Features Retrospective Reviews

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Reggie/Mike Co-Op review- The Ultimate Melee Brawl

We're switching up the format for this retrospective review of one of 2018's biggest games. Yes, folks, this a dual review featuring me, Reggie and our head Weeb, Mike. We're going to be bouncing off each other, talking over our favourite and least favourite elements. Mike and I are big Smash fans but we're not part of the competitive circuit, so we'll miss out most of the frame-counting style tech stuff, concentrating on what clicked with us, personally.

Mike: “Now the dust has settled, the hype has (somewhat) slowed down and we’ve played a lot of Smash, I think it’s time we split our Christmas-filled guts over our thoughts on the Sakurai’s latest masterpiece. Spoiler: I like it.

Reggie, you can kick it off by answering this question; to you, which new feature stands out the most and why?”

Reggie: Mike, where do I start!? I think the best feature for me is how quickly players can unlock new content. I’ve been keeping my playthrough to mostly classic mode. Now I know our readers might find that a little strange considering ‘World of Light’ and various mashup modes made the cut. But for me, it’s the amount of nostalgia and reward that goes with it (and completionist points for playing as every character)

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At the end of every classic game, a new fighter appears. Not just that, but spirits and snacks are unlocked too. I’m kind of cheating here, but the addition of allowing players to re-fight challengers in ‘Challengers Approach’ is a welcome addition too. In an unfortunate turn of events, I have grown old and gained responsibilities which hinder my now fabled ‘grind time’. The Challengers Approach allows players like me to gain a full roster whilst maintaining the initial thrill of unlocking more fighters.

How about you Mike? Regale Papa Reg with your findings a week in? I know your grind is masterful and tempered. What did you think of ‘World of Light’? As Reggie Reviews resident ‘weeb’, I imagine you hold the`Subspace Emissary’ successor in a much higher regard?”

Grind Pride Reward?

Mike: “Too right! Grind pride! Though admittedly most of my time has also been spent in the Classic Mode. Remember when ‘Street Fighter V’ came without an Arcade Mode on launch? That’s was massively problematic for me. As someone who rarely plays online and has no patience for competitive play, I can’t understate the fact that either a decent story, single player mode or, that failing, a strong arcade mode makes or breaks a fighter for me. Smash Wii U’s unlocks (or lack thereof) made All-Stars mode my go-to but it all felt a little empty and came with a weird disconnect from previous entries.

Classic Mode in Ultimate is glorious and does everything right for me. Promotes playing as different characters, allows an unlock at the end and really serves a purpose. Naturally, when the ‘Challenger Approaches’ splash screen rears its beautiful face, you can’t help being dragged into hype-mode, no matter who you’re unlocking. Alas, time is limited so the option to retry the fights or on occasion, unlock the fighters after a few Smash rounds, is welcome. This, undoubtedly, is one of Smash’s greatest gifts: options.

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My biggest disappointment was reaching the bonus game for the second time, only to realise it was the same damn map every time. What’s bizarre about this particular element is that it seems, from a groundwork/development perspective, that it would be an easy win to stick in a bit of variety, even if it was simply a platform and collectable placement. Hell, even partially procedurally generated would have sufficed. It’s a small issue in an otherwise flawless execution though.

And those boss battles… but we’ll get on to those.

Moving on to World of Light though, let’s hear your thoughts first. I know through previous conversations that your initial views largely echoed the sentiments of most critics, in that it can be a bit of a slog at times. Has your view changed much, having had more time with it? What did you make of the new mode overall?”

Reggie: “OK, so it’s no secret that ‘World of Light’ lacks an easily identifiable variety to its Gameplay, simply presenting itself as a drawn-out unlock and levelling up fest. That was my initial opinion, but after spending a few hours with it I’m presented with various battle conditions which have been well thought out and married with the character’s persona or narrative. This was very impressive considering the amount of content to get through.

I love that players can get hold of so many different spirits that give various buffs and starter items, even more so when referring to levelling them up, feeding them and working out which spirits go well with others. However, at the same time, it’s a broken mechanic as it stands due to how powerful players can become. I was getting to the point where I wasn’t flinching whilst being hit so I was literally charging smashes to win games.

