Super Smash Bros Melee has done it all. It has smashed records. It has smashed expectations. It has smashed every character under the sun into its roster. Now, finally, the series has nothing left to do but — well — a smash hits.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate lives up to its name by being the ultimate in fan service. It may not be a huge evolution of the Smash Bros button-mashing formula, but this entry does represent the complete package, a greatest hits of what has made Smash such a family-friendly hit.
The tagline for Ultimate is ‘the biggest Smash Bros’ ever and that’s absolutely true. There are 74 characters packaged with the game outright, with more to follow as downloadable content. The legendary roster is by far Smash Bros’ biggest selling point, with some of gaming’s greatest icons making the list.
That means if you ever wanted to pit Solid Snake from Metal Gear against Samus Aran from Metroid, then Smash Bros is the only place to make that dream come true. There are characters from all of Nintendo’s games over the years, including Mario favourites, Fire Emblem, Zelda, Kirby and even Earthbound. What really gives the smash roster its edge, though, are the guest characters from series like Castlevania and Persona.
The characters might be the stars of the series, but video game history is what makes Smash such fun to play. There are more than 100 stages, each one a familiar backdrop from games we love. You’ll fight against a background of StarFox, F-Zero, Animal Crossing, Donkey Kong Country and dozens more. The icing on the cake is the 800 music tracks that accompany the different battle stage — smash hits of another kind, some of the best classic gaming tracks from the last three decades.
The elephant in the room (unless Kirby counts?) is that the base gameplay isn’t all that great. While there are advanced moves like super blocks, air slips and skip attacks, Super Smash Bros usually amounts to a group of friends button-mashing their favourite character until someone wins. That’s what makes Super Smash Bros Ultimate the last entry in the series you’ll ever need — it’s harder to pick up a new album when you already own the greatest hits.
SNEAK PEEKS AT GAME AWARDS
We wouldn’t call The Game Awards smashing just yet, but this year’s event was a marked improvement on previous efforts. While the awards themselves went exactly as expected, with Red Dead Redemption 2 cleaning up in most categories of note, including Game of the Year, the ‘extras’ proved more entertaining than usual.
There was a live orchestra playing some great tunes from modern games, including a sneak peek of music from Bioware’s Anthem. There were multiple game reveals too, one of which was the latest game from Irishman Sean Murray’s team called The Last Campfire. It looks like a video game ‘short’ and is a puzzle platformer with simple, distinct graphics.
The most exciting announcement, however, was The Outer Worlds — a new first-person RPG from the team that made Fallout: New Vegas. The Outer Worlds looks to have all the charm and satire of classic Fallout, but set on a space colony rather than in post-apocalyptic Earth. Developers Obsidian have stayed true to their RPG roots with this one — let’s hope they knock it out of orbit.
BETHESDA’S PR FALLOUT
Finally, speaking of orbit, one of gaming’s brightest stars has been brought to earth in recent months.
The release of Fallout 76 has left a black mark on Bethesda’s resume that will be difficult to recover from.
First, they released a terrible game for one of their most popular franchises, before making PR error after error. A premium edition of the game shipped with cheaply made nylon bags instead of the advertised canvas versions. Then Bethesda support leaked the names and emails of all customers who made complaints about the game.
Finally, the team released a patch for Fallout 76 that made numerous changes that weren’t listed in the patch notes, giving the impressions that yet more bugs had surfaced in the game.
It’s a shame to see Bethesda suffer like this — but maybe this is one fallout they can finally learn from.