In spite of some excellent third-party contributions, Nintendo’s first-party support has been more than a little disappointing this year. However, Nintendo is ending 2018 strong with the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. This fifth installment in the cherished crossover fighting series brings back every playable character to date and gives Switch owners something to crow about during game-of-the-year discussions.
Tom Marks was tasked with reviewing Smash 5 on our sister site IGN, and he gave it an Amazing score of 9.4/10. This brawler benefits from the large single player campaign, a robust collection of playable characters, a quicker pace of play, and the 1,000+ “Spirits” that cover every obscure reference you could hope for.
At Metacritic, 66 reviews have been counted up, and the game enjoys a metascore of 93/100. And since that matches or exceeds the average of the previous games in the series, it’s safe to say that Ultimate is easy to recommend. Many reviewers and fans roll their eyes at how long it takes to unlock every member of the ridiculously large roster, but those complaints are small potatoes in terms of the overall reception.
Most reviews end up somewhere between 90/100 and a perfect score, but some outlets like Attack of the Fanboy and the Telegraph are slightly more critical. For example, William Schwartz was close to the lukewarm part of the scale with a score of 3.5/5 on AotF. There’s no doubt he thoroughly enjoys the heart of the game, but the tedious unlock process and the problematic online mode keep it from top marks.
Earlier this year, Nintendo confirmed that, when docked, the game runs at 1920×1080 at 60fps. Undock the Switch, and it’ll drop down to a native 1280×720 at 60fps. While the Wii U version of Smash 4 was comparable to the docked mode, this is leaps and bounds better than the 3DS version of the previous installment. It resolved at a mere 400×240, so the step up to 720p is massive.
There hasn’t been a comprehensive analysis yet of every mode and every stage while both docked and undocked, but our time spent with various one-on-ones and four-player free-for-alls have resulted in good performance. Loads between menus tend to be a little bit longer than we’d like, but the fundamentals of Smash are handled quite well regardless of whether you’re playing on the handheld or on the television.
There haven’t been any noticeable issues with local play for us, but there are some disheartening reports popping up of lackluster online play. Considering that Nintendo now expects us to pay for online multiplayer, that aspect of this release is borderline unacceptable at launch.
[Image credit: IGN]