clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate character collage Nintendo

Filed under:

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Everything we know

Everyone’s here — but what else is new for the latest Smash title?

Petrana Radulovic is an entertainment reporter specializing in animation, fandom culture, theme parks, Disney, and young adult fantasy franchises.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be the latest game in the Super Smash Bros. franchise. The series has captivated fans since its first release for Nintendo 64 in 1999. Back then, the roster was made up of only 12 characters. This latest edition, the first on Nintendo Switch, will have five times as many fighters.

In addition to the robust roster, there’s a host of new features coming to Ultimate and a bunch of old ones coming back. But what exactly is new? And what’s returning from games of Smash past?

Here’s what we know so far about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Last updated on Sept. 14

What is Super Smash Bros. Ultimate?

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the newest title in the Super Smash Bros. series — crossover fighting games featuring various Nintendo and third-party characters. It will be the fifth installment in the franchise.

When’s the release date?

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be out on Dec. 7, 2018, for Nintendo Switch.

Who’s on the Smash roster?

Everyone! Well, all the characters that have ever been previously featured in a Smash title. This includes clones “echo fighters” — a new term for characters with similar move sets, but different appearances — like Lucina and Dark Pit, characters that were previously only available in DLC like Ryu and Cloud, and characters that weren’t present in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and WiiU, such as Solid Snake and Ice Climbers. All the moves have been retooled and the characters rescaled for Switch.

Additionally, lots of new costumes are available for the characters, including Breath of the Wild Link and A Link Between Worlds Zelda. Pikachu comes with a female version (and lady Pikachu Libre). Mario will have his wedding outfit and builder’s outfit. Pokémon Trainer can freely switch between Pokémon without being penalized and comes in a female version. Fox and Wolf will have their Star Fox Zero designs and Cloud comes with both his Final Fantasy 7 outfit and his Advent Children one. Some characters, such as Ike and Bayonetta, will have subtle differences in their sound effects and voice-overs between certain costumes.

Update (11/1): The Mii Fighters will be getting a huge range of outfit and customization options, including outfits inspired by Breath of the Wild, Splatoon 2, ARMS, Chibi Robo, Custom Robo and Nintendo Labo. A special DLC outfit based on Rex from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 will be available at a later date.

What new characters will be joining?

Daisy will make her Smash debut as a Peach echo fighter. The Inklings from Splatoon and the much-anticipated Ridley also join the roster.

Update (8/8): Castlevania’s Simon Belmont will also be playable, and Richter Belmont will be one of his echo fighters. King K. Rool, the notorious Donkey Kong villain, is also joining the cast. Fire Emblem’s Chrom will be one of Roy’s echo fighters and Dark Samus will be one of Samus’.

Update (9/14): Isabelle from Animal Crossing: New Leaf is joining the Smash roster! She will have her own moveset, not an echo fighter of Villager.

Update (11/1): The final additions to the lineup are Ken from Street Fighter as an echo of Ryu and Incineroar, the last evolution of Litten from Pokémon Sun and Moon. But there’s more — Piranha Plant will be available as a pre-order bonus, though the fighter won’t release till after the game’s out. There’s also going to be at least five DLC packs, which each include a character, a stage and music. They’ll retail at $5.99 individually and at $24.99 for the whole pack.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate - Ridley attacking Fox
Guess he’s not too big for the stage anymore.

How about Waluigi?

No. (Though he will be an assist trophy).

Will all characters be available right away? Are any of them DLC?

While the full roster will be available with the game, not all characters will be available at the start. Instead, players will have to unlock them as they progress. Nintendo has said that unlocking these characters will be quicker and easier than in previous games.

Update (11/1): Piranha Plant — a pre-order bonus fighter — will launch around February 2019. Additionally, there will be five DLC packs, which will each include a character, stage and a music track. On their own, they’ll retail for $5.99 and will be available as a pack for $24.99. There’s no details on which characters will be included just yet.

What about stages?

There will be 103 stages in total, arranged in the order they were introduced in the series. A lot of favorite stages will be returning, including Peach’s Castle, Spirit Tracks, Green Hill Zone, New Pork City, Frigate Orphan, Shadow Moses, Mortimer Island, Wrecking Crew and the infamous Big Blue. New stages include Moray Towers from Splatoon and Great Plateau Tower from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, as well as Dracula’s Castle from Castlevania and New Donk City Hall, inspired by Super Mario Odyssey. All stages will have Battlefield and Omega forms. Older stages have been redesigned, but nostalgia is prioritized for those originating in the Nintendo ‘64 style.

Additionally, the stage selection screen comes before character selection. This means players can pick their characters based on the stage. There are options to let the losing player pick the next stage, to chose in a certain order, to have stage selection be a free-for-all, or to randomize it.

Update (8/8): There will be a new feature called “stage morph,” which lets a single battle span over multiple stages. Players begin on one stage and after a shimmering effect occurs, the stage will change to a totally new one.

