Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (大乱闘スマッシュブラザーズ SPECIAL, Great Fray Smash Brothers Special), often shortened to "SSBU" or "Ultimate", is a crossover action fighting game for the Nintendo Switch. The game was first teased at the end of a Nintendo Direct on March 8th, 2018, and fully revealed on June 12th at E3 2018. It is the fifth installment in the Super Smash Bros. series (sixth if the two versions of Super Smash Bros. 4 are counted as separate titles). The game was released worldwide on December 7th, 2018.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate received universal acclaim from both critics and players, with some critics calling it the best installment in the series. It received praise for its large amount of content and fine-tuning of existing Smash gameplay elements, although its online mode was widely criticized. As of September 30, 2020, Ultimate had sold over 21.10 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling Super Smash Bros. game and also the best-selling fighting game of all time, beating Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Street Fighter II, which previously held each title respectively. Its massive success has caused it to be nominated for, and win, multiple awards.
The opening movie of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is composed of the cutscenes from World of Light and some gameplay footage from the game set to the tune of Lifelight, featuring all the characters in the base game.
All 63 characters (65 if counting the Pokémon Trainer's Pokémon as three fighters) from all previous Smash Bros. games return as playable fighters. As well as the returning cast, the game features 23 newcomers. 11 characters are available in the base game, with 12 characters (nine known and three unknown) planned as downloadable content. In total, 74 characters (76) are playable in the base game and 86 (88) characters will be playable overall, the most for any Smash Bros. game. Each character is numbered based on the order in which they first joined the series, with the exception of Echo Fighters (who share a number with the character they are based on) and Pokémon Trainer (whose Pokémon are numbered instead).
Inkling, with various Girl and Boy designs from the original Splatoon, was the first character confirmed to appear in the game as a new playable fighter. Ridley, a central villain from the Metroid series, was confirmed to be playable during E3 2018, with Meta Ridley as an alternate costume. Simon of the Castlevania series was announced as the game's first third-party newcomer along with his echo Richter. King K. Rool, arch-enemy of Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong from the Donkey Kong series, was confirmed to be a playable newcomer as well, with his move-set drawing on his appearances as a boss in the Donkey Kong Country games onward. Isabelle from the Animal Crossing series, who previously appeared in Smash 4 as an Assist Trophy, makes her playable debut as the second Animal Crossing fighter. Finally, in the November Nintendo Direct, Incineroar from Pokémon Sun & Moon was announced as the title's last base roster newcomer.
In addition, most full clones are now labelled as "Echo Fighters" and are marked with an epsilon (ε) next to their fighter numbers, which they share with the character they are based on. Returning characters Lucina and Dark Pit have been given this title (as they are Echo Fighters of Marth and Pit, respectively), while new characters Daisy, Richter, Chrom, Dark Samus, and Ken are Echo Fighters of Peach, Simon, Roy, Samus, and Ryu, respectively. Aside from an option allowing these characters to be displayed on the same slot as their counterpart on the character select screen exclusively during Vs. Mode, Tourney, Custom Smash, Super Sudden Death, and Quickplay, there is no special distinction between most of them in-game, and the name is used mostly for marketing purposes.
Piranha Plant from the Mario series touches new ground as the first mob character in Smash, and as an early purchase bonus DLC character, released on January 29, 2019. It was also confirmed that five more unique newcomers would be added as DLC by January 2020. With the exception of Piranha Plant, all of these DLC characters can be bought together as part of a Fighters Pass. For Fighters Pass Vol. 1, Joker from Persona is part of Challenger Pack 1 (announced on December 6, 2018, one day before Ultimate's release; released on April 17, 2019), the Hero from Dragon Quest is part of Challenger Pack 2 (announced on June 11, 2019; released on July 30, 2019), Banjo & Kazooie from their namesake series Banjo-Kazooie are part of Challenger Pack 3 (announced on June 11, 2019; released on September 4, 2019), Fatal Fury’s Terry is part of Challenger Pack 4 (announced on September 4, 2019; released on November 6, 2019), and Byleth from Fire Emblem as part of Challenger Pack 5 (announced on January 16, 2020; released on January 28, 2020), finishing Fighters Pass Vol. 1.
