After a period of intense speculation this week saw the final Nintendo Direct about Super Smash Bros Ultimate. Hosted by the game’s director, Masahiro Sakurai, the Direct lasted about 40 minutes and went into considerable detail of some areas of the game. As always, if you’re a big fan of Smash Bros we’d recommend checking out the full video for yourself, but for everyone else here’s what you need to know.
The big news was that there are no more trophies. Trophies have been a key part of the series since Melee, virtual 3D models of lots of different characters from across a much wider range of games than the playable roster. Over time trophies have expanded to a huge number, so its perhaps not surprising that they’re being retired for this entry. In their place are ‘spirits’ – versions of characters that have lost their bodies, but who can still help out in various ways. In practice this approach is more like the ‘stickers’ used in Brawl, using 2D artwork instead of new 3D models. There’s a clear emphasis on making these spirits ‘do’ something, though. First of all they’re equippable by characters – like stickers they can enhance fighters in different ways. The system seems to be more fleshed out, however, with different strengths, rarities, and the opportunity to level up your favourite spirits. Spirits can even be sent on missions to grab coins, or fed to your favourite amiibo. To unlock spirits you need to beat them in special themed matches meant to reflect the spirit you’re trying to capture. Overall it seems a nice little addition, and a great way to include some series that did not get a playable fighter or even an assist.
The most exciting reveal came at the very end of the Direct, which showed off a highly dramatic story mode. The epic-sounding ‘World of Light’ reveal featured an equally epic song that seems to have immediately become popular in its own right. While there’s still a fair amount we don’t know about this mode, the opening cut-scene laid out the basis of a plot: something has “killed” everyone and created evil doubles of them. If that sounds similar to plot of Brawl ….well, you’d be right. It is. The mixture of a compelling looking adventure mode without Brawl‘s controversial lengthy platforming seems like the perfect single-player mode for a game like this.
For many people what they really wanted to see was more characters. The Direct kicked off with another stylish reveal trailer that unveiled Ken from Street Fighter as an ‘echo’ of Ryu; a character that shares many similarities and only a few differences. Ken’s similarities to Ryu in the early Street Fighter games and the increasing number of ‘echoes’ in Smash Bros Ultimate made him a popular guess. Joining Ken in the ring was Incineroar, a Pokemon familiar to players of the latest generation of games, Pokemon Sun and Moon. While recent fake leaks may have set people’s expectations sky-high these seem like two worthy additions to the roster. Many other highly requested characters had to face some bad news in the Direct, too. Not only were Ken and Incineroar confirmed as the final newcomers in the base game but characters like Shadow the Hedgehog and Isaac from Golden Sun were confirmed to again be performing assist trophy duty. Check out the reveal trailer for yourself below:
The Direct also briefly talked about the development of DLC, which led to one more surprising character reveal: Piranha Plant. To get a free code to download the Plant on release all you need to do is buy the game and register the code included on Nintendo’s website by the end of January. There was also confirmation of more DLC to come. There will be 5 packs, each with a character, a stage, and a selection of music tracks, as well as a season pass that includes all of them. While work will not start on these packs until the main game has finished it is expected they will all be out by the game’s on year anniversary.