Unlike previous titles, where each stage had an associated musical track, any track from the stage’s franchise can be picked to play on the specific stage in Ultimate.

How many people can play at once? Are there any online options?

Just like in Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U, up to eight players can join a battle.

Update (11/1): Both local wireless and online play options will be available. Online play will offer matchmaking, allowing likeminded players to be played up based on their preferred rules and global smash power (essentially online leaderboards). The matchmaking system will prioritize players closer to each other. Having a high global smash power will allow players to enter elite battles.

Beating players online lets you collect their personalize token, called a Smash Tag. You can also send small, preset messages before and after battles.

Don’t want to battle? You can enter spectator mode and watch others.

If you’re playing locally with someone on a single Switch, you can enter two-vs-two battles online.

Playing online lets you set up a custom room called a Battle Arena, which will pair with the Nintendo Switch Online app.

Will it support GameCube Controllers?

In addition to Nintendo Switch Pro Controllers and Joy-Con Controllers, Ultimate will support GameCube Controllers, much to the joy of Smash fans everywhere.

What about amiibo?

All existing amiibo will be supported and their data can be transferred to the new game.

Update (11/11): New amiibo for each new character have been announced, with varying launch dates. Ridley, Inkling and Wolf will debut the same day as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. On Feb. 15 2019, they’ll be joined by King K. Rool, Ice Climbers and Piranha Plant. Later in 2019, Princess Daisy, Ken, Pichu, Young Link and Isabelle will hit shelves.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate - match between Mario, Inkling Girl, Donkey Kong and Link Nintendo

Any new fighting mechanics?

Ultimate will introduce some new technical moves, tailored toward the fighting mechanisms Super Smash Bros. Melee made popular. While some of these return directly from Melee, others are streamlined as more direct button presses.

Directional air dodges are back from Melee and will allow players to quickly avoid attacks, though using too many in a row will eventually reduce their effectiveness. In general, using dodges repeatedly will slow them down.

Short hops are smaller than the typical Smash jump and come in handy when using an aerial attack on an opponent on the ground. This move can now be executed by hitting the A button while jumping.

Charge attacks can now be charged midair, but doing so will leave the player open. Consecutive dodges will slow you down and make you more vulnerable. Players can achieve a perfect shield — which will counter attacks — by releasing the shield button. You will also be able to attack while on a ladder.

Update (8/8): Chargeable Final Smashes can be turned on or off. Players can fill a gauge and when it gets maxed out, a weaker version of the Final Smash can be activated. No two Final Smashes can be used simultaneously.

What about new gameplay modes?

In addition to the returning Classic Mode, there will be a few new gameplay modes. Squad Strike battle mode is an elimination-style battle, where players have a lineup of three or five characters and battle to decide the winner. Tourney mode will generate tournament brackets of up to 32 players. Smashdown mode makes characters from previous battles unavailable, so players must chose new characters for new rounds.

Additionally, the new Training mode will feature an exclusive stage with a grid that allows players to experiment with launch and trajectory.

Update (11/1): Spirits Mode lets players use the “spirits” of other video game characters as power-ups. Characters in the Smash world apparently are turned into spirits — all except the fighters, who can use the souls of their fallen comrades to boost their own abilities. There’s several classes of spirits: Novice, Advanced, Ace, and the rare and powerful Legend.

Each fighter can be designated one primary spirit, and the primary spirit will have slots available for supporting spirits. Primary spirits enhance stats, and support spirits lend them additional heals. For instance, Elise from Fire Emblem Fates provides an Autoheal skill.

To acquire spirits, players must win spirit battles. You chose which spirit you want to battle, then face off against the fighters who’s most similar to them. For example, if you’re itching for Bokoblin from The Legend of Zelda, you’ll actually be fighting against King K. Rool for. Smeargle from Pokémon will give you Inkling, and so on and so forth. Some battles will take on even more special quirks to make it seem like you’re facing off against the spirit. It’s all about using your imagination. Competing for Owain from Fire Emblem Awakening, for instance, means battling Chrom in a special outfit and using a specific sword. When fighting spirits, the final smash meter will be enabled. Some spirits fill this faster than others.

There’s also type match-ups when it comes to primary spirits, which follows a standard triad of Grab, Attack and Shield. Attack beats Grab, Grab beats Shield, and Shield beats Attack. Primary spirits also level up after battle. Feeding them snacks will help level them up as well. Some spirits have an enhanced form that they unlock after reaching maximum level — think Mega-evolved Pokémon. You can also use the cores of spirits to summon new ones, train them at gyms, send them off to look for treasure and feed them snacks.

Spirits can also be used to power up amiibo fighters.

There’s many combinations of spirits and the game will recommend ideal support and primary pairings based on the battle conditions.

Adventure Mode brings some explanation to the mechanics behind Spirit Mode and will follow Kirby as he sets out to save his friends. Dubbed World of Light, the first looks at this new mode involve a disastrous battle and a very catchy song about reawakening the undying light within to join the ultimate (heh) fight.

