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June 19, 2018

E3 2018: Hands on with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Coming into E3 2018, there was no way that Nintendo did not devote a substantial portion of their presence to the juggernaut that is Smash Bros, given that they had teased a new game coming this year, it was essentially a given. Having played it though, does it live up to the name?

Perhaps the most in your face change from past games, is that you now select your stage first and then select your character, now I am not sure why it is different, but it is. The choosing of the stage was always interesting, because if you had the choice, odds are you would go with a stage that worked for your character, but as you now select your character after the stage, gone is that instant bonus for you. The new stages that they showed off during the direct were playable, Great Plateau and Moray Towers, were both fun and for assorted reasons, with Moray Towers also proving to be more difficult to adapt to.

The Great Plateau stage is basically a giant flat space, with the occasional block in the middle, you will have all seen the video now, where the cover over the middle of the tower breaks away after taking some damage. Whilst it is in place, there is a lot of fighting to either side, but when it breaks and its replaced by a platform, the matches played there, changed quite a lot, the stage of course repairs itself and the dome comes back, but the resulting chaos from never knowing when it will break, or return kept things interesting.

Moray Towers on the other hand, is going to be a stage you either love or hate, for me now, I am falling towards the hate side and not because its Splatoon or any such nonsense, simply because the stage is bloody hard to fight on. Each ‘level’ in the stage is another platform, so you can jump up through them and land upon them, or you can drop through them, letting you get back to the action. My issue with that, is that jumping and falling through platforms has never been the easiest of things to achieve in Smash Bros and now a stage that all but demands you do it, to get around fast, is not something I can enjoy. Outside of that complaint, seeing multiple characters bashing away on the many levels of the stage, was a lot of fun to watch.

Of course, stages are great and all, but the real meat of any Super Smash Bros game, are the characters themselves, and with everyone playable in a single Smash game for the first time, players are going to be spoilt by choice like never before. I played through several matches, one of which I did, by using the returning character of Snake and while I am not a massive Metal Gear Solid fan, Snake in Brawl was someone I enjoyed playing as back then and I am happy to say, he feels as good now as I recall him being back then. But returning characters are not what people wanted, they wanted new and for some reason, they wanted Ridley.

Ridley is a large creature to be sure and even though he is a lot smaller here, than in the Metroid games, he still packs quite the punch. The thing that surprised me the most about Ridley, is that each time he starts an attack, there is quite a bit of delay, between starting it and finishing it, meaning that if you can counter in time, you could stave off some of your own destruction. When I was able to land any form of attack, the results were always devastating, the move where Ridley drags the opponent across the ground, always looked brutal, no matter how many times that I saw it. While I doubt Ridley will be a fighter for all, there is no doubt that if you learn his moves, you will decimate the competition.

The other new character that I played as was Inkling Girl, who I feel at this point, needs a proper name, but I digress, not only is Inkling Girl fast, her attacks are quick as well. The basic attack would just have the Splattershot blast the enemy, but while it does damage, it is only minor damage, now once you have done that, you need to strike out with other attacks. My concern with using Inkling Girl was that I could not understand most of the attacks, something I did not have an issue with when fighting as Ridley, this could be due to my not playing a lot of Splatoon of late, or it could be something more, I am unsure, I did however manage to get the Final Smash going for her and it looked awesome.

Of course, I could not play Super Smash Bros Ultimate, without having a go as my main Link and even with him rocking his Breath of the Wild look, I figured it would be easy to play as him still, but I was proven wrong. The biggest change, the bomb that Link can throw, now being remotely detonated, changes things up a lot, as I would throw a bomb at the other players, only for nothing to happen, having to manual explode it, by repeating the button press, took a bit to adjust to. The rest of his moves are the same as ever, but that one change, has made playing as Link exciting again, not to say he was boring before, but the strategy that I had in my mind, needed to be adjusted, because things were different.

Over the course of my time with Super Smash Bros Ultimate, I won some matches and lost some matches, but the most important part, was that I had fun. The game is set to release on December 7 and I think the next few months will be quite tortuous, with that long wait.

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