What To Expect From Super Smash Brothers Ultimate


Ellen Heitmann, Staff Writer


Released on December seventh, 2018, Smash Ultimate presents a variety of new content, game modes, and mechanics. Despite originally appearing rather similar to Smash 4, the previous installment, the new game isn’t even remotely the same. New mechanics include a new style of the online mode, new elements to the competitive scene, a vast amount of changes to returning characters, an entire new mode known as Spirits mode, etc. The game is appealing for both casual and competitive players of the series.

In the online mode, you can set the rules you prefer to play with. For example, you can choose stock battle or time battle, items or no items, etc. Then the game pairs you with another player who chose the same rules and allows you to play them. Depending on your records and previous matches, Ultimate actually attempts to pair you with players that have a similar skill level as you. When you win a match, you gain something called global smash power, and when you lose a match you lose global smash power. Depending on how much global smash power you have, it pairs you with people who have similar amounts to make sure you’re around the same level. When you get enough global smash power, you unlock a mode called elite smash which has a lot more advanced games. Matchmaking also puts some priority on a good internet connection, so now you won’t end up with a player with terrible internet and have to deal with lag, which was common in Smash 4. However, the downside is that you’re not guaranteed to get the exact same rules you set. Sometimes you will still end up in a match with items or a bad stage if you set a competitive ruleset. This outcome is not too likely though.

For Competitive Players

There are also a variety of new mechanics that will heavily impact competitive play. The first example is the introduction of directional air dodges. In SSB4, when you air dodge, it is a quick dodge with little lag or change in momentum. In Ultimate, air dodges can go in different directions, and you can dodge to the left or to the right. However, air dodges are now significantly slower. Another change is the fact that the pace of the game is far faster. Damage output is increased in 1v1 battles which causes you to lose lives a lot faster, resulting in shorter games. Thanks to this change, competitive tournaments now play with three stocks instead of two. Also, if you roll too much in Ultimate, rolls will become increasingly slow with each one you perform, prompting players to roll a lot less than they would in previous installments.

Returning characters have been introduced to a massive amount of changes. The majority of them got buffs in their speed and end lag of different moves. While there were a couple nerfs, most characters are significantly better in Ultimate than Smash 4. Shulk for example can now instantly switch between Monado arts and has a lot less lag on his aerial attacks. Cloud however got nerfed, he now loses Limit Break if he goes fifteen seconds without using it, and some of his hitboxes are smaller. There are many changes like this for the rest of the cast as well. Recoveries were also nerfed among the entire cast. Only very few characters can consistently make it back to the stage, and now that airdodging isn’t as viable, they can be very easy to edgeguard.

Other Changes

One of the biggest appeals of Smash Ultimate is the fact that every character who has ever appeared in a previous Smash title is returning, along with a surplus of new fighters. The currently-announced new fighters are Inkling, Ridley, Simon, Richter, Dark Samus, Ken, Chrom, King K. Rool, Isabelle, Incineroar, Joker, and Piranha Plant. Four more characters will be announced as downloadable content in the future.

Spirits, the new game mode, presents a couple of new concepts as well. It’s the closest thing to a story mode that the game has and contains a couple of cinematic cutscenes featuring the various fighters. I wouldn’t go in expecting an amazing story though, as there are only a couple cutscenes and next to no actual interactions among the characters. You can unlock the fighters through this mode, and also collect “spirits” of various video game characters who are not in the Ultimate roster. Spirits are kind of like stickers that can be applied to playable fighters to power them up. They will not be used in competitive play but would be fun to mess around with. The adventure mode also consists of a lot of references to other various games. For example, there’s an entire area based off of The Legend of Zelda. Overall this mode can be very fun and strategic depending on which spirits you use.

Lastly, there is a meter you can charge up in order to activate your Final Smash. A Final Smash is basically a character’s most powerful move, which was previously only accessible through the smash ball item. Each character’s final smash is unique from the others’ and can often result in early kills. Again, the meter will likely not be used in competitive play.


Ultimate would be a great place to start if you’re new to the series. The graphics are up to date, and there are modes for every style of play. The roster is also as vast as it has ever been which gives you a surplus of options and different characters to try out. Another convenience is that since Ultimate is on the Nintendo Switch, the game is portable and you can play it wherever you want. Overall I’d recommend giving it a go if you like fighting games, or you are interested in any of the characters.