As one of the most anticipated games of 2018, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has managed to secure a majority of its headlines through the title's impressive selection of playable gaming icons. Seeing the likes of Simon Belmont square off against Pikachu isn't necessarily something most gamers thought they'd ever witness, but it's certainly become a welcomed reality. Despite the fact that the concept of a crossover fighting game like this helps fans act out longstanding debates, the reason Ultimate is so appealing for broader audiences is because of its accessibility and local multiplayer options.
Few things in gaming are as heart-pounding as a player-versus-player match of Super Smash Bros., with all kinds of on-screen action making for some of the craziest matches around. After playing through the latest iteration's entire roster of 74 characters though, it's now clear that Ultimate may very well be the greatest party game of this generation.
This is a bold statement to be sure, as gamers could immediately point to two other Nintendo exclusives that would be able to lay challenge to that claim in the forms of Mario Kart and Mario Party, respectively. Still, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate easily exceeds the content of any entry in those two aforementioned franchises, while working a very delicate balance between casual and hardcore fighting fans. While those games help to engage a wider audience through fun and accessible gameplay, Smash manages to provide grounds for something extremely competitive alongside that same focus of accessibility.
This merging of skillsets isn't an easy feat for any gaming studio to accomplish, but it's an almost magical aspect to tout when the goal is to appeal to all comers. Still, with skill having such an immediate impact on any video game – let alone an entry in the fighting game genre – Nintendo has managed to perfectly balance this with the happenstance nature of randomly spawned in-game weapons and stage hazards.
For example, perhaps one player could easily take any other in a tournament-style setting, but that's where Pokeball Pokemon and Assist Trophies (not to mention the breathtakingly large menagerie of weapons) come to balance out the action. Summoning someone like Isaac from Golden Sun as an ally can change the tide of battle with his elemental abilities, while a Pocket Monster like Ditto can transform into the player that summoned it and help beat up on an otherwise insurmountable foe.
This mentality carries into the way each battle can be set up, with up to eight users being able to jump into a single game – something that isn't even an option in all too many couch co-op titles. Furthermore, every character and stage is selectable this time around, allowing fans to access the full range of content present in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate regardless of how many people are simultaneously engaging in the software. This franticness, in turn, expands the accessibility. Skill once again takes a back seat as chaos takes the reins, with frantic battles over items occurring, off-screen alliances being weaved, and desperate plays at avoiding oblivion take center stage.
Therein lies the party game potential of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, as the content and accessibility makes it a wonderful multiplayer title for gamers. Even then, the broad meta of the game allows for much deeper combat once the party has wrapped up and a pair of skilled players want to test their own mettle. Something so adaptable is rare to find within the gaming landscape, and the power of the game's all-star roster only further fuels the attachment each gamer can have for any given fighter thrown into the fray.
After spending several hours duking it out with friends and reflecting on the mantra of this installment, it's safe to say that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's branding of "everyone is here" goes far beyond just a nod to the complete roster. It's a broader meaning that also lends itself to the audience, as anyone can hop into a match and have fun. Having said that, what else does one need from a spectacular party game?
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate arrives exclusively for the Nintendo Switch on December 7, 2018.