On Wednesday afternoon (BST), Masahiro Sakurai presented the first Super Smash Bros. Direct for the new game Ultimate, and the first one since Super Smash Bros. released on the Wii U back in 2014. It aired for 30 minutes, and I don’t even know how much I’ve taken in, because of the dreaded jet lag I got coming back from Boston. But, what I do know is that I took in an awful lot. The presentation was jam-packed, right from the beginning up until the very end. Here, I will discuss everything that I learnt from the Super Smash Bros. Direct.
Within the opening couple of minutes, we already had a new character, and one thing off my “wish-list” prior to the presentation was ticked off. Simon Belmont, from the long-running Castlevania series, was announced in a trailer which showed Luigi supposedly being killed – to the distress of fans – and became the first-ever Castlevania character to appear in a Smash game. If you didn’t take much of that in because you’re too worried about Luigi, don’t worry; Nintendo VS quickly tweeted saying “Luigi is okay”. The trend of Echo fighters, announced as a series-first back at E3, also continued as Richter Belmont (descendant of Simon) was announced. Echo fighters are a great new addition to Smash as they allow us to have many more characters, without using up space on the roster list; they’re basically a character within a character. Within the next few minutes, Sakurai announced more Echo fighters, including Fire Emblem’s Chrom and one of Samus’ villains in Metroid, Dark Samus.
With the addition of the Castlevania pairing came a new stage, Dracula’s Castle, which features many enemies from the series which appear as the game on the stage progresses. As well as this, the villain of the game Alucard was confirmed to be an assist trophy in the game.
More assist trophies were announced later on in the presentation, with characters from many different series – including Zero (Mega Man), Knuckles (Sonic), Kapp’n (Animal Crossing), Moon (Majora’s Mask) and a personal favourite of mine, Nikki; from the Nintendo Letter Box app on the 3DS – Rest in peace, good service.
But the big announcement for the assist trophies was Monster Hunter’s Ratahlos. The monster is the first character from the series to make a cameo in the game. However, for yet another series-first, Rathalos also appears as a boss in the games single-player mode. What a joy to behold, having a boss appear on your side during a match.
Going even further was Sakurai’s announcement of stages – including New Donk City Hall – where he spoke about the number of stages inside Ultimate. Hold your breath; 103 stages are inside the game. That’s over double the Wii U version (56 stages). Many of the N64 stages have been enhanced, and features have also been improved. You are now able to set a feature which enables you to switch between random stages as the game goes on. Stage hazards can now be switched off to allow a more free-flowing match. Also, your own choice music – which there are now more than 800 tracks of – can be selected when playing, and more: all the music from a specific game series can be played on a stage that is a part of that game series. For instance, music from a Spirit Tracks stage can be played on an Ocarina of Time stage. Phew.
But that certainly isn’t it. Sakurai even found time to announce different modes for a Standard Smash. These included: Squad strike, a 5v5 mode where different players go up against each other: Tourney mode, a tournament mode: Smashdown, where playing with one-character means that they will be unable to be played with for the next match – for all players. This means that being good with more than one player comes in handy here: Classic mode, which brings back certain elements from the older games: and finally, Training mode has been boosted. And Training mode being boosted shows the extent and precision as to which Sakurai and his team are working on this game.
You still want more? The Smash creator left the show with a surprise reveal. A character that everyone had been wanting for ages. And that’s why King Dedede appeared in front of our scr… wait, what? Only kidding. King K. Rool stepped up and gave Dedede a big whack to the face, appearing in front of Diddy Kong and Donkey Kong. We have another character in the game, and the first villain from the Donkey Kong series inside it as well.
If that still wasn’t enough to satisfy you, then Sakurai basically announced that more new characters are on their way. Who else can even fit into the roster?
I was amazed. Everything I had asked to be announced pre-Direct was in it – a new stage, a new mode, and a new character. Sakurai has done it again. The sheer precision that he and his team have put into Ultimate is off the charts. I haven’t even covered every single detail that was announced – a new mode is unrevealed yet, items have been boosted, the main menu is beautiful – which is incredible as I have written nearly 1000 words here. Not too long ago, I commented on the fact that Nintendo was relying on Smash too much. Maybe it is true, but Ultimate looks so good that it could definitely be the best game on the system; and with Breath of the Wild and Odyssey on it, that isn’t an easy thing to do. I expect 10/10’s everywhere for this one. Which means Nintendo doesn’t really need to panic.
With more to come (amazingly), this Smash Direct was incredible. I can’t wait for more on this game. It really is the ultimate one.