Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s title alone promises the largest, best & most complete Smash Bros. to date. The word “ultimate” can even be read not as a keen superlative, but simply as a coda to the franchise, a blunt culmination of its design. This can be a ultimate Smash Bros. because its scope is indeed massive that it’s hard to assume adding anything else.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, produced by Sora Ltd. and Bandai Namco Studios, unapologetically adopts “do what the fans want” as its compass. You want all of the characters, even the kinds which were ever-present, half-joke rumors? Here they are. You would like to play every stage in the series’ history? Say hello to an inscrutable collage available. It feels primed to satiate its most passionate players first, however the developers didn’t get rid of its party game soul during its creation.

[Ed. note: We were not able to check Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s online multiplayer features ahead of publishing. We will revisit the web component soon after the game’s launch in order that we are able to test the knowledge on live and busy servers.]

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s perhaps most obviously feature, besides being on the favorite lightweight console Nintendo Switch, is its roster, the major in fighting game history. You’ll manage to unlock 74 fighters in the bottom game, with yet another coming as a pre-order bonus and five downloadable characters promised for future years. The roster liberally pulls characters from Nintendo’s decades of history along with partners that feel in the home alongside Mario and Princess Peach (Simon Belmont of the Castlevania series, and Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter, for instance). Nintendo included 10 playable Pokémon (three owned by Pokémon Trainer), three different versions of Metroid protagonist Samus Aran, and an arguably excessive six characters from the Fire Emblem series. Don’t assume all character is unique; the overall game has six “echo fighters,” characters with the latest models of who share a rule set, like princesses Peach and Daisy.

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo
This plethora of fighters is a blessing and a curse. Your fave is most likely here (unless it’s Waluigi). And together with the a huge selection of other characters that appear as trophies or spirits, Ultimate’s character catalog serves as an intensive, albeit superficial, tour of Nintendo history. It’s a daunting selection, even though I’m familiar with each one of the represented series and its own characters. I can’t imagine viewing this as a younger player relatively not used to the higher Nintendo mythology.

Possibly the overwhelming variety won’t be a concern for most players. In the end, the abundance of fighters means a good amount of combat styles. Despite having echo fighters and some cloned characters, the overall game caters to each and every player type. Tweaks to classic characters mostly enhance their feel – Link’s remote bombs allowed me to get creative, and Ness’ bat feels powerful again – and Ultimate’s new class has some standouts, like Ridley and Incineroar.

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo
Ultimate preserves the series’ madcap battles just as we knew them. A four-player match in this game is manageable, but visually chaotic, especially on a number of the stages with busy moving backgrounds. (I the stand by position the feeling that any longer players than four is a novelty, rather than actually fun for anybody involved.) Few fighting games capture the pace and energy of Super Smash Bros.; even for those who aren’t the star of the battle, or especially good, there’s pleasure in sowing disorder. Smash Bros. doesn’t get enough praise (or criticism) for how its multiplayer permits grade-A trolling, permitting you to spoil your pals’ fights with an individual well-placed trophy attack.

Even though I get knocked out of a match early, I love watching how it unfolds. Throughout that break, I reach appreciate how beautiful a few of this game’s stages could be – especially early levels that contain been given a complete face-lift – and I savor the lovingly remastered versions of songs plucked from my childhood gaming memories.

Customizing Ultimate is blissfully easy. Granular options for multiplayer could be tweaked and modified in near-infinite ways, and an outstanding menu system makes most options simple to find. (The actual fact that they arrive before stage and character selection is most likely among the game’s most impactful quality-of-life improvements.)

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo
It took short amount of time or effort to choose the best rule sets. Sometimes I limited the game’s chaos by fine-tuning that frequency and toggling the ultimate Smash from the floating Smash Ball to a meter that builds as time passes. Other times, I ratcheted the pressure with the addition of random stage swaps and raising the best explosive what to high frequency. The opportunity to name and save each custom rule set has allowed me to swap between multiplayer flavors with the toggle of an individual menu setting.

I really do wish the simplicity of rule management translated to the particular level select screen. Ultimate has 103 playable stages, and they’re all jammed using one crowded grid. Nintendo hasn’t included basic options, like sorting by franchise or level type. It’s all too complex, favoring Nintendo fan service over accessibility.

Countless more knowing winks and nods have already been embedded into Ultimate’s single-player Spirits mode, which encompasses the World of Light campaign and the Spirit Board. Spirits are basically collectible PNGs with a loose narrative peg, and they’re mined mostly from the depths of Nintendo’s secondary and tertiary characters, some with the loosest of connections to the publisher. In a hour of playing, I encountered two Castlevania characters, a Metroid Fusion boss, a character from the horror series Fatal Frame, and Blaze the Cat from the Sonic universe.

World of Light’s overworld map, where you travel between Spirit battles.
Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo
World of Light’s journey gets the narrative oomph of an expert wrestling royal rumble from a WWE knockoff. All creatures in the unnamed Smash land have already been captured by an unknown villain, and he’s puppeteering their bodies for his own ends. By traversing a sprawling overworld map, you’ll slowly save these spirits, and harness them to improve your attack or defense throughout your own travels.

The matches are various and challenging enough that I enjoyed the 12 hours I’ve spent with Spirits’ modes – in no way enough to start to see the whole thing. Challenges ranged from an army of large Jigglypuffs that favored an extra-powerful sleep attack to a floor covered in lava, sticky muck or poison. Don’t assume all matchup was a breeze; World of Light starts with only 1 playable character, and my roster never expanded above 10. While this pacing slows the overall game down, it’s a blessing: I picked matches with fighters I was less acquainted with, and started to understand characters beyond my clutch team.

The mode warns of every battle beforehand. To counter the fights, the overall game advised selecting spirits that could boost my stats and present me buffs – there’s a rock-paper-scissors little bit of strategizing to conduct here that doesn’t have a rational link with the spirits themselves. Whichever spirit I picked, my character never changed its appearance or fighting style. It may well not be easy and simple system to grok for novice players, but there is thankfully an auto-pick selection if you’re muddling through it. The complete mode has a lot more complexity than I formerly expected from a Nintendo title, and explaining it leaves you feeling somewhat mealy-mouthed, Yet, World of Light offered me a palate-cleansing grinding experience unlike anything in previous Smash games, where number crunching mattered just as much as my fighting skill.

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo
That is a Smash Bros. so packed with ideas, wishes and demands pulled from the player base that it could be overwhelming. This is no more the easy game from our childhood, and it’s not shy about rewarding the series’ biggest fans, whether it’s through the options made for each and every fighters’ designs, music track curation, unlockable bonus art, or the wild and varied army of spirits. For a company often worried about accessibility, there’s quickly a spot where Ultimate will drop everyday Nintendo fans in to the deep end.

But Ultimate can be the most enjoyable entry since Super Smash Bros. Melee devoured the leisure time of my social circle through almost all of college. Because I could fine-tune the options I’d like, and select the characters and stages I really like from the franchise’s whole history, I’m almost guaranteed to manage to craft a great match with whomever I’m using. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s gameplay is indeed snappy and fluid, its characters so rewarding within their variety, that it feels destined to dominate living spaces once again.