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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate World of Light beginner’s guide

The best tips for beating the single-player mode, how to level up spirits and more

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo via Polygon

The single player campaign mode for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, World of Light, is a hefty offering and can be a bit confusing from the get go. Thankfully, understanding a few basics will make your lengthy time in this new mode much simpler.

You’ll spend a couple dozen hours in World of Light. This beginner’s guide will help you understand the mode itself, how to manage your spirits, how to level them up, how to manage your skill tree, how to unlock more spirits in the Spirits Board mode and understanding how to use items to make your spirit hunting much easier.


The premise of World of Light is fairly simple: An evil being named Galeem has vaporized most of our galaxy, transporting everyone’s spirits to another realm and bringing them under its control. The sole survivor of the attack is Kirby, and their escape forced them to crash land in the very same place where all of the spirits were sent.

To free all the spirits, Kirby will have to fight through an array of “puppet fighters” who all contain a spirit. The puppet fighters are all members of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster, but changed to reflect the spirit that is trapped within them. Fighting through the World of Light will not only unlock spirits to use in any mode — you can even unlock fighters for all modes too. However, the bulk of the single-player campaign is finding spirits who will aid you through the campaign.

A short tutorial from the game explains the basics of World of Light
Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo via Polygon

For instance, one of the spirits you might encounter is Dan from the Street Fighter series, the boisterous fighter with a penchant for taunting. His spirit would be trapped in the fighter that would most resemble him on the cast — in this case, one of Ultimate’s newest brawlers, Ken. The blonde fighter would still retain all of his normal attacks, but since Dan’s spirit is trapped within him, Ken will aggressively taunt during your scuffle. Defeating Ken will unlock Dan’s spirit — not Ken — making that spirit usable throughout several modes in Ultimate.

Think of it as unlocking trading cards. By winning spirit battles, you’re getting that “trading card,” not the person holding it. Unlocking characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a totally different process.

Throughout your time in World of Light, you’ll unlock hundreds of spirits. But they are not all created equal. Knowing the differences between and how they affect future battles is important. Mastering your use of different spirits is the key to getting through World of Light.


When equipping spirits, you’ll start with a primary first
Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo via Polygon

In World of Light, there are two types of spirits you can unlock: primary and support. As their names suggest, primary spirits (which have triangle shapes next to them) are the main spirits you’ll equip first in your journey. Each primary spirit has different strength stats, depending on what their overall level is.

Primary spirits also come in four styles: Attack, Shield, Grab and Neutral. While these spirits don’t typically affect the stats you might imagine, each type does play an important role. Depending on which type of primary spirit you’re using, you may have an advantage or disadvantage against the enemies you face in spirit battles. Much like a rock, paper, scissors match, there’s a pretty straightforward solution to figuring out which spirit to choose in battle.

Choose your spirits wisely
Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo via Polygon

Attack (red) spirits will be stronger against Grab (green) spirits. Grab spirits are strong against Shield (blue) spirits and Shield spirits will have an advantage over Attack spirits. Neutral (grey) spirits have no advantage or disadvantages.

When you take part in a spirit battle, you’ll notice that each encounter has a type. Each battle also has a few other parameters worth noting that change depending on which spirit you’re fighting:

  • The spirit you can set free
  • The fighter who will represent that spirit
  • Which type the spirit is
  • The strength of the spirit (represented by a numerical value)
  • What rules the fight might have
  • Conditions the enemy or stage might have

From there, you can choose who your party will consist of, including the fighter you’ll play as and the spirits you’ll use in battle. Thankfully, if you happen to have a disadvantaged spirit equipped, the game will warn you.

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo via Polygon

This tip alone goes a long way to make sure you’re not at an immediate disadvantage while playing. However, if you want a hint at a more optimal setup, when you are choosing spirits, you can hit the Y button to have the game automatically pick spirits for you. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will try and do a few things in this process: First, it will pick the proper primary type that will give you an advantage in the fight. Then it’ll try and optimize the best support spirit. (More on those in the next section.)

