Last Thursday’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Direct confirmed Incineroar from Pokémon and Ken from Street Fighter as the final base newcomers along with Piranha Plant from Super Mario Bros. as the first DLC newcomer. Despite the mixed reception of the Direct, anyone who takes a step back will see that Sakurai has filled Ultimate's glass to its brim.
Just look at the stage count. Right now, Ultimate has 103 stages, not counting the Battlefield and Omega modes and the upcoming DLC. All but fifteen stages have returned, including the much-anticipated Fountain of Dreams stage from Super Smash Bros. Melee. While not every stage could make it back, the amount of effort taken to return the vast majority of them shows Sakurai’s dedication towards exceeding the fan base’s ravenous expectations.
Most fans predicted sixty to sixty-five playable characters, few if any returning veterans, and several cuts. Keep in mind that at the start of this decade, most would have never imagined sixty playable characters in a Super Smash Bros. game. Here comes Ultimate with an incredible seventy-six characters on launch.
Sakurai not only cut no veterans from Super Smash Bros. 3DS and Wii U, he also brought back everyone that was previous playable. They fixed the technical issues plaguing the Ice Climbers and returned Snake, Wolf, Squirtle, Ivysaur, Pichu, and Young Link. One of Smash fans’ biggest request was to see their favorite veterans come back for the next game, and on this front, Sakurai deflated no spirits.
Of course, it would not be a Super Smash Bros. game without the ember inquiry of “who’s going to join the roster?” Ultimate boasts a fantastic selection from its six unique newcomers and five echoes. Ridley from Metroid goes without saying, given the nearly two decades worth of fan support culminating in his brutal playable debut where he kills Mario and Mega Man. Simon Belmont and his echo Richter Belmont hail from the esteemed Castlevania series, the franchise that started the innovative “Metroidvania” style of games with Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. Neither should anyone overlook Inklings from the breakout Splatoon franchise on the Wii U, Nintendo's worst selling console. Many thought that they should have been DLC last game, but one has to pick which wars they win, right?
King K. Rool from Donkey Kong also debuts as a newcomer in his magnificent August debut. Considered by many to be dead, K. Rool made a triumphant return through Ultimate, featuring a humorous trailer that established the long-standing rivalry between Donkey Kong and Diddy Kong versus K. Rool. Sakurai lovingly crafted his move set, beyond that of K. Rool fans’ wildest dreams from games like:
- Donkey Kong Country
- Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest
- Donkey Kong Country 3: Dixie Kong’s Double Trouble!
- Donkey Kong 64
- and even Donkey Kong Land
K. Rool is the only newcomer so far to have Sakurai mention the ballot as a factor for his inclusion. Hyle from DK Vine showed more that there's more to the story than what Sakurai leads on, noting that this caused Sakurai to call dibs on reviving K. Rool. It's incredible how a band of dedicated fans under the Kremling Kampaigner not only saved a beloved character from extinction but also changed the direction of the Donkey Kong franchise.
A decade ago, fans dreamed of an incredible Super Smash Bros. game with all of Nintendo's greatest characters. Nintendo has given its fans exactly what they want and so much more in what will go down as gaming's greatest crossover.
Who will you be playing as in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? Fellow Lucas main here.