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A Second Opinion: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Although NantenJex has already reviewed the game, PhantomZ2 is here to provide a second opinion about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for Nintendo Switch! This review code was provided by Nintendo of America!

My history with Smash Bros. probably isn’t as expansive as everyone else on the team. My first interaction with the franchise was at a random Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournament at a ToysRUs, where I made it to semi-finals by picking the coolest character I saw: Meta Knight. I didn’t touch the series again until I was already sunk into the Nintendo 3DS and saw the trailer for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U. Although I was still interested in the game, I didn’t get to pick up a copy until January 2015. Every day before, during, and after class me and my friends: BluF, iKingXVI, and PKWondr would play Smash on our 3DS and even on a Wii U whenever someone brought their TV. High school was a crazy time and Smash Bros. made it extremely better. In addition, my friends also introduced me to the franchise more as we would play Project M, Smash Bros. Melee, and Brawl during class when a teacher was absent or in the library. Basically, I’ve really come to love the franchise within the last 3 years. After we’re done with 2018 in just two days, it’ll be 4 years. So, what about Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo Switch? Well, I wasn’t expecting it to come out until 2020 for the sake of the 20XX meme. But, I kept waiting for the next installment by watching some of my favorite content creators like Smashified, shofu, HMK, and Alpharad. And then, the March 8th Nintendo Direct happened.

(Headphone Warning)

Then E3 occurred, where we found out what the game would be called and what’s so special about it: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate – where EVERYONE IS HERE! Then with every subsequent Direct also revealing new fighters into the game, watching and speculating with friends at Source Gaming, different Discord servers, and with many of my other friends in high anticipation of what I thought would be the greatest game on the Nintendo Switch ever and on December 7th, that game released. So, does Super Smash Bros. Ultimate hold up? Well, NantenJex has already reviewed the game, but here is a Second Opinion on the game.

Now, to be completely transparent, I haven’t touched a single piece of World of Light or any other Spirits related modes. So, this review and the score I give it won’t be based upon that. This is mainly about the gameplay in terms of Smash and Online, presentation and my overall experience with the game as it stands right now. This doesn’t mean that I dislike those modes, it just means that I personally care about everything else more because it will be what my time was and will be mostly spent on.

There are over 70 characters to pick from and as the tagline of the game has been since E3: Everyone is Here! From different Nintendo franchises and 3rd Party franchises, iconic fighters from gaming history are here to duke it out for victory. Mario, Pac-Man, Sonic, Link, Mega Man, Ryu, Cloud, Bayonetta, Ness, Captain Falcon, Inkling, Greninja, Mewtwo, Fox, Wolf, Solid Snake – this crossover is huge and even more extravagant than the previous Smash games. In addition to every fighter, almost every aspect of Smash Bros. from past games is here. I personally am a fan of Shulk, Pac-Man, Roy, Dark Pit, and Mii Brawler. From the new Challengers added to Ultimate, I’ve had a lot of fun with Chrom, Incineroar, and Inkling.

There are different ways to play and even more, has been added since Smash for.. If you want to take it head to head in a serious matchup, you have 1v1s. Wanna get down and dirty with friends? 4 Player and 8 Player Smash are here to stay! Want to go even further beyond? Turn on items or the new Final Smash Meter to make matches even more intense. A fan of the normal layout stages, but hate their hazards: turn off stage hazards! Love the stage, but want the Battlefield or Final Destination layout: you can do that too! Want to play on two stages in one match? Turn on Stage Morph! With over 100 stages, there are over 300 ways to play on them. Want to fight off with your team of 3 or 5 fighters or even team up with your friends, settle it in the new mode: Squad Strike! If you’re interested in battling it out to see who knows how to play with the roster the best? Settle the score in the new Smashdown mode!

It doesn’t end there as there are still other modes to have fun with! Pick a character and delve into Classic Mode! In Classic Mode, fight against a stream of opponents that are meant to signify an aspect of the selected character’s franchise or relation to Smash Bros.. Roy’s “A Journey of Swords”, Bayonetta’s “The Requiem of Fallen Wings”, or Wolf’s “Reunited Roster”! Want a challenge of how many fighters you can defeat within a certain amount of time, play Mob Smash or some Cruel Smash to really punish yourself! By the way, don’t forget to make your own Mii Fighter in order to style on some people online in fashion!

