Apologies for our lateness, but we’ve all been reeling in the wake of the massive, bizarre Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct. We got the confirmation of one long-running leak and the disconfirmation of another. We got a Street Fighter icon, a Pokémon wrestler, and – most shocking of all – a seemingly absurd Mario enemy. We saw a massive new mode, a new form of character customization, and, from a new story themed part of that mode, a mass culling of the Nintendo herd. It’s a lot, and even then we’re are still trying to pick up all the pieces. This collection primarily covers all the material in the Direct, though some details shown at the Nintendo Treehouse Live shows have been included.
Be warned, this is quite long.
- NEWCOMER: Incineroar, from Pokémon Sun & Moon. A wrestler archetype with some inspiration from Street Fighter’s Zangief, Incineroar is based around throws and strong chained attacks. After finishing many of its attacks, it makes a pose that can be cancelled out of. Specials include Darkest Lariat, Cross Chop, an unnamed side special in which Incineroar throws an opponent to bounce off wrestling ropes, and Revenge, in which it gets powered by taking damage in a way Sakurai likens to a counter. Its Final Smash is Max Malicious Moonsault.
- NEWCOMER: Ken, from Street Fighter II as an Echo Fighter. His different moves include a different looking Hadouken, the firey and slower Heavy Shoryuken, a Tatsumaki Senpukyaku that hits opponents multiple times, and a Hell Wheel backwards throw. He’s also slightly faster than Ryu, and like him has both command inputs and two Final Smashes: the Shinryuken and Shippu Jinraikyaku.
- NEWCOMER: Piranha Plant, from Super Mario Bros., and the first DLC Fighter for Ultimate (see below for details). It has a variety of attacks, from poison gas to spiked balls to using its leaves as propellers. Its Final Smash summons Petey Piranha, using his twin cages from The Subspace Emissary.
- Mii Fighters can be customized in a number of different ways: special moves, suit colors, voice, and costumes, which now return. New costumes include:
- Brawler: Ribbon Girl set, Toy-Con set, Skull Kid outfit
- Swordfighter: Lip set, Yiga Clan set, Rex set (via Fighter’s Pass)
- Gunner: Ray Mk III, Splatoon 2 set, Chibi-Robo set,
- Old ones include: Toad costume, Captain Falcon suit, Wario cap, Mecha Suit
- Dr. Mario apparently has changed throws.
- Luigi not only uses his Poltergust for throws, but it apparently forms his entire grab set. This means he now has a unique and wide ranged tether grab.
- Daisy retains Peach’s Final Smash, albeit without her peaches. It’s unknown whether Peach is also affected by this change.
- King K. Rool seems to have super armor on his stomach, though it can be broken.
- Diddy Kong’s Final Smash still involves the Rocketbarrel, with Diddy darting across the stage. Similar to Sonic’s and Pikachu’s.
- Villager now appears to have darker skin tones for some costumes.
- Zero Suit Samus retains her blue shorts costume.
- Pichu has a costume with a Team Aqua bandana.
- Young Link’s Final Smash is Triforce Slash.
- Yoshi has a new Final Smash, involving a stampede of Yoshis similar to the Melee intro.
- The starting roster remains only the original eight fighters. The four hidden fighters of the first Smash Bros. must also be unlocked along with the rest of the cast.
- To incentivize getting the game at launch, there is a limited time offer: Piranha Plant, Fighter 70 and the first post-launch fighter. It will be free for purchasers who register the retail version for gold points on MyNintendo by January 31, or who simply pre-purchase the digital version from Nintendo eShop by December 6.
- In addition to Piranha Plant, there are five planned newcomers for DLC; each will be sold as a package of one new character, stage, and collection of music tracks. These are each expected to be $5.99 USD each, or $24.99 altogether through a Fighter Pass. The Pass also includes a Swordfighter costume of Rex from Xenoblade Chronicles 2, who was not able to make the Ultimate cut due to when the latter’s planning concluded.
- DLC plans are expected to last into at least 2020.
- Sakurai also requests that only players confident in the Pass purchase it, as the team will only start making the characters – and by extension, be able to reveal them in an ideal manner – after Ultimate has launched. The Direct doesn’t indicate if any, some, or all of the five have been selected already.
- A large new set of modes that collectively act as a mixture between previous games’ Adventure Modes, Event Matches, and collectable systems of trophies, stickers, and custom equipment. Trophies will not return. Instead, players will collect “spirits” of other gaming characters. A monster named Galeem is capturing the physical forms of game characters, and without their forms they can help fighters free them.
