Update: Have the announcements finally stopped? A Nintendo Direct on November 1 seemingly revealed the final two launch fighters – Street Fighter's Ken and the Pokemon Incineroar – with promises that more new fighters would appear in paid DLC packs throughout 2019, and maybe even beyond.
We've run through everything else – including some limited edition bundles – in our news and rumors section below...
Nintendo scared us for a minute. After going one full year without hearing a peep about a new Super Smash Bros. game, we had almost given up hope.
And then, on that fateful Nintendo Direct, Nintendo dropped the news: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the next generation of the series that's coming to Nintendo Switch later this year. Details were scant then, but we knew enough to get excited.
By now we know that it's a honest-to-goodness new entry in the genre, not a remake or a port from the Wii U or Nintendo 3DS, and that it will include every fighter ever included in a Smash game – yes, even the third-party DLC characters from the last game.
In addition to the massive roster of returning characters, Nintendo surprised us with three new fighters exclusive to Ultimate that include Ridley, Inkling and Daisy, plus King K. Rool and Simon and Richter Belmont of Castlevania fame. Alongside the E3 reveal of the space pirate Ridley, there's a lot of fan service going on, and we're very here for it.
The latter is part of Super Smash Bros' new Echo Fighter system wherein it takes a fighter from the roster – in this case Peach – and reworks their abilities for a different play-style. The result is a character that's different, but familiar.
There will be new items and maps to go along with the characters, plus hundreds of mechanical tweaks that Series Director Masahiro Sakurai is overseeing personally.
Ultimate might seem a bit overzealous, but this is the closest we're ever going to get to a complete collection and one that has some serious eSports potential.
Cut to the chase
- What is it? The fifth entry in the vaunted Nintendo fighting game series
- When can I play it? December 7, 2018
- What can I play it on? Nintendo Switch
Super Smash Bros Ultimate – release date
Following the E3 2018 Nintendo Direct, we know Super Smash Bros will come out on December 7, 2018.
Not only is the base game available that day, but so is the new Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Nintendo Switch bundle that includes a download code for game, the console, a customized docking station and a special controller – starting on November 2, 2018.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate – trailers
At E3 2018, a majority of the Nintendo Direct live stream was dedicated to Super Smash Bros Ultimate. At just over 25 minutes, this is a long reveal and you can watch it below:
Here's the initial teaser from the March 2018 Nintendo Direct and it's a good one. You can watch it below:
Super Smash Bros Ultimate – news and rumors
Everyone is here
Every character that has ever appeared in Super Smash Bros is coming back to the Switch version. Every single one. Nintendo has so far announced over 60 characters including the return of Ice Climbers as a duo and Pichu from Super Smash Bros Melee. We'll also see returning crossover characters like Sonic and Solid Snake.
The first new characters to be announced were the Inkling from the Splatoon series and space pirate Ridley from the Metroid series - the latter of which looks to be a very aerial-focused character with dive bomb moves.
Available as both a boy or girl character (with dozens of clothing and style choices), the Inkling's attacks all revolve around the different weapons available in Splatoon, while inked opponents will take more damage from attacks. Users will also have to press the B button while their shield is up to reload their inking ammo.
A more recent Nintendo Direct also introduced Castlevania's vampire hunter Simon Belmont, featuring his iconic whip and an exploding vial of holy water, with Alucard Son of Dracula featuring as an otherworldly assist trophy. We also caught a glimpse of the hulking crocodile villain King K. Rool from the original Donkey King Country games, and Isabelle from Animal Crossing.
There'll be DLC
The most recent Nintendo Direct on November 1 added in Street Fighter's Ken and the fire-fighting type Pokemon Incineroar as the final two fighters – rounding out the list to 74. But Nintendo also announced five pieces of DLC roughly planned for the next year, either $5.99 per pack or $24.99 (around £20 / AU$35) for the whole lot, each with a brand-new fighter with a bonus stage and additional music tracks.
Those who pre-order the game by January 31 will even get the dastardly Piranha Plant as another fighter after launch – separate to the above Fighters Pass – so it seems like there's plenty surprises still to come.
The World of Light
We now have a lot more info on the game's Adventure Mode, which will see you battling evil replicas of the roster's other fighters to free them from a mysterious force.
The premise is that everyone on Earth has been removed from the physical world – except you, naturally – and has to have their spirits reunited in their bodies in a spiritual plane called 'the world of light'. There was a sneaky hint of this in a Nintendo Direct over the summer, which saw a literal Grim Reaper 'reap' Luigi's soul, but the game naturally avoids questions of actual mortality.
This ties in with a separate 'Spirit Mode', where you battle to free the spirits of other Nintendo or third-party characters, and then use them to enhance your own battle stats and sway the tide of battle in your favor. It shouldn't change the core Smash experience too much, or replace the Assist Trophies, but will add another layer of tactics – and collectibles – to the game.
So many stages
Smash Bros Ultimate is set to almost double the number of stages seen in recent games. We're being treated to a total 103 distinct stages, up from 56 from the Wii U game – with additional variations depending on how you want the environment to behave.
New stages include Dracula's Castle from the Castlevania series, and even New Donk City Hall from Super Mario Odyssey – complete with the city's singing band to underscore the action.
There'll also be a new Stage Morph mode, which allows players to teleport their fighters to a new location halfway through a match.