During the September 4, 2019 Nintendo Direct, after revealing Terry, it was announced that even more DLC Fighters beyond the five in the Fighters Pass Vol. 1 are in development, as Fighters Pass Vol. 2 will include 6 more playable characters. This number of newcomers was announced during the January 16, 2020 Presentation revealing Byleth. Challenger Pack 6 includes Min Min from ARMS (announced on March 26, 2020; revealed on June 22, 2020; released on June 29, 2020). Challenger Pack 7 includes Steve from Minecraft (announced on October 1, 2020; released on October 13th, 2020). Challenger Pack 8 includes Sephiroth from Final Fantasy (announced on December 10, 2020; pre-released on December 17, 2020; fully released on December 22, 2020). The rest of the characters from the Fighters Pass Vol. 2 remain unannounced and are set to be released by the end of 2021, though their specific release dates are unknown.
As in Smash 4, further "characters" exist as alternate costumes for preexisting characters. In this game, fourteen characters have such costumes: Alph is accessible as a playable character via Olimar's alternate costumes; the seven Koopalings are available as playable characters via Bowser Jr.'s alternate costumes; one of Pichu's costumes depicts the specific "spiky-eared" Pichu variant; Alex, a Zombie and an Enderman appear as Steve's alternate costumes; Pokémon Trainer, Wii Fit Trainer, Robin, Corrin, and Byleth each have opposite-gendered variants as alternate costumes; Pikachu possesses both an opposite-gendered variant and a costume depicting the specific "Cosplay" Pikachu variant; each of Villager and Inkling's costumes represent different customization options for the character, including gender; the Hero has three other protagonists from across the Dragon Quest series as palette swaps and the Ice Climbers swap the playable Ice Climber from Popo to Nana in half of their alternate costumes. Additionally, the Mii Brawler, Mii Swordfighter and Mii Gunner also have alternate gender options depending on the created Mii used for them. However, these characters are not treated as separate characters in-game.
Only the Original 8 characters from Super Smash Bros. are available from the start. Like in Smash 4, the Mii Fighters are also available from the start via customization, but are otherwise locked upon initial startup of the game. The rest of the cast must be unlocked; however, the unlocking process and conditions are much simpler than in past games. Fighters will challenge the player in ten minute intervals or by clearing Classic Mode with a prerequisite character, and can also be unlocked by being rescued in World of Light.
All Light Realm and Dark Realm bosses, except for Galeem and Dharkon, are also featured as Classic Mode bosses. The stage bosses listed above are found in Gaur Plain, Wily Castle, and Find Mii respectively.
With the exception of the Super Smash Bros.-original stages, all stages are ordered in chronological appearance and for the first time ever, all stages are available immediately from the start. Additionally, all stages can be played with up to 8 players, rather than just a select few as in SSB4. All stages have both a Battlefield form and Ω form. Ultimate features 103 stages (306 if counting Battlefield forms and Ω forms separately) at base game.
96 stages from previous games have returned overall: 7 from Super Smash Bros., 19 from Super Smash Bros. Melee, 26 from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and 44 from Super Smash Bros. 4 (18 from the 3DS version, 18 from the Wii U version, 8 from both versions), adding 7 completely new stages. In update 3.0.0, Ultimate gained the option to create custom stages with the Stage Builder and can be selected from the "Custom" tab. In update 8.1.0, a free downloadable stage was added, Small Battlefield, which resembles Battlefield with the middle platform removed and the side platforms slightly closer to one another. The same update also allows any Super Smash Bros.-original stages to play music from any series, instead of just the Super Smash Bros. series.
Five additional stages were added to the game as part of the Fighter Pass Vol. 1 DLC alongside the respective fighters, which brought the number of stages up to 109 (321 if counting Battlefield forms and Ω forms separately) with an additional six more to be released as part of Vol. 2 bringing the number up to 115 (339 if Battlefield and Ω forms were to be counted). The eight DLC stages that have been released so far are Mementos, Yggdrasil's Altar, Spiral Mountain, King of Fighters Stadium, Garreg Mach Monastery, Spring Stadium, Minecraft World and Northern Cave which released alongside Joker, Hero, Banjo & Kazooie, Terry, Byleth, Min Min, Steve and Sephiroth respectively.
