‘Super Smash Bros Ultimate’ Review


Penn Hoang and Martin Schmitzer

If you’ve ever heard of fighting games, you may have heard of games like “Street Fighter,” “Tekken,” “Mortal Kombat” and even “Injustice.” What these games have in common is that they’re more focused on memorizing inputs and combos, instead of adapting to situations and reading your opponent’s play styles and habits. “Super Smash Bros,” a game made by Masahiro Sakarai, is unique compared to other fighting games. This game is just extraordinary in general, but like any other game, there are strengths and flaws.

The wide range and variety of “Smash Bros” is tremendous. From some of your favorite video game franchises old to new, “Smash Bros” has one of the biggest rosters in this genre. From games like the Mario franchise, “Xenoblade,” “Pokemon” and old games, like Game and Watch and Pacman. There is also downloadable content, also known as DLC, which regularly adds new characters, stages and spirits. “Smash Bros” even includes some content from games that aren’t Nintendo licensed titles, but from other third-party titles such as “Persona 5,” “Final Fantasy” and even “Minecraft.”


“Smash Bros” is more of a mental game with adapting to situations and reading your opponent’s play style. What makes this game even more complicated is the amount of mechanics and moves you can do. The stages can affect game play, as well as all the different move sets each character has. Stages are maps that players will play on going up against each other with some distinct features with each one: shielding, rolling and spot dodging plus all different types of tech. Instead of memorizing combos, it focuses on knowing the mechanics of the game. What makes this game even better is its number of features. It features a campaign mode, an online mode, different mini games and spirits. What makes spirits different is that they can buff your character and help you win if you play as a casual (people who play for fun). Buffing your character makes your character stronger and gives you a higher advantage. Spirits can be obtained by different mini games from DLC content and campaign mode. This game also allows the player to create their own stages and fighters, which makes it more creative.


While “Super Smash Bros Ultimate” is packed full with tons of genre-breaking features and an endless amount of content with the edition of custom Mii fighters (customizable characters) and stages via the Nintendo Online system, there are also several drawbacks and issues with this system that take away from the game’s enjoyability. Launched Sept.18, 2018, Nintendo Online is the way that Nintendo allows for its customers to play with each other online. With a price tag of just $5 a month, Nintendo Online is significantly cheaper than its competitors, being Sony’s Playstation Plus and Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold both at a much more hefty $10 per month.


In other Nintendo games that use this online system, such as the 2017 title ARMS, online play has been pretty much flawless. In “Super Smash Bros Ultimate,” however, the quality is nowhere near as good. Moves phase through your opponent even though you were sure that they connected, players will disconnect at random and cancel the match for the other players and the frequent lag spikes make playing with anyone who isn’t in your general vicinity a nightmare. All of this is caused because of the way that data is transmitted across the Nintendo Online servers. Unlike other online games that create servers for players to play in, online play in “Smash Ultimate” works on a console-to-console connection. This means that all the data, such as player position and move timing, is all calculated and translated by the host console which causes massive problems if the host’s connection isn’t the best. “Smash Ultimate’s” combat system works in frames which are practically impossible to perfectly sync over the current online system. Since every move is calculated by the host, even two of the exact same moves, performed at exactly the same time, the player that has a better connection to the host will have their move connect and the other player will be forced to take the damage. This problem creates an extremely unfair advantage for the better connected player and can turn normally close matches into an absolute steamroll all because one of the player’s connection is marginally faster.


Even though the massive issue that the Nintendo Online system causes seems daunting, a few simple changes to the way frame data is handled online will help to resolve some of the main problems with this issue. All of that aside, “Super Smash Bros Ultimate” is still quite possibly one of, if not, the best fighting games of all time. It is a culmination of over 20 years of hard work and a love letter to fans who have been there since the beginning. Even for someone who has never played a video game in their life, “Super Smash Bros Ultimate’s” relatively low skill floor allows for these types of players to still have an amazing time. From its humble beginnings on the Nintendo 64, “Super Smash Bros” has continued to create an environment where players of all skill levels can compete and have fun, all the while making ground-breaking innovations that redefine what it means to be a fighting game.