Episode 3: Welcome to another edition of “Smash Talk!,” my semi-regular series for all things Super Smash Bros. related. I say semi-regular, because I just realized today we are one month away from the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and I’ve only posted twice since the game was shown off in full back in June. In hindsight, eight episodes was probably unrealistic given my on and off writing routine in addition to my regular job, but here we are; only one month away from Smash Ultimate!
With things wrapping up soon, it seemed appropriate that we would get one final look at the game to know what to expect at launch while leaving some room for surprises. The other major thing that dropped was the recent “Grinch” leak that triggered some heavy reactions from the fanbase debating the legitimacy and credibility of the supposed final fighters. Even if the Direct was scheduled in advance, the timing of Nintendo’s direct almost seemed like a direct response in order to settle the matter once and for all. I couldn’t help but chuckle when the “leak” was disproved almost immediately in the first few minutes of the Direct and throughout the presentation (read: Assist Trophies) with the exception of Ken who was pretty much a safe bet as an echo fighter.
Anyways, with all the excitement and mixed reactions from the community, I’ve been reading several comments and feedback about the latest news. It’s a lot of information to take in all at once; a lot. The direct has been on my mind, so I wanted to take a moment to share my two cents on all this and comment on my biggest takeaways from the presentation.
The news we’ve all been waiting for; and also the exact moment when Sakurai would debunk the so called leak. As I said before, Ken was a no-brainer as an echo fighter for Ryu. Though I’m not a huge Ryu player in Smash, he’s a great addition and one more option to change things up from time to time. Incineroar caught me by surprise as I’m not too familiar with the current Pokemon games. Smash isn’t well known for its grappling or throw heavy characters compared to other fighting games (btw, did you notice the Red Cyclone reference during the direct?), but I like what I’ve seen so far and Incineroar’s moveset looks like it will fill that void quite nicely.
And now we’ve reached the final roster. But wait, there’s more!
If there is one thing about Sakurai that continues to hold true, it’s that he is a master of defying people’s expectations. In addition to announcing 5 additional DLC characters coming within a year or more of the game’s launch, Piranha Plant was revealed as a limited time free download.
I have to admit, I am strangely excited about this. It’s completely out of left field and yet bizarre enough for the world of Smash Bros; the game where you can play as a fitness trainer, a dog and duck duo, and a two dimensional character among other oddities. Plus, I can’t help but feel a bit of satisfaction seeing people lose their shit over this; particularly the folks yelling that their preferred character was “thrown out” in favor of a potted plant.
Except for Waluigi, who will forever be the non-canon character of the Mario Franchise at this point :(
A completely brand new mode was revealed in the form of Spirits mode. From what I can tell off the trailer, this seems to be a sort of amalgam of the stickers customization from Brawl and the badge system from Smash 4; a sort of RPG layer of customization for buffing characters.
The biggest difference I’m seeing from similar modes and Spirits mode is how they are acquired. Kotaku covered the main mechanics already in greater detail, but basically you’ll enter a match with a custom NPC (or many) with additional attributes that pay homage to the spirit you are attempting to claim. There is even a small minigame you play to acquire the spirit as your own that seems to be Ultimate’s take on Pokemon if you switch the Pokeball for a gun.
Spirits mode appears to be trying to cover several things all at once. You’ve got your special matches (Event Mode), customization (Stickers/Badges), a leveling and rarity system to encourage repeated play, and even a battle system that has a lot in common with many RPGs (including Nintendo’s own Pokemon and Fire Emblem) that use a rock-paper-scissors combat system for determining attack priority. It’s a lot more complex than previous games, but the idea seems to be that this is the spiritual successor to several modes which brings me to my next point:
Trophies are out. Though it comes as a shock given it’s been a series staple since Melee, it’s not too surprising given the ridiculous amount of content already in the game.
