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Super Smash’s Super Success

Possibly the most highly anticipated game for the Nintendo Switch, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate hit stores in December 2018 with a staggering 12 million copies sold within the 20 days of its release. Nintendo announced that it was the fasted-selling Nintendo game ever, and Amazon said that Smash was their best selling game of 2018.

Even with all the outstanding statistics, no one seemed surprised with Ultimate’s success. Months before the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate release, Nintendo teased 74 fighters (not including the DLC packages that would inevitably become available), 108 stages, and an all-new adventure mode. The game was to feature all the characters, music, trophies, and stages from all the other Super Smash games combined and then some. So the question arose: could it possibly live up to the hype?

Yes. Yes it could.

The game received a 9.4 rating on IGN.com, 93% positive on Metacritic, and a 5/5 from Common Sense Media. Hundreds of Youtubers sang their praises of the game, uploading videos of tips and tricks as well as just regular gameplay. A new fighter, “Piranha Plant,” from the Mario series has already been released and players are loving it.

This all being said, I can’t help but feel like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate could be better. Dare I say it, it just feels incomplete.

The Not-So-Ultimate Adventure Mode

The Adventure mode “World of Light” is where the incompleteness is the most apparent to me. Unlike Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Ultimate only offers singer-player for Adventure mode. It would not have been difficult to allow at least two players to work through the “World of Light” challenges, but nonetheless, it is not an option. Perhaps two players are not allowed because that would have made Adventure mode too easy. To be frank, it is already a little easier than it should be. I’ve be playing Super Smash since it was released in 1999 on the Nintendo 64, but I haven’t been that avid of a Smash player over the past few years. And I was able to rip through the entire Adventure mode over winter break.

The Adventure map is also disappointing. It is a literal piece of artwork, but I don’t mean that in a good way. Instead of creating an immersive, 3D world that the characters could move through, the fighters simply walk across a flat, utterly featureless and dimensionless plain. Yes, the plain is a nice piece of artwork, but it literally looks like the fights are walking across a decorative piece of paper with a few small interactive pieces.

Further, instead of having creative challenges like Super Smash Bros. Melee or complex levels like Brawl, Ultimate’s “World of Light” is more or less a series of fairly regular battles. Some battles have manipulated stages (like strong winds or fog, for example) but after earning Spirits that neutralize these effects, the battles are quite unremarkable. Smash mode and Classic mode are already ways to use regular fighters to fight regular battles— couldn’t Nintendo make Adventure mode a little bit different?

Nintendo– Bring it on!

Moving away from Adventure mode, my only gripe is the CPU’s skill levels. After just a few hours of playing Ultimate, my friends and I were able to destroy the highest level CPUs (level 9) even when grossly outnumbered. This is disappointing because it seems like it would have been all too easy for Nintendo to make the CPUs a bit more advanced, either by making the level 9 fighters tougher or by adding more levels. At least they added the feature of allowing up to eight fighters at once, so a player can keep honing their skills until they can beat seven level 9 CPUs. But still, I feel like Nintendo just isn’t challenging their players the way they used to. C’mon Nintendo, bring it on!

All of this is not to say that I don’t love playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate — the game is immensely fun and offers dozens, if not hundreds, of hours of interesting gameplay. As an enthusiast, I only hoped for the best out of my all-time favorite Nintendo franchise. My criticism is born out of love and hope that the game will only continue to improve with future DLC and updates.