Earlier this morning, fans sat with bated breath for the final information dump on Super Smash Bros Ultimate before the game’s release on December 7th. Everyone came with expectations and maybe a couple of purported leaks, but it is safe to say no one was really sure what to expect. With a 40 minute presentation-20 minutes longer than the E3 reveal showcase-there was a lot to cover.
Not wasting any time, director Masahiro Sakurai kicked off by confirming the game’s final roster by revealing the final characters: Ken, from Street Fighter fame; based on Ryu’s moveset just like in the classic Street Fighter games. In the cinematic trailer, Ken is facing off against Little Mac before being challenged by the final newcomer: Incineroar, one of the fully evolved starter Pokémon from Pokémon Sun and Moon. Incineroar’s moves are based on pro wrestling, a moveset not really seen within Smash Bros before. With that revealed, the grand total of characters is 74, which is what will be the game’s full roster contains.
That’s a lot of characters to unlock, and while we don’t know what the requirements to unlock the characters will be, we do know that players will start with only the original eight characters that made up the original Smash Bros roster. Sakurai also confirmed that every character in the game that hasn’t had an amiibo created will eventually receive one, though their releases will be staggered.
Moving on, Sakurai revealed the previous teased feature, “Spirits.” Spirits are sealed gaming characters from across featured franchises and beyond. Players unlock these spirits and can bond them to the Smash fighters to give buffs and other abilities. The spirits also play into the returning story mode, “World of Light,” which brings back the crossover story previously seen in Super Smash Bros Brawl, though with a significant increase in Master Hands. Spirits seem to be focused on local play, though players can play against each other with spirits equipped if they choose.
Other details about online modes were detailed after that, showing that matchmaking takes into account location, ranking against other players, and preferred ruleset. Chat features will also be available via the Nintendo Switch app for phones. Additionally, the app will have Smash specific features for sharing gameplay videos later on. Despite other games having a network test, no such test was announced for this title during the Direct. It seems strange that other Switch titles would get a test but not this large title.
Tweaks and changes are coming to fan favorite modes: 100-Man Melee has become Century Smash, but it still is a 1 vs 100 computer player mode, while All-Star Mode will now be unlocked from the start, though with a big change. Instead of a timeline of combatants, it is an endless mode of all unlocked characters from the time it is started. Custom characters and trophies are gone, but there are still costumes for the Mii Fighter characters and new ones have been included. Other things that previous versions of Smash had, like Smash Tour or Smash Run, have been sidelined to focus more on the main game and World of Light.
Sakurai also talked about the game’s future. He confirmed that while we have 74 characters for Ultimate already, which is already crazy to see, the team is planning upwards of five DLC characters. They plan to release them over the course of the next year, though production has yet to even begin. Despite this, there will be will be a season pass for that DLC. Sakurai acknowledged that isn’t the best way to come across, and even went so far as to ask that if players don’t think it is a good value to not purchase it; reminding us again of what often sets Nintendo apart from the competition. There is a bonus Mii Fighter skin (Rex from Xenoblade Chronicles 2) for purchasing the pass, but the characters can be bought when they are released. A final surprise for fans came in the form of the sixth DLC character, which will be given for free to anyone who purchases the game during the holiday season – the Piranha Plant from Super Mario.
From there, it’s now time for the mad dash to the December 7th release. While not everyone’s favorite characters made the cut, there was still a lot to take in from the Direct and Ultimate looks more and more promising. That said, Smash Ultimate is very much the poster child for Nintendo’s Online service right now, so the lack of a test or demo of any kind to help ensure online play will be consistent is still a disappointment. Either way, stay tuned for more on Smash Ultimate as we get ever closer to get our hands on it!