Actually, from what we didn’t hear and based on the menu shots, Smash Ultimate appears to have trimmed down on the modes this time around. The common theme I’ve gathered from previous directs seemed to circle around “just give me Smash.” So while this is purely speculation on my part and its quite possible some of the other series regular modes exist in another format, fans of some of the additional modes might be disappointed come December 7th; particularly those not heavily invested in the multiplayer portion.
Here’s the breakdown of what modes I expect were cut from the final game. Again, these are just my predictions based on the last direct:
- Home Run Contest: Fun, and expanded upon with co-op/leaderboards, but likely had a small following outside competitive and world record circles. Plus, the added time of balancing this mode for 70+ fighters and likely low player turnout compared to the game’s other modes makes it unlikely it was worth the extra development time to add it in. Still, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Sandbag though.
- Masterpieces: One of Brawl’s most notable contributions was the ability to play short demos based on some of the playable cast’s most iconic games. The Wii U version doubled the amount and introduced several new games. With the Switch notably lacking a dedicated legacy software shop and just barely introducing NES games as a subscription bonus with the launch of Nintendo Online, I just can’t see Nintendo allowing this without some form of backlash. If it is included, it would just pass the ball in Nintendo’s court as to why we haven’t seen a form of virtual console on the Switch given the console is more than capable of some emulation. The other is some of these games are already available elsewhere (mini NES/SNES, eshop) and Nintendo might not see the value in adding some of these titles again for the third time.
- Smash Tour: Arguably one of the worst modes introduced in the series’s history, I’m not finding a compelling reason to revisit this one. It’s basically Mario Party except with even more bullshit and no one is having fun. I suppose younger players might have had more fun with it than I did, but even then, I suspect this mode would need to be overhauled now that Spirits seems to have replaced badges from the last game.
- Break the Targets, Board the Platforms, Race to the Finish!: By the time Brawl launched, it was clear it would be too time consuming to keep making individual levels for each character with the ever growing roster. The game might maintain each of these modes in some fashion in Classic Mode using a universal one-size fits all map, but with everyone from the franchise returning, these modes were likely dead from the start.
- Stage Builder: This one’s a tough one to gauge. While I’m sure the Switch could run it, the challenge here is the online portion. The last game was quite restrictive with custom content and online play (characters and stages), though understandable given the possibility of abuse. That being said, the lack of a mention at all during the final direct seems to imply it might not be in Ultimate at all. If it is in Ultimate, this would be a rather odd omission from the final direct unless the mode is a 1:1 copy from the last game.
This direct seemed to imply Spirits mode will be the default mode in place of collectibles and bonus modes. While I don’t personally see myself investing in this mode heavily outside single player, I’m okay if the rest of the modes listed above don’t return. This may be an unpopular opinion, but many of these extra modes were a chore to play through, especially the last game which I didn’t even bother to complete Classic and All-Star Mode with everyone (they did release the game on two platforms after all!).
With over 70+ fighters in Ultimate, I would prefer the game focus on a few modes that emphasize the main game and explore the roster. With modes like Smashdown and 3v3/5v5 matches, along with a revamped online mode (that I’m a bit mixed on until I see it in practice), there will be plenty of Smash to sink my teeth even without all the bonus content.
That being said....
Saving the best for the last, Sakurai ended the direct with a trailer for the brand new single player mode: World of Light. Though it was hinted the mode would be light on story, it’s great to seeing most of the cast together once again uniting against an unknown force since the last games notably lacked a single player campaign or story mode of any kind.
Crossovers like this only happen once in a lifetime (usually), so I’m very excited to be able to witness one of the greatest crossovers in gaming history, if not the world (Sorry Marvel). Past the initial launch date, it looks like we are going to be talking about Smash for months to come as the game is updated and new fighters are slowly rolled out, which brings up my final point...
