However before we do, you need to know my background on this series and of my love for Nintendo. I grew up with Nintendo and have always enjoyed the games that I have been privileged to have played. Anyone who knows me will know that my three favourite game series are Zelda, Animal Crossing and Metroid. I have played ALL the games in these series. Knowing this about me you can imagine me as a kid picking up Super Smash Melee for the GameCube. Now yes it wasn’t the first Smash Brothers but it was my first. Seeing my favourite characters from different games coming together to fight was mind blowing to my child’s mind. What made this game great was there was so much to do, you had all these different modes and they had characters that unlocked depending on certain criteria, always remember the moment that I unlocked Mewtwo after playing the game for 100 hours.
You can probably see where this is going but let me try and explain why I feel Smash Ultimate is game that is good but has missed the mark on being the Ultimate Smash game. There are three areas that I would like to discuss and compare between the two games in the series. These are;
What I hope to show you is that this the way in which this game is built differently, upon these reasons and that by having these opinions doesn’t stop making Smash Ultimate from being a great game, but instead just to show how for me it hit the mark on lost potential.
It’s funny to me that one of the complaints that people have about Smash Ultimate is that it’s too hard to unlock characters. That all the characters should come unlocked already like with Mario Kart 8 Deluxe. For me this is ridiculous I find it too easy. Why is this?
There are two primary ways of unlocking characters within Smash Ultimate. These are
Unlocking one character every 15 mins in any mode
Unlocking one by one in World Of Light
I will get on with the problems of World Of Light in the modes section. However most people will unlock them using the first method. Which means countless repetitive gameplay trying to unlock these characters.
In Smash Melee there was a lot les characters but each character had a specific ‘quest’ behind, as said above you got Mewtwo after playing 100 hours. Maybe it was playing classic mode 10 times or playing as a specific character or on the hardest difficulty. This made the game interesting because you never knew when you were going to get a new character. Also at this time we didn’t have Nintendo spoiling EVERY character. The first time I got Mewtwo I was genuinely surprised and excited by it. Now I know exactly who is in the game and the element of surprise has been taken from me.
I honestly think that all the characters that have come to Smash Ultimate are amazing. I was super excited that Isabell was coming. But how cool would it have been to stumble across her in game doing a quest/achievement that we weren’t aware of? This is how Smash Melee was to me. As a kid I was super excited every time I found one of those secrets.
So Nintendo has all these amazing characters that arguably could have been dealt with better. But let’s look past that for a minute. Lets look at what content is in the game. Straight from the home screen I see four options.
World of Light
The initial thought that comes to mind is ‘wow so much to do where do I start’. Then you start playing the different modes. Then you realise each mode is exactly the same. Smash mode you Smash. Classic you Smash. World of light you Smash. Online you Smash. The entire game is one giant mode. All you do is fight.
New people to the series are probably confused by that paragraph, surely buying the game I knew that all you did was fight? What these people don’t know is that the series used to be an Adventure/fighting game. In Smash Melee there was different modes and things to do.
Adventure mode was my favourite. It was a mix of stock battles, 2d platform and puzzle adventure challenges, with a boss fight at the end. It was great fun. What do we get in Smash Ultimate, stock battles with one crappy chase puzzle near the end.
You also had different modes like a target practice mini game. This was amazing. Each character had there own map and targets to break. You had to get all targets in a certain time limit. This was hard and challenging, pikachu’s was the easiest imo. And then there was the baseball game where you had to throw a punchbag as far as possible.
There was just a normal Smash mode but this was just used when you had friends or you wanted to have a tournament. In some respects it was the secondary mode to the game the main reason and top of the home screen was adventure mode.
I hope that from this section that you can see where I’m coming from coming from Melee, I was coming into the game from an adventure background, the next section will explain why I feel the direction of the game has changed, From it’s past. Going from a game with so much to do, to a game that promotes it has a lot of content but than it’s just repetitive gameplay.
World of light, you’re saying to me. Isn’t that adventure. No, no it’s not. It pretends to be and you would think that’s what it should be. However take away the amazing cutscene (credit where credit is due) all it is a series of stock/timed battles for nearly 40 hours. Granted there is a few boss battles every now and again. But these are far and between. Unfortunately this game mode REALLY misses the mark.
So what do I mean by this section. This is what I personally feel Smash Ultimate is Ultimate at being. There is no doubt in my mind that some amazing and hard work has been into making all characters perform well under tournament conditions. This however has been done while forgetting that 90% of players are not going to be playing in tournaments but as single players or with friends. This means that a whole demographic has been forgotten.
This is more evidence of what I was trying to communicate in my last section that the game has changed from what it first was. The stock/battles which used to be a secondary mode in Melee have taken full stage. This is down to the success of Melee and its rise in popularity in tournaments. The key with that game was that it was never created to be that way. Where as Ultimate was designed from the ground up to be that game.
This is great if you want to get into tournaments or just fight and Smash. But for the average player there seems to be lack of coherence gameplay to comeback time and time again. I was looking on my friends list, splatting 2 average 150 hours, this appeal to all gamers. Average for Smash 1 month down the line, 22 hours. Think these numbers speak for themselves, one person had 120 hours which brought the average up. Surprisingly they like tournaments.
In conclusion I hope that this retrospective has illustrated why I was left disappointed in Smash Ultimate. I also hope that you know that I don’t think Smash is a bad game, but as I said in the introduction I feel it missed the mark on being something awesome. There are many other aspects I could talk about such as Trophies vs Souls. But if I were to comment on every detail this retrospective would be a lot longer. My hope is that people recognise these problems and the next game be made with the common player in mind. I honestly hope you enjoyed this retrospective and feel free to get in touch to answer any questions.