If there's any series that can be pointed to as one of the most iconic, action-packed, and fun-filled party franchises, it certainly has to be Super Smash Brothers. The breakout hit smashed its way onto the scene at the end of the 90's on the N64, and the rest is history. Since then, his massive conglomeration of major franchises has blown up into the stratosphere in terms of popularity, being one of the biggest cash cows for the Big N ever since.
These multiplayer classics have been the go-to for friends, family, and even strangers to kick back and enjoy an exciting and addictive time duking it out with their favorite Nintendo characters. While the original on N64 was pretty standard and actually quite bare in content, each succeeding entry has been fleshed out with additional elements, tweaks, and gameplay refinements. These sequels have held onto the original charm of the older entries, while taking them to the next level, both aesthetically and in terms of sheer content and nuance. This has ultimately (pun not intended) led to the culmination of what most agree is the richest, most epic Smash Brothers game yet - Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch. The game just has everything - and then some.
Well, maybe not everything... Although the game is probably the strongest, most robust entry to date in most areas, there are still a few blemishes, quirks, and areas in which the game is lacking. There are areas of poor execution, ambiguities, and just plain odd elements. With this list, we will delve into some aspects of Smash Brothers Ultimate and examine some ares that could be improved, added to, or otherwise altered to make for a better experience. This game may be "ultimate," but it's certainly not perfect...
25 Crazy, Erratic Difficulty Spike In World Of Light
The World Of Light campaign is quite the oddity. On the one hand, it seems like roughly 90 percent of the countless battles you'll be tossed into are a total breeze. This is provided you augment yourself with some decent stat boosters and utilize the skill tree.
Yet, you'll sometimes be tossed into a ridiculously tough grind that will take you out before you knew what hit you, even if you prepare with the right buffs.
One particularly maddening match features Peach, who constantly and annoyingly scurries around the Donkey Kong Arcade stage while you get harassed by Mario and Donkey Kong. Another includes an insanely disorienting WarioWare stage where you're pelted with high winds and direction flips.
24 Just What Exactly Are Dharkon And Galeem?
Look, I get that in a title which focuses on button-mashing multiplayer party gaming, the depth or nuance of the game's lore is likely not going to amount to much. Still, I feel Nintendo could have done a touch better for the two main villains - which everything builds up to - than an ambiguous flying "orb." Just what exactly are these things? Are they some sort of formless god/goddess? What is their background or history? What is their motivation to absorb the souls of all of these fighters? Also - why is Galeem a villain if he represents "the light?"
23 No Trophies?
Sure, you could argue that these digital collectible keepsakes do exist in Smash Brothers Ultimate in the form of cards which augment fighter stats. Though I can't help feel that there is a sort of visual marvel and charm of gazing upon these detailed, 3D renderings of various Nintendo characters, which these cards don't quite capture.
Yes, the cards are a clever way to incorporate collectibles into the actual gameplay, but that's not really an excuse for ditching the trophies altogether. Both could have existed simultaneously. Perhaps it was just too cumbersome for Nintendo to model all of these countless little trophies.
22 Excessive, Somewhat Pointless Collectables
...And speaking of which, these character souls - which take the form of bland cards - are so plentiful and random that it all gets a little too excessive. Sure, you'll occasionally need to give yourself a match-specific buff, like being immune to fire on a map whose entire floor is a raging inferno.
There are apparently a total of 1,300 of these things already! And there will likely be more coming in some sort of future DLC pack.
But for the most part, all you'll need to hold your own for most of the campaign is to max out and cycle through a handful of these cards.
21 The Online Mode Is Still Shallow And Limiting
Considering the Big N has recently decided to jump on board with their own version of a paid online service, it's a bit disappointing that the online features in Smash Brothers Ultimate are still pretty lacking.
The online functionality itself is mostly sufficient at least, but the variety of customizable features, game modes, and matchmaking, in general, could have been more fleshed out. You're only given a pretty limiting "Quick Play" option, along with an odd "Arena" setup in which you're forced to sit idle on the sidelines while another match is going on.
20 No Home Run Contest
For the huge plethora of content that Smash Brothers Ultimate offers, it's quite odd that Nintendo has left a few of the more basic extra modes out of the party. These include any sort of target smashing bonus stage, stage builder, and one particular fan favorite - Home Run Contest.
As small as this may be, it offered a neat and simplistic way to get accustomed to fighters, and break the monotony of the usual gameplay.
It was also quite satisfying to perform the simple act of knocking your punching bag opponent into next Tuesday and see how far it would fly. Considering this latest entry really emphasizes super-charged Smash Attacks, this seems like a missed opportunity.
19 Only A Single, Mediocre Bonus Stage In Classic Mode
Speaking of the now-absent Break the Targets, along with the Board the Platforms bonus stages, Nintendo has essentially combined the two in favor of a pretty mediocre, soulless bonus stage for Classic Mode. The stage itself can be moderately fun at first, as it offers a diverse smattering of platforms, breakable obstacles, and orbs to collect.
