How Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Won Me Over

I'm not really a fan of fighting games anymore. I was into them a lot as a kid, but I guess I was more into every genre of video game back then, even Sports and Racing. I button mashed my way through Super Street Fighter II Turbo, Soul Blade and it's various sequels, Power Stone, Tekken 3, Bloody Roar, and so many others.

I stood in awe watching older kids perform fatalities on the Mortal Kombat II arcade machine at the rollerskating rink in my hometown but I'd never really go on to perform those moves myself because, well, I just hate learning combos. So much so that I don't even look at moves lists anymore. Once I can't get any further through whatever shallow solo campaign any particular fighting game may have I've pretty much had my fun.

I understand this completely ignores the fact that all the fun in fighting games is really at the multiplayer competitive level but I'd have to work so hard to even hang. As I got older and found myself with less time to play a variety of genres, fighting games made their way to the back and if I wasn't getting any better at them before, I certainly wasn't going to now. 

I had played the original Super Smash Bros. on Nintendo 64 when it released and I loved it. It captured that "What if" part of my imagination and it was pretty easy to get by just button mashing. The inclusion of silly items created a randomness to fight outcomes that was chaotic and addicting and my friends and I would play it for entire evenings. As time got on I only dabbled in further iterations of Super Smash Bros. never becoming a serious player or owning my own copies. While the rest of my friends obsessed over Smash on GameCube and Wii, I was playing Halo and more Halo.

All that changed when I purchased my Wii U on the advent of Super Smash Bros. Wii U (creative name guys). I had just finished watching Nintendo's E3 2014 Direct and well, they got me super excited. I was a huge fan of the Nintendo GameCube but I had only owned a Wii for a brief time as it failed to pull me away from my Xbox 360. What did I see in a Wii U that was somehow going to make up for my dissatisfaction in the Nintendo Wii? I dunno, um, THEY ARE REALLY GOOD AT GETTING PEOPLE EXCITED.  I'm a sucker for nostalgia and whatever they said pulled on my heart strings. That and they were about to launch this little toy/statue collectibles idea that interacted with games called Amiibos. 

My god did Amiibos become a thing.

Anyway, I wanted Amiibos and I thought, "I should really give the new Smash a try in September." So when the midnight launch for Super Smash Bros. Wii U rolled around I grabbed a copy of the game, a Wii U Pro Controller, and a Pikachu Amiibo. I was excited to finally be back with all these great characters, many characters new to the series, and hopefully I could button mash to my hearts content somehow satisfying the nostalgic expectations Nintendo had instilled in me a couple months prior. 

Boy was I wrong.

I actually couldn't stand Super Smash Bros. Wii U. Something about it just didn't click. I thought the Amiibo support was boring, and there wasn't much for a casual solo player like myself to do once I had unlocked all the characters. I wanted more, like a solo campaign. On top of that I really couldn't stand the feel of the Wii U Pro Controller, and I was unimpressed with the Wii U altogether. After only buying a couple other games for the Wii U I boxed it back up and sold it, along with my copy of Super Smash Bros. Wii U.

I honestly thought I'd never be back. Super Smash Bros. was the most casual fighting game I could probably get into. It had the most characters I'd be excited to play as and it allowed me to skate by with almost no skills. I also felt burned by Nintendo after being so disappointed in my Wii and Wii U. 

Then a new challenger approached.

I had bought a Nintendo Switch about a month after they launched. What was I doing? The buzz around it was just too strong. It was getting amazing press. I figured since I started my own gaming podcast who would I be if I didn't own all three major consoles right? After owning a Nintendo Switch for about a year and half I can honestly say I've almost never gone more than a day or two without playing it. Zelda Breath of the Wild, Mario Odyssey, Octopath Traveler, it's been really good. Like really really good. I even play any less graphically intensive third party games on it that I can just because its portable. The thing is selling serious numbers and I have to admit, I'm impressed.

Was I enough of a believer in this new console to actually buy the newest version of Smash though? Yup, they got me. Not because of Amiibo support, but that damn nostalgia. They added Simon and Richter Belmont to the game. Of course I bought it. I also thought maybe my love for the Nintendo Switch would factor in somewhere.

Well, it did, and I've been somewhat obsessed with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate since it launched. Yes it's super casual for button mashers like me, it has so many characters I want to play as, but more than anything it has so much content for solo players. 

I first spent about 22 hours unlocking all characters and beating Classic Mode with each one. That gave me a great feel for which characters I could naturally be good with without putting in any sort of effort to actually get gud. Now I'm chipping away at the 20+ hour Adventure Mode (World of Light) where you unlock each of the fighters again gradually and I'm actually excited to do so. 

Within the Adventure Mode you're also fighting to unlock Spirits which are various two dimensional concept art versions of characters from all of the games tethered to Smash Ultimate's fighter roster. These Spirits can be equipped to your Adventure Mode fighter to grant them combinations of stat boosts and abilities which helps you take on more difficult Spirits and further your progress in Adventure Mode. Which Spirits to use quickly becomes overly complicated which is solved by a "recommended" feature that will equip the proper Spirits to your fighter for any scenario keeping casuals like me engaged on the addictive process of chasing unlocks. 

There are 74 fighters with more on the way, including the recently announced addition of Joker, the protagonist from Persona 5. There are also over 1,300 Spirits to unlock in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It's casual, it's nostalgic, it's portable, and it practically has an unlimited amount of solo content for me to mess around with before I ever have to consider actually choosing a "main" fighter and having to compete against humans.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is another giant wave in Nintendo Switch's perfect storm. If it can win me over it should do well in just about anyone's possession. It's almost not even a fighting game to me. It's just fun and it doesn't make me work hard to have that fun. I highly recommend it.

- Matt

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