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From there, whilst it’s great going through the mode to unlock the aforementioned spirits and players, I found it much more fun to just do this via classic mode. I also agree on the bonus level at the end, it really could have had a few variating maps. But then again, given the content of Smash Bros. Ultimate, I can’t help but feel like an arsehole criticising such a complete a brilliant package in terms of content. Maybe content was the focus over mode quality? No Idea! but one would imagine that there has to be a trade off at some point no matter how big the budget or how much freedom there is when it comes to development time.

How about you? Then, I want to know what your favourite ‘New’ mode is, mainly as I’ve mostly been playing classic and online….

World Of Light… You mean Kirby Mode?

Mike: “As a rounded package, Smash delivers on every front. There’s something for everyone here.

In terms of favourite new mode? Easily World of Light. Or as I like to call it, ‘Kirby Mode’. I’ve played almost exclusively with Kirby because that cutscene did nothing but make him the hero. In my mind, it’s been Kirby’s own little adventure. There’s no denying the linearity of the matches, though. The special conditions of the maps being negated by spirits are great in theory but, in practice, it makes those levels vanilla. The creativity that goes into some of these set-ups is fantastic, and a real highlight. Smash can often be a ‘make your own fun’ kind of game (though, doesn’t need to be, by any means) with the amount of customisation available and modes it allows in multiplayer but bringing this mentality to World of Light has kept it from being boring.

Think about how people treat ‘Star Link: Battle for Atlas’, like a ‘Star Fox’ title. As I said: Kirby Mode!

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We can’t talk about any Smash game without diving into the roster so let’s make this a little different. Reg, tell me first; your ‘main’ historically in Smash Wii U, your current main and your top three most frequently used so far. After that, how about you drop in favourite character design or redesign of the entire roster?”

Reggie: “Ok, so Link, Link and Link, Toon Link and Young Link. Link is my favourite re-design. Next…

LOL IMAGINE!

Ok, so since Brawl I’ve either gone as Adult Link, Sonic or Ganondorf, Melee was all about Ganondorf’s OP hits and just waiting for an opportunity to chain a couple of A hits followed by a charged grapple move. And that sword? It might as well serve as a paddle, I love it!

During Brawl, I played as Sonic quite a lot because he was a new addition at the time. His spin move used to cover lots of ground across platforms to jump into a flurry of standard attacks. Also, it’s so easy to write Sonic off as a crap challenger, but in actual fact, it’s all about timing and knowing his action latency recovering from spin dash moves.

Wii U is a bit hazy if I’m quite honest, I got it before me and my ex-wife had kids so I was blind drunk unlocking the roster. Adult Link seems to stand out for me on Wii U, the old faithful!

But seriously, I mostly main as Link due to his reach for a cheeky last min Smash attack, his special jump has brilliant recovery and damage, his bombs now remotely detonate which is brilliant and his boomerang is the biggest troll move known to mankind. Half the fun of Link is throwing a boomerang, firing an arrow then getting a free hit thanks to the boomerang rebound.

If I was to choose a second challenger for Ultimate it would be Pokemon Trainer hands down. The balance of Squirtle delivering stabs, to Ivysaur juggling fighters to Charizard delivering final blows works tremendously and flows so well. I understand that I have replied in completely the wrong order so I will offer you a fight… next week.

My favourite re-design is Adult Link. That Hero’s Tunic makes me go crazy mate. Not just that, developers have kept intact everything good about his moveset but added the remote bombs from BotW. I’ve had so much joy getting cheap shots online because of that one change, kind of miss his grappling hook though…

So Mike, how about you? Furthermore, which character do you think needs a good nerfing? Or better yet, shouldn’t have made the roster at all?”

Link is a trademark of Reggie…

Mike: “Bayonetta has clearly been balanced since the last outing but damn, she’s still tough. Nerf her again. Maybe.

I’ve been all about Pikachu since N64. Pika was always my go-to in Melee and Brawl. If I mean business it’s always Pikachu. The Quick Attack recovery is just too good for escaping and his neutral air attack is great for darting about in crowds and covering all angles. Naturally, I like to, hop, annoy everyone with “Pikachuuu”, then dash in for the grab follow-up. I’m going to start dabbling in some Pichu soon, given the buff and some of the cheeky edge plays I’ve seen (not that I expect to be able to pull any of them off).

