Nintendo’s newest Direct focused exclusively on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and with it a slew of new fighters, echo fighters, stages, and items for the the game were announced. Set to release this December, it was about time for Nintendo to give eager fans more details about what to expect, and they held (almost) nothing back with the newest Direct.
Almost ceremoniously, Luigi was “killed off” while dangerously adventuring into the Castlevania world, with none other than Simon Belmont to save the day. This set Nintendo’s nearly thirty-minute presentation off to a great start, with much more to show. A complete rundown of the Direct is below.
New Fighters (and Echo Fighters)
- Simon Belmont (Castlevania)
- Simon comes with his Holy Whip as his signature item, with the longest range of all of the Smash fighters so far, and the caveat that it’s a bit slow and leaves you open to attacks. He uses an axe, cross, holy water, and an uppercut as his special attacks. His Final Smash, called Grand Cross, uses his Holy Whip to entangle enemies.
- Richter Belmont (Castlevania) (Echo)
- Richter is Simon’s Echo fighter, complete with a separate voice, look, and animation from his counterpart.
- Chron (Fire Emblem) (Echo)
- Dark Samus (Metroid) (Echo)
With the new fighter announcements, it’s also explained that the Ultimate fighter menu is customizable. The choice is yours to keep all of the fighters separate from their Echo fighters, or to “stack” them down and toggle back and forth between the normal and Echo fighter to minimize menu space. This will hopefully eliminate what would be a very crowded menu with all of the available fighters.
- Dracula (Castlevania)
- Rathalos (Monster Hunter)
- Dracula’s Castle (Castlevania)
- The darkest of stages in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Candlesticks across the stage can spawn items, while various bosses from Castlevania appear as hazards, like Medusa, The Creature & Flea Man, Dracula, and even a mystery character. The stage incorporates 34 music tracks from Castlevania, with Smash Director Sakurai even adding that they were “very popular with our music team”.
- Great Bay (The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask)
- Shadow Moses (Metal Gear)
- Living Room (Nintendogs)
- Gaur Plain (Xenoblade)
- Figure-8 Circuit (Mario Kart)
- Flat Zone X (Mr. Game and Watch)
- Pokemon Stadium (Pokemon)
- Garden of Hope (Pikmin)
- Brinstar Depths (Metroid)
- Summit (Ice Climber)
- Unova Pokemon League (Pokemon)
- Magicant (Earthbound)
- Gamer (WarioWorld)
- Final Destination (Super Smash Bros.)
- New Donk City Hall (Super Mario Odyssey)
Sakurai explains that the stages found in older Smash games have been completely updated and revamped, and the comparisons between stages in Ultimate and the older Super Smash Bros. (N64) reflects the work they’ve put into making them feel fresh. However, he goes on to explain that the stages that originally appeared in the N64 game like Hyrule Castle (The Legend of Zelda) and Dream Land (Kirby) were made to “prioritize nostalgia, intentionally keeping the classic look.”
With these new stages, the total number of stages in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate comes to a whopping 103. Toggling between Normal, Battlefield, and Omega form brings the stage total to over 300. Each stage is playable from the minute the game starts up. You can even turn off Stage Hazards, optionally making each battle more cutthroat and player-focused.
New Rules and Game Modes
Unlike previous Super Smash Bros. titles, players in Ultimate choose the rules, the stage, and then fighters before starting a battle. The rules have been updated to accommodate custom rule sets. Players have the option to toggle a new Stage Morph option. This allows players to choose between two stages, which will “morph” either at random or at regular intervals, during the battles. Ultimate also introduces a new “Stamina Battle” mode, which gives fighters a predetermined health pool instead of an increasing percentage. New Stage Select settings can let a losing player choose the next stage, or give each player a turn in order. Sudden Death mode has been updated to have a steady ring of fire around the screen, as well as a constantly-zooming camera to create “a nice sense of urgency.” A chargeable “Final Smash” setting also allows for more numerous, weaker Final Smashes from fighters. Each Final Smash also occurs separately from other fighters’ for more flashy gameplay.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate also brings new Battle Modes. Squad Strike allows two or more players to choose either 5 vs 5 or 3 vs 3 elimination-style battle. Tourney mode allows for up to 32 players (or a mix of human and CPU players) to play in a tournament-style, winner-takes-all battle which Sakurai boasts as “great for parties.” A Smashdown mode utilizes all fighters, but once one fighter is used, they can’t be used again. This whittles down the fighter pool with each round, forcing players to be versatile, creative, or just plain lucky. Training Mode returns, but with a new exclusive stage that has a grid background to measure distance for attacks and movement, as well as launch distances corresponding to damage amounts, and even character weight. Classic Mode also allows a single player to battle a series of fighters in a predetermined set.
The “My Music” settings have returned, giving players the option to choose which tracks appear more and less often for each stage played. Unlike previous games, tracks are now separated by series, instead of by stage as they were previously. All tracks from a specific series are playable on each stage of that series. With over 800 separate music tracks, combined with the 100 playable stages, each battle can be very unique. Sakurai makes a point to explain that all of the game’s music equals over 28 hours when played nonstop, which is actually impressive for a fighting game.
Utilizing the Nintendo Switch’s portability, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate introduces the ability to play music in Handheld mode on the Nintendo Switch, even when the screen is turned off. While most people will likely use their phones for their music, this presents a wonderful opportunity to hype yourself up with the upbeat tracks from the game. Players can even create their own playlists of music. Some of the music from the game can be found on the official website, with more being released every week.
New Items, Pokemon, and Assist Trophies
- Banana Gun – “Looks like a banana…fires one powerful ‘bullet'”
- Killing Edge – “When it glows, its power intensifies”
- Bomber – “Lift up and this powerful bomb will blow”
- Death’s Scythe – “Instantly KO fighters who are badly damaged”
- Staff – “Its power increases the farther you are from your target”
- Ramblin’ Evil Mushroom – “Reverse the opponent’s controls”
- Rage Blaster – “The higher your damage percentage, the stronger it gets”
- Alolan Exeggutor
- Vulpix and Alolan Vulpix
- Ditto (which clones entire fighters)
- Alucard (Castlevania)
- Zero (Bomberman)
- Knuckles (Sonic)
- Krystal (Star Fox)
- Klaptrap (Donkey Kong)
- Kapp’n (Animal Crossing)
- Chef Kawasaki (Kirby)
- Gray Fox (Metal Gear)
- Nikki (Swapnote)
- Shovel Knight (Shovel Knight)
- Moon (Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask)
- Rathalos (Monster Hunter)
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate sports a clean, dynamic menu, with a dashboard on the right that can be brought forward or collapsed at any time with the ZR button. While there hasn’t been much information on Nintendo’s online service, there is an online option that hopefully allows players to play all available game modes against others online. The lower left menu option is mysteriously blurred out, and many are speculating that this could be the single-player Story mode that so many are pining for. Amid the speculation, for those curious, someone on Twitter has seemingly gotten past the blur to discover the hidden mode. If they’re correct, what that means is still a mystery, and players will likely have to wait until release to discover it.
After showing off the main menu, as is Nintendo’s specialty, Sakurai signs off of the Direct, with an ominous shaking screen. A short cinematic of a large villain with a crown terrorizes Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong. The mask comes off, revealing a laughing King Dedede, who makes fun of them for being scared. Just then… none other than King K. Rool comes to slap Dedede away in what must be my favorite image of all time. Many fans speculated that this would be a likely addition, but the fun, last-minute reveal gives players something exciting to look forward to. With the final five characters revealed, the roster is filled, and fans even more excited to play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate when it releases on December 7th.