New items, new looks, new Pokemon
It wouldn't be Smash Bros without countless incremental changes – and this game sticks to the trend.
Some of the new items include a single-shot Banana Gun, a Death's Scythe that does more damage to low-health fighters, and a Ramblin' Evil Mushroom that temporarily reverses your enemy's control system.
Knuckles, Shovel Knight, and the evil moon from Majora's Mask will be joining the list of Assist Trophies – while the long-necked Alolan Exeggutor can now be summoned from a Pokeball to awkwardly split the battle stage in half, which we think is hysterical.
All the classic characters have also received overhauls to their look or moveset. Here are just a few of the new changes to veteran smashers:
- Samus: New Dark Samus echo fighter, for being evil
- Mario: Throwable Odyssey hat, added wedding and builder outfits
- Ike: Path of Radiance and Radiant Dawn versions added with different voices
- Pikachu: New female appearance with heart-shaped tail to choose from
- Fox: Landmaster final smash has been replaced with a straight to the point attack
- Falco: New final smash calls in a spaceship attack
- Marth: Dancing blade is faster
- Pac-Man: Faster overall thanks to a speed boost
- Villager: Users can now choose from eight different characters
Compatible with the GameCube controller
In case you were curious, you will indeed be able to play the game with a GameCube controller. Nintendo has announced a special 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Limited Edition' in Europe, which will include a copy of the game alongside a dedicated GameCube controller and adaptor – no doubt appeasing the nostalgia of those who grew up playing on the earlier Nintendo system, or who just want a more traditional controller layout.
The US version will instead pack in a Switch Pro Controller with a special Smash Bros design, with a black steelbook case for the game cartridge.
Masahiro Sakurai is on board
The series creator of Super Smash Bros, Masahiro Sakurai, confirmed back in March that he was working on the newly announced Nintendo Switch title.
Sakurai said in a tweet (via Siliconera) that he's been "quietly working on it day after day", asking for fans to "please wait until we can reveal its content, or until the time of its release!!"
Sakurai's involvement is unsurprising, but promising given that he's been involved with every other Super Smash Bros release.
A port or something more?
There was much debate about whether the new Super Smash Bros would be a wholly new game, or a ‘deluxe’ re-release of Super Smash Bros 4 (the one that appeared simultaneously on Wii U and 3DS in 2014).
The latter wouldn't have been surprising, given that Nintendo had been porting a lot of games from the unloved Wii U console such as Mario Kart 8 Deluxe or Pokkén Tournament onto the Switch, albeit as more fleshed-out or 'definitive' versions.
We now know Ultimate is a brand new entry of its own, while working to bring together everything – and everyone – we loved from the previous games. The new Switch console is the most powerful bit of hardware Nintendo has ever released, so we're hugely excited to see what a dedicated Smash game can do on the console.
Super Smash Bros Ultimate – what other characters will appear?
As we mentioned, the previous entry in the series had 58 characters (including on-disc ones and DLC) and that's been upped to 74.
A recent Super Smash Bros Ultimate leak suggested the remaining fighters may include Shadow the Hedgehog and Street Fighter's Ken, as well as Rare's beloved Banjo-Kazooie, and even Geno (Geno!) from the little-known Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. Aside from Ken, however, none of these have been confirmed – though the news of DLC packs down the line are keeping open a lot of other possibilities.
We could see some off-the-wall additions as well. Could Skyrim's arrival on Nintendo Switch mean we’ll see the classic look of the Dovahkiin in the new Smash Bros? Those dragon shouts would certainly come in useful.
Then again, now that we know Crash Bandicoot is coming to the console we'd love to see him appear in game. His wild spin is made for Smash Bros and we can see a TNT-themed special move. And we certainly wouldn't be surprised to see the Rabbid rabbits after the success of their joint venture with Mario in 2017.
Naturally fans have characters they'd love to see appear in the game. One character who's been a top request for years now is Dragon Ball Z's Goku and demands are making the rounds again. This time, however, Funimation is in on the act and the company has even sent a tweet to Nintendo asking when Goku will make his debut.
Another character request is a more recent one but we love it just as much – LaboMan. Inspired by the small cardboard man who appeared in the trailer for the upcoming Nintendo Labo accessory, Javed L Sterritt designed LaboMan and animated him for a Smash Bros appearance. His main move would be to sling the Joy-Con on his back at enemies but he'll also be able to transform into the Labo piano for a super smash. LaboMan would be a different addition to the roster but an adorable and on-brand one to be sure.
#laboman4smash pic.twitter.com/nErBUaBkEYMarch 19, 2018
Will there be eSports?
eSports is an ever-growing field and Super Smash Bros would certainly be an excellent title for Nintendo to make a splash. The series has a hardline community following, and the videos of fans screaming at the game's announcement make it clear there would be an audience for competitive play. It'd also be a great way to show what Nintendo's full online service can do when it launches in September.
More significantly, Japan has started to reduce the regulations around paid tournaments which has stopped eSports flourishing in the country so it's possible that Nintendo may warm to this kind of play.
Nintendo has already been running tournaments at hands-on demos, with a conciliatory air to the eSports scene. Historically its been rather cautious when it comes to eSports, but times are rapidly changing and online streaming is becoming intricately tied with a game's success – just look at PUBG, Fortnite and Sea of Thieves.
With Nintendo already Super Smash Bros is looking likely to be the title that will see Nintendo to start taking the genre more seriously.