The gameplay is the same as its always been but taken to the next level. Of course, you can still do your aerials, specials, and smash attacks like every character has been able to do since the start of the series. However, the game has been completely ramped up from Smash 4 in terms of mechanics and speed. It’s almost a mix between Melee and Smash for., where Melee was Mario Kart’s 200cc and Smash for. was 150cc. Smash Ultimate is kind of like 175cc. The game is at a steady enough pace where new players can pick up the game and have fun easily, but the game is also fast and technical more than ever to the point that serious and competitive players will have a blast for many years to come. There still is a learning curve for even older players as many changes were made to the game itself and characters mechanically. Maybe your main has gotten even better since their last appearance in the series?

Certain mechanics have been added or specifically been considered in order to improve gameplay, such as pressing X+A at the same time in order to perform a short hop. Let go of the shield at the right time to perform a parry, or in Smash terms: a Perfect Shield. This will nullify all damage from the receiving blow and give you a chance to quickly counterattack your opponent. When getting hit by an attack, specifically by a rapid jab, stunned, or stuck by Corrin’s Dragon Lunge – have you noticed the blue stream emitting from the opponent’s body? That signifies where the player is DI-ing (Directional Influence) towards, so if you’re able to spot it, try following up with where your opponent is going in order to keep the pressure on them! Of course, there are even more techniques that even I don’t know about, maybe checking out Beefy Smash Doods or ZeRo will help teach you some things. Always remember to use training mode in order to really perfect your smashing techniques.

Speaking of Online…

With the announcement that online would be based on preferences and upon location, I was very skeptical towards how it would work. For Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, I really enjoyed occasionally facing off against Japanese players. In addition, preferences and no more For Glory or For Fun? This sounded very strange and not so reassuring. So, how does Online perform?

The way Online works is that you can set your own ruleset and then play against other people online. However, unlike most fighting games I’ve played, Smash Bros. Ultimate doesn’t guarantee you your preference. Which makes sense, Smash Bros. has a variety of ways to be played and there isn’t a right or wrong way. However, that doesn’t make the system any less annoying and irritating. Before patch 1.2.0, the Online was absolute garbage. I would constantly get laggy matches and matches that aren’t even close to my ruleset. Free for alls, matches with items on, stages with hazards, it was terrible. The worst thing about it? Online is now also based upon your Global Smash Power. The higher your GSP, the “better” you are in comparison to every other player in the world. The thing is, that type of system works only in description, but not in practice. So, if I’m playing someone with enormous amounts of lag or with rulesets that aren’t my preferred rulesets – I still lose GSP and the opponent gains GSP. Does that mean they’re better than me? By the game’s definition, yes. Logically, not at all. To explain it better, I’m being thrown into matches I didn’t ask for or wasn’t prepared for and then I’m graded on it. In addition, if a player rage quits at the end of a match before the victory screen – GSP won’t be affected at all, why are people allowed to do that? I understand that there still is a punishment for disconnecting and I can report players, but if the game has already established that I won the match then I should still receive GSP for it. Separating the players between what they wanted to play in Smash for., between For Fun and For Glory, worked perfectly in my eyes and I have no idea why they even changed it.

In addition, the best part about playing online in Smash for. was that I could switch to a different fighter after each match. If my opponent is playing with a fighter I know I could beat with one of the other fighters I play, I should be able to change my fighter. Now I can’t do that, so if I want to play the same person again, well I guess I better have a way to communicate with them and set up a Battle Arena so we can fight more. If I accidentally rematch the person, I guess I better put my system in sleep mode and then get back online. Oh wait, I can actually just leave the battle by pressing start and “Leave Battle” in the Waiting Room? Wish I was told that. Wait, but if I just started Quickplay and didn’t have a match yet, I can’t leave? Well, thanks for not being consistent.

Battle Arenas are pretty cool. Host a room to play with your friends and other people around the world as they join your arena. Arenas would be a lot better if you could change rules while still in the Arena and not have to close it and then remake it. Even better, set up Arenas like hosting a room in Dragon Ball FighterZ – where you can have two arenas within the room so other people can fight instead of only waiting and spectating. As much as I do love watching other people play, I also love playing the game as well and would rather continue spending time doing that. Especially in a big Battle Arena full of my friends.

With online comes the lag and I’ve also encountered different versions of it. The match can normally lag where the internet between the players isn’t that great. Inputs themselves won’t be delayed, just the match itself is being delayed. Then there’s input lag, which can still occur even if the entire match isn’t lagging. I’ve found this to be a lot more common in Battle Arenas and with the buffer system in this game already, it makes playing the game even more annoying. In addition, make sure your controller is also well charged. I’ve run into situations where the rumble in my Pro Controller itself lags, meaning my inputs aren’t happening until after my controller has caught up with the vibrations. Which means a lot of times, I’ll just be standing still and open for my opponent to beat me. This also happens even when my controller is well charged, so I have no idea about that.

Going back to the gameplay overall, the game is fun and well balanced for most characters. There are of course still some glitches and simple issues that could be fixed, besides online, within the game such as the Isabelle Assist Trophy glitch or the Infinite Monado Arts Glitch. If I could suggest some quality of life changes: please give us the option to let CPUs in Training mode do any action outside of just being able to directly control them, let the players quickly get out of the results screen by pressing Start, and save the names of players in replays. Smash Bros. for 3DS and WiiU had those last two features, you shouldn’t be taking steps backwards. One major issue in this game that I don’t see being changed at all is the fact that fighters can’t pass through each other. Many noticed stuff like this in gameplay footage where Fox’s Illusion doesn’t go through shields. Since fighters can’t pass through each other anymore, there are many times where attacks will hit but visually not connect because it has to push the fighters off of each other.

Also, why are we still not being told how fighters were changed? At least in Splatoon 2 if we checked the website, we could see the patch notes for every single thing that was changed. In Ultimate, even if you check the website, you’re only told what characters were changed. Not even how and that is absolutely abysmal.

When I first saw this game and its renders, the washed out colors on the characters’ renders were very questionable. But, realizing that stage lighting also affects how the characters look – holy god, this game and the characters look absolutely amazing. To go even further, the presentation of the game, in general, is very straight to the point and sharp. As stated by Sakurai, Persona 5 was definitely a clear influence on the menus. I especially love the amount of character seeping from the game with the way characters interact in the options showcase and especially within the Challenges images. I won’t go into full detail about the amazing design of the menus, RelaxAlax already did that in his own video.

The music, my god, over 900 tracks. This game’s soundtrack is absolutely beautiful. The sound design is as well, I love the crunch of hitting my opponent. Especially the feedback from actions that I get thanks to the controller’s Rumble.

One thing I love about this game the most is the way they’ve handled the game’s camera and replays. You can freely move the camera around when recording replays, which will definitely make combo channels like StylesX2’s a lot more entertaining. The use of filters when taking pictures also make the game a lot more interesting and artistic from different angles.

However, a few visual drawbacks are the way the camera moves on certain FD stages is actually very headache inducing. Especially on a stage like Peach’s Castle, it looks like the entire stage is moving when it’s just the camera. Some moves have their attack animation finished, but the hitbox still lasts. For instance: Mii Brawler, Mario, Link, Fox, and some other fighters have the same neutral air: the Sex Kick. There are other forms of the Sex Kick, where the hitbox lasts longer than the actual animation of the attack: like Cloud’s up air. However, this is also a problem for attacks that have their animation end or continue, but no hitbox at all. For instance, Shulk’s down smash, where on the final turn, it doesn’t hit on the opposite side of Shulk. Although it may make sense because there isn’t a hitbox there, visually it doesn’t make sense because the sword is completely passing through the opponent.

Final Verdict:
Although I love this game, I have a multitude of problems with it. To be honest, I hate this game. I also hated Smash Bros. for 3DS, but I loved playing it. I guess I just feel the exact same way with Ultimate. The online, the people who play online by spamming moves or go Unga Bunga mode with Inkling or Simon and Richter. It’s frustrating. But, that’s not the game’s fault. It’s the player’s fault. I hate the other people who play this game, more than I hate the game itself. I hate the people who set matches to 1 stock-1 minute or 2 stock-3 minutes. However, that isn’t to say I have some really fun and intense battles with the people that I play with.

If you have a Switch, please get this game. If you don’t have a Switch, buy this game anyways and then buy a Switch. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the ultimate end all be all game for the Switch, and I can’t wait to meet some of you guys on the battlefield whenever we host live streams of the game.

I give Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, 3.5 out of 5 stars.