Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was recently released to rave reviews and strong sales. It is the culmination of a video game series two decades in the making – the mechanics have been perfected, the graphics and physics updated to modern standards, and the roster has expanded to include basically every Nintendo character imaginable. It has been nearly five years since the last game graced the Wii U and 3DS, but the wait has been worth it.
Not only is it the culmination of years of hard work and dedication, but it’s also a celebration of video games. While the Super Smash Bros. series has primarily been centered around Nintendo, other series’ and other companies have gotten in on the action, and we’ve enjoyed characters like Solid Snake and Mega Man as a result. The series is a dream come true for anyone who has wished to see the biggest names in gaming duke it out on screen.
But it’s not perfect. Despite Ultimate receiving a stellar reception, the game still has a ton of flaws that need to be ironed out. While we’re not saying that the game is bad (in fact, it’s pretty darn excellent), we can’t keep ignoring its blatant flaws and pretending that everything is perfect. Pretty much every facet of the game is flawed in some way, from the fighting mechanics to the roster implementation to (especially) the online component. So, let’s look at the 25 glaring problems in this game that the fans seem to be ignoring.
The Super Smash Bros. series relies heavily on its rapid pace of play. That's always been its bread and butter. So a laggy, fast-paced brawler is like putting puddles of mud in the middle of an Olympic sprint. It's not necessarily the game's fault, as the online component relies on peer-to-peer networking. However, this often results in slow connections, input lag, and a general sluggishness, which of course is a massive burden on the gameplay. And while we're at it...
As we said, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate relies on peer-to-peer networking, not a central server. This means that one player acts as the "host" of any given match, and if that player's connection is shoddy, everyone suffers (and experiences lag). What is this, 2007? We remember blaming our bad Halo games on shoddy hosts. While the rest of the gaming world has advanced, Nintendo's online component is woefully stuck in the past, and it significantly hinders its best multiplayer title.
This is another terrible side effect of having "hosts." Battle Arenas are custom lobbies where the host controls the action and specifies the rules. Up to eight players can join at any given time, and those not participating in the four-player battle spectate while they wait their turn. That is, unless the host leaves, then the entire thing is shut down. We understand the mechanics behind it, but it's still frustrating to be kicked out when it comes to your turn.
The game lacks an invitation system, so you can't simply invite friends like you can on other consoles. This should not be a problem in 2019! No, you have to fart around in Battle Arena if you want to play with friends. You have to create your own Battle Arena, change the visibility to "friends," and then wait for them to find it. Oh, and then you have to fiddle around with the Switch's online app just to talk to them. What an unnecessary headache.
Most online games have "casual" and "ranked" matches, and Ultimate is no different. Those who care more about their ranking than having fun should stick to Solo Smash, as this influences your Global Smash Power. Once you reach a high enough level, Solo Smash turns to Elite Smash and you play with the best of the best. However, Battle Arena doesn't count towards this number, so the more competitive players may find playing with friends "a waste of time." Sorry, friends.
We understand the concept of a rematch, but come on, not being able to change characters is super lame. If you want a rematch against a certain player, you are each forced to play as the exact same character. Like we said, this is understandable, but it definitely gets stale and repetitive after a while, especially if you're playing a "best-of" series. Regardless, this isn't much of a problem seeing as how no one plays rematches, anyway. Probably because you can't change characters...
And wouldn't you know it, Quickplay kind of stinks as well. Quickplay is easily the most accessible multiplayer option. But lord help you if you want certain parameters, because the game straight-up doesn't listen to your whiny needs. You can set up a 1v1, no item, no stage hazard game and be paired with a four-player free-for-all with weapons that drop every five seconds. We understand that there are only so many games out there, but at least TRY to listen to our parameters.
Smash tags were a neat idea in theory. Essentially, each individual player has their own tag (like a soldier), and their tag is given to you upon defeat and stored in the vault. You can then... look at the tags in pride or something. Sure, you can also sell them for gold coins, but you don't really get much in return aside from some music tracks and costumes. It just seems like wasted potential for what could have been an interesting mechanic.
This one is a little nitpicky, but it's still something that Ultimate could have done better. The game employs a replay feature so you can re-watch your greatest matches. Unfortunately, you have to manually save the replay, and if you mash through the results screen, you lose the replay forever. We're sure someone out there was eager to re-live their glory only to realize that they never saved it, either because they weren't aware of the function or because they carelessly skipped through the results.
Many players of Ultimate have been complaining about the new air dodge lag. Essentially, air dodging is very laggy and unresponsive, so performing an air dodge leaves you extremely vulnerable to counter-attacks during battle. They are also problematic off-stage, as you can be locked out of moving and easily fall to your doom. Most people probably won't notice or care about this change, but the more detail-oriented and competitive players are finding it a little difficult to get used to.
The new "balloon knockback" is a love it or hate it mechanic. Essentially, balloon knockback changed the trajectory of... knockbacks. When a damaged character is hit, they launch towards the edge of the screen before slowing down. This has thrown off the more combo-oriented players, as it's more difficult to predict the trajectory and location of a launched player. It also gives the game a much faster pace, especially when compared to the more "floaty" WiiU version. It takes some getting used to, especially for veteran players.
