Nintendo’s Games of the Decade: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the best Super Smash Bros. game. You can fight me on this, but I will win. I am very good at Smash and have a black belt in karate. I also maintain that there’s no such thing as a bad Smash game, though I’m willing to concede that all of them have flaws. The original is sluggish nowadays. Melee is jank incarnate. Brawl has slipping. Smash 4 was on a system that didn’t make sense for the series, and also the Wii U. Ultimate takes the lessons learned from all these games and elevates the Smash experience to pure brawling bliss. Please enjoy this video:

This wasn’t the announcement or the trailer, but it fired us up like nothing else. This little video from E3 2018 assured us that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate would be the biggest and best Super Smash Bros. game yet. After all, everyone is HERE!

Go big or go home

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is about more. More characters. More stages. More items. More online modes. More more more more more. And yeah, it does translate to more fun. This is the entry that finally took online rankings seriously but ensured that the high wire act that is balancing Smash didn’t interfere with casual players as a result. The roster is bonkers and still expanding through at least 2020, with one Fighters Pass almost finished and more characters in the pipeline.

On top of that, Ultimate took away a lot of the things that were bogging down other games. The various different modes that most players tried once and forgot about didn’t make the cut. Trophy Rush, Smash Tour, Masterpieces, and more all fell by the wayside. Although, it didn’t ship with a Stage Builder or Home-Run Contest either, offering these in updates later on. All-Star also took a hit, being a much less important mode than it had been in previous games.

The trade-off is more than worth it, though. Besides the emphasis on Smash mode, Spirits combine the old trophies with equipment, powering up and customizing characters while being less of a burden on development. World of Light is an expansive adventure mode with hundreds of interesting and clever matchups that approximate characters and moments from all across video game history. It also has a sweet theme song.

Classic Mode takes this philosophy and runs away with it. Each character has a set path that mimics their original game. For instance, Mario fights through other Nintendo icons before facing Giga Bowser as his final boss. Link fights against villains and anti-heroes. Characters from fighting and RPG games do battle in Stamina matches. It’s the best Classic mode in the series so far.

What more could you want?

Finally, there’s this monster of a roster. We’ve come a long way since the original 12 characters, but I don’t think anyone was expecting this. As of the time of writing, there are 81 fighters to choose from with more still coming. This isn’t even mentioning the Assist Trophies, which round out the cast with characters who might not have a full move set or who may appear in a later game.

With just so many choices to play as in Ultimate, you’d think picking someone to play as would be difficult. However, it’s not: Just play who you like. It’s that easy! There are even some characters who sneaked in despite not having more than minor or cameo roles in Nintendo games, such as Cloud and Joker. There’s also the meta, if you want to really prove yourself. Did I mention that the tier list is the most robust and varied that the series has ever seen?

This! Is! SMASH BROS.!

Smash games are Nintendo crossovers, and it’s one of their flagship series. But Super Smash Bros. Ultimate isn’t just a celebration of Nintendo – it’s a celebration of Super Smash Bros. We can see this in the big things like Everyone is HERE! We can see it in the small things like echo fighters, assist trophies, and an obsessive dedication to satisfying game feel.

It’s also a gathering of the best in the industry. Sound designers and composers gathered from different companies to put together what I believe is the largest game soundtrack ever composed (876 tracks and growing). Bandai Namco was there to help whenever the folks at Sora needed it. When Sakurai asked third-party publishers for permissions, he often got more than he bargained for.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is, in the end, a love letter to the fans – all of them. Masahiro Sakurai is one of the world’s foremost gamers, simply by the virtue of heading this massive project time after time. He works like a madman, often to the detriment of his health, and still finds time to play through Persona 5. Super Smash Bros. is the most inclusive and diverse series of video game representation to be put out by any major studio. The level of polish these games receive is beyond extraordinary, and Ultimate is, well, the ultimate example of this.

While you’re here, we’ve got a great series of articles on Nintendo’s Games of the Decade. Check out some of the other ones:

Dominick Ashtear