This week finally saw the first Nintendo Direct since E3, focusing on Super Smash Bros Ultimate. While a more general Direct would have been much appreciated as there are still several Switch titles in development we know little about, there’s no denying that fans were clamoring for more information on Smash and, as always, hoping to see their favorite characters added to the fighting game’s line-up. If you’d like to watch the Smash Bros Direct in full and relive the magic for yourself go ahead, otherwise here’s a quick summary.
The Smash Bros Direct revealed that there are a mind-boggling 103 stages in the game – each with ‘Battlefield’ (simplified, no hazards) and ‘Omega’ forms (very simplified for tournament level play). Try and let that sink in for a minute. If you played 2 minute matches that means you could play for 3 hours without having to repeat a stage. The official web page has been updated so you can peruse which returning stages have made it into Ultimate – sadly there’s still a few fan favorites not returning. Its also unclear if there’ll may be more stages. 103 certainly seems enough but characters from new series have historically had their own stages, which has people worried about the chances of their favorite characters joining the fray.
Over 800 Songs
A surprising return from the 3DS version revealed in the Smash Bros Direct is that your Switch may double as your music player. The almost excessive amount of music and new remixes has always been a strength of the series, and its great to see Ultimate going all out in this regard. Smash Bros Ultimate will let you make the most of this by letting you continue to listen to the soundtrack with your Switch screen turned off. Additionally, the ability to change the frequency of how often tracks play returns, so you can ensure you only hear the songs you love while playing. Another small improvement to this functionality is that songs are no longer locked to each stage, but by series – giving you even more freedom.
The main question still not answered is whether the game will have a satisfying single player mode, and what form that might take. The first look at the main menu features in the Smash Bros Direct suggests that ‘Smash Run’ and ‘Smash Tour’ – the two ‘main’ modes from the 3DS and Wii U games respectively – may not be returning. There are some exciting new game-play modes on offer, including Squad Battles where you make a team from your favourite characters and a Tourney Mode that should make playing with large groups much easier. The mode that really stood out is ‘Smashdown’ – a mode where the selected fighters become unavailable for the next bout, forcing players to use fighters they’re not as skilled with. Much like the huge roster and impressive range of stages its clear that this version of Smash Bros is being designed with lasting appeal in mind.
The biggest news of the Smash Bros Direct was the character reveals. Starting with the second character to be revealed, it was great to see the much requested King K. Rool announced. The low number of Donkey Kong characters has been a point of contention with some fans for a while, but with K. Rool not being the antagonist in either of the last two Donkey Kong Country games many were wondering if Nintendo were done with this fat croc. The opening of his reveal video not only reflects the fact that, with Ridley in the game, most other characters have their main rivals, but the trailer even features some fan-base teasing. King K. Rool’s move set seems to reflect his multiple appearances in Donkey Kong Country and its sequels, including a pirate hat and blunderbuss and a backpack that allows him to fly.
The other character had slightly been preempted by leaks and speculation before the Smash Bros Direct, but the reveal video for Simon Belmont might be the best in the series so far. The Castlevania/Luigi’s Mansion mash-up is worth watching even if you have no interest in Smash. It sees Luigi have a rather disastrous run-in with Death, which leaves him, well…dead. Richter Belmont also took the honor of being the first third party Echo character, sharing Simon’s moves but featuring his own voice and animations. Other newly announced echo fighters included Chrom from Fire Emblem Awakening and Dark Samus from the Metroid Prime series, which has led people to speculate that there may be more echo fighters coming than were previously expected.