Thursday, December 20, 2018

Super Smash Bros Ultimate Impressions

 The arrival of a new Smash is always a major event in a console generation, and the latest edition, Smash Ultimate for Nintendo Switch is no exception. With the massive scope of this game and the constraints holiday time puts on my gaming sessions, I’ve only just scratched the surface of this cross-over fighting behemoth. Since this time of year makes it tough to coordinate multiplayer sessions with friends, my time with Smash has been devoted to the game’s new single-player campaign: World of Light.

Regardless of which mode you pick, the player is limited to only a tiny selection of the game’s 70+ character roster. In Classic mode (i.e. the arcade-style single-player mode) and multi-player, only the original eight characters from the N64 game are available the first time you load the game. In World of Light, the only starting character is Kirby. As a result, the main incentive for progressing through the Classic and World of Light campaigns is to unlock the rest of the characters.

Some thoughts on World of Light:
  • This mode features a world map screen with each node on the map representing a battle. This map is absolutely huge, offering a variety of branching paths, and new areas to uncover. Some paths are opened simply by winning battles, others involve light puzzle-solving. This help gives this campaign more of an adventure game feel.
  • The majority of these battles are Spirit fights which use modified versions of the playable characters to represent characters from other games. Winning these battles allows you to progress through the map and unlock Spirit stickers which can be equipped to enhance your characters stats and also serve as the game’s main collectible (replacing trophies). Other than Spirit battles, there are a few special nodes peppered throughout the map that are battles that unlock new playable characters. Since getting to each character battles involves completing many Spirit battles first, playing World of Light seems to be a slower route to unlocking the full roster compared to other modes.
  • With how staggeringly large the roster of Smash Ultimate is, it’s nice to have a mode that eases you into it and gives you an excuse to spend time with each character individually. I think the game wisely chose Kirby to be the first playable character as his move set is very accessible to new players.
  • While the gameplay of World of Light is still primarily a succession of fights, like any other fighting game, the ability to equip Spirits with different attributes adds a layer of RPG mechanics. Certain Spirits have abilities on the map screen as well. For example, one path of the map is obstructed by a collapsed bridge that requires a Spirit with a repair skill to make passable.
  • Having the right combination of Spirits equipped for a given battle can help tip the scales in the player’s favor. For less-practiced fighting game players like my wife and I, this ability to use a loadout to compensate for a lack of pure fighting game skill makes it far more feasible for us to make it all the way through the campaign.
  • This is an exclusively single-player campaign; however, my wife and I have been playing through it cooperatively in alternating fashion. Since the Spirit battles are marked with difficulty ratings (1 to 4 stars), and these difficulties are evenly distributed around the map, it’s easy for my wife and me to divide the battles between us based on our respective skill levels.
So far, we’ve been pleasantly surprised with how robust this single-player campaign is in this primarily multiplayer-focused fighting game! After having the game for only one weekend, my wife and I have already put 9 hours into Smash Ultimate, nearly all of which has been in World of Light mode. In the coming weeks I’m looking forward to exploring the other features this massive game has to offer, so be sure to check back in the future for updated impressions or a review!

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