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" (スマブラSP), 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 March 31, 2022, Ultimate had sold over 28.17 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, including winning "Best Fighting Game" at The Game Awards 2019.
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 fighters 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 (24 if counting Pyra and Mythra as two fighters). 11 of these characters are available in the base game, with the remaining 12 (13) characters available as downloadable content. In total, 74 characters (76) are playable in the base game and 86 (89) characters are 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).
An Inkling from the Splatoon series, 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 Belmont of the Castlevania series was announced as the game's first third-party newcomer along with his descendant and echo fighter, Richter Belmont. King K. Rool, arch-nemesis of the Kong family 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. 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 and one semi-clone are now labeled as "Echo Fighters" and are marked with an epsilon (ε) next to their fighter numbers, which they share with the characters they are based on. Returning characters Lucina and Dark Pit are given this title (as they are Echo Fighters of Marth and Pit, respectively), while new characters Princess Daisy, Richter, Chrom, Dark Samus, and Ken Masters are Echo Fighters of Princess 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 selection 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.
A Piranha Plant from the Mario series touches new ground as the first mob character in Smash, and as an early purchase bonus DLC character, announced on November 1st, 2018, pre-released on January 29th, 2019 and fully released on February 1st, 2019. It was also confirmed that five more unique newcomers would be added as DLC by January 2020, all of whom are purchased in numbered 'Challenger Packs' that also contains a stage and several music tracks. These five Challenger Packs can be bought together as part of the Fighters Pass. For Fighters Pass Vol. 1, Joker from the Persona series is part of Challenger Pack 1 (announced on December 6th, 2018, one day before Ultimate's release; released on April 17th, 2019), an amalgamation of several Heroes from the Dragon Quest series is part of Challenger Pack 2 (announced on June 11th, 2019; released on July 30th, 2019), Banjo and Kazooie from their namesake series are part of Challenger Pack 3 (announced on June 11th, 2019; released on September 4th, 2019), Fatal Fury’s Terry Bogard is part of Challenger Pack 4 (announced on September 4th, 2019; released on November 6th, 2019), and Byleth from the Fire Emblem series is part of Challenger Pack 5 (announced on January 16th, 2020; released on January 28th, 2020).
During the September 4th, 2019 Nintendo Direct, after revealing Terry, it was announced that even more DLC fighters beyond the five in the Fighters Pass Vol. 1 was in development. Fighters Pass Vol. 2 was fully revealed during the January 16th, 2020 presentation revealing Byleth and includes 6 more Challenger Packs. Challenger Pack 6 includes Min Min from ARMS (announced on March 26th, 2020; revealed on June 22nd, 2020; released on June 29th, 2020). Challenger Pack 7 includes Steve from the Minecraft series (announced on October 1st, 2020; released on October 13th, 2020). Challenger Pack 8 includes Sephiroth from the Final Fantasy series (announced on December 10th, 2020; pre-released on December 17th, 2020; fully released on December 22nd, 2020). Challenger Pack 9 includes Pyra and Mythra from the Xenoblade Chronicles series (announced on February 17th, 2021; released on March 4th, 2021). Challenger Pack 10 includes Kazuya Mishima from the Tekken series (announced on June 15th, 2021; released on June 29th, 2021). Challenger Pack 11 includes Sora from the Kingdom Hearts series (announced on October 5th, 2021; released on October 18th, 2021). No further DLC characters are planned to be released.
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's 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 Fighters have alternate gender options depending on the created Mii used for them. However, none of these characters are treated separately in-game.
Only the Original 8 characters from Super Smash Bros. and any DLC fighters that have been purchased are available from the start. Like in Smash 4, the Mii Fighters are also available via customization without needing to be unlocked traditionally but are still technically 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 after completing a basic activity, such as a battle, or by clearing Classic Mode with a prerequisite character, and can also be unlocked by being rescued in World of Light, rather than having unique unlock criteria for each character.
With the exception of the Super Smash Bros.-original stages, all stages are ordered chronologically like the fighters are, based on their first appearances in the series (excluding the stages that were introduced in both versions of SSB4, which are listed among the stages introduced in the Wii U version). For the first time in the series, all stages are available immediately from the start, with none that need to be unlocked first. Additionally, due to 8-Player Smash no longer being a separate mode from regular Smash, all stages can be played with up to eight players, rather than just a select few as in SSB4. All stages have both a Battlefield form and Ω form. In its base game, Ultimate features 103 stages (305 if counting Battlefield forms and Ω forms separately); if DLC is included, the total is 115 (339 counting Battlefield and Ω forms separately). There is an additional stage exclusive to Training Mode, which replaces the Random Stage option on the stage selection screen for said mode.
Ninety-six stages from previous games have returned overall: seven 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, and eight from both versions), with an additional seven new stages (in the base game). All returning stages from Melee, Brawl, and for 3DS were visually updated to HD, as well as for Wii U stages receiving minor touch-ups to match the game's overall visual style, though Smash 64 stages retain their primitive polygonal aesthetic for nostalgia. In update 8.1.0, another new stage was added as a free download: Small Battlefield. This update also made it possible for any Super Smash Bros.-original stages to play music from any series, instead of just music from the Super Smash Bros. series.
