Super Smash Bros Ultimate sees the likes of Snake, Cloud, Ryu, and Link smacking each other around in what is easily the greatest homage to video game history. What’s even better is that it features literally every single character from across all four games in what amounts to be the truly most ambitious crossover event in history; sorry, Infinity War.
With dozens of characters to choose from, I was glee with anticipation when I had the chance to check out the Super Smash Bros Ultimate E3 2018 demo for myself at Nintendo’s booth. I spent the next 30 or so minutes participating in numerous matches alongside fellow GameRevolution writer, Dan Thompson.
If the question still lingers in your mind of whether or not Super Smash Bros Ultimate is Smash 5 or the “ultimate” version of the Wii U and 3DS games, let me alleviate that concern. This game is without a doubt a brand new title in the series and a fitting swan song for the franchise if necessary.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate Preview: Small But Critical Improvements
The ambition of seeing so many beloved characters onscreen at the same time has me hoping that Super Smash Bros Ultimate won’t ever end, but just be expanded upon with each new generation. Its graphics are very similar to the 2014 Wii U game but improved ever so slightly. However, don’t fret as it is a brand new entry built from the ground up.
Character animations are more dynamic and interesting, helping to make every reaction feel more alive. There are also welcome little touches done to fighters to provide that extra layer of detail like being able to see the pattern of Mario’s signature overalls more distinctly.
For the most part, though, the visual differences between this and Smash for Wii U will come from the new maps. I had the chance to check out the Breath of the Wild-inspired map and it has instantly become one of my favorites. It could have taken place on the Great Plateau or at a Calamity-infested Hyrule Castle, but someone had the hilariously genius idea to place it atop one of the Sheikah Towers.
I’m extremely grateful for that, as its placement high above the rest of Hyrule allows for breathtaking views. You can see the familiar land off in the distance as you fight on two main platforms. The map isn’t just a favorite for its visuals, though, as it holds its own dynamic secret.
The upper platform that is connected to the Sheikah Slate terminal is fully destructible during a match. My two opponents and I almost immediately found that out the hard way, as we completely demolished it within the first 30 seconds. Utter chaos ensued as we continued to fight through tumbling wreckage. It was delightful in that special way that is wholly unique to the series.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate Preview: Literally All of the Characters
It would feel wrong to check out the new maps without playing some of the new characters so my first choice was, of course, the Inkling. Splatoon 2 is an addictive take on shooting that I adore so trying out Nintendo’s latest icon was a given.
Contrary to what I expected, Inkling isn’t as simple of a character to control in combat. If you like zipping in and out of fights, they – both male and female options are available – are your best bets. The basic movement of the Inkling has them jump under the map into their ink and slide across almost instantaneously.
It’s absolutely insane and surprisingly tricky to master. Admittedly, my overzealous usage of the Inkling’s speed led to two quick falls to my death. They aren’t exceptionally powerful, but their ability to slide in, get in a few hits, slide back out, and shoot from afar is uncanny.
The noteworthy speediness isn’t just relegated to the Inklings, as speedy is what I’d define all of Super Smash Bros Ultimate as. It doesn’t play completely like the Wii U game, as everything is so silky smooth. Even the heftier fighters like Charizard – now back as part of Pokemon Trainer – and newcomer Ridley feel noticeably faster than you’d expect.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate Preview: Buttery Smooth Gameplay
The actual controls themselves haven’t changed much – no new mechanics that I could tell – but the responsiveness is improved, too. Every input I made on the Pro Controller seemed to translate to the screen with no lag at all. Players will need to think even more on their feet than ever before.
Though Ridley and the Inklings are the only announced totally new characters, just about everyone on the roster has been updated in some way. Link has taken inspiration from his latest incarnation, sporting that sleek Champion’s Tunic and throwable blue bomb. Peach has Princess Daisy as an “Echo Fighter”, featuring the same moveset as her fellow princess.
Being the crazy fans that we are, we decided to cap off our half hour hands-on Super Smash Bros Ultimate preview with a three-player match of nothing but the triumphantly returning Ice Climbers. I’m happy to report that the game adequately supported our wacky desire with flawless frame rates.
When my time with another game at Nintendo’s booth was done, I couldn’t help but request to play another match. That alone is the biggest example of how fantastic this game is. Even faced with other new and shiny software for the Switch, I couldn’t help but want to just go back to Super Smash Bros Ultimate for another bout; something I can’t wait to do when it releases in December.