The problem is that this stage pops up after every single run through classic mode, in its exact same form. There is zero variance with different fighters or difficulty levels. Since you'll likely be playing a ton of Classic Mode, as it's basically the most effective way to unlock fighters, this will grow repetitive fast.
18 World Of Light Gets Repetitive And Lacks Depth
World of Light is strange in that it manages to be overly long while failing to really offer a great degree of depth at all. It mostly banks on showering you with random collectibles and buffs for the bulk of its customization.
Some sort of variance in the objectives or added mini-games could have gone a long way in breaking up the monotony.
But even with the myriad of various environmental and character conditions, you're still mostly just resorted to button mashing to take out an opponent, at the end of the day. This can grow pretty repetitive after countless hundreds of battles.
17 Cumbersome Online Matchmaking With Friends
Ok, so Ultimate's matchmaking isn't quite at the Dark Ages level of painstakingly punching in long friend codes, though it's far from where it could be. While you can, of course, see if a friend is online and playing Smash, there's oddly no way to simply jump into a battle with a friend seamlessly. You first have to notify that person that you've set up an arena, who you'll get need to get in touch with and toss them a code, which they then must punch in to finally enter.
16 Cruel Smash Is So Hard It's Actually A Joke...
While the Century and All-Star Smash game modes prove to be pretty enjoyable as an occasional distraction from the typical modes, Cruel Smash is just so insanely difficult it's almost unplayable. You get absolutely wailed on by a mob of deceptively over-powered Mii characters, who basically rocket you off the stage before you even knew what hit you.
There's really no point to this mode unless you wish to have your pride bumped down a notch in a matter of seconds...
Basically, if you make a wrong move or let your guard down for a few seconds, it's all over.
15 Issues With Online Lag Stutter
I've said before that the online connectivity in Smash Brothers Ultimate has been pretty solid overall, at least in my experience. Though this doesn't mean that there have been more than a few instances of lag stutter and downright freezes - which have lasted several agonizing seconds.
For a game that relies so heavily on and speed and reaction time, this can be problematic. Since Ultimate, unfortunately, does not host dedicated servers, this means that you'll have to rely on the strength of connectivity from random strangers. If even one of them has a spotty connection, you could be in for a frustratingly laggy match.
14 The Piranha Plant As A Fighter... Enough Said
And you thought the Wii Fit Trainer was a silly inclusion... Enter The Piranha Plant - a pretty basic and typical enemy found in most Mario platforming titles. I don't see how too many people can be excited about fighting with a fang-toothed potted plant aside from picking it as a sort of joke or troll move.
Furthermore, is such a weird, seemingly awkward to control fighter worth shelling out money for?
Despite being able to snag this goof of a new fighter by purchasing and registering the game before February of 2019, many will likely miss out on this. This character just seems to belong more in the item category rather than a fighter.
13 Single Player Content Still Not Nearly As Fun As Multiplayer
You can argue that the single player portions of the game are strong when it comes to sheer content, but when it comes to its substance and overall enjoyment, it doesn't measure up to the endlessly fun multiplayer.
It's not a fault of Ultimate necessarily, but more the overall style of this party brawler formula, which is simply designed for multiple players.
Both the Classic Mode and World of Light feel repetitive and formulaic at times, and the other modes sprinkled in, like All-Star Mode, are merely minor distractions. If they didn't provide a handy way to unlock fighters I doubt I'd spend anywhere near the time I've put into them.
12 DLC/Microtransactions Can Potentially Get Out Of Hand...
All you need to do is look at the Pirhana Plant DLC and (neat, but mostly insignificant) Rex costume for the Mii Fighter to realize the potential for the DLC content to get out of hand. It's one thing when Nintendo is offering new playable content to purchase - new stages, game modes, etc.
One can only hope these add-ons will be worth the price.
Though, when we're talking minuscule things like a mediocre looking fighter and extra skins, it's tough to justify shelling out more cash for a game most have already spent $60 for. I suppose it's inevitable; as the characteristics of Ultimate certainly lend themselves to the DLC/microtransaction model.
11 We Need To Talk About Those Smash Balls...
The Smash Ball idea was sort of a neat one when it debuted on Brawl. Though now that the novelty has worn off - not to mention with Nintendo amping up the erratic floating of these things, they feel more like a chore to scramble to reach. They often break up the flow and excitement of a fight, as fighters are forced to rush to these swiftly floating orbs.
I would have preferred if these were either dialed back in absurdity or if we relied solely on the new meters to trigger Final Smash attacks.
10 Playing With GameCube Controllers In Portable Mode Is A Royal Pain
Nintendo has pulled out all the stops when it comes to controller options with the game. Still, none quite feel the same compared to the bulky, tactile nature of the GameCube's controller and its unique layout.