- There is an Adventure Mode, called World of Light, though Sakurai has taken pains to note that this is very different from The Subspace Emissary, and less focused on narrative. It involves Galeem destroying and capturing the heroes of Smash Bros., with only Kirby escaping to rescue and team up with them.
- While the adventure mode is there, the majority (or at least a massive plurality) of this game appears to be a collection of matches called Spirit Battles, which functionally appear to take the place of Event Matches. Acquiring spirits from this requires beating a match reflecting the personality or history of those spirits (for instance, a battle against Otacon from Metal Gear Solid translates into fighting Dr. Mario while fending off a giant, metal R.O.B. on Prism Tower). Battles are put up on a dartboard, seemingly at random, and you appear to be able to refresh it.
- You strengthen your fighters by equipping “primary” spirits, who can also equip secondary “support” spirits. Your opponents in various matches are also controlled by various spirits, and beating them gives you a chance to capture it. These matches may also have a variety of conditions (such as the terrain putting fighters to sleep), and equipping certain spirits can help assuage them. However, taking on stronger enemies with weaker spirits can net you better rewards.
- There are four levels of spirits indicating their power. In addition, there is a a type dichotomy for primary spirits: “attack” types beat “grab,” grab types beat shield, and shield types beat attack.
- Spirits can also level up (through food or training from characters like Doc Louis or Captain Cuttlefish), be sent in teams to pick up treasure, and returned in various ways. The spirits running these are called “masters;” beating them unlocks their facility.
- All of Spirits is based on and explores the longstanding Smash Bros. premise that the fighters are toys living in a “world of imagination,” attempting to go back to the real world.
- There are dozens of shown spirits and naming them all would be very difficult; amongst others, they include Alex Roivas from Eternal Darkness, Rabbid Peach from Mario + Rabbids, Princess Shokora from Wario Land, and Calamity Ganon from Breath of the Wild. They also include characters who have been trophies and stickers in prior games, and as with stickers, they typically use official artwork from their games.
- Whenever you fight against a spirit, the Final Smash meter is active.
- Spirits can be used against other players, though it’s unclear as to whether it’s available for 8-Player Smash. It is likely not for online play.
Other Moves and Online Play
- Ultimate will support eleven languages: Japanese, English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Traditional and Simplified Chinese, and Korean.
- Now, matchmaking is based on three factors: preferred rules, Global Smash Power, and distance between players:
- Players now can set their preferred rules: length of battle, item use, stage forms (i.e. whether to use hazard toggle or Battlefield / Ω Modes). Before battle, one player’s rules will be chosen at random. The system will, if possible, link up people with similar preferences.
- Global Smash Power works functionally in the same way as the last games. However, you can now lose points for bad behavior in online matches, along with regular penalties like being disconnected.
- Players within physical proximity are being prioritized to improve steady connections.
- Because of this, For Fun and For Glory no longer exist as separate entities.
- Elite Smash is a venue open only to players with the highest GSP, and the development team will apparently be using them for possible balancing patches.
- Online players will now all have Smash tags that set things like pre-set taunt messages (many of which are written versions of Smash taunts), and beating players nets you their tag. You can also trade in tags for gold. Avatars also appear to have dramatically broadened in number, with many apparent spirits being usable alongside fighters and Assist Trophies.
- After choosing a fighter in an online mode, you can play other matches in part while you wait.
- Spectator Mode returns, and you can also now play in two player online teams.
- Players can also make Battle arenas online. Rooms can be open or only with friends, and rules are significantly more customizable. Players can also join the battle directly, wait in line, or simply spectate the matches. This also comes from a UI that presents it like moving bottle caps into a 2D Boxing Ring.
- Of course, Ultimate also connects to the Switch Online app
- In addition, the development team is making Smash World, a free, Smash specific app. It will primarily be a venue for players to post and watch videos.
- The Help page has been greatly expanded.
- The 100-Man-Smash appears to have been reimagined as Century Smash, with Cruel Smash also available. It appears that this time, any Battlefield-form stage can be used.
- All-Star Mode has been entirely redesigned into an endless battle against every currently unlocked character, perhaps in response to the challenge of having seventy character matches.
- Replay and video making return, and the tools you can use to edit them have been expanded.
- Finally, Tips can be viewed altogether, organized in a specific section by category.
- Challenges return; this time, they’re organized into multiple pages based around specific categories (so Classic, Spirits, etc.). The reward images from the past iteration are now cut into a collage, making each board look like a comic book.
- Records now separate online and offline play, along with an extensive collection of data including ranking characters by specific type of K.O. they performed (i.e. K.O. by tilt, smash attack, special).
- Ultimate has a Shop, like in the past games, where you spend gold on spirits, Mii costumes, music, and other things.