Inkling has been super fun but I’m not quick to adapt to new characters at all, meaning enjoyment is high but I’m getting slapped about and the fact that you can paint your enemies in ink is such a cool touch. Though not a newcomer, I quite enjoy Lucina (basically Marth for those who can’t get the spacing right) in terms of the straight-laced sword-fighter lot.

Cloud I play, because Cloud. The Limit Break meter sound effect alone sends a shiver down my spine. Cross slash is honestly amazing to see and I want to be good with Cloud, I really do but there’s too much fun to be had experimenting.

I missed out on Corrin last time because by the time she (yes, she) was out, I had pretty much packed the Wii U away. From a character design perspective, in terms of how the moveset looks, Corrin is up there for me. I have to go for Zelda for redesign though. Yes, I know everyone wants BOTW Zelda but come on, she’s just not as cool. Peeps; deal with it.

Having spent far too much time with Kirby in Kirby Mode, I have started to realise why he used to be my second choice back in the day. He’s not a viable upper tier, as far as I know, probably owing to how slow he is, combined with those tiny reaching arms. Eating projectiles are top though and, to put it simply, he’s FUN.

Air dodging too much, like a fool, gets me in all sorts of newbie-style trouble but it feels nice to do. I have no intention of, nor the time, to use the practice mode or to drill hops and tilts etc. I’m having too much fun just playing as I feel. I was quite good on Melee once upon a time but always sucked at Brawl and Wii U. With that in mind, I don’t play much online.

My short online experience thus far has been OK, some lag spikes, but generally consistent. How about yours?

Let’s not forgot how cool the bosses are. What a weird experience fighting a ‘Rathalos’ outside ‘Monster Hunter’. It looks great and the attack patterns are familiar; the level of attention to detail amazes then surpasses that amazement. Which is your favourite boss battle?”

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Reggie:Princess Zelda fanboys and fangirls need to chill, what would BotW Zelda’s smash move be? A walk in a field whilst crying? Yes exactly! Have a coke, a smile and play more Smash!

I always remember Kirby was good for DragonBall Z spam punches and turning into a brick, he’s the man! I agree with Bayonetta, they should just nerf her by bringing in Goku… it wouldn’t solve anything but I’d be happy.

Can I just state that I don’t care for echo fighters? It’s great that Nintendo wanted to include more characters, but it’s such a cop out. Yes, Daisy has a slightly different standard attack, but ultimately it’s a waste of everybody’s time. Why not just concentrate on bringing in fresh fighters, you know like Goku?

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OK so final bosses, it’s great to see Crazy Hand and Master Hand come back. Especially when they pair up, it’s a great touch keeping them to a familiar moveset for nostalgia reasons and for the sake of my muscle memory. Loved the Monster Hunter addition, it’s a nice fresh take. I liked Dracula the most from ‘Castlevania’, as with other final bosses who have two transformations, they kind of make the first stage quite easy. Dracula was a pain in my bottom from start to finish. And his transformation looked badass.

Ganondorf was quite faithful to the earlier days of Zelda, let’s all be thankful he didn’t go all Calamity Ganon and waste more of our time on Earth. Loved how Beast Ganon’s weakness was his tail, it’s a nice touch! Giga Bowser looks like pure nightmare fuel which is smashing, in all honesty, I’m quite happy with how boss battles have played out this time around. Can only batter Master Hand so many times!

So what’s your Smash setup then, buddy? There are so many accessories that released for Smash this time around. After you tell me you use some form of Gamecube pad, why do you think the Gamecube pad has reached such a cult status over the years? Surely Nintendo would want their Pro Controllers being the go to for such titles?”

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KAAAKAAAAROTTTTTT!

Mike: “Mate, I want Kakarot as much as the next Saiyan but it’s strictly game origins only, foo. I see echo fighters as fun costumes. Bring on as many as you want, Mr Sakurai.

I doubt Gamecube pad usage is anywhere near as rife as we think. I would be surprised if the average buyer would even know it was possible. The status comes from three things, in my eyes: 1) the Melee love, 2) the fact that the Gamecube controller is an absolute beast, 3) muscle memory.

