Smash Bros. Ultimate: Review, Release Date, Character Roster, And What You Need To Know
The brawl to end them all.
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Following a series of exciting announcements that further and further fleshed out what we can expect from the game, Nintendo's next entry in the Super Smash Bros. series is very early here. The release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for Nintendo Switch is slated for tomorrow, December 7, and it's undoubtedly the franchise's biggest game yet. It features a massive roster and lineup of stages, as well as a new RPG-style single-player story mode and much more.
Below, we've compiled all of the information you need to know about the new game. Whether you've been looking forward to this release for years or are just excited after reading our Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review, this will cover all the major highlights: the release date, character roster, gameplay changes, and much more.
Is It a Port or a New Game?
Prior to its full reveal at E3, there was much speculation over whether Super Smash Bros. Ultimate would be a new installment in the series or an expanded port of the Wii U entry, in the vein of Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. Nintendo cleared up any misconceptions during a Q&A session at the expo, confirming that Ultimate is indeed a brand-new title built for Nintendo Switch.
Our final Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review has not yet been published, as we're waiting to see how the game's online multiplayer support holds up once it goes live after launch. But in the meantime, we have a comprehensive review in progress covering everything else that's available. In it, Edmond Tran writes, "Situational downers don't stop Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from shining as a flexible multiplayer game that can be as freewheeling or as firm as you want it to be. Its entertaining single-player content helps keep the game rich with interesting things to do, as well as bolstering its spirit of loving homage to the games that have graced Nintendo consoles. Ultimate's diverse content is compelling, its strong mechanics are refined, and the encompassing collection is simply superb."
When's the Release Date?
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate launches exclusively for Nintendo Switch later this year, on December 7.
How Many New Characters Are There?
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate introduces 11 new fighters to the series' roster, with an additional six coming as DLC. Nintendo revealed the first three of these newcomers--Inkling, Ridley, and Daisy--during its E3 presentation. Inkling and Ridley are both brand-new additions to the series, with unique movesets and play styles drawn from their respective franchises. Inkling can splatter opponents with ink and use a variety of weapons taken from Splatoon, such as Splat Bombs and the Splat Roller; Ridley, meanwhile, can spew fire and spear other combatants with his tail.
Daisy, on the other hand, isn't an entirely new addition to the roster, but rather an Echo Fighter--a clone of an existing character, in the vein of Lucina and Dark Pit. Her moveset and play style are based on Princess Peach, although she boasts some different characteristics to set her apart. As Nintendo further explained during a dedicated Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct in August, Echo Fighters can either be displayed as separate characters on the selection screen or stacked atop the fighter they're based on.
Five additional newcomers were also revealed during that same presentation: Simon and Richter Belmont from Castlevania; Chrom and Dark Samus from Fire Emblem Awakening and Metroid Prime 3, respectively; and King K. Rool from the Donkey Kong Country series. The following month, the company announced Isabelle from Animal Crossing: New Leaf will also be a new playable character. The final two new additions to the base roster--Ken from Street Fighter and Incineroar from Pokemon Sun and Moon--were announced during October's Super Smash Bros. Direct.
Which Characters Are Coming Back?
Everyone! Super Smash Bros. Ultimate features the largest roster in the series to date with more than 70 confirmed fighters (and six more DLC characters). Every fighter who has ever appeared in a Smash Bros. game will return in Ultimate, including all of the ones released as DLC for the Wii U and 3DS installments--such as Bayonetta, Corrin, and Mewtwo--as well as third-party characters like Sonic, Cloud, and Street Fighter's Ryu.
The roster even encompasses characters who have previously only appeared in a single Super Smash Bros. game, including Pichu and Young Link (whose sole appearances were in 2001's Melee), and Wolf and Snake from 2008's Brawl. Longtime Metal Gear Solid voice actor David Hayter revealed he is reprising his role as the latter in Ultimate, and Snake's signature stage, Shadow Moses Island, has also been confirmed to return.
Not all of these characters will be available from the outset; Nintendo revealed that the game's initial fighter select screen will only consist of eight characters--the same number as the starting roster in the first Super Smash Bros. for N64. However, the company says the conditions for unlocking characters have been streamlined this time around, and new fighters will be doled out frequently, giving players the feeling that they're constantly making progress.
You can see every Smash Bros. Ultimate character in our gallery.
How Many Stages Are There?
Nintendo confirmed during its August Direct presentation that there will be 103 different stages in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, each of which also boasts a Battlefield and Final Destination form. Taken together, this amounts to more than 300 levels to fight on. Moreover, Nintendo is introducing a new feature to the game called Stage Morph; when toggled on, it will cause one stage to transform into another in the middle of a match.
The majority of the stages in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are taken from previous installments in the series. Among those that have been confirmed thus far are Spirit Train and Tortimer Island from Super Smash Bros. for 3DS; Princess Peach's Castle and Great Bay from Melee; New Pork City and Frigate Orpheon from Brawl; and Mario Galaxy and Gaur Plain from Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. That said, there will also be a handful of new stages in the game. At E3, Nintendo revealed Great Plateau Tower (based on The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild) and Splatoon's Moray Towers, while the August Direct gave us a look at New Donk City from Super Mario Odyssey and Simon Belmont's signature stage, Dracula's Castle.
What Else Is Different?
Aside from all of the new characters, stages, and items, Nintendo is making a ton of mechanical and balance changes in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Game director Masahiro Sakurai says the amount of tweaks in the game could number in the "tens of thousands," and they range from subtle visual upgrades--like Wii Fit Trainer's refined face--to reworked movesets and other dramatic overhauls.
