Review: Super Smash Bros Ultimate
As the title suggests, this is the biggest Smash Bros title yet. Every previous character returns.
Driving this is a storyline that draws characters from multiple franchises in together. In a climactic battle, every Nintendo character falls to a mysterious force made of light, their souls taken by this force. Of everyone, only the pink transforming blob Kirby manages to survive and embark on a quest to bring all of the fallen heroes back.
While looking for meaning in a Nintendo game seems on the surface to be a superficial exercise, Super Smash Bros Ultimate’s storyline is surprisingly deep. Kirby emerges as the main protagonist and sole survivor, which is somewhat similar to the biblical theme of the unexpected hero. From Aaron to the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the Bible’s books constantly remind us that how God views people is not the same as how we perceive them. Beyond this, a storyline involving an evil force stealing people’s souls should prove to be worthwhile conversation fodder about the nature of evil and the soul.
For those who have never played the series before, Smash Bros is a fighting game where characters from Nintendo’s past titles do battle on platforms. The more damage they get, the likelier it is to knock them off, and the player who knocks off the most opponents wins.
The stages that these brawls take place in are based on levels from prior games and vary widely in scope and design. Many of these stages have elements that transform as the bout continues. Other levels are side-scrolling, with players needing to keep up, similar to platform games. With some 103 stages all up, there is plenty of variety.
Smash Bros has been a Nintendo mainstay since the time of the Nintendo 64. It is a mishmash of Nintendo lore over the company’s past thirty years. Any character that has ever appeared on a Nintendo system is eligable for consideration, and the series draws on everything from Bayonetta to Mario Tennis. As such, it is an ambitious crossover, similar in scope to the likes of Infinity War. Pacman, Snake, and Sonic are just a few of the characters that are returning.
As with previous titles in the series, Super Smash Bros Ultimate’s gameplay is pleasing in that both experienced players and those new to the series can pick it up, play, and potentially do well. Every character performs differently and players would do well to not settle on their main until they have had the chance to play through all of them. In the main, the characters are well balanced, but there are some overpowered characters who may need to be nerfed in future updates.
The game’s bouts can be customised to accommodate the preferred rules, number of players, and whether or not in-game items appear. Up to eight players can play, which makes Smash Bros Ultimate a fun party game.
Much like the suits in Spider-Man on the PS4, unlocking all of Smash Bros Ultimate’s characters is an exercise that proves to be compelling.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate is a fun game for families to play together with the caveat that the game has cartoon violence. While this is nothing beyond the scope of say, a standard Loony Tunes cartoon, parents with young children might want to consider whether it is suitable for them and how they introduce the game.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate is rated PG and is available on the Nintendo Switch.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor