Nintendo has dropped one of the biggest bombshell announcements of E3 2018: every character, from every single Super Smash Bros. title will be returning to the series in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The upcoming Switch iteration has been teased for months now, but with this announcement making up the bulk of today’s Nintendo Direct, the wait feels so worth it.
Yes, every character means every character. Solid Snake. Wolf O’Donnell. Young Link. DLC characters like Bayonetta, Cloud, Corrin, and Ryu will all come on cartridge. With three new fighters added to the mix today, that makes the roster a whopping 65 characters – with more on the way.
We may be playing with Melee characters, but this is no Gamecube game (even if it will have compatibility with Gamecube controllers). This isn’t even a rehash of Super Smash Brothers for Wii U. Every character is updated for their reintroduction on the Switch; exactly what all of those changes are won’t be known until the game comes out on December 7 of this year, but the Nintendo Direct did provide ample details about most fighters. So, with everyone coming back, but not without changes, just what can we expect from some of our veteran fighters?
MARIO will be returning as a balanced fighter – easy to use, with plenty of outfits like his Mario Maker builder’s uniform and his wedding tux from Odyssey. The most notable addition to his kit as the addition of Cappy, his hat companion from the series’ latest instalment on the Switch. What was shown made Cappy look like a regular projectile, but there’s sure to be some Odyssey hijinks unveiled when we get our hands on Ultimate.
LINK from the Legend of Zelda will appear in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as his design did in Breath of the Wild. Players yearning for that classic green getup can find solace in his Tunic of the Wild outfit, but should expect a kit based around his blue-clad iteration’s abilities. Bombs are replaced with BotW’s Remote Bombs, which explode after a short period of time after being thrown. Perhaps most importantly, his Final Smash is replaced with a quicker, highly focused Ancient Bow and Arrow shot, which hits in a straight line for massive damage. Think Zelda’s Light Arrow from Brawl, but… bluer.
ICE CLIMBERS are making a comeback, with a very similar kit as their Brawl and Melee counterparts. Director Sakurai heavily emphasized the dual-character synergy; losing Nana or Popo this time around appears to have even deadlier consequences, so playing with both in mind is the key element we know as of now.
IKE from the Fire Emblem franchise will appear as both his younger, Path of Radiance design, as well with a pallet swap consisting of his buff “now-I’m-a-jerk-and-everyone-loves-me” Radiant Dawn design. Both costumes will have their own separate voice acting – younger Ike sounds, well, younger, and vice versa. Beyond that, we caught hints of Aether still in the mix, and the rest of his kit – weightiness included – seems in tact.
PIKACHU is another fighter in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate whose redesign choices were emphasized over actual gameplay, though such little has changed since his first iteration in Smash 64 anyway. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it; just shove it in a Lucha Libre outfit, and give it a female skin – heart-shaped tail included.
FOX MCCLOUD of Star Fox fame is re-skinned to reflect his Star Fox Zero design. His Final Smash is a “fast and ferocious” Arwing assault that blasts through the battlefield with powerful potshots. This redesign is a prime example of Ultimate’s push toward quicker gameplay – Final Smash speed included. Since Fox’s slippery dashes are still a staple in Melee’s competitive scene, this bodes well for gameplay overall.
FALCO returns, similarly designed to look like his appearance in Star Fox Zero. His Final Smash is similar to Fox’s, more of a spinny-spiraling “wild flier” animation that completely does away with his Land Master Final Smash from SSB4. It seems like dropping a tank on people’s heads is no longer en vogue in Sakurai’s world, but this change looks good. His overall kit doesn’t seem too far flung from what we’re used to, too.
RYU from Street Fighter is upgraded in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in a way that better reflects his roots: his character model will always his opponents, in the same way it does in Street Fighter titles. This should make it easier to avoid wrong combo inputs – and make it way easier for Street Fighter players to kick my ass all over again.
SAMUS returns with a similar moveset, though slightly altered for quality-of-life purposes. Her arm cannon can be charged midair – no more stopping on the ground and waiting – and can be canceled through jumping and dodges. It makes for a more fluid gameplay, but also comes at the cost of high-risk-high-reward charging as the battle flows.
MARTH from Fire Emblem now has English voice lines, which is neat and all, but more importantly his Flashing Blade move is significantly quicker… as if it wasn’t a problem enough for those of us who have no rhythm. Seriously though, it looks fluid and slick, akin to his Melee iteration.
SOLID SNAKE returns to the fray after ten years of hiding in a box. It looks like the same old Snake, so we’re hoping we get some new and interesting CODEC calls about characters he missed fighting in SSB4. And that means yes – Shadow Moses Island is making it’s grand return as well.
KING DEDEDE, the Eric Cartman of the Kirby franchise, has a completely redesigned Final Smash in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in which he dumps you in a fucking wrestling cage and blasts you with missiles. Like, a Mankind vs. Undertaker, 19998 Hell in a Cell style wrestling cage. Why? All I know is I’m a Dedede main suddenly.
PICHU is back, and just as masochistic as ever. Little, cute, hard to hit – unless he’s hitting himself. Damage is racked up by half-a-point every time he does anything to anyone or anything. Those who remember he was even in Melee will remember the bittersweet joy of playing the self-harming rodent. The closest thing we have to a joke character is also one of the cutest, so who cares?
ZELDA is redesigned to reflect her appearance in A Link Between Worlds. An unexpected twist, but a welcome one; Sakurai claims her Breath of the Wild iteration was a bit too studious to be a real fighter, so instead we got a version that does next to nothing instead. All jokes aside, her new look is as elegant and reflective of her series as ever, and looks great with her flowing moveset and sparkly attacks. Her Final Smash is replaced with what was described as a “sealing move”, where she summons the Triforce of Wisdom to suck other characters in and spit them off the stage. Everything about her new form is awesome.
SONIC is significantly faster when he becomes Super Sonic during his Final Smash in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Anything else? We mostly just got a lot of Sonic puns, sorry Sonic fans. At least we’re not dealing with his Sonic Boom design.
PAC-MAN also has a quicker, cleaner Final Smash, where giant, 2D circles chomp their way around the battlefield. He looks just as fun and god-awful trolly as before.
POKEMON TRAINER returns with Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard – all of whom can change during battle without repercussion. It looks like each Pokemon is part of his kit, so no more Charizard in the roster this time, like in SSB4. His moveset is far more suited to quicker paced game play. Did I say “he”? I meant “he or she”, as a female trainer skin, based off of Fire Red and Leaf Green’s trainer, makes an appearance.
CAPTAIN FALCON was the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct’s way of showcasing how certain powerful moves – like his famous Falcon Punch – will cause a dramatic “slow-mo” effect when making a critical strike. This simply rubs salt into the wounds of those who get blasted off the stage by his neutral-B. It looks great and doesn’t slow down battle TOO much, but if you’re really that much of a speed freak, just play on Big Blue – since that stage is coming back too.
CLOUD from Final Fantasy VII was another example of new game functions, particularly how fighter information – in this case, his Limit Break bar – is shown next to their portrait and damage percentage for easier viewing. Both his original game outfit and Advent Children look return. Here’s hoping he doesn’t completely bust the metagame all over again.
ROBIN from Fire Emblem is another fighter with chargable/drainable abilities that are shown through Ultimate’s new UI. His/her Levin Sword and tomes will show a charge/usage meter whenever used.
VILLAGER from Animal Crossing similarly shows information near their damage percentage at the bottom of the screen, this time in the form of whatever item their neutral-B “pocket” ability has caught. And like in SSB4, you’ve got 8 little costume designs to choose from.
BOWSER, Mario’s archnemesis is back in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and has an updated Final Smash that reflects the more recent Giga Bowswer designs. Instead of stomping around the stage, he grows too big and slips into the backdrop, where the player controls a reticle that aims his deadly attacks. It looks easy to mess up, but Smash is a game of skill… right?
MR. GAME AND WATCH returns with similar moves as his predecessors, but this time the animations from each move – his bucket, his hammer, etc. – all reflect the faces and looks from their source games. This is one of the cooler little details Sakurai brought up to highlight the game’s fully-animated facial changes, no longer static with a few winces here and there, with each character having much more dynamic facial features overall. Game and Watch is just that little extra step beyond, down to his infamous octopus Final Smash (which is back, and quicker this time around).
YOUNG LINK returns from Melee, representing a more classic version of Link’s kit. Bombs, boomerangs, arrows and the rest return through him. With 3 Links in the game, this should appease fans who aren’t quite ready to pick up Breath of the Wild Link’s changes quite yet. And hey, Lon Lon Milk is back!
WOLF from Star Fox also reflects his Star Fox Zero design, like Fox and Falco. This time, his moves are updated quite a bit, and his animations a lot more snarly and scary. While his kit doesn’t look too far removed from his Brawl form, he looks like he’s adapting well, maybe a little less clunky, with none of the power behind his moves lost in translation.
KIRBY is Kirby, which Sakurai went to great measures to explain is the biggest pain in the ass to design, considering there are 64 other characters he can copy, and more on the way. His Down-B Stone ability looks like it will reflect whatever stage he’s on, the example given being a Treasure Chest while on the Breath of the Wild Sheikah Tower stage. Not a big departure from form, but some traditions are worth keeping, even if they… suck.
SHULK from Xenoblade Chronicles has an update to his Monado Arts selection in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Instead of pressing the button to rotate through his fighting forms, a single press brings up a directional wheel that displays each type. Moving the left stick can quickly choose which art to imbue his Monado with. The only change to his Final Smash was the addition of the character Fiora to it’s cinematic.
GANONDORF returns in his Ocarina of Time design, alongside a Final Smash that reflects the look and behavior of Demon King Ganon from the same game. Everybody’s favorite evil grandpa is coming back!
MII FIGHTERS are tweaked to have longer, more balanced proportions in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Brawler, Sword, and Gunner classes all have been enhanced in terms of speed, power, and general movements. And, I’ll be honest, they look a LOT better design-wise, but that might just be me. There are now 12 voice options you can pick when designing your Fighter.
PIT from Kid Icarus has undergone a Final Smash change as well, switching to a Lightning Chariot cinematic. It’s fast, it’s flashy, and he’s Sakurai’s baby, so it makes sense we have some kind of upgrade.
ZERO SUIT SAMUS also has a new Final Smash, in which she dons her power suit and fires off a huge laser beam. I liked her Gunship, but it makes an appearance at least. Her speediness that defined the SSB4’s launch meta appears to be in tact as well.
OLIMAR is virutally the same, except his helmet cracks whenever you bash his domepiece in. Worry not; it magically fixes right up when he gets back into the fray. He’s little. He’s weird. He’s got littler, weirder friends returning – and it all looks the same… for better or for worse. Pikmin fans shoudld be happy, at least.
BAYONETTA has both her Bayonetta 1 and 2 costumes in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and like Ike, both have different sound effects when firing her guns and more. Her changes also unveiled her pal Rodin as an assist trophy. No news yet on that Jeanne addition, catsuit lovers.
WARIO also underwent some Final Smash changes, though if we’re being perfectly honest, the Direct seriously glossed over them. Nothing has changed aesthetically at least. There are probably just as many fart and burps, so Nintendo is still directly pandering to me, at least.
DONKEY KONG now has a Final Smash that better represents his Jungle Beat games. A series of rapid fire punches look like some of the hardest-hitting flurries you could walk into. Interestingly, Donkey Kong’s face was their example of how the game is updating the characters to have more dynamic expressions. Bug-eyed DK will haunt my nightmares, just as often as Funky Kong haunts my dreams.
LITTLE MAC is back with a slightly altered Giga Mac Final Smash, which – similar to Donkey Kong – provides a quick onslaught of jabs meant to bully his opponents off the stage. Please, for the love of King Hippo, let his air game be a little less neutered… so far, it’s looking like we’ve got another Glass Joe-tier fighter back in the roster.
NESS has a badass nod to his source game in his Final Smash now in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. While it serves the same PK Star Storm purpose, raining hot fire down on the stage, he now summons his friends Paula and Poo to bring the pain. Jeff is back as an Assist Trophy. I missed Mr. Saturn – did you happen to catch him?
LUCAS is, again, just like Ness, but instead of Paula and Poo, he calls upon Kumatora and Boney from Mother 3. Yes, his puppy dog, the goodest boy the world has ever seen, true hero of the Mother franchise. Here I wanted some Magypsy love, but it seems like western audiences just aren’t ready for the oddity that is Mother 3. No reveal of an official English release at this E3 either, folks.
WII FIT TRAINER in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has a new, much less dead-eyed face. Sakurai made sure to point out this was a request of the original Wii Fit developers, as if to say “I’m sorry if you liked her original look, but not everyone is into the yoga corpse thing”. No real changes to her actual moveset were revealed.
MEGAMAN brings Protoman and Bass into his Final Smash, which otherwise stays the same. He’s also bringing with him all the Megaman stages, with all of their godawful hazards, from the 3DS and WiiU games. If anything, this deconfirms a good number of Megaman iterations as playable characters, but hey, at least Megaman 11 is coming to Switch soon.
PALUTENA straight up looks like they realized she played like garbage and did everything to buff her, without doing too much to change her actual play design. Her counter move also serves as a projectile deflector, and her overall moveset appears far more streamlined and fit for this quicker paced battle. For such a Sakurai-tastic character, SSB4 really did her dirty, so it’s nice to see a well designed character get a well deserved boost.
R.O.B. is back, but now has a meter on his actual character model that display show much fuel is left during his rocket boost jump. No other real details were shown, just thank Sakurai he’s not adding in the Virtual Boy any time soon (we hope).
LUCINA returns as a clone of Marth, except this time, the developers have directly addressed this fact. Lucina, Dark Pit, and more fighters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are now called Echo Fighters, who have the same movesets as other characters, but with slight alterations. Whether or not this really addresses the issue of ‘too many clones’ is something we’ll have to see when we play the actual game.
DARK PIT is the same deal – an Echo Fighter, or a clone of Pit with slightly altered movement speed and attack power. Nothing new here.
DAISY, the newest “clone”, is simply Princess Peach. Speaking of, Peach (and a number of others) were not touched upon during the presentation. We can assume these characters do not have significant changes, or if they do, we will learn about them in a future Nintendo Direct.
One important question this raises: with so many returning characters, which new ones can we completely deconfirm? The assist trophies shown were Rodin from Bayonetta, Lyn from Fire Emblem, Knuckle Joe from Kirby, Pac Man’s ghosts, Bomberman, Riki from Xenoblade, Starfhy, Burrowing Snagrets, Midna, Sukapon, and a slew of Pokemon (including Bewear and Solgaleo). It’s safe to say these characters won’t be making any full-blown appearances in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
That’s about it for what we know about the new roster changes in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. While it’s not a ton of info, it’s fun to see what the development team has been up to, especially now that we know they’re dedicated to bringing all our old favorites back into the fold. Sakurai claimed that these changes are just a few out of tens of thousands we will see in Ultimate, so be sure to check in to n3 for more updates as we get them!
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is, without question, the most ambitious fighting game we’ve seen in a long time. On roster strength alone, it might just be the biggest crossover event ever. With both Inklings and Ridley ready to join the fight as well, there are surely more fighters on the horizon, but at least we can rest assured that our old mains are back. Even if it’s Pichu (bless your self-flagellating heart).