Reviews for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will likely start trickling in today in advance of the game’s release. Unfortunately, I’m not quite ready to offer my final thoughts on the game. Why? Well, online isn’t live yet, and it won’t be until when the game launches later tonight. In addition, there’s a day-one update for the game that Nintendo says will address a number of things including game balance and animation. In other words, it would be irresponsible to give you a scored review at this point. I do have some preliminary thoughts on the game, however, which I’m happy to share.
I’ve been playing Smash Ultimate virtually nonstop since I got our review copy last week. It’s a massive game, with a lot of diversions and side content to explore. I’ve been particularly taken with the game’s World of Light mode, which is essentially the game’s campaign. You take on a ton of challenges as you cruise along the path on a map, rescuing spirits that are throwbacks to old games. Matches are themed to those games, so a Dr. Mario-themed challenge might have multicolored Kirbys that are meant to evoke the viruses from the puzzle game. There are hundreds of these challenges, and it’s been fun to find the surprises the developers have tucked away. It’s also really long; don’t expect to blow through it in a couple of hours.
The new characters fit in nicely with the existing roster, especially Isabelle. The Animal Crossing alum is reminiscent of Villager, but she has her own unique flair. You can unlock new characters in a variety of different modes, so you aren’t penalized if you don’t like World of Light, for example. With more than 70 characters in total, getting all of them takes a while. You do have access to all of the stages right from the start, however, with nearly 100 different combat arenas to choose from. I do miss Poké Floats, but I’ll live.
I’ll have my final impressions when the game is ready, but I’m confident in saying that it’s outstanding. Unless the patch bungles things in an unexpected way, the core game is as silly and fun as it’s ever been. I’m completely in love with the wealth of new options that the game offers, including the ability to easily set up custom rulesets and have them surfaced on the main Smash menu – no more menu fiddling to get things set up for stock matches! I also like the new option for having final smashes come from filling a meter instead of having to break the smash ball. It’s a nice twist on the mechanic that makes things feel a little more fair. Keep an eye out for my final impressions within the next day or so.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is coming to Nintendo Switch on December 7.
[Update: The patch and online are now live. I’ll be checking out how the update affects the game’s overall balance throughout the day, and will play matches online once it hits wide release tonight.]