It’s been a long time since I’ve dedicated time to a Smash Bros game. I played Brawl a lot with friends and dabbled with the Wii U version but you’d have to jump all the way back to Melee to find the Smash Bros game that I spent the most time with. As an old school fan of the series I found the opening roster almost refreshing. The days of unlocking characters has been replaced a lot in modern gaming for the most part. Instead replaced with buying DLC, which is far less rewarding. Besides, computer battles aren’t normally that difficult… right?
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate looks to buck the trend on easy computer controlled opponents frequently, which is refreshing. By no means are they impossible to overcome but when the opportunity arises to unlock a new character you can expect there to be a bit of a workout. If you’re encountering unlock opportunities whilst playing with friends too it adds a fun level of pressure to the proceedings. Sure your friend won the fight against you, but are they good enough to take down Ganondorf with the character they ended up with whilst playing randoms?
If you want to remove the pressure of random encounters with unlockable characters then you’re lucky, because that’s where World of Light comes in. World of Light is the story mode of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, although there’s not much of a story there minus the initial set up. The game starts with Kirby and as you progress you’ll have the opportunity to unlock various characters. It’s a fun way to get used to characters without too much pressure. Each progress point of the map is a battle against an enemy that allows you to unlock a Spirit. The best way to describe a Spirit is to compare them to armour in an RPG. You attach one to yourself to improve a certain stat.
Most the battles are fun and you will need to look after your Spirits and level them as you progress if you want to take on some of the harder challenges. This becomes easier as you progress thanks to some mechanics that wouldn’t be out of place in a mobile game and embrace the portability of the Nintendo Switch. It’s handy as it allows you to level up your Spirits whilst you’re away from the game, meaning you could go to bed at night too low levelled to take down a boss and then wake up in the morning ready to take on the world.
Although World of Light is light on the story part of things obtaining the Spirits is strangely addictive. Every so often you’ll have the chance to unlock characters in a way that lets you have multiple goes in a row if you need to. Once they’re unlocked in World of Light you’ll then be able to use them. There’s a lot to see in the mode and some superb nostalgic nods that you definitely don’t want spoiled. It’s actually impressive how niche some of the nods are. Which makes it feel like a walk down memory lane, especially for older gamers.
There’s other modes that let you unlock Spirits too if you want to complete the whole collection and Nintendo promises to have various events that will allow you to encounter new, or rare, Spirits too. It makes the single player experience more enjoyable, which is nice to see. There are plenty of other modes to play too and multiplayer isn’t scrimped upon. Eight player Smash is as confusing and beautifully frantic as you’d imagine and there’s plenty of superb arenas to play on. For the most part the game is a superb fighting game that encourages gamers to play if they want to witness everything it has to offer.
There is one unfortunate issue though and it’s one that plagues a lot of Nintendo games with online functionality… and that’s its online. Lag can happen frequently and matchmaking seems to not often care for what you would like to play. Hopefully these problems are resolved at some point soon. I’ve played numerous Switch games in the past online and never once encountered the level of lag that has reared its head in Ultimate. Luckily lag isn’t going to happen in every match, but when it does happen to you then it will definitely frustrate you.
The most important thing to know though is, is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate worth your time? The answer is a huge yes. There’s so much to unlock that it will keep you occupied for hours and, even with some small issues. You may not like all the characters or arenas but when there’s so much on offer is that a huge problem? It’s also just as fun to play with friends as it always has been. All of this combines together to make it the best fighting game on the Nintendo Switch so far.