E3 Hands-On Preview: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

We got up close and personal with the game you’re all dying to play!

By Robert Marrujo. Posted 06/14/2018 07:00 Comment on this     ShareThis

E3 2018 might have been a bit underwhelming for some Nintendo fans, but if there’s one thing that most of us can agree on, it’s that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate looks astounding. The game’s promise that “everyone is here!” is arguably one of the most emotionally stirring moments in Nintendo’s history at E3, right up there with the reveal of The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess which infamously caused multiple media members to openly weep. Well, dear readers, tears aside, you’re probably wondering if Ultimate is worthy of the hype it’s quickly generated. I got my hands on the game and I’m happy to report that it didn’t disappoint. Not a single iota. This is the real deal and everyone should be stoked.

I played a total of eight timed multiplayer free-for-all matches. The roster was fairly streamlined, although newbies like Inkling and Ridley were of course there, along with characters boasting some significant control tweaks, like Link. Link is my main, so I suited up with the Hero of the Wild. He’s actually a good fighter to focus on, as he’s fairly emblematic of the changes to Smash Bros. this time around.

Ultimate feels like it’s going for balance perhaps more than any other Smash Bros. to date. The tweaks to Link all appear to have been made with a mind towards fairer competition. As Nintendo’s E3 presentation pointed out, his bombs are now activated remotely, a first in the series. This means that utilizing them now requires an additional level of strategy and timing. I found myself using them to trick opponents, as (for now at least) they were thrown off trying to anticipate when they’d explode. That said, it takes longer to pop a bomb out than before, so players have to be more methodical in their use.

Link’s grab has also been substantially altered. Gone is the Hookshot, replaced now with just a standard arm grab. Whether this is the same for the other Links is unknown to me at the moment, but this was a change I never came to terms with; I’m definitely going to have to practice the new timing for grabs! Still, none of these changes felt out of place or unfair. Indeed, I believe that once I and all the other Smash players out there have made our way through the entire roster and really grappled with the roster’s alterations, odds are that these changes will predominantly be seen as a boon to the series.

Beyond that, this was standard Smash Bros. Nothing in the demo strayed from the tried and true formula that we all know and love. It certainly looked more gorgeous, if nothing else. The extra graphical “oomph” of Switch means that the animations are smoother than ever and the action on-screen never slowed or showed a hitch. Hopefully this translates to the first truly competent online multiplayer for the series. Brawl was virtually unplayable, while Smash Bros. Wii U was hit or miss in this department. If Ultimate can give us enjoyable, less glitchy online, it will be a major plus. Considering we’ll be paying for that online come December (cough, cough), Nintendo really should be making Ultimate‘s online play a priority.

In terms of the other players coming to the game, Ridley was a standout. It’s hard to put into words, but the character just comes across as so dark and violent! If he spears an opponent with his tail, for instance, there’s a flash across the screen and the impaled fighter falls to the ground in a heap. It’s some heavy stuff, but not so dreary that it doesn’t fit. In truth, it really speaks to the series’ legacy of presenting every fighter with pinpoint accuracy. Everyone looks the part, feels the part, and acts like themselves, which is one of the key elements of Smash Bros.’ fan service.

With (for now) over 65 fighters to choose from, there might be worries that Ultimate‘s roster is too bloated, but to that I say: have you ever Smashed before, bro? Look, this is a series that has become a competitive mainstay in the esports world, but if you think that Pit and Dark Pit being available to choose from is some kind of travesty, I really think that maybe the series isn’t for you. This is a game that can be played as seriously as someone wants, or as silly. It’s about pleasing lots of Nintendo fans, not just some, and as such I have no problem with being able to choose from a litany of favorite fighters. Besides, by the nature of competitive gaming, any character or characters deemed “unworthy” always ultimately end up getting either banned or ignored anyway, so I say no harm, no foul.

What’s foul is waiting until December 7 to play Ultimate, but if this glimpse I got is any indicator, the wait will be worth it. With what are likely a ton of reveals to be made in the coming months, keep it posted to Nintendojo where we’ll continue to update on Ultimate as we march towards it launch. Remember folks, once the Fourth of July hits, Christmas is practically around the corner! We’ll all be Smashing before you know it.

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