You'll need an added dongle to even be able to play with the GameCube controllers in portable mode.
This is fine, except for the fact that, since this is a Switch title, this means portability should be a selling point. But thanks to the cumbersome (and pricey) process required to play portable with a Cube controller, handheld play basically requires you use the Joy-Cons.
9 Classic Mode Length And Depth Trimmed Down
Yeah, it's cool that we have a ton of different Classic Mode paths which are (at least somewhat) tailored to the lore of your particular fighter. But this doesn't get rid of the fact that as a single run through Classic Mode, the experience is quite brief.
Not only do you have the same, uninspired bonus stage for every run, but there are only a handful of brief matches to play through before getting to the boss. It's certainly a good way to unlock additional fighters and get bombarded with rewards, but it has little value or staying power elsewhere.
8 World Of Light Is Excessively Long
When you have an experience as repetitive as World Of Light can feel sometimes, its excessive length really becomes apparent. There are a seemingly endless amount of paths, dungeons, battles, and maps. The game just seems to keep on going and reveals an entirely new map, just when you think you're nearing the end.
There's also plenty of painstaking backtracking and wandering as you seek out ways to clear obstacles on the map.
Nintendo sure tries to keep you incentivized with all the random battles and rewards it throws at you, but it isn't often enough.
7 ...And Its Story Is About As Stock As It Gets
It's partly been touched on, but the ambiguous and stock nature of the two main villains alone just make this a pretty bland, uninspired story. It's all about as stereotypical "light vs. dark" and cheesy fantasy-laden as it gets. Sure, the cinematics (what very few exist anyway) are pretty epic, but it's hard to be engaged in them when you just don't care what's going on. Props to Nintendo for at least trying to craft some kind of narrative for a such a wacky party brawler like this, but they certainly could have tried a bit harder...
6 Some Stages Are Too Insane With Environmental Hazards
Some degree of hazards, obstacles, and other actions that take place in various stages can be amusing. It can add an exciting element of randomness that keeps players on their toes. Though all too frequently, they can prove bothersome, disruptive, and distracting, to the point where these hazards can give more problems to a player than their opponents. You've got elements like Pows bouncing you around, spaceships firing at you, and moving platforms that force you to scramble around as if you're playing Powerstone on roids. At least they can be switched off.
5 A Handful Of Overpowered Characters
While Ultimate is fairly balanced when it comes to most of the fighters, there are still a handful that are clearly overpowered in one way or another. One notable example is the super-powered K. Rool - who can not only pummel you into submission but also counter your attack.
Ike also has some ridiculously powerful charge attacks, and Cloud and Inklings can both be super powerful for those who know how to exploit their quirks. Obviously, the balance will never be 100% perfect, but the aforementioned characters could perhaps use a slight nerf.
4 How In The World Can This Possibly Be Topped?
I know it's a bit of a stretch to spin the fact that Ultimate is insanely dense in content as a negative. Still, when looking in terms of the series' future - exactly how can Nintendo justify their fans picking up yet another sequel for a future console at this point? What more can they add, tweak, or polish to keep the franchise feeling fresh and take it to the next level? How can it still feel interesting?
The only room I see for this feat is if a truly epic, interesting campaign mode is finally crafted, or if the online play gets a Call of Duty on Xbox Live-level of robustness and complexity. Preferably both.
3 Some Of The Items Are Overpowered And Can Disrupt A Match
Sure, you can dial back or remove these altogether - but even used minimally, some of these countless items dropped on you in Ultimate can pack a ridiculous punch and wreck you. You might find yourself getting rocketed off the stage without even know what in the world just happened, let alone how you could have avoided it.
Throw environmental hazards and the explosive fake Smash Ball on top of this, and you can see how a battle can quickly become over-cluttered with chaos. These elements can disrupt the flow of a good battle and can make it difficult to pinpoint your fighter's position.
2 Unlocking All Characters Can Take Forever
Now that the exploit of switching the languages at start-up to fool the game into giving you new fighters quickly has been patched, there's really no convenient, rapid-fire way to rattle off this massive list of fighters. Sure, you can run through the game's relatively short classic mode, or just engage in short multiplayer battles, though even this can take time.
This is especially frustrating if there's a particular fighter you're looking to snag, and that particular fighter is at the end of a string of fighters which are unlocked in order. Since there are close to a whopping 80 of them, completionists will have their work cut out for them.
1 A Lack In Brand New Stages
Just glancing at the above screen, it quickly becomes apparent that there is an absurd amount of stages in Ultimate as a whole. Though, when it comes to brand new stages, which haven't been featured in any other entry? We're only talking a measly 7.
And this number sounds even smaller when you consider that that 3 of these are merely slightly altered variants of the straightforward Battlefield and Final Destination stages. Still, at least what few new stages exist are memorable and/or unique for the most part. Moray Towers and Dracula's Castle anyone?