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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate extended hands-on: A beefier Nintendo brawler

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate feels like the series’ punchiest fighter yet, and I got that impression before Nintendo baddies like King K. Rool and Dark Samus were added onto the roster.

Early versions of the game have been getting into fans’ hands at several events already, currently at Gamescom this week. My impressions here come from the San Diego Comic-Con version on display last month — which included early looks at Ridley and the Breath of the Wild version of Link.

During a series of four-player matchups, I found that the game’s sped-up style either meant I was wrecking my opponents quickly or wildly flying throughout the stage after getting hit by anything from a playable Splatoon Inkling to the Bomberman assist trophy.

Faster characters moved so quickly that I sometimes had a harder time keeping track of where they were on the stage. And taking control of the slower, yet more powerful characters led to a different circumstance where I had trouble timing a blow against a speedy fighter, but when it connected they were often nearly KOed.

 

And if you are fortunate enough to break open a Smash Ball that lets you unleash a big Final Smash move, get close to your opponents first or else you might end up wasting the attack. Final Smash moves like Ridley blasting a character against Samus’ ship or Cloud’s sword attack launch quickly after you press the attack button, and if you aren’t careful you might not hit anyone. This happened to me when I was controlling Cloud; somehow I not only managed to miss everyone, but also caused him to fly off the stage.

The new version of Link is so far my favorite character to play with, as I felt like the new version of his bomb attack could be thrown farther than in previous games while retaining a lot of the sword attacks that make him feel familiar.

The tweaked Pokemon Trainer, who no longer needs to keep track of his or her Pokemon’s stamina, is another favorite since you can switch between Charizard, Ivysaur and Squirtle faster than ever. As a result, you can rapidly change between a heavy, medium and light character to fit your needs throughout a battle.

 

Ridley is both very fast and surprisingly fragile for a fearsome space dragon. I found him to be a little unwieldy to control, but with really strong attacks when I could get them to land. Ike also had super-strong attack moves, but performed them slowly, which required careful timing.

Back on the classic roster, Mario feels mostly the same as in previous Smash games. He jumps. He punches. He squirts water from his Super Mario Sunshine water tank. Cappy from Super Mario Odyssey‘s here too, but from my playtime it felt like the living hat’s addition mainly allows for some of Odyssey’s colorful costumes to be available.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is releasing on Dec. 7. The game is already set to include every character from Super Smash Bros’ history along with additions like Castlevania’s Simon Belmont and the aforementioned King K. Rool. Check out more Smash Bros. Ultimate matchups in the Nintendo YouTube videos embedded in this story and game photos in the gallery below.

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