PAX West 2018 Hands-On Preview: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

PAX West 2018 Hands-On Preview: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

It’s pretty clear that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is one of the biggest titles yet to release this year. The surprise announcement that everything (and everyone) plus the kitchen sink is being thrown into this title has Smash fans pumped up. This realization really hit me when checking out the build of the game shown during PAX West.

My focus when playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was to answer a couple of questions. “How does Ridley play?” and “Is this more a sequel or port?”

Let’s investigate these together!

Dragon Smash!

Ridley was one of the more exciting new character announcements for me (second to King K. Rool). I knew he was heavily requested, but to actually be part of the Smash Bros. roster was amazing to see nonetheless. Playing him was just as surprising as certain moves made him feel a bit like a Mario/Fox hybrid, albeit heavier. His neutral special move spits out fireballs and forward smash attack causes a fiery explosion in front not unlike Mario. The Fox vibes came from the up special which has similar mobility as Fox Fire, as well as his up smash.

Despite being more of a heavy character, Ridley has a surprising amount of mobility. He’s given the ability to jump twice in the air thanks to his wings. Plus his side special move is a grab that can drag an opponent to the edge of a map. That would prove especially useful when battling in the air against an unsuspecting victim. It also goes without saying if you saw his trailer, but Ridley’s Final Smash is truly a sight to behold.

PAX West 2018 Hands-On Preview: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Paint The Town

We were also able to play around in a handful of stages, most notably the new Splatoon and Breath of the Wild themed ones. The latter can feel very small with 4 players at once, but the middle structure reforming after being destroyed is a nice touch. It also doubles as a stage hazard for anyone in the wrong place at the wrong time. The former plays with verticality blocked by several angled floors. There was a point playing on this map when a few Bob-ombs went off which instantly made slight movements lethal for both me and the other player.

With Splatoon in mind, the Inkling was also a playable character. While I didn’t personally play her, I did play against her during my time with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Here’s our hands-on preview of the Inklings from E3 this past year.

Her whole game plan appears to revolve around inking her opponents so as to make them take more damage. She can also roll ink on the ground to slow down the other players. Inkling seems like the type of character that will take some time to be effective, but her unique gimmick adds dimension to the cast.

PAX West 2018 Hands-On Preview: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Sequel? Port?

After about 4 rounds playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, I can confidently say that it’s… both? Okay, maybe not so confidently, but hear me out. This is a game that clearly is borrowing a lot from Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. On top of that, it is bringing back and in many ways enhancing older characters we haven’t seen in a while. Cast aside, there are also countless gameplay tweaks and balances to make everything work cohesively.

Those who argue that this is a sequel will bring up new the new characters, echo fighters, assist trophies, and stages. They’re not wrong either, but the sheer amount of returning assets that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate brings leads me to call it somewhere between a sequel and a port. Perhaps a “porquel”? Can we get that trending? Either way, this is shaping up to not only be one of the best entries in the franchise but the defining one overall. It has all lead up to the ultimate showdown of video game characters we grew up with and loved over the years. If this were to be the final release in the franchise, I couldn’t imagine a better way to go out.

Are you looking forward to Smash Bros. Ultimate? What characters should join the mix? Comment below, let us know!

David Giltinan
David has been involved in games media since 2012 running his own blog, YouTube channel, being a founding member of RETRO Magazine, and now as host/producer of ARGcast - Another Retro Gaming Podcast. He also dabbles in voiceover and is occasionally a stunt double for Jude Law.