- TV and handheld mode have separate settings pages. Additions to setting options include changing the size of the new in-game radar (or whether it appears at all), altering the opacity of online teammates, and custom balancing fighters to handicap stronger players.
Assist Trophies and other items (ones not in Smash for 3DS & Wii U are in bold)
- Altogether, there are 59 Assist Trophies in all. For the first time, they outnumber the total number of Poké Ball Pokémon. In addition, Assist Trophies who can be K.O.’d can be defeated by their summoner when they’re close to defeat – to ensure the latter doesn’t lose a point.
- Akira, from Virtua Fighter and in the same low-poly look his Mii costume sported in the last game. Uses various martial arts.
- Black Knight, from Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance. Incredibly slow but strong.
- Flies and Hand, from Mario Paint. The swatter follows the flies, which sometimes follow the fighters.
- Guile, from Street Fighter II. Does the Flash Kick, though unclear if he uses any other moves.
- Isaac, returning as an Assist Trophy from Brawl. Now uses multiple forms of Psynergy, including grabbing and lifting fighters.
- Shadow the Hedgehog
- Skull Kid
- Spring Man, from ARMS. Leaps around the stage and throwing long distance punches, ending on a powerful flurry of blows à la Little Mac.
- Thwomp, from Super Mario Bros. 3. Acts exactly how you’d expect, slamming into the ground.
- Tiki, Fire Emblem: Awakening. Turns into a dragon and breathes fire.
- Vince, from Art Academy. Paints objects into the battle, harming fighters.
- Wily Capsule, from Mega Man 7. Fires various attacks; if you beat him, Wily will kneel and beg forgiveness.
- Yuri Kozukata, from Fatal Frame: Maiden of the Black Water. Takes photographs of fighters, paralyzing them.
- The final Poké Ball Pokémon summon is Tapu Koko. Returning Pokémon include Gardevoir, Arceus, Dedenne, Togepi, Snivy, Keldeo, Genesect, and Meloetta.
- New items: Healing Sprout, a healing counterpart of the Gooey Bomb; and Beastball, which appears to attack opponents after being thrown.
- Instead of consuming custom parts, amiibo can be powered up by using spirits.
- The Inkling, Ridley, and Wolf amiibo will release with the game December 7.
- The King K. Rool, Ice Climbers, and Piranha Plant amiibo will release February 15, 2019.
- The Ken, Isabelle, Pichu, Young Link, and Daisy amiibo will release at an unspecified point in 2019. No news of yet as to amiibo of the other newcomers.
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – Clash of Flame
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – Piranha Plant Pipes Up!
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – World of Light
- Source Gaming – Smash Direct Pre-Show/ Reaction / Post-Show LIVESTREAM
And alongside this information, here are our reactions:
I’m still waffling a bit on the loss of the trophies (though pretty much only because I doubt we’ll get the Sakurai commentary that made them especially fun). But what I find fascinating is how Spirits as a collective whole effectively synthesizes mechanics and ideas Smash has explored since the very first game. It’s trophies, stickers, Event Matches, a story mode, custom parts, Special Orders, and even the thematic conceit of the very first game. I was looking for surprises, and damned if I didn’t get them – and that doesn’t even count my new favorite newcomer and champion of the eyeless plants (or…plants). Just the idea of combining all these ideas into one, mostly preserving their values and furthering the work they did, is something I find deeply powerful.
When we learned about the name, and the extent of the roster, it was easy to feel that Ultimate would be merely a collection of old favorites and established successes of the series. That’s what the E3 presentation showed, and the plethora of material in the August Direct didn’t discount that, but it did suggest we were getting closer to a victory lap for a series that’s more than deserved it. But this Direct was so nuts, with so many things carrying possible concerns about how well it’ll hold up. It’s imaginative and wild. That’s a big part of why I love this series, feeling blown away by things I never knew I wanted. I’m over the moon about Incineroar’s ersatz Zangief flair, Ken’s historical value and extra speed, and of course everything about Piranha Plant. But I love the sense of surprise even more.
I honestly still feel overwhelmed with all these information and feelings, so it’s hard for me to put it in words. But I’m really happy about what we got. From the fighter’s side, we got a fun-looking wrestler, a Ryu Echo Fighter, and literally just a plant. Some might call it anticlimactic, but ending the character announcements with Piranha Plant was really a bold move, and I’m again amazed of Sakurai’s commitment to surprise us, even if it means to literally add a plant. I’m honest here, I would be more than willing to pay full DLC price for Piranha Plant as I LOVE goofy weird characters.
