Super Smash Bros Ultimate is coming in just over a week, and anticipation is high. Nintendo’s crossover brawler is on its fifth instalment now and it promises to be the biggest so far. Boasting a roster of 74 fighters, every character from the series’s history returns, plus with some newcomers.
Over the weekend I was able to try out the game, along with the rest of the team, at Nintendo’s stand at MCM Comic Con at the NEC. I tried all of the newcomers, ranging from classic Castlevania characters to the stars of online shooter Splatoon. So let’s take a look at them.
The Inklings are no strangers to multiplayer action, as their home game, Splatoon, is all about teams of four battling it out to claim territory. They focus on long-range weaponry that fires ink and can turn into squids at will.
Their transition to Smash Bros feels natural. An Inkling fighter is best at taunting opponents from a distance and staying on the move. Every move is a joy to use with a lot of versatility. Firing a stream of ink from your Splattershot or bulldozing the competition with a paint roller is just plain fun. They didn’t seem to suffer in close range combat either, with various melee moves at their disposal.
Their main issue seems to be having to remember to refill ink supplies at regular intervals. Just like in their home game, an Inkling can only fire so much ink before they have to swim around in squid form to gain more. This has been implemented here too, and in the chaos of a Smash battle this can be easy to forget. It also makes them potentially vulnerable, and this could be an issue in a one-on-one situation.
Overall, they were a lot of fun and I can see myself rollering players frequently as an Inkling in the full game.
Ridley is one of the major antagonists of the Metroid series, generally considered to be Samus’ greatest adversary. He is a giant lizard creature who commands the Space Pirates, and often pops up as a major challenger throughout the Metroid series. He’s been a heavily requested character since the early days of Smash Bros, and historically dismissed as being ‘too big’. However, this has changed and it’s great to see him here.
He’s a little tough to get to grips with and I personally didn’t do very well with him. However, he has great potential as his moves feel incredibly powerful, and he has some decent mobility to back them up.
A lot of his difficulty seems to come from how precise his move-set can feel. Moves like his drag and tail strike seem to require opponents to be exactly in front of you, and some of his moves don’t have the best range. But with more time than two minutes in a convention demo, it seems like he could become a devastating character that can tear through battles.
Both Simon and Richter Belmont from the Castlevania series turn up in Smash Bros Ultimate, and they play largely the same. I personally chose Richter as my experience with the series has been in Symphony of the Night more so than the NES games that Simon appeared in, but I do get the feeling that my comments on Richter can apply to Simon too.
Richter is amazing. He has a versatile move-set with a few ranged options and good options for close combat. His mobility is strong too, with his slide kick and uppercut moves providing plenty of good movement options.
Ultimately though, his greatness comes down to his chain whip, which has some amazing range and could really create some difficulty for his opponents if they’re trying to get in close. Definitely a favourite.
King K Rool
One of the few non-Japanese characters on the roster – in fact, he was created just up the M42 from us in Twycross – this villain from the Donkey Kong Country games is another heavily-requested fighter that’s finally got his time in the limelight.
And he is so slow. Unbearably so, in fact. He’s heavy and has a slow walking speed that makes him feel a bit of a chore to play as. His special moves also feel slow to execute and are easily countered. My time with the character was mostly spent getting beaten up and knocked out constantly, with very few satisfying moments.
This is unfortunate, as he could have been great, but he looks like the weakest of the new bunch.
The tiny dog secretary from Animal Crossing: New Leaf doesn’t necessarily seem like the best idea for a fighter, but she’s popular with Animal Crossing fans and she’s adorable, so she’s very welcome.
She plays very similar to how Villager played back in Smash 4, but with a few significant changes. Her aerial recovery seems to be better than Villager’s, as she floats around happily on her balloon swing. Her fishing rod makes her a lot more fun all round too, as you can reel in other fighters from a distance.
Where Isabelle falls short is her range, which is…well…short. It often felt like I had to get right up against opponents to hit them with anything in her arsenal, which made her a little tricky. It may be possible to use the fishing rod to reel in fighters and combo into other things, but I didn’t manage to figure this out in the demo. Hopefully this is the case.
Just like the sky is blue, every Smash Bros game will inevitably have a new Pokémon joining the roster. This time around it’s the flaming wrestlecat Incineroar, the final evolution of the fire starter from Pokémon Sun and Moon.
And he is a beast. And not just literally, because he’s a Pokemon. He’s also a fast and powerful character that is a lot of fun to play as. He’s a heavier character that avoids many mobility issues heavier characters typically experience in Smash Bros. He does suffer a little in the air, kind of like Little Mac, which seems to be his major weakness. Overall though, he’s a fantastic new addition.
This batch of newcomers just furthers the excitement for the full game. With the exception of K Rool, everyone was fun to pick up, and there’s sure to be someone for everyone. The game itself seems like a faster, more chaotic game than previous entries, and I look forward to getting to grips properly with all these excellent new characters.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate is out on December 7 for Nintendo Switch.