For their outing at E3 2018, Nintendo decided to dedicate most of the run time of the Nintendo Direct to digging into the fine details of the Nintendo Switch iteration of the Super Smash Bros., subtitled Ultimate. There are a lot of things they decided to go over, mostly the idiosyncrasies to each of its massive cast of 66 characters. The most important part of the game’s pitch is easily summed up by Nintendo itself: Everyone is here.
Yes, Smash Bros. Ultimate will boast the largest roster the series has ever seen; because every character who has ever appeared, from the Nintendo 64 to the Wii U, is here for a historic moment. Yes, that even includes those good old “clones” like StarWolf, Dark Pit, Ganondorf, now acknowledged and referred to as Echo Characters. One newcomer set to be an Echo Character, Princess Daisy will brawl using Peach’s awesome move set. As for actual newcomers; the already revealed Inkling was detailed; the ink that makes up the gameplay for Splatoon seems to work incredibly well as a projectile tactic, as the Inklings can pelt other characters with ink to increase damage they do.
Again, all previous characters from Smash Bros. past are back and many of them have seen updates. As hinted in the reveal, Link has had a redesign based on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, while the returning Toon Link and Young Link (last seen in Melee) fill the more classic role. Missed veterans like Ice Climbers and Wolf are back, while longtime characters such as Ganondorf have seen big overhauls to their move sets.
A couple of seemingly impossible reveals happened too: Snake from Metal Gear Solid has returned and even brings voice actor David Hayter back in spite of the bizarre behavior of publisher Konami. Even more shocking, and maybe a sign of the times; Metroid villain Ridley has finally become playable as one of the very few proper newcomers to the game. Seems like the figured out how to get him down to size.
Other changes have been made on the mechanical front; shielding mechanics have been shifted to create a bigger risk to hitting a perfect shield-now it triggers when releasing, not bringing up the shield. Dashing has been overhauled also. Dashing multiple times in succession will now lead to a character slow-down and leave you vulnerable. The UI has changed a lot, now showing character portraits going into a match like a traditional fighting game, while having a far larger design and more visually readable for settings and match setups.
There are only more tweaks and changes to be found, and our games editor, Evan Griffin, got some hands on time with the game itself, see what he thought below:
Admittedly, the hype was pretty hardcore as I sat outside in the smoggy morning air of Los Angeles waiting to enter my first E3.
Everyone in the world discovered the massive returning cast, and the inclusion of meme-lord Ridley, and I would be among the first to play it with a reservation to play in the “For Glory” bracket of Tuesdays session. I have more to commentate on how Nintendo decided to handle the demos and the tournament for Super Smash Bros Ultimate, mostly because the only way to ensure you got to play a proper amount of the game was to win, and even then it wasn’t a guarantee, especially for the popular pro smash players on location having to resort to playing with party items on. Oh yes, ZeRo, included.
We were set up with a choice of the newly issued GameCube controller (which everyone picked) or the Switch pro controller. The mode was the standard, two minute timer, free for all mode with Final Smash Balls turned on. I foolishly had trained in two stock elimination in the week prior, so while I played as Samus in one round, and Mario in another, my tactical dodge and air down combos did me no good because I wasn’t getting hits in, and so I obviously lost both times.
The only way to be able to play one on one was to be one of the lucky few to make it to the semi final of each bracket, otherwise, you had to pick a character you felt like you already knew and avoided sword boys and Bowser specials.
The gameplay, from what little I could gather, feels and controls similar to Super Smash Bros for Wii U with more visual flair and bigger impact with smash and special attacks hit, and running movement handles a bit more floaty. and ariel dodging and rolls seem to have more lag and spot on shielding is more challenging to pull off, leaving you far more open to attack when you don’t pull it off correctly. This will likely force more defensive characters to be more deliberate with their tried and true techniques.
Obviously, the game has a long way to go before launch on December 7. The franchise lead director Masahiro Sakurai notated during the tournament that was held that he noticed several bugs even in the few minutes of watching people play for the first time, but players should be confident that the quality of the Smash Bros. series carries on through here, and it should be turn out to be the pinnacle experience of the series to date.