E3 2018: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate needs to be hooked into my veins

Nintendo /

Providing the definitive multiplayer party combat gaming experience, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate feels faster, tighter and more refined.

Nintendo, understandably, put most of their E3 2018 eggs in the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate basket. Sure, you got an introductory mech game reveal here, and a Fire Emblem teaser there, but their Nintendo Direct and E3 show floor focus aimed primarily at letting everyone know that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the thing you should care for the most.

Having had the opportunity to try out the game, test out the new characters and see how some of the older veterans play in this new title, I have to agree with Nintendo’s vision this year. In fact, whenever Super Smash Bros. Ultimate doesn’t appear on Nintendo Direct screens, other titles should be asking, “Where’s Smash Bros.?”

First off, without question, I needed to find out whether or not Ridley was too big. As expected, her size made her hits formidably strong, even as he fluttered around the stage very slowly. Her side-B attack works as a slide grab attack, grabbing the enemy and launching them upwards away for strong damage and distance. Down-B is a hard tail slash that fells opponents at the perfect distance, while up-B is a dynamically moving up-launch stage recovery attack. B is a bouncing fireball that you can charge for more damage.

Though Ridley is a long-awaited new character, his slower speed is noticeable in a game that is fairly faster in movement than in the Wii U and 3DS versions. With the variety of air dodges, shorter jump attacks and perfect shield options, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate feels quicker, bringing a closer approximation to that of Melee that hopefully brings the competitive scene into modern times.

Inkling is an odd character due to their basis in ink powers. He (or she) has a down-B ink grenade, side-B for an ink roller attack, up-B squid jump recovery and B to spray ink from a blaster. However, you can run out of ink (indicated on the character’s UI portrait), forcing you to shield and hold B to refuel.

This makes inkling a very technical character that must balance resource management with stage management, as you will need to give up position sometimes in order to recover ink. Though only 30 characters were available in the E3 2018 Super Smash Bros. Ultimate build, this character is one of the oddest to pick up at first.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate screenshot
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate screenshot /

Speaking of, there are a ton of characters that got major rebalancing in their skill changes. I’ve been a Link main since Melee, and now the character’s attacks give it a bit of a better edge in mechanic balance. He no longer has a hook shot grab with a long recovery time, but a grab. His boomerang has a longer activation time but goes farther. Bombs can now be activated remotely, letting you set up combos.

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Another thing all combatants have now is an infinite hold on smash attacks, letting you better edge or recovery guard against opponents who hope to time out your attacks. It further dives into the competitive balance changes for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, of which there have to be hundreds, if not thousands, made across all known 65 characters.

The fact that losing players in matches choose the stage first, stock leads glimmer in 3+ player matches, damage percentage goes into decimal points and stock counts appear after players die splashed across the screen shows that even with these quality of life changes and balance options, Nintendo continues to tinker with the formula.

Strictly on a casual player level, I can’t see anything yet wrong with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate that can be improved upon. It has all the warriors with a new can of paint, with characters playing closer to what the community wanted. Nintendo representatives have been apprehensive about single-player character, but there’s still time to show off more of the game in the future.

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Competitively, I’ve seen mixed results on the balance changes that have come to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Once the other half of the roster becomes playable and we can see all mechanics within the game working, that conversation can be had. Either way, the game as it is serves an excellent, tight party combat game that strives ever closer to perfection.