Smaller modes include Century Smash, which allows players to continuously smash enemies on any stage with any music, and All-Star Smash, where all currently available fighters will flock to battle the player.

Any other new features?

For starters, Final Smashes are shorter, so that players can return right to the action without waiting for a long animation. No more waiting for Fox’s Landmaster!

It will also be easier to see key information in the middle of matches. During timed matches, the leading player will occasionally flash with a light. In one-on-ones, the total number of each character’s KOs will flash on the screen every time they’re killed. The number of stock lives left will also be bigger and easier to see.

Additionally, there will be differences in the damage dealt in one-on-one games and four-player games. This is because one-on-one matches tend to last longer (less enemies, less damage). Adding more one-on-one damage will make matches go quicker, increasing the tempo of the game.

Characters like ROB and Robin, who have limits on certain powers, will have gauges to show how much longer those powers can last. Villager has an indicator showing what they have pocketed. Inkling fighters have limited ink, with an indicator showing how much they have left.

Assist trophies can now be damaged and knocked out, which adds a kill to your opponents’ overall scores.

Update (8/8): The game will boast a very impressive soundtrack (more than 900 tracks!), which can be easily listened to in handheld mode by plugging in headphones. Essentially, the Switch can be used as an iPod to jam to the sweet Nintendo soundtracks. You can even make playlists, and the track list will be updated weekly.

There will also be an option to switch the menu between displaying all echo fighters or stacking them on the characters they are based on.

Additionally, players select the match’s rules first, and rulesets can be saved to play with at any time. In addition to time battle and stock battle, stamina battle will be featured as one of the main Smash modes.

Sudden death starts with 300% damage, and the camera will slowly zoom in on the final players as they fight.

Update (11/1): A special Super Smash Bros. Ultimate-themed app called Smash World is in development, and will let players post gameplay screenshots and videos. It won’t be released until 2019.

Guides and game tips will be easily accessible via the main menu. Players can now save replay data from battles to create videos too. New challenges will be available with rewards after completion.

A records menu will track player’s battle history, including stats, milestone, Smash Tags, battle data (separately for offline and online) and past opponents. Players can trade in Smash Tags for some in-game gold. Gold can be used to buy music, spirits and more.

There will also be 11 different fully voiced languages. TV and handheld mode have separate settings, which will adjust as the Switch is docked and undocked. A radar that shows the locations of fighters will be able to be toggled on and off and adjusted in size. Online and wireless play also lets you set your teammates to semi-transparent so you don’t get distracted.

Local play will let you adjust the strength of the fighters, so if you’re playing someone with a huge skill difference than you, the battle can be set to be more evenly matched.

How about new items?

There’s going to be a lot of new items to use in matches, including, but not limited to, a black hole, a launch star and a fake Smash ball that will kill you if you hit it.

Update (8/8): Other new times: a banana gun, a Killing Edge sword, a Bomber, Death’s Scythe, a staff, a ramblin’ evil mushroom and a rage blaster.

Featured Pokémon focus heavily on Alolan Pokémon and include Alolan Exeggutor, Abra, Solgaleo, Lunala, Mimikyu, Pykumuku, Vulpix and Alolan Vulpix, Marshadow and Ditto.

Assist Trophy characters include Zero (Mega Man), Knuckles the Echidna (Sonic the Hedgehog), Krystal (Star Fox), Klaptrap (Donkey Kong), Kapp’n (Animal Crossing), Chef Kawasaki (Kirby), Gray Fox (Metal Gear Solid), Nikki (Mii), Shovel Knight (Shovel Knight), Moon(The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask) and Rathalos from Monster Hunter (who will also be a stage boss).

Update (11/1): New assist trophies include Shadow (Sonic), Takamaru (The Mysterious Murasame Castle), Starman (Mother), Nightmare, Color TV-Game 15, Yuri Kozukata (Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water), Isaac (Golden Sun), Black Knight (Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance), Thwomp (Super Mario), Spring Man (ARMS), Willy Capsule (Mega Man), Flies & Hand (Mario Paint), Tiki (Fire Emblem: Awakening), Vince (Art Academy), Guile (Street Fighter) and Akira (Virtua Figher). The grand total number of assist trophies is 59.

Assist trophies can be KO’d by their summoner, so that the summoner doesn’t lose a point.

Is there gonna be some kind of special Switch bundle?

Yup! Nintendo announced that a sleek, special, snazzy Smash Switch, featuring the original Smash crew on the dock, will be available starting Nov. 2. This will also come with a download of the game — though that won’t work until the game’s release date on Dec. 7. The full bundle will retail for $359.99.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Nintendo Switch Nintendo

What kind of Smash game can we expect?

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is bringing back all beloved characters, introducing much-ballyhooed new characters, and incorporating mechanisms used in the competitive, high-level sphere.

[h/t Nintendo]

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon