Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, One Month Later

Smash Ultimate is a living game, and one month later, it’s just starting to walk on two legs. Sure, its launch was explosive, but Smash takes on new meaning as fans’ ideas about it evolve. Who’s top tier in the meta? What’s the wackiest ruleset anyone’s come up with? Will we decide a year from now, en masse, to play with the Smash meter on? Only time will tell.

Here’s what’s happened since Smash Ultimate’s December 7 release.

  • Smash Ultimate released to huge acclaim, pockmarked only by a few criticisms. It launched with 76 fighters, including long-anticipated ones like Ridley and King K. Rool. Basically all of them felt balanced, competitive and exciting. Mechanical changes in the game, including directional air-dodging, a faster play speed and a “perfect shield” parry, helped finally make Smash Ultimate’s larger fighters viable competitors against the faster fighters.

    A slew of quality-of-life updates made jumping into the kind of game you want as easy as ever. Kotaku’s review had some negative things to say about the game’s idiosyncratic, tacked-on adventure mode, World of Light, and the entire Spirits system, which buffs fighters with stickers of characters from other games. (However, Kotaku’s Mike Fahey loves these modes.)

  • Smash Ultimate’s online mode’s launch was unilaterally crappy. It wasn’t hugely surprising because all of Smash’s online modes have been pretty flawed. There was lag - lots of it. Players who wanted to queue for one-versus-one games with no items found themselves in four-versus-four team battles with every item under the sun.

  • Thankfully, a patch released one week after Smash Ultimate that improved the lag and helped players find games that better fit their preferences. Unfortunately, it didn’t mend the online mode’s integral design flaws. Players still can’t challenge friends who are online to a Smash Ultimate game through the Switch’s interface.

    They still can’t play in a battle arena with both online friends and local friends. To even get into an arena match, sometimes Smash Ultimate will put you in a virtual line. Hopefully, this all will improve with time.

  • Not all the characters had the same proficiency at swimming. Smash games since Brawl have given fighters a few moments to struggle in the water before drowning. In Smash Ultimate, Charizard, Incineroar, Inkling and Sonic take damage just from being in the water. Huh!

  • A glitch in Smash Ultimate let Animal Crossing’s adorable pupper Isabelle spawn an infinite number of assist characters. That led some some very hilarious GIFs of Isabelle knocking the snot out of her opponents with a huge horde of Knuckles and Waluigis.

  • At one of Smash Ultimate’s earliest tournaments, a Fox player won. Those unfamiliar with Smash’s competitive scene might ask, “Who cares?” Those who know how dominant Fox has been for over a decade in the competitive scene of Smash Ultimate’s predecessor, Melee, might have baulked.

    Was Fox going to be the big guy on the block again, even with 75 other fighters available? The answer turned out to be no. Lots of other characters, including Peach, Ike, Wolf and Ridley, have made it into the finals brackets at tournaments. Nothing to see here!

  • Players debated over the grind to unlock all of Smash Ultimate’s characters. The debate even split Kotaku staffers. Some argued that it was a fun way to get to know the whole roster, and plus, it’s how things have always been done; others said it felt too grindy and punishing, especially to new players. Adding to that frustration, the challenger fights were pretty difficult until a patch nerfed them a fortnight after launch.

  • Also in the category of “user-friendliness,” Nintendo posted a tutorial late December on how to find Smash Ultimate’s tutorial. Lots of new players had issues figuring out how to access it from within the game’s baffling menu system. So Nintendo stepped in and lended a hand.

That brings us to now, one month later. In the game’s first 11 days, it sold three million copies. In so many people’s hands, the game has a lot of growing ahead of it. Smash Ultimate’s competitive scene is picking up speed.

There isn’t a dominant fighter yet, which means everyone’s ripe for the picking. There will be more hype combos. There will be more memes. There might even be more funny bugs, if we’re lucky. And hopefully, there will be more patches.


    Smash is such a refreshing gaming experience for me. Unlike the majority of games I play, Smash becomes more enjoyable the more I play it rather than losing its exciting new sheen and showing its flaws.

    "Players debated over the grind to unlock all of Smash Ultimate’s characters"
    For the most part it hasn't bothered me, I primarily play World Of Light and you unlock characters at a reasonable pace.
    On the other hand, considering the number of hours I've spent on the game it feels a bit bad to jump into multiplayer and have my friends be unable to pick the characters they want because there's still a lot missing from my roster.

    I can imagine it'd be more annoying to people only in it for the multiplayer.

      World of light is way slower to unlock characters than any other mode.

      my preference was Classic mode.

      Smash for me is strictly a local multiplayer affair so grinding to unlock characters wasn't much fun, I ended up just cheesing it in the end by turning the game off and on and playing a 1-stock match, which gave me a new character to unlock every time.

      I hate the World of Light mode I must admit and have no interest in playing more of it, let alone unlocking characters through it. I've tried a few times to play it and I just don't find it fun at all, I'll stick to the classic modes.

    Oh cheer up kritter5x dude I know you didn’t like the World of Light but I definitely enjoyed the World of Light.
    Anyways get excited because the Piranha Plant DLC is coming out next month as paid DLC.
    If you haven’t registered the game for gold points before the end of January then what are you waiting for?
    Time is running out to get Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s limited time offer a Piranha Plant DLC fighter free of charge just by purchasing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in either the physical or digital version and registering for gold points before the end of January.
    And if you haven’t purchased the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Fighters Pass yet then you are simply missing out on what new characters are going to be added as DLC for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

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