A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the latest installment in the wildly popular fighting series exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. Players select from a roster of more than 70 characters from a wide variety of games; some are from Nintendo, like Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, or the Metroid franchises. Other characters come from Street Fighter, Mega Man, or other game series. The game also supports amiibo figurines that are sold separately, which players can use to personalize their favorite character, and a subscription to Nintendo Switch Online is required for online multiplayer games. While fighting is the point of the game, with characters using fists, feet, special attacks, and items to launch opponents off the screen, there's no blood or gore shown, and the combat is cartoonish. Some female characters wear skintight costumes, but otherwise, there's no inappropriate content.
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What's it about?
SUPER SMASH BROS. ULTIMATE is the latest installment in the popular Nintendo fighting game franchise, which pits many of Nintendo's most popular characters against characters from other game series, like Sonic, Solid Snake from Metal Gear, and Cloud from Final Fantasy VII. Why they're fighting each other doesn't really matter -- it's the best warrior standing as up to eight fighters try to launch each other off the sides of the screen with special attacks, weapons, and environmental hazards. Along with the returning Versus and Classic modes, or the option to transform a stage into another stage with the Stage Morph option, there's a new single-player mode called World of Light. Here, players discover that all of the characters in the game (except for Kirby) have been captured by an enemy called Galeem in a sudden attack, turning these fighters into puppets. Players will need to journey across a large world, fighting in stages with special conditions (like constantly losing health, or the floor is on fire) to rescue each character. To counter these conditions, players will have the chance to recruit Spirits, characters that impart their own abilities to your fighters. Practice your combos and pick your favorite character, because it's time to throw down!
Is it any good?
This new chapter in the popular brawling franchise packs in so much content, characters, and combat, it's a must-have for any Nintendo Switch owner. Like the other games in the series, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a love letter to popular game characters from a range of games that have graced Nintendo's consoles. But Ultimate stretches the bounds of the game card with the sheer amount of content that's crammed into it. Players can listen to hundreds of songs from each game (about 900 in all), and will be able to unlock more than 70 fighters to use across more than 100 stages. Beyond that, there's a wealth of options for Versus and Classic game modes, allowing players to get their fight on in tournaments, sudden death matches, squad play, and other face-offs. Plus, as in the Wii U version, you'll be able to customize your amiibo to play according to your own fighting style, and can easily leap into online battles with people from around the world.
That would seem like plenty of content for one game, but Nintendo went one step further, adding a single-player adventure mode: World of Light. Here, Kirby tries to free the entire roster from being enslaved by a villain that turns characters into puppets. To give Kirby a chance, he'll recruit Spirits from defeated opponents, each with an initial character trait similar to rock-paper-scissors. Along with boosting the attack and defense stats of each character, Spirits have their own skills and levels to determine how powerful they are, which gives a role-playing game flair to the brawling action. But beyond customizing each character, Spirits can help gamers scale the challenge based on their own talent and experience: You can demolish enemies with overpowered fighters, or give yourself a challenge by weakening your characters to face modified odds. World of Light is simply massive, and collecting Spirits through fights in this mode or the Spirit Board submode (where you can brawl for exclusive Spirits) gives a Pokémon-like element to building your party of characters. It also gives you more of a reason to practice and learn how to play characters instead of simply mashing buttons for success. If there's a negative to be found within Ultimate, it's that there's so much content here, it practically spoils other games on the Switch; you'll find yourself expecting that every other game card will have this much content. That's a minor concern for something so complete and so well done. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate isn't just a new chapter for the franchise, it's the evolution of Nintendo's fighting series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate acceptable because it's cartoonish, without any blood or gore shown? Does the violence feel more intense if you're in the middle of an eight-player battle?
Does Super Smash Bros. Ultimate feel like an homage to Nintendo games and characters, or does it feel like it's marketing these games and amiibo figures to players?
- Platforms: Nintendo Switch
- Price: $59.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Nintendo
- Release date: December 7, 2018
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Sports and Martial Arts, Superheroes
- ESRB rating: E10+ for Cartoon Violence, Comic Mischief, Suggestive Themes
- Last updated: February 22, 2020
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.