In update 3.0.0, the Stage Builder was added as a free download, and any custom stages made with it can be selected from the "Custom" tab.
Five additional new stages were added to the game as part of the paid Fighters Pass Vol. 1 DLC, bringing the total number of stages up to 109 (321 if counting Battlefield forms and Ω forms separately). An additional six new paid DLC stages released as part of Fighters Pass Vol. 2, bringing the number up to 115 (339 if Battlefield and Ω forms are counted). Each of the eleven Challenger Packs contains one of these stages, alongside their corresponding fighters and music. The eleven paid DLC stages are Mementos, Yggdrasil's Altar, Spiral Mountain, King of Fighters Stadium, Garreg Mach Monastery, Spring Stadium, Minecraft World, Northern Cave, Cloud Sea of Alrest, Mishima Dojo, and Hollow Bastion, which released alongside Joker, Hero, Banjo & Kazooie, Terry, Byleth, Min Min, Steve, Sephiroth, Pyra/Mythra, Kazuya, and Sora, respectively.
Only 15 stages featured in previous games are absent from Ultimate (excluding stages exclusive to single-player modes and previous forms of Battlefield, Big 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 from Melee and Flat Zone 2 from Brawl are also technically absent, Flat Zone X incorporates all elements of both of these stages. The World 1-2 version of Mushroomy Kingdom is also absent, as is the monochrome version of Dream Land GB.
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 by a request from Satoru 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 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 on 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 this change in previous titles, but was unable to because it was easy for one to lose track of their character's position on the 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 was finished 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 and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 failed to appear in the base game; in compensation, Rex, Nia, Spring Man, and Ribbon Girl had Mii Fighter costumes made based on them, with Rex's Mii costume being bundled as part of the first Fighters Pass, while Spring Man also appears as an Assist Trophy and various ARMS and Xenoblade Chronicles 2 characters appear as spirits. ARMS would eventually get a playable character with Min Min as DLC in the second volume of the Fighters Pass, who was a request from ARMS director Kosuke Yabuki, after Sakurai had narrowed down potential ARMS fighters to Min Min and Ninjara (though the latter ended up being the basis for a DLC Mii Fighter costume). Xenoblade Chronicles 2 would also end up getting its own playable DLC character - Pyra/Mythra - as part of the second volume of the Fighters Pass.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was later officially teased on March 8, 2018 via a Nintendo Direct, although 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, and certain clone characters now being designated as Echo Fighters, with a new clone fighter, Daisy, announced to be appearing 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. Piranha Plant's inclusion as an additional DLC fighter was also announced. 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. For Fighters Pass Vol. 2, the set was originally going to come with five fighters, but thanks to a chance encounter with a Disney representative and for the reason of being the most-voted character from the Smash Bros. Fighter Ballot, Sora was added to Fighters Pass Vol. 2 as an additional fighter. In addition, one character that was not realized until Fighters 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, though 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.
All of the DLC content for Ultimate 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); and Fighters Pass Vol. 2, with Min Min from ARMS, Steve from Minecraft, Sephiroth from Final Fantasy, Pyra and Mythra as a 2-in-1 fighter from Xenoblade Chronicles, Kazuya from Tekken and finally, Sora from Kingdom Hearts; plus Piranha Plant from the Super Mario series being a bonus DLC character who was offered for free for a limited time. In addition, modes like Stage Builder and Home-Run Contest from past installments returned in the game via post-release content updates. New modes like Video Editor and Rematch and a new stage called Small Battlefield were also implemented. During the Mr. Sakurai Presents video for Kazuya, Masahiro Sakurai himself confirmed that Fighters Pass Vol. 2 is the last planned Fighters Pass for the game.
Main article: List of updates (SSBU)
Like Smash 4 before it, Ultimate received regular update patches post-launch. The issue of unusable replays caused by gameplay altering updates persisted at launch. In version 3.0.0, players can upload replays to Shared Content, as well convert replays to a video file. Also, the feature of the game retaining old patch data to mitigate the issue was discovered with version 6.1.0.
Ultimate adopts a semantic versioning system (major.minor.patch), meaning each update is categorized based on its significance. Updates that introduce new fighters and their challenger pack change the first number (i.e. version 2.0.0). Otherwise significant updates such as new content or major game mode alterations that do not have any downloadable content attached change the second number (i.e. version 2.1.0). Smaller updates that exist solely to change the game in minor ways like character balance, bug fixes or amiibo support change the third number (i.e. version 2.1.1), though the latter two haven't always been applied consistently. When a number is changed, all numbers after it are reverted back to 0 (i.e. version 3.0.0). Compared to the simple incremental system used by Smash 4, the semantic versioning used by Ultimate allows users to more easily infer the significance of any given update at a glance.
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 28.17 million units as of March 31st, 2022, 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 100 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