One of the most notable changes is the pace of the game. Combat in Ultimate feels speedier than in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, resulting in quicker and more intense matches. Moreover, Nintendo has introduced some new techniques, such as directional air dodges, and simplified other ones, like short hop attacks, improving the game's accessibility while also allowing for more skillful play. In keeping with this emphasis on speedier matches, players will dish out more damage in one-on-one battles, while those who excessively dodge will now be penalized with slowed dodge movement and a smaller window of invulnerability.
Most Final Smashes have also undergone some dramatic changes in Ultimate. Some existing specials, like Pikachu's Volt Tackle and Sonic's Super Sonic transformation, are now uncontrollable, lightning-fast attacks, while other characters have received new Final Smashes entirely. This time, Link fires a devastating Ancient Arrow, while Pit barrels through opponents in the Lightning Chariot. Nintendo says that nearly every Final Smash has been reworked in Ultimate to be more immediate, allowing players to get back into the fray more quickly.
Likewise, many returning characters have received significant overhauls in Ultimate, both in terms of their appearance and their movesets. Ganondorf, for instance, is modeled after his classic look in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and he now uses his sword for his smash attacks. Princess Zelda's new model is based on her appearance in A Link Between Worlds, and Link dons his Champion's Tunic from Breath of the Wild. Shulk can now choose Monado Arts directly rather than having to cycle through them, while Palutena's special attacks have been streamlined.
What Are Spirits?
In the place of trophies, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate introduces a new type of collectible called Spirits. These come in the form of character artwork from a variety of different games and can be equipped to power up your fighter. There are two types of Spirits: Primary, which enhance your character's stats, and Support, which can be attached to the Primary spirit and confer additional abilities, such as autoheal. Spirits also come in several different classes, ranging from Novice to Legendary, and three power types: Attack (Red), Grab (Green), and Shield (Blue).
Spirits can be acquired in the aptly titled Spirits Mode. Here, you'll need to battle against a fighter that somewhat resembles the Spirit you're challenging; for instance, to acquire the Lakitu and Spiny Spirit, you'll first need to defeat Iggy Koopa and his team of tiny, red Bowsers. These Spirit battles also typically feature some sort of stage hazards such as poisonous floors, so you'll need to think about the appropriate Support Spirits to equip in order to succeed.
Can I Use GameCube Controllers?
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will support several different controller options, including the Switch Pro controller, a single Joy-Con, and many Smash fans' preferred gamepad, the GameCube controller. As was the case with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, the latter will be compatible with the console via a separate adapter. This peripheral plugs into the Switch dock and works with both standard wired GameCube controllers and the wireless WaveBird.
Those who already own the Wii U GameCube controller adapter will be able to use it with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate on Switch. Nintendo will also release a new controller adapter later this year, along with a new line of Smash-branded wired GameCube controllers. Both are already available for pre-order from various retailers such as Amazon and GameStop; the adapter retails for $20, while the GameCube controllers run for $30 each. There will be other controller options for sale too.
Will It Work with Amiibo?
Nintendo confirmed Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be compatible with the existing range of Smash Bros. Amiibo, and data saved to those figures will carry over to the new game. The company has also announced it will release several new Smash Bros. Amiibo. Nintendo showcased figures of Ridley and Inkling, the first two new fighters announced for Ultimate, during its E3 2018 presentation, and we've since also gotten a look at Amiibo of King K. Rool, Daisy, Ken, Isabelle, and several other characters.
In addition to the new figures, Nintendo announced it will also produce Amiibo for all of the returning characters in Ultimate. The company has specifically confirmed Wolf, Ice Climbers, Young Link, and Pichu will receive Amiibo, although that will presumably apply to other returning fighters such as Snake as well. The Ridley, Inkling, and Wolf figures will launch alongside Super Smash Bros. Ultimate this December and retail for $16 each, while the other Amiibo will arrive in 2019. Reprints of many previous Smash Bros. Amiibo will also be available later this year for $13.
Will I Need to Pay to Play Online?
While online play on Nintendo Switch had been free for most of the console's life on the market, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (and other online-enabled games like Splatoon 2, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, and Pokemon Let's Go, Pikachu and Let's Go, Eevee) now require a subscription to the Nintendo Switch Online service in order to play them online. Subscriptions are available for one month (US $4 / £3.49 / AU $6), three months (US $8 / £7 / AU $12), and 12 months (US $20 / £18 / AU $30). Nintendo also offers a Family Plan, which allows up to eight accounts to share one membership for US $35 / £31.49 / AU $55 a year.
Will There Be DLC?
Yes, Nintendo has confirmed it plans to release five additional fighters for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate following the game's launch. Each fighter will come bundled in a set with a new stage and several music tracks for $6. Nintendo will also offer a Fighters Pass, which costs $25 and gives players access to all five DLC sets when they release. According to director Masahiro Sakurai, the DLC characters have already been settled on. While fans got to vote on which fighters they wanted to see added to Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, Sakurai notes that this time Ultimate's DLC characters were all selected by Nintendo.
On top of those five fighters, Nintendo will also release a sixth additional character for Ultimate shortly after its launch: Piranha Plant. Everyone who either purchases the game through the Eshop or registers their copy on My Nintendo by January 31, 2019 will receive a free download code for the fighter. If you miss the cutoff date, Nintendo will also offer Piranha Plant as a paid DLC character separate from those included in the Fighters Pass. The company says it expects Piranha Plant to be available "around" February 2019.