Also, the new story mode “World of Light” also caught most of my attention despite that we didn’t get much information about it. But I’m interested in what the campaign will offer. Also, part of me thinks that with the Adventure Mode having a title and being categorized as “campaign”, we might get multiple campaigns either within the base game similar to Kid Icarus: Uprising, or being offered as Story DLC. But this is just speculation without any proof.
I think the Spirit Mode sounds fun, even tho it’s a bit TOO Gacha System-based, but I think I have to experience it before I can judge. But I’m a bit bummed about Trophies getting “cut”. I fully understand that the workload just became too much, but I hope the stickers still will have a short description.
But overall, I really love it. I’m also very happy about the improved Language options, as I’m someone, who loves to switch between different dubs and this gives me a good opportunity to experience many different dubs without changing the system settings. I know this is a weird note to end my reaction, but I’m really happy how Sakurai thinks about everything.
As if Ultimate didn’t have a solid enough grip on me already, here’s the November trailer with an Adventure Mode that’s pretty well set up, Incineroar actually looking pretty damn fun, Spirits being a surprisingly extensive system (though the gacha aspect sucks) and showing off more and more of the improvements made overall. December can’t come soon enough.
Also the Piranha Plant is 100% worth the price of admission.
I had to wait about 10 hours to see this Direct, scream my head off when reacting to it and it was absolutely worth it. I got my new main Ken and probably my secondary Incineroar. I love the World of Light/Spirits mode, its interesting and very ambitious. I was very glad to see so many characters from gaming history make it into the game like Shantae, Custom Robo (which STRANGELY STILL GOT IN EVEN THOUGH ITS TRADEMARK IS DEAD), and once again – Shovel Knight. Now we still have DLC to wait for until about February 2020, but at this point – I can’t think of anything else I want from this game other than a PHYSICAL soundtrack. Absolutely amazing Sakurai, Bandai Namco, and Nintendo.Also, Piranha Plant looks so fun.
When it comes to Smash, I’m more of a Fox only – Final Destination kind of guy. Not to say I don’t branch out and at least try to experience everything it has to offer, but stock multiplayer matches are where I spend most of my time. Everything else, like Spirits, is mostly icing on the cake. As for character reveals, I’m really glad we got such a shock. Up until Piranha Plant, it was mostly requested fan favorites in the Smash community, but they managed to catch everyone off-guard and make a regular baddie into an icon and a character that everyone will want to try at least once. Overall, I thought the Direct ran a little long. It definitely shot my hype levels sky-high though. And that cutscene pretty much cemented Kirby as a character not to be overshadowed by the likes of Mario and Link in the most dramatic way possible.
… And there’s a LAN adapter.
During the Direct I was super hyped up about everything (except the lack of spirits), but on rewatch it was a bit average. It was certainly too long, choosing to focus on unnecessary aspects like Help and Tips, while also not showing us stuff like bosses. I expected the deconfirmation of many fan favourite characters but the seeming removal of Target Smash, Home-Run Contest, and Smash Run is a real blow. Also no tTrophies! It was my favourite part of Smash and now its gone. Not very ultimate.
That said, its replacement in spirits could be great. Sitting there in the direct I already saw some of the most obscure characters that in the past would never have got trophies: Aisya from ASH and Kiki from Kiki Trick. Who but me even knows these characters? All I need is Goku, the Marvelous guys, and the protag of Time Twist and I will be happy with the depths of obscurity they reached. Also Tin Star please.
As for characters they all look really fun, but the standout is obviously Piranha Plant. I mean, what even was that. I still can’t put it into words so just go and watch my reaction.
It’s still incredibly hard for me to properly put into words just how I felt during this direct. While I understand why many people feel it was rather average, this definitely shot my hype for the game through the roof and beyond. I’ll highlight out some sections in specific.
In regards to characters, I love how the trailer for both Ken and Incineroar was handled. I think it had great visuals and transitions, but most of all, RIP Little Mac, the next victim of the roster. Ken and Incineroar both actually look like really fun characters, and I’m very interested in trying them out. Visually, Incineroar also looks really impressive in this game’s lighting and visual style. My new favorite newcomer, though? Piranha Plant…probably my most hype reveal for this game. Don’t get me wrong, every newcomer has really excited me. Piranha Plant is the perfect off-the-wall unpredictable character that looks absolutely fun to play. Its wacky moveset and presentation just excites me for its release, and I know as a fact that I’m aiming to be the best Piranha Plant at my Smash locals.