If you haven’t memorized which primary spirits have advantages over the other, autopick is great for setting you on the right track. In some cases, the game will pick your strongest primary spirit for the battle, but often it will pick one closer to the strength of the spirit you’re fighting. In some cases this is good since it’ll help you level up spirits (more on leveling up in a bit).

Generally, as long as you pick a spirit with an advantage over the spirit you’re fighting, you’ll be fine. Some primary spirit may have individual buffs like attack boosts, so in those cases, you can choose to go against what the game autopicks for you. Autopick is great for choosing primary spirits, but you may want to deviate from those choices when picking support spirits.


The cardboard box from the Metal Gear Solid series as a support spirit
Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo via Polygon

Support spirits are the main ways you’ll customize your character throughout World of Light. Using these spirits (denoted by the hexagon symbol) will give you all sorts of stat boosts, new skills or ways to neutralize stage hazards.

Support spirits can be attached to any primary spirit when setting up your loadout. Primary spirits vary in how many support spirits they can attach, so keep that in mind when selecting primaries for your fight. Also, the stronger the support spirit, the more slots it’ll take up. The more powerful the support spirit, the more slots it’ll need to be attached, so choose wisely. It’s worth noting that support spirits aren’t tied to a primary spirit when attached, so make sure to use the most appropriate support spirits for each battle.

Notice the stage icon on this beetle?
Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo via Polygon

Some support spirits are essential for dealing with spirits who have stage hazards. For instance, the Iridescent Glint Beetle support spirit will negate the effects of stages that have sticky floors (which slow you down). Finding these types of spirits is easy: If you look at your list of spirits, those that can negate level effects will have a stage icon floating above their card.

Spirits can also help you advance through World of Light in different ways.


Another tutorial from the game
Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo via Polygon

Throughout your time in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s World of Light, you’ll encounter some roadblocks and tough enemies. The campaign isn’t linear, so expect to do some backtracking if you’re stuck.

For instance, you may be blocked at the gate of a military complex. You’ll need to find the appropriate spirit who may know how to unlock that door (in this case, Hal “Otacon” Emmerich from the Metal Gear series). If you end up gaining a spirit who can open up an area you couldn’t pass before, that roadblock will light up letting you know you can now pass through with the help of a spirit.

In other cases, you might find spirits whose power levels are way stronger than any of the spirits you have. In that case, you’ll need to level up your primary spirits.


Snacks are the key to leveling up spirits
Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo via Polygon

While your primary spirits will all have different starting stats, the best way to ensure you have the strongest spirits is to level them up.

Primary spirits will naturally level up as you defeat enemies throughout Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s World of Light, but you can get your spirits to their max levels much faster by feeding them snacks. You can access the menu that lets you feed spirits in a few ways:

  • By entering the menu, you can choose Manage Spirits, select a primary spirit and choose to feed it from there.
  • If you’re about to start a match, you can also level up a primary spirit by pressing the L button, which will bring up the feeding menu.

You’ll find various snacks throughout World of Light by defeating enemies or purchasing them from shops you find on the map. Snacks come in three sizes: Small, Medium and Large. Naturally, the size you pick determines the amount of levels you can gain. When your spirit is still at Level 1, you’ll find that a large snack can boost them a couple dozen levels at a time, although large snacks are rare, so be mindful.

When you’re starting out and only have limited access to primary spirits, we recommend boosting a primary spirit of each type to the highest level you can get them to ensure you are prepared for any fight. As you progress, you might want to favor certain spirits, but it’s always best to have a maxed out primary spirit for harder battles.

Some primary spirits are enhanceable, which means they can evolve into another, more powerful spirit once they reach max level. To do so, look for primary spirits that clearly have the word “enhanceable” on their profiles. Once you reach max level, you’ll be prompted to evolve them. Doing so will reset them to Level 1, but they will also start off with stronger base stats and may have new abilities.

