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Nintendo Just Revealed the Ultimate Smash Bros. for Fans of All Kinds

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Is Super Smash Bros. a fighting game or a party game? Is it best played in the most chaotic ways possible, or drilled down to its core as a competitive eSport? There are as many answers to questions like those as there are ways to play Nintendo’s mashup brawler series, and the franchise’s newest entry, on display during today’s Nintendo Direct E3 edition, seems like a love letter to all the games’ millions of fans.

We now know the Nintendo switch series entry is called Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and it truly lives up to that title. For a start, it brings back every single playable character in the games’ history, stretching all the way back to characters in 2001’s Smash Bros. Melee for the GameCube, who were cut from the Wii’s Brawl in 2008. Yes, even Pichu, who was more of a joke character in Melee than anything else, will finally return in Ultimate, along with everyone else who’s ever been cut from the roster, like Star Fox‘s Wolf, Metal Gear’s Solid Snake, and the Ice Climbers.

That’s an incredible feat, considering the expansive roster of the Wii U and 3DS versions of the game alone. It’s now up to a staggering total number, made clear by the character counters onscreen as each of them made their appearance in the announcement video. The newest character on the roster, Splatoon’s Inkling, clocked in at number 64, with the final character revealed, Ridley, making 65 in total. (You can check them all out on the game’s brand new website.)

But characters are only one part of the equation, albeit a massive part this time around. Also important are the gameplay mechanics, which are fairly unique to the series, though a few similar games have popped up in recent years. Some of the changes mentioned specifically during the stream went beyond simply letting fans know what was new, but hinting that the developers have been taking into account the concerns of the dedicated competitive community that’s been built around Smash.

directional air dodge smash bros ultimate

The new game features a directional air dodge, which those familiar with Melee know is a necessary component to “wave dashing,” or air dodging into the ground immediately upon jumping, at an angle, causing a character to skid varying distances based on their own personal physics in the game. We still don’t know how possible or useful that will be in the upcoming title (we may find out during the invitational tournament later today, but os far the word is it’s not possible), but it’s a change players have been looking for, without much hope, for years. There’s also an added ability to use powerful Smash attacks (not just the upward ones) right out of running, rather than get stuck with a dash attack, which was possible in Melee due to the ability to go into a crouch at any time while running.

The game will also be compatible with GameCube controllers once again, which have been a staple of every iteration since Melee, and a platform-based “battlefield” option is available for every stage, in additional to the perfectly flat “omega”-version stages in the 3DS and Wii U games, adding to the variety of backdrops that are viable for competitive play. For those who don’t mind the stage hazards, there are plenty of unique fan-favorite stages returning from games past, as well. There are also various costume, voice, and sound effect additions to add to the ridiculous attention to detail, and dodging moves will punish players with lag for repeated uses to minimize annoying overuse.

There’s so much in the game for everyone to love that series creator Masahiro Sakurai cautioned everyone not to expect too many new fighters out of it, which is usually one of the big points in marketing the series. With the popularity of the Switch and so much content jammed into this game that it seems like there isn’t even room for more, as well as additions for the competitive crowd and everyone else (like the super-powered “Final Smash” movies seemingly rebalanced to be more comparable between characters), it really feels like the Smash game to end all Smash games.

Sakurai has put an unbelievable amount of time into the series over the years, famously watching the Wii version get announced before he was even aware he’d be working on it, and it really seems like he’s capped things off in a way that will be hard to top this time around.

The game arrives on December 7. To see more of it in action, check out the all-day Nintendo Treehouse stream and the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate invitational tournament later on tonight.

(image: Nintendo)

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Dan Van Winkle
Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.