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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has arrived on Nintendo Switch! Is this truly the “ultimate” entry in Nintendo’s popular fighting game franchise?

On paper, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for Nintendo Switch has it all. You get 74 characters, 103 stages, and eight different modes of gameplay. It’s is by far the largest Super Smash Bros. game of all time. But does bigger mean better in this case? After putting in dozens of hours into the game, my answer is a resounding yes!

Expectations for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate were sky high, and “ultimately” the Nintendo Switch game has delivered across all areas that matter—story, gameplay, graphics, and roster. It looks great, plays great, and has what I feel is the best Smash Bros. story yet (sorry, Adventure Mode from Melee!)

Turning our attention to the roster is enough to make any gamer salivate. Included are all the Nintendo marquee characters, like Mario, Luigi, Peach, Yoshi, Kirby, Donkey Kong, Samus, and so many more. Plus, every single guest character returns, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Pac-Man, Mega Man, Snake, and Cloud. When you add in seven more Echo Fighters and more than 1,000 Spirits, it amounts to the largest crossover in entertainment history. The game isn’t just big, it’s huge!

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate info:

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Nintendo
Developers: Bandai Namco Studios, Sora Ltd.
Genre: Fighting
Modes: Single-player, multiplayer (local and online)
ESRB Rating: E10+

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate game editions

Being such an ambitious game, it’s no surprise that Nintendo has released numerous editions for you to choose from. Let me rundown what’s available:

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate game editions

Being such an ambitious game, it’s no surprise that Nintendo has released numerous editions for you to choose from. Let me rundown what’s available:

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Whew! When I said there were a lot of options, I wasn’t kidding. Now let’s take a deeper dive into what this game offers.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Game Features

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Every fighter in the entire series

As touched upon earlier, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate really is the ultimate edition. The game features every character that has ever appeared before, including the return of fan-favourites like the Ice Climbers, Pichu, and Pokémon Trainer. There are 11 new fighters as well, like King K. Rool (Donkey Kong), the Inklings (Splatoon), and Ridley (Metroid). Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lets you have the match-ups you’ve always been dreaming of. Mario vs. Dr. Mario—check. Kirby vs. Jigglypuff—check. Sonic vs. Mega Man—check. These are just some of the hundreds of possibilities.

From a gameplay perspective, returning characters handle similar to how you remember them, although Nintendo has done tweaks and balances along the way. Ryu throws fireballs and performs his signature Shoryuken uppercut. The Inklings strike with ink attacks and can dive beneath the splatted ink to refuel. Pikachu calls upon deadly Thunder Jolt blasts and has an electric tackle. With 74 different characters, there’s bound to one (or several) you’ll fall in love with, and there are always new characters to try out and explore.

To add even more depth to the roster, Nintendo has included seven Echo Fighters in the mix. These fighters are clones of another character with adjusted movesets and attributes. For instance, Ken is an Echo Fighter of Ryu, and Dark Samus is an Echo Fighter of Samus. These are more than just neat palette swaps, as they also expand your range of tactics. For example, Ken is more nimble but Ryu packs more power.

You might also like: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Interview with Nintendo’s Andrew Collins

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Pass

As if that weren’t enough, Nintendo has announced a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Pass. It comes in two options:

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The Fighters Pass is the gift that keeps on giving as it includes five Challenger Packs that will roll out between now and February 2020. Each Challenger Pack includes one new fighter, one new stage, and several new music tracks. You’ll also be able to buy the Challenger Packs individually using Nintendo Ecash Digital Download cards. As a bonus for purchasing the Fighter Pass, you’ll receive a bonus Mii Fighter Costume, namely the Rex Wig and Rex Outfit.

If you purchase Super Smash Bros. Ultimate before January 31, 2019, Nintendo has another gift for you—the Piranha Plant playable fighter! You’ll need to register your copy of the game with Nintendo to receive the bonus character, and redemption instructions are found here.

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World of Light story mode

With so many fighters and battle stages, Nintendo could have easily given us a robust set of multiplayer options and called it a day. Instead, they went above and beyond with World of Light—a full single-player story mode that takes 20-30 hours to complete. That’s as long as many action adventure games these days!

I won’t ruin the surprise other than to say all our heroes get turned into Spirits, except one lonesome hero who then sets out to save the rest. The adventure takes place on a giant overworld map with branching paths and many obstacles to overcome. Along the way, you’ll encounter evil clones of your favourite characters that you must defeat to progress. Beating an enemy frees one of over 1,000 Spirits, which your hero can equip to power up or grant special new abilities. More on that in just a bit.

What’s neat about World of Light is you need to use strategy to both defeat enemies and advance the campaign. Early on you encounter a futuristic racetrack and require the aid of an F-Zero driver to hop in the driver’s seat to take you from point A to B. In another spot, you’ll battle on an extremely challenging heavy wind stage, however, recruiting Snorlax will weigh you down and counteract the strong gusts. My point is, World of Light isn’t a simple endless battle of enemies. There’s strategic depth, unlike any fighting game campaign I’ve ever played before. It’s a total blast to play!

