Smash Bros. is essentially a multiplayer experience. The game loses something when you play alone. Over the years, developers of Smash have tried different ways to provide a solo experience, such as story modes, with varying degrees of success. But Super Smash Bros. Ultimate which launches tomorrow with the Nintendo Switch, has finally cracked the code. The game introduces a new "ghost" mode, which, while initially very confusing, actually manages to turn the desperate fighter into something that approaches a single-player role-playing game. Equipment, many battles and a melodramatic story. And it is fantastic.
It all starts with a very intense opening video that captures virtually every character in the game ̵
The name "Spirits" derives from one of the new gameplay features introduced in Ultimate . Ghosts are essentially characters that you can collect and equip to give your main fighter a variety of qualities. It's all very strange and complicated at first. As Kirby comes your quest in the form of a series of battles, each with different rules. At one point you are fighting against a gigantic form of Bowser, and next you have to find and defeat an incredibly small version of Mr. Game & Watch. After a few of these battles, you will rescue characters that will join your fighter squad. But you will also get ghosts that are characters, but not those who actually fight.
Imagine ghosts as equipment instead: they can each equip a few abilities like a hovering jump. Over time, you can also improve your spirits, and different types of spirits are more useful against different types of enemies. It's the kind of scissors with rock-paper-scissors that fans of Pokémon will be familiar with. The result is that, similar to Diablo you are constantly receiving new equipment and constantly changing your equipment to suit your situation. (The game will recommend loading for each battle, which makes it less tedious than it sounds.)
Well, it could only have been a series of struggles with unlockable equipment, and it would have been pretty funny anyway. But virtually every aspect of the adventure is tuned to feel like an RPG, only when Smash fights instead of turn-based battles. For example, you're on a sprawling map of different regions, all based on a different Nintendo franchise. You will drive a hovercar around a racetrack F-Zero and plunge into the fiery darkness of Bowser's Castle. And it's all rendered in an art style reminiscent of an old Dragon Quest card. Along the way, you will come across a series of RPG brackets: shops where you can buy useful items, hidden treasure chests and dojos to train your senses. And the structure forces you to experiment by using different fighters and ghost combinations to master some of the more difficult battles.
It's a coherent package that stands alone: it's not just a fun distraction for someone to play with. Instead, spirits is a big, meaty adventure in which to look for something different Smash . It combines two things that seem incompatible at first glance, giving Kirby a whole new appreciation.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be released on December 7 on the Nintendo Switch.