Only 15 stages featured in previous games are not available in Ultimate (excluding single player-only stages or previous forms of Battlefield and Final Destination). These stages are: Planet Zebes and Sector Z from Smash 64; Icicle Mountain, Mushroom Kingdom, Poké Floats and Mute City from Melee; Rumble Falls and PictoChat from Brawl; Rainbow Road and Pac-Maze from Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS; and Jungle Hijinxs, Pyrosphere, Woolly World, Orbital Gate Assault and Miiverse from Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. While Flat Zone and Flat Zone 2 are also absent, Flat Zone X incorporates all elements of both of those stages. The World 1-2 version of Mushroomy Kingdom is also absent.
Towards the end of Super Smash Bros. 4's post-launch development, Masahiro Sakurai announced that his next project had been finalized, unbeknownst as the next Super Smash Bros. game, and that he would be taking a small vacation following the completion of Smash 4's DLC content. Sakurai had been inspired to work on the next Smash Bros. game as a request from Iwata before he passed away.
Unlike previous Smash titles, which had their development studios built from the ground up, Bandai Namco returned to help game development. Before starting development, the team had a choice between completely overhauling the game's system and feel or working off of what was established in the last game. The team ultimately went with the latter. Had the team gone with the former, the game would have likely only had a third of its characters. Despite deciding to base the game off of the previous installment, Sakurai still increased the overall speed of the game, but only by an amount that wouldn't be too alienating to people unfamiliar with the series. Sakurai notes that he had wanted to make these changes in previous titles, but was unable to because it was easy for one to lose track of their character's position on screen, especially on the Nintendo 3DS. When Sakurai had revealed to his development team that he intended to bring back every previously playable character, he was met with silence. The project plan was later finished by December 16, 2015, and development officially began in February 2016, immediately after DLC wrapped up for SSB4. As Sakurai revealed in volume 542 of his Famitsu article, his work schedule had been cut down significantly, citing strict regulations regarding work hours.
Various characters had been considered to be added to the roster. Alucard was originally considered to be a playable character for Castlevania due to his recognizability before Sakurai decided to choose Simon and Richter instead as he felt they would please fans more. Decidueye was also considered to be a playable character from Generation VII of Pokémon, but Sakurai picked Incineroar instead because it would be the first wrestler character in the game. Due to the timing of the finalized plans for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, fighters from ARMS or Xenoblade Chronicles 2 had failed to arrive to the base game. In compensation, Rex, Nia, Spring Man, and Ribbon Girl would be made as Mii Fighter costumes, with Rex's Mii costume being bundled as part of the first Fighters Pass, Spring Man appearing as an Assist Trophy, and various ARMS and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 characters would be represented by spirits. ARMS would eventually get a playable character with Min Min as DLC in the second Fighters Pass, who was a request from ARMS director Kosuke Yabuki, after Sakurai had to decide to choose either Min Min or Ninjara.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was later officially teased on March 8, 2018 via a Nintendo Direct, albeit the name would not be revealed until E3 of that year. Without explicitly confirming the playable status of any characters, the teaser trailer hinted that the Inklings would be debuting in the game as newcomers, while also suggesting that Mario, Link, and several other series veterans would be returning. Shortly after the reveal, Sakurai explained in a tweet that he had been working on the game "in silence, day after day".
At E3 2018, an extended look into the game was livestreamed, with Masahiro Sakurai directing the presentation. The presentation revealed that every character from the Super Smash Bros. series, even characters that have previously been cut such as the Ice Climbers and Snake or were DLC fighters like Cloud and Bayonetta, would return to the roster as playable fighters. The presentation also highlighted several changes made to the Smash Bros. roster, such as Zelda having her look based off her A Link to the Past and A Link Between Worlds design, or certain clone characters now being designated as Echo Fighters, with a new clone fighter Daisy joining the battle under this label. The presentation ended with the reveal of Ridley from the Metroid series - long requested by fans for inclusion in the series but rebuffed by Sakurai due to his large size - being confirmed as a playable character. The following Nintendo Treehouse also included additional info about the game that was not mentioned during the presentation, such as the stage hazard toggle. Following the Nintendo Treehouse, the Super Smash Bros. Invitational 2018 took place on June 12th where invited professional players like MkLeo and ZeRo played Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the first time. Immediately following the presentation, the official Super Smash Bros. Ultimate website was published, and would serve as the primary source for new details about the game.
The following months saw Simon, Richter, Chrom, Dark Samus, and King K. Rool, the lattermost being a very popular request, being revealed as playable characters during a Smash Ultimate-focused Nintendo Direct presentation on August 8, 2018. The Nintendo Direct of September 13, 2018 revealed Isabelle from Animal Crossing would be joining the roster, and in a November 1, 2018 Direct, Ken and Incineroar were revealed as fighters, as well as the new Spirits mode and Adventure Mode: World of Light. The direct also announced the first Fighters Pass, featuring five fighters that had been selected by Nintendo that would be added to the game with their own stages, music tracks, and spirits. This would be followed by Fighters Pass Vol. 2, with six additional fighters, each with their own stage, music, and spirits, though this was announced in a different presentation in January 2020.
During development on downloadable content for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, there were considerations to include Slime from Dragon Quest had Square Enix not allowed the team to use Hero. Due to time constraints, only four of the Dragon Quest heroes were finalized for the game. In addition, one character that was not realized until Fighter Pass Vol. 2 was Steve from the popular video game Minecraft. Negotiations between Mojang Studios and the team working on Smash Bros. had begun somewhere during 2014/2015, during the period when SSB4 post-content development was ongoing, however said negotiations went nowhere until 2020, as Steve would join the roster as DLC. As Sakurai explained, developing Steve required immense work, having to readjust every stage to allow Steve to use his Create Block move.
As of December 2020, DLC content so far has included the Fighters Pass, with Joker from the Persona series, Hero from the Dragon Quest series, Banjo & Kazooie from Banjo-Kazooie, Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury, and Byleth from Fire Emblem (specifically Three Houses); the ongoing Fighters Pass Vol. 2, with Min Min from ARMS, Steve from Minecraft, Sephiroth from Final Fantasy and three other unrevealed fighters; and Piranha Plant from the Super Mario series being a bonus DLC character and offered for free for a limited time. In addition, modes like Stage Builder and Home-Run Contest were brought back in the game by post-content updates. New modes like Video Editor and Rematch and a new stage called Small Battlefield were also implemented.
Main article: List of updates (SSBU)
Changes from SSB4
Menu and UI changes
Game mode changes
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate received universal critical acclaim from both critics and the audience, with several critics calling it the best installment in the series. They praised its large amount of content and fine-tuning of existing Smash gameplay elements, although its online mode received criticism. It was estimated that the game sold over 5 million copies worldwide within three days of release, making it the fastest selling Switch game (at the time).
The game has sold 12.08 million units as of December 31st, 2018, marking it as the fastest-selling Nintendo game in history (at the time). In March 2019, that number reached 13.81 million, surpassing the total number of sales for the Wii U console in just 4 months. Since then, that number has reached 21.1 million units as of September 30th, 2020, making it the best selling game in the series, and also making it the best selling fighting game of all time (previously held by Super Smash Bros. Brawl with 13.30 million copies). If all versions of a game are to be counted as a single entry, it would still be the best selling fighting game of all time (previously held by the combined sales of all versions of Street Fighter II with 15.5 million copies.)
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate currently holds an aggregate review score of 93 out of on Metacritic, tying it with Brawl as the highest-rated game in the series on the website, and held a score of 92.17% on GameRankings prior to its shutdown.
At The Game Awards 2019, Ultimate was nominated for Best Fighting Game, Best Family Game, and Game of the Year. It won Best Fighting Game, though it lost to Luigi's Mansion 3 and Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, respectively, in the other two categories. In a first for the awards show, a separate, tournament-style nomination called Player's Voice allowed fans to vote on certain games that they deemed their favorite; Ultimate successfully made its way to the final round of voting, though it lost to Fire Emblem: Three Houses.
Main article: List of staff (SSBU)
Part of Smash Bros. Countdown