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Spirits

Speaking of Spirits, I’d like to emphasize how much fanservice Nintendo has done here. The Spirits inventory screen lists 1,297 total to collect, and they cover nearly every Nintendo franchise imaginable. Super Mario, Mario Kart, Paper Mario, Donkey Kong, Metroid, The Legend of Zelda, Pokémon, Kirby, Yoshi, Pikman, Animal Crossing, Fire Emblem—they’re all represented with iconic characters. As well, you’ve got Spirits from lesser known Nintendo properties, like Code Name S.T.E.A.M., Balloon Fight, and The Legendary Starfy. Plus, third party publishers get in on the action by including characters from Sonic, Mega Man, Street Fighter, Castlevania, and more.

World of Light essentially offers a massive data bank of popular characters from throughout Nintendo’s 35-year gaming history. Not only that, every character has a fresh art design for you to marvel at. Awesome!

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Amazing graphics and sound

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate looks and sounds incredible. While not a big leap up from what we saw in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, the presentation here looks great and includes touch-up jobs and extra detail. The variety of stages, and their eye candy is enough to make any Nintendo fan smile huge. From the lush tropical forest of Donkey Kong’s Kongo Jungle to The Legend of Zelda Spirit Train to the Wii Fit Studio—there’s just so much to admire and appreciate. Just like with the characters, the stages present a treasure trove of the best Nintendo memories we’ve been having for decades now.

I’d be remiss not to mention how bright and colourful everything looks too. The newcomer Inklings add a splash of colour to every stage. Mario, Yoshi, Peach, and the rest of the Mushroom Kingdom crew have never looked so vivid and detailed before. Then there’s King K. Rool, my favourite newcomer, who is so well animated he might be the best-looking character yet. Toss in amazing updated looks for Ridley and Simon Belmont, and you have a visual feast unmatched by any fighting game before it.

I also have to mention the superb soundtrack that goes well beyond expectations. Hundreds of tracks are available, ranging from remixed classics to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate originals. The tunes span a wide gamut of franchises, too, like Final Fantasy, Animal Crossing, Super Mario, Mega Man, Punch-Out!!, and more than 20 others. As well, you can customize playlists to create the ultimate tailored listening experience as you battle with your buddies all night long.

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Game modes galore

Naturally, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate contains a plethora of game modes. Up to 8 players can battle it out in traditional Smash mode on one Switch console or through local wireless play. Online battles are up to 4 players, with a Nintendo Switch Online subscription required for play. While playing online you’ll earn tags, an in-game currency used to buy new Spirits, music tracks, and Mii Fighter costumes.

My experience playing online has been mostly positive, but it’s not without issue. Lag creeps into some matches and finding opponents that want your custom settings can take time. It’s not all bad though, I’ve had plenty of fun, lag-free sessions, though there is certainly room for improvement.

Aside from Smash mode, the game features the team-based Squad Strike (3-on-3 or 5-on-5) and 32-player Tourneys. You’ve got Special Smash mode featuring unique match types like Custom Smash, where you can make characters mega or mini size, and Super Sudden Death where everyone begins with 300% damage.

Classic Mode also returns, letting you battle through tailored routes for each character. For hectic single-player battles, Mob Smash pits you against a whole army of enemies. And finally, there’s Spirit Board, a place to challenge tough Spirits with a chance to win them if you’re victorious. Needless to say, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate includes a huge range of game modes!

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate lives up to the hype

There was a lot riding on the shoulders of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and it hasn’t let us down. It’s the definitive Super Smash Bros. game and the best fighting game of 2018. It’s impressive on all accounts, from the detailed graphics, to the massive roster, to the in-depth World of Light story mode.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate PROS:

  • Includes every fighter and stage in Smash Bros. history
  • Excellent new fighters like Simon Belmont, Ridley, and Isabelle
  • Superb control and gameplay depth
  • Phenomenal presentation—both visuals and music
  • Virtually unlimited replayability
  • Robust single-player World of Light mode
  • The ultimate party game for friends and family
  • So many game modes, online, offline, multiplayer, and single-player

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate CONS:

  • Online multiplayer matchs can be laggy
  • Takes a while to unlock the full roster

Game score:

Gameplay: 9.5/10
Graphics: 9.5/10
Sound: 10/10
Replayability: 10/10

Overall Rating:

39/40 (98%)

See also: Best Switch Games 2018: Holiday Gift Guide

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Based in Toronto, Paul is a proud Canadian, lifelong gamer, and consumer of all things tech! He is one of Canada’s most trusted gaming and technology experts with over 10 years’ experience in the industry. He is well known for sharing his view on what’s hot and what’s not in an honest, down-to-earth manner. On a personal note, Paul is a dedicated husband and father, and loves travelling with his family to the US and Japan. Come say hi on his Twitter channel @NextGenPlayer.