Smash Ultimate will likely be the most expensive piece of software I buy this year (and next) if we include the added cost. I caught a bit of a lucky break with my GCU subscription at Best Buy and pre-ordered the game and Ridley Amiibo before it expired this summer, so I’m getting both items for around $60. I was tempted to get the special edition with exclusive Pro controller, but decided against it as my GCU had expired when it was announced and I didn’t want to lose my discount. I plan to play online at some point, so I’ll be subscribing to Nintendo Online ($20) and eventually will pick up the season pass ($25), which brings the total closer to $105, and that’s not including any future Amiibo I may pick up.
But that’s just my costs. Let’s suppose you’re new to Smash and want the complete package. For reference, I’m rounding the MSRP value for these figures from IGN’s full list of everything you can buy for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
The special edition Switch with the digital version of the game is about $360 while the Ultimate edition that includes a steelbook cover and special Pro controller is $140 for those who already have a console (controller alone is $75). And let’s assume you want the “authentic” setup for local multiplayer complete with official Gamecube controllers. Add another $20 for the GCN adapter to plug in those controllers and $30 for each GCN controller (4 if you plan to host games). Depending on your exact wants and needs, here is the breakdown.
If you have a Switch:
- $110 for just the game, adapter, and one GCN controller
- $140 Ultimate edition with Pro controller
- $200 if you want a 4 player setup with all GCN controllers (Game + Adapter + GCN controller x4)
If you don’t have a Switch:
- $360 for just the Switch and Game (the limited edition Switch Smash bundle with digital game costs the same as buying each individually)
- $440 for the Switch and Ultimate Edition of the Game
- $410 for the Switch, Game, Adapter, and one GCN controller
- $500 for the Switch, Game, Adapter and four GCN controllers
This is all without the season pass and Nintendo Online subscription if you are interested in online play and the DLC characters (add $45). With amiibo figures planned for every fighter ranging anywhere from $12 or less for the current ones and $16 for the new ones, the cost begins to add up quickly in the long run.
In summary, for those of you who want all the bells and whistles or are just joining us, be prepared to spend some coin or shop around depending on what your ideal setup looks like. Decide ahead of time if you really want GCN controllers or will something else suffice if you want something more universal for other games (i.e. a Pro controller or gamepad).
How much do you plan to burn on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate if you are planning on picking it up? What’s your take on the latest Nintendo Direct? Excited or disappointed about what was announced? What unanswered questions do you still have about the game? Let us know in the comments below.
Episode 4: DLC Plans (the Abridged Version)
Welcome to another edition of “Smash Talk!,” my regular series for all things Super Smash Bros. related....
Wait, I’ve said this already. This will probably be the last episode of “Smash Talk!” before the game’s launch, so enjoy!
Smash continues to be the gift that keeps on giving with 5 future DLC characters announced through February 2020. For the first two episodes, I predicted some potential new fighters and guest characters that could join the roster. Now that the full roster has been revealed, the big question is what comes next.
For this episode, I’ve put together a new list based on series and take a guess of what franchise might gain an additional character or could be making their debut in Super Smash Bros. for the first time.
Here it is, my general predictions for the 5 DLC characters:
- A character from Fire Emblem: Three Houses (We’ll all be playing Super Smash Emblem before you know it anyways). They could also pull from Heroes, but I don’t see it happening with the new game on the horizon.
- One additional Zelda character from Breath of the Wild or Hyrule Warriors (I don’t know, Impa I guess).
- A character from Metroid Prime 4 (maybe?).
- At least one additional representative from Bandai Namco (Soul Calibur? Tekken? Tales?) to balance out the guests roster.
- Either another Final Fantasy character (Tifa? Lightning? Noctis?) to balance out the guest roster or a completely new franchise that has yet to appear in Smash before. Except Banjo-Kazooie.
What are your thoughts on the final roster and DLC plans? Thanks again for reading and commenting, and I hope to see some of you online when the game launches on December 7th.
Track: Lifelight (Japanese vocals) | Artist: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Main Theme) | Album: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate