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", "Smash Ultimate" or "Ultimate," is a crossover fighting game for the Nintendo Switch. It was first teased on March 8th, 2018 at the end of the Nintendo Direct released the same day, 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 March 31, 2020, Ultimate had sold over 18.84 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 gameplay footage from the game set to the tune of Lifelight, featuring all the characters in the game (not including DLC).
All 63 characters (65 if counting the Pokémon Trainer as three fighters) from all previous Smash Bros. games return as playable fighters. As well as the returning cast, the game currently features 23 newcomers. 11 characters are available in the base game, with at least 12 characters (six known, one almost known and five 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 representative. 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 will be added as DLC by January of 2020. With the exception of Piranha Plant, all of these DLC characters can be bought together as part of the Fighters Pass. Persona's Joker is part of Challenger Pack 1 (announced on December 6, 2018; 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 finally Byleth from Fire Emblem: Three Houses 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. The first fighter will be a character from the ARMS franchise, which was revealed during the Nintendo Direct Mini on March 26, 2020. The character is unknown at the moment and will be released sometime in June 2020. All the rest of the characters from the Fighters Pass Vol. 2 remain unannounced and are set to have all been released by the end of 2021, though their specific release dates are unknown.
As was the case in Super Smash Bros. 4, further "characters" exist as alternate costumes for other preexisting characters. In this game, there are 19: Alph is accessible as a playable character via Olimar's palette swaps; the seven Koopalings are available as playable characters via Bowser Jr.'s palette swaps; Pikachu, Pokémon Trainer, Villager, Wii Fit Trainer, Robin, Corrin, Inkling, and Byleth each have opposite gendered variants as palette swaps; and the Hero has three other protagonists from across the Dragon Quest series as palette swaps. However, these characters are not treated as separate characters in-game.
Only the Original 8 characters from the first game 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, 27 from Super Smash Bros. Brawl, and 43 from Super Smash Bros. 4 (18 from the 3DS version, 17 from the Wii U version, 8 from both versions), adding 7 completely new stages. 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 108 (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 114 (339 if Battlefield and Ω forms were to be counted). The five DLC stages that have been released are Mementos, Yggdrasil's Altar, Spiral Mountain, King of Fighters Stadium, and Garreg Mach Monastery which released alongside Joker, Hero, Banjo & Kazooie, Terry and Byleth respectively. In update 3.0.0, Ultimate gained the option to create custom stages with the Stage Builder.
Only 15 stages featured in previous games are not available in Ultimate (not including single player-only stages or previous forms of Battlefield and Final Destination). These stages are: Planet Zebes and Sector Z from Super Smash Bros.; Icicle Mountain, Mushroom Kingdom, Poké Floats and Mute City from Super Smash Bros. Melee; Rumble Falls and PictoChat from Super Smash Bros. 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 decided and that he would be taking a small vacation following the end of development. Unlike previous Smash titles, which had their development studios built from the ground up, Bandai Namco returned to help game development. Prior to 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 2015, and development officially began in February 2016, immediately after DLC wrapped up for SSB4. On November 12, 2017, Nintendo filed a number of trademarks, notably including a Japanese Super Smash Bros. logo.
A Super Smash Bros. title for the Nintendo Switch was later officially revealed on March 8, 2018 via a Nintendo Direct. Without explicitly confirming the playable status of any characters, the teaser trailer hinted 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 confirmed in a tweet that he had been working on the game "in silence, day after day". On March 22, 2018, Nintendo announced the Super Smash Bros. Invitational 2018, a tournament taking place on June 12th where invited professional players will play the upcoming game. Later, in volume 542 of his Famitsu article, Sakurai revealed that his work schedule had been cut down significantly, citing strict regulations regarding work hours. On April 18, 2018, Nintendo again filed a number of trademarks for several game logos, including the Super Smash Bros. logo. Most of these game logos originate from games with some relationship to the Smash series, including Pikmin, Star Fox, and F-Zero. These trademarks were approved on May 14, 2018.
The first extended look at the game came at Nintendo's E3 2018 presentation. Masahiro Sakurai introduced the coverage, which kicked off with an extended video showing new incarnations for veteran characters. After confirming the return of several previously cut characters such as Ice Climbers and Snake, the tagline "Everyone Is Here" was introduced, and the video revealed that all playable characters from previous Smash Bros. titles would be returning to the new game, including the formerly cut Pichu and Young Link from Melee, as well as Pokémon Trainer and Wolf from Brawl. New information on the Ultimate incarnations of characters was revealed, including the presence of Cappy in Mario's taunts and other moves, that Zelda would be based on her A Link to the Past design, all the DLC fighters from Smash 4 would return as part of the launch roster, Ike would have his Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn designs from the two previous games and much more. The presentation introduced "Echo Fighters", which Lucina and Dark Pit are now marked as, while Daisy was revealed as a new Echo Fighter. The presentation also confirmed returning elements, items, and stages, which would receive revamped Ω forms and Battlefield forms. The trailer also confirmed the Inklings as the game's first newcomers, while concluding with a reveal of the game's final title: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The presentation officially concluded with a final trailer in which Ridley from the Metroid series - long requested by fans for inclusion in the series but rebuffed by Sakurai due to his large size - was confirmed as a playable character.
Following the end of the presentation, a Nintendo Treehouse event went live. During the Treehouse event, several matches were streamed and some new features were revealed and discussed. In addition to the Treehouse livestream, a playable demo of the game was opened to the public at E3 2018 and at the Nintendo Store in New York. Following the end of the Splatoon 2 World Championships, the Super Smash Bros. Invitational 2018 began. During the match pitting MkLeo as Bayonetta against Plup as Ridley, Masahiro Sakurai reportedly shook his head after MkLeo had performed a successful ladder combo on Plup. At the end of the invitational, the Nintendo Treehouse livestream resumed, further showcasing more gameplay elements and matches. In addition to this, the official Super Smash Bros. Ultimate website was published. This would serve as the primary source for new details about the game.
At the EVO 2018 fighting game tournament, Nintendo revealed that a new Ultimate-focused Nintendo Direct presentation would be released on August 8, 2018. The presentation opened with a trailer confirming the inclusion of content from Konami's Castlevania franchise for the first time in the series. The trailer revealed the presence of new fighters, Simon Belmont and his Echo Fighter, Richter Belmont; a new Assist Trophy, Alucard; a new stage called Dracula's Castle, and more. The Direct also covered two new Echo Fighters, Chrom and Dark Samus from Fire Emblem Awakening and the Metroid Prime series respectively, as well as new music, modes, stages, and items. The presentation concluded with a trailer introducing a new playable character: King K. Rool, leader of the Kremlings and nemesis of the Kong family from the Donkey Kong and Donkey Kong Country series.
In a Nintendo Direct presentation shown on September 13, 2018, a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Nintendo Switch console bundle was unveiled, featuring a specially designed dock and Joy-Con controllers along with the download code for the game. Isabelle, from the Animal Crossing series was also revealed as a newcomer.
The final pre-release Ultimate-focused Nintendo Direct presentation aired on November 1, 2018. This revealed Ken and Incineroar from the Street Fighter and Pokémon series respectively as new playable characters, as well as the inclusion of DLC fighters - Piranha Plant from Super Mario appearing shortly after launch, followed by five other unannounced characters, which have been selected in advance by Nintendo as future additions. It also took a deeper look at the game's modes and online infrastructure, and revealed Spirits mode and Adventure Mode: World of Light, before finishing with the mode's opening cutscene and the reveal of the game's vocal theme, Lifelight.
On November 20, 2018, an overview trailer narrated by Xander Mobus (The Announcer) covered the game in further detail, showcasing all of the playable fighters, stages, items, Pokémon, Assist Trophies, Spirits, game modes and more.
At the 2018 Game Awards, the Phantom Thieves from Persona 5 interrupted the broadcast to announce that their leader, codenamed "Joker," would be joining the roster as the first DLC fighter of the Fighters Pass Vol. 1 in Ultimate.
During the Nintendo Direct on February 13, 2019, a spring update was announced alongside a sneak peek at Joker's model and a look at new amiibo.
In the "Nintendo Switch My Way" trailer, "Stage Builder" was leaked. It is yet to be confirmed if this was purposeful on Nintendo's behalf or if it was simply a marketing ploy.
On April 16, 2019, a video titled New Content Approaching was released. The video detailed Joker's moveset and confirmed that he would release the next day, April 17. The video also revealed Mementos, Stage Builder, new Mii Costumes, Video Editor, and Shared Content. Version 3.0.0 was launched on April 17.
During Nintendo's E3 2019 presentation on June 11th, the Hero from Dragon Quest and Banjo & Kazooie from their namesake series Banjo-Kazooie were confirmed as the second and third newcomers in the Fighters Pass Vol. 1, set to be released at some point in Summer and Fall of 2019 respectively. The former's gameplay would later be shown off in a dedicated video presentation on July 30th, the day of the character's release date, while the latter's was showcased in a special video following the September 4th Nintendo Direct. Both presentations were hosted by Sakurai himself.
During the September 4th Nintendo Direct, Terry from SNK's Fatal Fury series was announced to be the fourth newcomer in the Fighter Pass Vol. 1, set to be released sometime in November while the third Challenger Pack, Banjo & Kazooie was shadow-dropped after the Direct alongside the 5.0.0 update, the return of Home Run Contest, their stage: Spiral Mountain, 5 new Mii costumes and 10 new tracks. In addition, following Terry Bogard's reveal, it was also announced that several more individual DLC fighters beyond the Pass Vol. 1 was confirmed to be in development thanks to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's strong sales.
On January 16th, 2020, Nintendo released an "Mr. Sakurai Presents ???" livestream that revealed Byleth from Fire Emblem: Three Houses as the final (and only first-party) member of the Fighters Pass Vol. 1, set for release on January 28th. The 7.0.0 update wasn't mentioned but it would include their stage: Garreg Mach Monastery, 11 new tracks added to all Fire Emblem stages and 5 more Mii costumes including Altaïr from Ubisoft's Assassin's Creed and indie star Cuphead, with a music track from his game, Floral Fury. It was also revealed that Ultimate would receive a second DLC pass called Fighters Pass Vol. 2 that will consist of six more playable newcomers instead of five like the first one. Said pass is expected to have all six fighters be released by December 31, 2021.
In a Nintendo Direct Mini held on March 26, 2020, a representative from ARMS was announced to be the first fighter in Fighters Pass Vol. 2. More information on the character’s identity and their release date will be announced in June 2020.
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.
The game has sold 12.08 million units as of December 31st, 2018, marking it as the fastest-selling Nintendo game in history. 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 18.84 million units as of March 31st, 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).
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate currently holds an aggregate review score of 93% 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)