Next I really want to highlight Spirits Mode. Or…is the mode called World of Light? Admittedly, I’m still a little confused on that. Basically the “story” mode with that incredible cutscene we got, where basically every character except Kirby died. Upon re-watching it too, I’m pretty sure any character who “died” in previous trailers wasn’t seen being completely annihilated. I’m beyond excited to see how this mode is handled and executed. While I already felt that the cutscene was amazing, as soon as the vocals to the main theme kicked in I immediately got chills, and I felt confident that this will be my favorite Smash game. I’ve gone back to listen to that song dozens of times at this point, and man, it doesn’t disappoint.
Overall? I think this direct was incredible. Smash Ultimate looks amazing. I think spirits are interesting, working a bit like stickers from Brawl, but also replacing trophies…that got me a little bummed, and I hope spirits still have descriptions like the trophies, but I’m not really holding out for that. A bit surprised to see there’s no Target Smash or Stadium modes either, aside from the Multi-Man Smash that’s always been around. It’s surprising to see All-Star Mode turned into another one of these, though. I suppose it makes sense, changing the format of the original All-Star mode, given there’s 70+ characters and that’d be a really long run for each character…but man, I’ll miss doing that. I was really looking forward to having the classic All-Star mode, fighting all the characters in numerical order.
I’ll cut right to it, I think this Direct was mixed. There are things I liked, didn’t like and things I found confusing. For the characters, Grinch leak (now fake) aside, I never cared for Incineroar (although his side special looks cool). Regardless, I think it was anti-climactic to end on something expected like Ken and another Pokémon. Just one more fan favorite would’ve been great to end off the roster. Although maybe if he held off King K. Rool’s reveal, it would’ve been leaked like the previous two mentioned. He wasn’t which made it more exciting so maybe that was the better choice.
In addition to the fighters, Piranha Plant is a dumb character… which is why I love it. It was made for the fun of it and it shows and I can’t wait to use it. I don’t think anyone has mentioned but I believe the choice was part strategy. It’s a way to lure you into DLC by making it free (for a short time), while also being a character that people won’t feel angry it was was “cut” from the roster. Plus, they’re not going to use the moneymakers as free content, even for a short time, because that’s lost revenue. You’ll have to pay up for those ones.
That however, was at the end of the video, and it’s everything in between that matters. Despite all of the customization options, the character select screen only has the default setup (even the website had two). Characters are organized by when they were developed, which only makes sense for the studio, if that. When you invite friends over, they aren’t going to remember which entry a character was introduced in. Even as a veteran of the series it’s confusing to look at. It sounds like a small gripe on paper, but you’re going to be going back to this menu a lot.
I like Event Matches and I think 700+ trophies is overkill (100-200 would’ve been nice, or at least the All Star trophies). This time, Adventure mode is made up of them, some of which aren’t possible to recreate yourself like a stage completely on fire. That being said, events are still just variations on fights. There will be bosses like Dracula, Rathalos, and Galleom (from Brawl) but who knows how many there are and how many are new.
I don’t expect, nor want another Subspace (the cutscenes were the only good part) but 10-15 Melee Adventure-style levels would’ve been great. It gives you a break from pure fighting, and gives you a challenge thematic to that world. It feels like more of a crossover when Pikachu has to race and avoid ships in an F-Zero race or Bowser swipes at a Shadow Link. I don’t think it would’ve taken a ton of time to make something like that. While the Adventure battles aren’t randomly generated, it almost comes off like recycled content. It isn’t original, it’s just changing what tools already exists in-game. Granted, the same argument could have been levied against past Event Modes, but we also have fewer modes this time.
Finally, Spirits looks needlessly convoluted. They took Smash for Wii U’s custom equipment and injected crack into its veins. In the previous game, you could equip 3 pieces of clothing or feed it to your amiibo for a permanent boost. Now you can battle specific spirits, level up, feed, combine, train, search for treasure, sacrifice to amiibo, be mindful of a weapon wheel, primary and support spirits and so on. To me it’s a way to pad the experience by juggling menus. Equipment is fine, but the point of Smash Bros is to play as the characters, not spend time micromanaging statistics. Say what you will about gameplay uses, but trophies are still more interesting to collect than JPEGs of characters you’ve seen online for the past decade. One could probably ignore it and be fine, yes, but they clearly spent a lot of time on it and I think that time would’ve been better spent elsewhere. As Nantanjex pointed out, plenty of modes (and trophies) are missing because this was given more attention. Smash Run didn’t even return, and that only requires one level compared to my idea for Adventure mode.
All in all, Piranha Plant looks fun, and the single-player content looks better than Smash for Wii U, but it feels like a half-step. We asked for an Adventure mode, and got one, but it’s not quite what myself or what I think most fans had in mind. It was nice to see a cinematic though, even if there is probably only an opening and ending one.