Aside from a few changes to the physics, nothing has really been altered here. Of course, this is an extremely hyped entry in a beloved series, so we can't blame Nintendo for sticking to the core gameplay mechanics. That said, the game suffers from a bit of "sameness." It's the same Super Smash Bros. experience we've been playing for two decades now, only with upgraded physics and graphics and more characters. But then again, we guess you don't fix what isn't broken.
And speaking of more characters, the price of the game's DLC is a little ridiculous. Five more characters will be released via DLC, and players have the option of purchasing all five via the Fighter Pass - for $25! That's $5 a character! Of course, the pass also comes with music tracks and new stages, but most people probably couldn't care less about those things - they just want the fighter. And for $5, we don't know how many will be buying them.
And speaking of DLC, Nintendo is in a bit of hot water after numerous players have reported corrupted save files after downloading the Piranha Plant. Some Reddit users have blamed a specific Samsung SD card, while Nintendo has basically shrugged their shoulders. They released a statement that read, "We are aware that some users are posting about possible issues with the latest... update. After extensive testing, Nintendo has not been able to confirm that there is an issue." So there you go.
Many people love World of Light. It's something different, and it provides the game with a substantial single player experience. But holy cow is it repetitive. At first, it's really fun. But by fight #500, your eyes start to glaze over. Not only are the fights themselves recycled, but the spirits offer little in the way of variety. There are only a handful of different gameplay variations, despite hundreds of different spirits. Once you've seen the first dozen or so, you've seen them all.
Yeah, no one really plays Smash for the story. But if that's the case, then Nintendo shouldn't have teased us with one. The opening cinematic is breathtaking, and it sets up an intriguing story about Galeem and the vaporized fighters. It even places Kirby as the protagonist in a surprising subversion of expectations. But then it doesn't really do anything with it. There's barely a story, and the amazing opening cinematic was just a way to sucker players into HOURS of repetitive fighting.
And speaking of which, it takes WAY too long to unlock all the characters. World of Light can take dozens of hours to complete, time that is usually better spent in the multiplayer component with your friends. Even taking various tips and tricks into account (these can be found all over the internet), it can take players well over 10 hours to unlock everyone. This is OK for completionists and die-hards, but a major issue for casual players who just want to jump right in.
Going off the previous point, it's very hard to access a specific character. To unlock characters, you obviously need to progress through the game. But what if you just want to jump into multiplayer with Mewtwo? Well, too bad. You have to play through hours of content to unlock him. And it's not that easy, either. The entire process is so convoluted that websites are writing "unlock guides" in order to help players find the quickest route to their favorite characters.
And for THAT matter, there are just way too many characters. This entry is probably a bit contentious, and we get it. This is the culmination of a series, and a celebration of video game history, so of course the roster is going to be stacked. But 74 characters!? PLUS six more via DLC!? We know that fighting games require a good roster, but 80 different characters seems like a bit much, especially when players tend to stick to the same four or five.
Sometimes games can be too ambitious for their own good. Ultimate is a game absolutely loaded with content, but too much content can be a bad thing. Here we have the typical multiplayer shenanigans like Classic and Special Smash, PLUS the 100-hour long World of Light campaign, PLUS Smashdown, PLUS Squad Strike, PLUS Tournament, PLUS the spirits, all played in over one hundred stages. It's definitely a "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" approach, and a lot of it doesn't.
Nintendo pulled out all the stops with their Joy-Con controller, and frankly, it's a piece of technological wizardry. But playing on one really blows in regard to Smash Ultimate. We understand that the sideways Joy-Con isn't really the ideal way to play Ultimate (or any video game for that matter), but hey, sometimes emergencies come up and you have to divvy up the controller. But it's best you just... don't, because God help the person who is forced to play on that thing.
One of the major selling points of the Switch is that it can be played both docked and handheld. And while Ultimate works relatively well as a handheld, there are some issues. For one thing, the Joy-Cons can take a little getting used to, especially for those who play on a GameCube controller. The battery only lasts for about three-four hours. And finally, the tiny screen may prove troublesome, as it can be hard to distinguish the action and characters.
For Glory was a unique multiplayer game mode found in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS. It was a competitive mode that was played exclusively on Final Destination (or Omega stages) and didn't allow character customization or items. It was purely skill-based, and it recorded each player's wins and losses. Naturally, the competitive players were drawn to it. Unfortunately, this game mode didn't carry over to Ultimate, which has disappointed more than a fair share of players as the new ranking system isn't anywhere near as in-depth.
Honestly, what the heck was Nintendo thinking with this one? Essentially, it is impossible for couch co-op players to play Battle Arenas online - only one of the two players can play in a given match. There have been numerous complaints online regarding this issue, and it seems to be inciting a fair bit of ire. So far, it seems as if Quickplay is the only option when it comes to combining couch co-op and online play. And that's really disappointing.
Has "outrage culture" gone too far? Why else would Nintendo remove the option to taunt players? Taunting has been a feature of Smash from the beginning, and taunts serve as a great blend of cocky confidence and friendly competition. And... now it's gone. Of course, taunting is still in the game - just not in the online component. What makes the situation even worse is that players have resorted to tea-bagging instead, which is like ten times more offensive. Big oopsie there, Nintendo.