2018 is a solid year for Nintendo Switch gamers, with a roster of exciting games including Pokemon Let's Go! Pikachu & Eevee. While that’s impressive enough, there's arguably an even bigger game on the way too: a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Here’s everything we know about Super Smash Bros Ultimate, from the release date to gameplay details and the latest trailers. Meanwhile, head to our hands-on Smash Bros. review to find out what we thought when we played the game at E3.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate release date
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is set to be released worldwide on 7 December 2018 - that's not too long to wait! As you might have guessed, it's exclusive to the Nintendo Switch.
You can pre-order the game now, and if you do you'll get an exclusive playable character: the Piranha Plant from the Mario games. It won't actually be available at launch, but will apparently be added within a few months. The matching Amiibo figurine is coming out on 15 February though, so it's a good bet that the fighter will arrive before that. Technically this is an early purchase bonus, not just pre-orders, so anyone who registers a copy of the game before 31 January 2019 will be able to claim the fighter.
There are also a few special bits of hardware just for the game. There's a Switch bundle with a special dock and Joy-Cons, a Smash-branded Switch Pro controller, a re-release of the fan-favourite GameCube controller together with an adapter to use it (and original GC controllers) with the Swtich, and a limited edition version of the game which bundles the game together with the GameCube controller and adapter.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate gameplay
So, what should we expect from Smash Bros. Ultimate? During the initial reveal for the game during a Nintendo Direct, we were treated to a small teaser trailer and not much else. The trailer featured favourites like Mario alongside more recent superstars like Inklings from the Splatoon series. That trailer is available to watch at the top of this page.
Since then we've found out a lot more in a series of Nintendo Directs. Like, a lot more. An exhaustive, exhausting amount of very specific information about how the game will play, what all the various modes are, and even right down to exactly how the menu systems will work. If you want all that crazy detail, you can watch all the Directs on Nintendo's YouTube channel - but right here, we'll stick to a summary.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate will feature every single character that has ever appeared in a Super Smash Bros. title. According to Nintendo, there will be 69 playable characters in the game at launch, from Nintendo favourites like Mario and Link to crossover characters like Sonic and Solid Snake.
There are also brand new additions to the Switch game: the Inklings from the Splatoon series; Ridley from Metroid; Simon Belmont from Castlevania; King K. Rool from Donkey Kong Country; Isabelle from Animal Crossing; Ken from Street Fighter; the Pokémon Incineroar; and the Piranha Plant from the Mario games - exclusively available as an early purchase bonus.
Classic characters like Mario, Fox and Falco have also had combat overhauls for the Switch release, breathing new life into veteran characters. While there are many, many changes, here's a glimpse at some of the ones showcased at E3:
- Mario: Features a throwable Odyssey hat and wedding & builder outfits
- Fox: Landmaster final smash has been replaced by a faster attack
- Falco: Final Smash summons a spaceship attack
- Marth: Quicker dancing blade attack
- Pac-Man: Faster thanks to a speed boost
While the only way to unlock a Final Smash in previous Super Smash Bros games was to break open the Smash Ball, Nintendo has introduced a more traditional way for characters to access their ultimate abilities. In addition to breaking Smash Balls, players also have a charge meter that'll slowly fill up during battles, providing access to a weaker version of the Final Smash.
Plenty of characters who aren't playable will still make appearances. As with previous games, you'll be able to get help from various Pokémon through Poké Balls within fights, and other characters through Assist Trophies. There'll be a grand total of 59 Assist Trophies - even more than the Pokémon - including characters like Guile from Street Fighter, Spring Man from Arms, and Shadow from the Sonic games.
This year there's a new feature though: Spirits. This is a way for Nintendo to fit in even more characters. They're not playable, but are more like stickers which you can apply to your fighters to give them buffs. Each fighter can have one primary spirit and up to three secondary spirits for different combinations of effects.
Spirits can be unlocked in various ways, but mostly through a series of set fights with unusual battle conditions. Spirits have different ranks (from Novice up to Legendary) and can also be independently levelled up.
Stages and music
Nintendo has also confirmed that the game will feature a whopping 103 stages. Each stage has three modes; Standard, Final Destination (along platform) and Battlefield (a long platform with three smaller platforms above), and for the first time, stages can now transition to other levels during a match.
One of the confirmed new levels is New Donk City Town Hall from Super Mario Odyssey, and Nintendo has also promised the return of old favourites - as with the fighters, this will include every stage ever included in the prior games.
There's also a huge catalogue of music available; 800 songs, to be exact, totalling more than 28 hours of music. You've got new music organisation tools too, allowing you to browse songs by series (like Kirby or Super Mario) instead of on a per-stage basis.
Unsurprisingly, Smash Bros. Ultimate will feature online multiplayer in addition to offline local multiplayer. There's a load of different options here too.
You can set your preferred ruleset for the game, and the online matchmaking will do its best to pair you with players with similar preferences, before randomly picking one of your rulesets for the actual match. It will also try to pair you with players close to you geographically to help keep lag to a minimum.
Naturally skill factors in too, here recorded as your Global Smash Power. You'll usually play against players of a similar level, and once your GSP is high enough the game will unlock the Elite Smash mode, for the best of the best.
Two players can also play online together from the same Switch in co-op battles against other pairs of people. For all of the online modes voice chat will be available through the dedicated Switch smartphone app, or you can select a few shortcut text messages to send to other players between fights. Finally, all matchmaking can be done in the background so that you can go and play other game modes while you wait.
Single player story mode
Single player is coming back too, with a new Adventure Mode that's dubbed 'World of Light'. We don't know everything about what form this will take, but it's clear so far that you'll start as Kirby and have to unlock other characters as you go by navigating a sprawling overworld map, complete with puzzles and challenges to entertain you between fights.
Apparently we won't find out much more until the game actually releases, so you'll have to be a bit patient on this one.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate DLC
Unsurprisingly, Nintendo has confirmed it plans to release downloadable content for Smash Bros. Ultimate too. The company says it will release five packs of DLC over a year or so, each of which will include a fighter, a stage, and some music tracks - presumably all from the same series.
Each pack will cost £5.39/$5.99, and there will also be a 'Fighters Pass' which includes every single DLC pack, for £22.49/$24.99. If you buy the pass, you'll also unlock a bonus costume for the Mii Swordfighter: Rex from Xenoblade: Chronicles.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Amiibo
Nintendo released Amiibo for every character in Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, and it's carrying on the same tradition for Ultimate. The company has already announced release plans for the following new characters, and has confirmed that every new fighter - including all the DLC - will receive Amiibo in time.
- Inkling, Ridley and Wolf – 7th December, 2018
- King K. Rool, Ice Climbers and Piranha Plant – 15th February 2019
- Isabelle, Pichu, Ken, Young Link, Daisy – 2019
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate character list
Here we go: this is the full list of every playable character confirmed for the game - not including the many, many other characters who will appear as Pokémon, Assist Trophies, or Spirits:
02: Donkey Kong
04ᵋ: Dark Samus
11: Captain Falcon
15: Ice Climbers
18: Dr. Mario
22: Young Link
26: Mr. Game and Watch
27: Meta Knight
28ᵋ: Dark Pit
29: Zero Suit Samus
33-35: Pokémon Trainer
36: Diddy Kong
39: King Dedede
43: Toon Link
46: Mega Man
47: Wii Fit Trainer
49: Little Mac
51-53: Mii Fighter
58: Bowser Jr.
59: Duck Hunt
67: King K. Rool
70: Piranha Plant (pre-order bonus)