While spirits are the primary way to beef up your character for the lengthy World of Light mode, you can also give all your characters permanent buffs.


Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo via Polygon

By accessing the Skill Tree from your main menu, you can use Spirit Spheres you gain through battles to make permanent changes to all your characters in World of Light. The types of buffs you get vary, but you’ll find a host of powerful upgrades like permanent increases of power for attacks, the ability to move faster or more powerful shields to name a few.

The greatest benefit of skill tree upgrades is that you don’t have to do anything once you’ve purchased an upgrade. The changes are permanent and affect all your characters. So the longer you play World of Light, the stronger all your characters become in the long run. You can also choose to forget a skill to gain back spirit spheres, in case you want to modify how your character is upgraded. Doing so will cost you some Spirit Points, a currency you get from winning battles, but the cost is minimal.

Even with all the great spirits you find in the campaign and the buffs you receive, you still may find yourself unable to beat some of the stronger spirits in World of Light. Thankfully, there’s another way to get more spirits.


There’s always tons of spirits on the Spirit Board
Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo via Polygon

The Spirit Board is a rotating bounty of spirits you can fight at any time. The list of spirits on offer changes every few minutes, so you never know what you’ll find. The benefit of checking the spirit board often is that all sorts of spirits at various levels of strength can appear without having to slog through World of Light.

Just like fights in the campaign, each spirit will have its own set of rules and conditions you’ll need to combat. However, unlike World of Light, once you defeat a spirit, they aren’t automatically added to your collection.

Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo via Polygon

To free spirits from the Spirit Board, you have to play a timing-based mini game to unlock them. A rotating ring will spin around the fighter you just defeated and, depending on the level of the spirit, the harder it’ll be to shoot through the gap to set them free.

If you miss and hit the ring, a portion of the ring will disappear. If you encounter that spirit again in the Spirit Board, that portion of the ring will be missing for your next attempt. Thankfully, there are a handful of items you can find throughout World of Light that will slow down the ring or allow you to instantly rematch certain spirits.

But that’s still not the only way to unlock powerful spirits.


By dismissing spirits, you gain cores to unlock more powerful spirits
Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo via Polygon

When you’re managing spirits, you have the option to dismiss spirits. Doing so has two benefits. First, you can use those cores to level up the spirits you still have. More importantly, you can use certain spirit cores to summon some of the game’s most powerful spirits.

In the Summon menu, you’ll find a list of silhouettes representing spirits that you can add to your team. However, as these are some of the best you can get, their summoning conditions are the most difficult. Each spirit will require the cores of certain spirits and/or cores from certain primary spirit types. Even after a few hours of gameplay, you may not be able to summon even one of these spirits, so don’t fret if you can’t make use of this feature until much later in the game.


Beedle from The Legend of Zelda series is one of the vendors you might find
Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo via Polygon

Throughout your journey in World of Light, you might run across various master spirits on the map. These special spirits will sell you a rotating list of goods, such as snacks or new spirits, in exchange for Spirit Points. Their wares are often pricey, but if you find a worthwhile spirit in their shop, it’s worth the investment.

On top of buying items, another way you can find new items is through exploring. Hidden across the map are other master spirits who will send a handful of your spirits on an expedition to find various treasures. These quests take hours to complete, so it’s best to use spirits you currently don’t rely on to make the best use of this feature.

Spirits can go out on their end to find items
Sora Ltd., Bandai Namco Studios/Nintendo via Polygon

Finally, you can give your current primary spirits an advantage by training them in various dojos you encounter. Each dojo will have a different specialty, and training your spirits in that skillset will give them certain buffs. These buffs have their tradeoffs, so choose wisely. Thankfully, if you’re not a fan of what you trained in, you can always remove those skills by choosing to forget them.

World of Light has a lot to do. The nonlinear path you take throughout the map may be different from everyone else, especially depending on what spirits you make use of. Hopefully this guide will give you a leg up in understanding this lengthy single player campiagn.

For more tips, check out our Super Smash Bros. Ultimate guide.

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