Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch has arrived at an interesting time. The absence of a mainline Mario game, Zelda, or Metroid in 2018 means that Nintendo has lacked any meaningful exclusives that aren't Pokemon Let's Go Pikachu and Eevee, relegating the Nintendo Switch to what the PS Vita is — a device for niche Japanese role-playing games and indie titles. And while that's enough for some of us, does Super Smash Bros. Ultimate do anything to change that? Let's find out.
For the uninitiated, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a fighting game that touts an expansive 74 characters. These range from Nintendo favourites such as Mario and Link to characters from other franchises such as Cloud from Final Fantasy VII and Ryu from Street Fighter. This roster is set to get bigger with the likes of Joker from Persona 5 slated to arrive some time next year.
While its large list of characters that has something for everyone, they're not all accessible right away. Instead, when you boot up Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the first time, you're restricted to just eight characters, including Pikachu, Link, Mario, Kirby, and Yoshi. Unlocking the remaining 66 characters is left to you.
As you play through its many modes, you'll end up adding them to the character select screen. Be it playing through Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's single-player story known as World of Light or simply running through the gauntlet of AI-controlled opponents in Classic mode, you'll get new characters at a steady pace. Though may not be the ones you want, unlocking seemingly at random. This is where Super Smash Bros. Ultimate can feel like a chore for some.
Although there's a way around this. Despite the game being out barely a week, some appear to have discovered a pattern as to how Nintendo lets you unlock Super Smash Bros. Ultimate characters cutting down what should be 15 to 20 hours of playtime — if you unlock each and everyone of them via World of Light — to just about an hour and a half. So if you're the impatient sort wanting to play as Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid or the quirky King K. Rool from Donkey Kong, you could use these workarounds to acquire them quicker.
However in our case, we preferred the more scenic route. World of Light has you traipsing through a colourful map in search of fighters to defeat. These allow you to unlock new characters and spirits. Think of spirits as the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate take on Injustice 2's gear system, except that it's actually useful.
In World of Light, spirits do a variety of things such as boosting your base attributes like stamina or allowing you to start a fight with a weapon. They're also crucial in negating certain match conditions such as being blown off a stage due to heavy winds or falling asleep mid-battle. What's more, they're represented as characters from other games such as Fatal Frame and Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle.
You can level up your spirits to increase their potency, have them forget certain abilities, or learn new ones. Unlocking Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's roster via World of Light is a fun, addictive affair thanks to the amount of depth that's added on top of slick fighting mechanics.
Yes, much like past entries, the moment to moment gameplay in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is responsive. From pulling off over the top finishing moves like Cloud's Omnislash or Link's Ancient Bow and Arrow to dodging attacks, playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a treat for both skilled veterans and newcomers alike.
Throw in over a hundred stages to battle in and a whopping 900 tracks, and it appears that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has earned the word 'Ultimate' in its title, which makes some of its concerns all the more glaring.
For one, the user interface for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is far from intuitive. Modes are split between multiple sections making it cumbersome to find what you want. Setting up a multiplayer lobby feels clunky and drawn out, having you toggle a suite of options before progressing. It's as if all of the effort went towards the game's content, filling it to the brim with things to do, while very little went into making the user experience to access it all painless. Tragic when you consider that every other fighting game on the market now offers easier ways to get into a match.
Furthermore, online multiplayer is riddled with lag. Be it competing with other Super Smash Bros. Ultimate players in our city or taking on those in other countries, playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate online feels like an exercise in attrition due to the amount of lag we faced. Whether we played the game via a 50Mbps Wi-Fi connection or on a hotspot using 4G, there consistently was a delay between button presses and the action onscreen.
Considering other Nintendo games like Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Arms, and Splatoon 2 are playable online, it's disappointing that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate suffers from the issues it has. More so when you consider that Nintendo is using it as a tentpole title to push its Nintendo Switch Online subscription service, which you will need to play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate online. Also, voice chat requires the use of Nintendo's ridiculous app, which makes it a non-starter.
Rating (out of 10): 8
Gadgets 360 played a retail copy of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on the Nintendo Switch. The game is out now for $60 in the US (around Rs. 4,300 in India).
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