Honestly, many will disagree but I think that it’s simple muscle memory that keeps many us Gamecubers coming back. I have undoubtedly put more hours in on Melee than any other Smash entry (even though I preferred Wii U). Plus, Nintendo knows how to sell to us. I have the adapter hooked up to a nice, new shiney Smash GameCube controller and a good old standard GC pad with a shorter wire. Loser has to sit closer to the TV.

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Pro Controllers will sell themselves, more than likely. Anyone who’s had to deal with playing Mega Man with a split JoyCon D-pad knows what I’m talking about!

What’s the greatest part of Smash? Not just out of the modes but the whole damn thing. My choice for this question is easy: the music. What they have pulled off in terms of licencing negotiation is nothing short of a miracle. Imagine buying the soundtracks for the original music of each of these games. Actually, don’t, it may be too powerful a thought which may open up space/time rift in which some futuristic-looking debt collectors jump out and steal your socks then whisper down your ear, “next time it’s your undercrackers”.

Basically, this is insane value for money as a music player alone. The fact that the ‘Sonic Generations’ version of Rooftop Run came back again is a monster win for me. Some of the ‘Mega Man’ mixes are such fun, with the ‘Mega Man 2 Medley’ switching from the title music into the Wily Stage 1 mix being a highlight. Just listening to Xenoblade Chronicles 2’s battle music, switching to Wii Shopping Channel music straight on to the remixed SF2’s Guile Stage. It’s wild and amazing. I honestly would have bought the game if they removed the gameplay.

You happy with the remixes? Any stand out tracks for you?”

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Reggie: “Like you buddy, I think it’s a cracking achievement getting such a library of music together for Ultimate. I don’t think I’ve heard the same track twice bar the title music (I’m sorry, it’s crap. Change my mind).

For me, it has to be the Zelda tracks. I was having a 5 hour long unlocking session on Ultimate the other night, and ‘Sara’s Song’ / ‘Lost Woods’ came on during a challenger fight to unlock Young Link. That was just pure nostalgic magic for me, nothing gets me off more than a well-executed trip down memory lane, it was just a perfect moment.

Ultimate has a really good sense of what Nintendo fans need in its latest incarnation of its party brawler, which translates into next to zero fatigue during gameplay. I’m about 60± fighters in, and I’m scared that the light of Smash may die after I’ve unlocked them all.

However, a perfectly executed part of Smash Ultimate is its online play. My WiFi is poor upstairs, but I didn’t suffer any lag during wireless bouts. And my god is it fun! For me, online forces players to learn their characters inside and out. I’m at that point on my learning curve where I’m starting to get into the zone and strategically taking out opponents by utilising the quirks of my fighter’s moveset.

Also re controllers. After testing out the Pro Controller, Joy Cons in handheld mode, Wireless GameCube Pad and 8-Bit-Do’s SNES Pro Pad, I have to admit the GC pad is a little over-hyped in hindsight for me.

Yes, it is one of the best controllers ever made, but buttons presses really aren’t satisfying anymore and need an update. In my opinion, a simple re-jig on button action would fix the issue, as currently, I feel like I’m pressing a series of buzzers!

P. S. 8-Bit-Do won the controller brawl for me, it’s just a nice pad to hold and play with.”

All Fights Come To An End…

Mike: “Let’s face it, we could go on forever. The fact that we have so much to talk about and have barely scratched the surface is a testament to how deep the Smash experience is.

In closing, I have two words for readers: buy it.

Reggie:Thanks for reading everyone, Mike is right. This really is a no-brainer, just buy Super Smash Bros. Ultimate then thank us later! Oh, and all forms of Link are mine by default. Just saying…”

Verdict:

Graphics: 9/10
Presentation: 10/10
Sound: 10/10
Gameplay: 9/10

Overall Score: 9.5/10

 

Format: Switch (reviewed)
Price: £59.99 (UK eShop)
Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Bandai Namco/Nintendo/HAL Labs/Sora Ltd
Age Rating: PEGI 12
Release Date: 07/12/2018 (UK eShop)

Based on purchased retail build

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