We were all there to see it during E3. Everyone Is Here. An awesome call to arms and klaxon for the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. At the NintendoUKVS event last weekend, I got some extensive playtime on the upcoming brawler, so wanted to share some of my thoughts with you fine folk.
First thing to highlight is just how beautiful this game is to behold. All of the changes to the user interface and transitions are immediately noticeable although mostly being subtle tweaks. For one, the little pre-match Versus splash screens are bright, colourful and utterly distinct complete with awesome little flashes in the eyes of their character’s player colour. It shouldn’t be this easy to achieve, but just that little touch does hype a silly amount of hype before the matches.
As well as this, all of the little effects around the fonts on splash messages or other wording, such as the countdown to match starts having the electricity running around it, further add to this feeling of hype. Arguably, this also gives the impression that Nintendo are creating this game with the idea of embracing the eSports side of the Smash Bros. franchise as every single aspect of the appearance just looks so clean and considered.
Then there’s the gameplay itself which, if I were only permitted a single word to describe it, I would call ‘evolved’. There’s not a single aspect of the gameplay that doesn’t feel tweaked or altered in some way. I’ll get to some character-specific things shortly, but I wanted to focus on a few broader points first, the biggest of these being the fact that you now select the stage before the characters, which is an absolute godsend.
Those of you that play Smash Bros. will already know why, but for those unfamiliar with the franchise, this means that you can now tailor your character pick to the stage, rather than ending up playing as a slow brute like Bowser on a stage that is better suited to more nimble players like the train from Spirit Tracks. I feel like this would likely push players towards learning multiple characters, which will refresh the game for everyone.
As stated in the E3 reveal of the game, dodging in the game has had a sizeable alteration made to how it works, what with subsequent dodges reaping significantly diminishing returns. This took me the longest to get used to personally as I’m a very evasive player and often I dodged too much in Ultimate and was then punished for it as I was still within the range of my opponent. I feel like this will result in matches being a lot more offensive overall, so I’m going to need a new game plan.
The new items are, even in what was a demo, fantastically well balanced into the gameplay. The Black Hole item is an especially fun addition to the game, pulling all other players in for a temporary amount of time and getting them right where you want them. The new characters in the Assist Trophies, such as Bomberman, also change so much of the gameplay as you adapt to new (and significant) strengths.
Also, the fake Smash Ball is one of most hilarious additions I could have imagined in practice. As there’s often mad scramble that occurs when a real Smash Ball appears, if both types appear at once it’s very easy to mix them up, resulting in beautiful, explosive carnage. It’s one of those glorious instances in which Nintendo completely nail trolling the player, and I’m very glad it’s there.
Now for some character-specific things that I noticed in my several matches on the game. Please note that I didn’t play all of the characters, but feel free to ask in the comments or on Twitter and I’ll be able to give impressions on some characters that I won’t mention here. But I want to cover some of the most egregious characters in terms of changes for me personally, based on characters I’ve had previous experience with, and the Inkling:
Cloud – One of my mains in Smash Bros. for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS and my word if it doesn’t feel like he has been nerfed to oblivion. His range, speed and power all feel greatly diminished, with the trade off that his Limit Gauge appears to fill far quicker than before, allowing for the use of his enhanced specials more often. Also, as an additional advantage, he now has the Limit Gauge constantly on screen, which wonderful as I didn’t keep stopping to charge only to have only needed to land a single hit to fill it because I could see how much I needed.
Marth – Possibly my longest played character in terms of time as he was my main in both Melee and Brawl, Marth seems to have improved a lot since the last games. The alteration made to how Dancing Blade works makes it far easier to close distance and makes Marth’s attack momentum far easier to regain. Also, and I might be wrong on this one, but his Counter feels like it has less start-up frames. I’ll need to play more to be sure, so don’t hold me to that one.
Samus – Wow, the famed bounty hunter feels very different. Most importantly, she feels very heavy, which makes sense considering her considerable armour. This does result in her moves being more weighty and impactful when they land, however she feels a lot slower overall as the trade off for what feels like more power. How this will end up impacting her overall gameplay we’ll have to wait to find out.
Inkling – Possibly one of the strongest characters in my opinion from this build, based on my time with the game. Inkling has a lot of very strong tools, quite high mobility, and a fairly decent damage output, making them a relative tour-de-force at this early stage. In fact, I wouldn’t be overly surprised to see a lot of this character in high level play once the game launches. It’s wonderful to see that the new characters are being treated with the same amount of care as the veterans.
Overall, the game feels incredibly well-put-together and polished with a lot of thoughtful revisions and updates of the formula we all know and love so much. Also, this was only a demo, and it runs so flawlessly, which can only mean great things for the final product. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a looking to be a wholly unrivalled experience that lives up to the moniker ‘Ultimate’.
So, and this is likely needless to say at this point, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate now has me very excited to play the full version with the entire roster when it lands in December. All of the changes, both aesthetically and mechanically need a lot more exploring, but I’m loving what I’ve played so far. I just wish I could own it right now.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is set for release for Nintendo Switch on December 7th 2018.
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