fall out of the air (it’s really quite baffling). But on that day my father came back from down south, and with him he had a game for the family and our Nintendo 64. It was an odd game, a very odd game, a fighting game starring some of Nintendo’s most important characters like Mario, Kirby, Pikachu and Fox. But that wasn’t the only thing unusual about it, it didn’t play like a normal fighting game, areas felt like something from a platforming game, and doing damage didn’t slowly kill the opponent, no they had a percentage go up, and then with a strong attack could be thrown off the arena killing them. And that was the start of one of Nintendos most loved franchises in the modern age.
That was nearly 20 years ago, I was still a child yet I could feel something was special with the game, as new Nintendo consoles came out, Smash Brothers games came with it, each time adding to the roster. So now we come to the Switch, one of the fastest selling consoles of all time, and with Smash Ultimate, one of the fastest selling games on it.
Now I don’t need to tell you this game is good, it’s a Smash Brothers game THEY ARE ALL GOOD. Smash Brothers Ultimate contains all the playable characters from the previous games as well as a few more newcomers including the long hoped for Ridley, K Rool and Simon Belmont.
Everything else was a bonus treat at this point, every single previous character including the likes of Solid Snake and Cloud Strife, plus Ridley from Metroid, I was basically throwing money at my computer screen by this point. Oh but there is so much more. When you first boot up the game your character selection is small, in fact it’s the original 8 playable characters from the first game ( it had 12 but 4 had to be unlocked) But as you play the game you will have new challengers approaching. to unlock these people you have to beat them in a fight when they challenge you, once that’s done, they are yours, keep going and eventually you will have 74 playable fighters, with more to come as there are 6 dlc coming. Of note originally some people complained about the unlock fights being too hard so they later nerfed them, but me and several people including one person who had only one fully working arm all managed to unlock everyone before the nerf, so hahahahaha I get to be smug and call you a crappy gamer people who complained.
The game has several main modes, The normal Classic mode where after choosing your character you select an initial difficulty which then goes higher the better you do, while can go down if you die (unless you use a classic ticket). I did this first with Samus without knowing that, having played previous Smash games and gotten very good at the single players I chose the starting value of 4.0, thinking it would stay the same, and was looking forward to a relaxing first run… then was screaming as it went up to 8.something and facing the Master and Crazy Hands at the same time.
Classic mode is different for each character you use, it has different fights, different themes and different final bosses. Most of these are loving nods to the games they were in. Jigglypuffs has you fight all the original smash characters and ends with a giant Donkey Kong. Ryu from Street Fighter turns it into a more classic fighting game, and Luigi …. I’ll leave you to find that one.
The other main single player game mode is Spirits, which is divided into two moments, the main story mode called World of Light and the Spirit Board. World of Light is a massive world that has you fight opponent characters each possessed by the spirits of game characters not in the game with special circumstances to represent that fighter, like fighting a Krool possessed by Snorlax who you have to get its health down before the time is up as it does absolutely nothing. Or say fight someone when the floor is constantly on fire. Beating these will unlock the Spirit for you, either giving you a primary spirit of one of 4 colours, or a Support Spirit adding you more abilities.
Spirits can also be acquired from the Spirit Board which contains a lot of the Spirits that can’t be found in the World of Light and also a lot of the worst (who ever designed Baby Bowser fight… I hate you, in fact all the stamina battle, giants with super armour) Spirits are the big time dump/collectible of this game. You can buy them from the in game shop (no real money used, that’s only for dlc), the shops found in the World of Light (yeah its big) randomly acquired when completing classic mode, or summoned by sacrificing pre acquired spirits (you get the Golden Mario spirit this way, it’s really good, it gives you super armour allowing you to show those ***** what its like)
Of course this is ignoring the main appeal of all Smash games, Smash Mode aka multiplayer. Up to 8 YES 8 people can all fight each other on one of 103 stages, each with a battlefield (meaning it’s a basic stage design with 3 elevated platforms) or Omega (meaning just a single flat plane) and 5 more planned through dlc relating to the characters coming with them. And on those stages, there are over 800 tracks to listen to as you fight people and a large number of items you can use to beat the crap out of your friends, or particular characters you don’t like.
There are countless hours of stuff to do in this game, completing World of Light can take a long time but it’s one of those games where you actually have to pull yourself away from, as you keep finding lovely little nods to past games which I won’t tell you so you have the lovely smile on your face when you do.