Masahiro Sakurai has designed every game he’s ever made like it is his last. With the latest Super Smash Bros. entries, he’s gone the extra mile to truly make each title an event. Smash Bros. Ultimate has managed to bring an impossible amount of content under one roof. Before DLC, you get 76 fighters, 103 stages, 1,297 spirits, 876 music tracks, and tons of options to customize your battles! Ultimate is well worth the $60 price-tag. The relatively cheap DLC, for fighting game standards, adds quite a bit to every total! The big tag-line at E3 2018 was that “Everyone is Here!” Ultimate could truly be the last entry Mr. Sakurai works on, and he put every bit of effort into bringing back as much as possible.
The team worked incredibly hard to promote nostalgia and play to every base. Ultimate brought back stages, characters, and music that nobody thought would ever return. There’s one truth of the internet, you can provide as much as possible, but it will never be enough. Game developers see this all the time. I can’t imagine how many borderline insane requests Masahiro Sakurai, Ed Boon, Katsuhiro Harada, or any number of other developers see daily. Especially when guest characters are thrown in!
Super Smash Bros. tries it’s hardest to represent as many titles as possible. Representation doesn’t just stop at the roster itself. Trophies and Mii costumes were the primary way series are represented outside of the roster. In a Nintendo Direct aired August 8th, 2018, Mr. Sakurai confirmed that trophies would be replaced with spirits. The 3D models took a long to develop. At launch, fans noticed that the game featured no third party Mii costumes. It’s easy to understand that not everything could be licensed back. The full roster and hundreds of spirits were almost a miracle themselves! Most third party costumes have returned as DLC.
Leading up to launch, specific stages were immediately recognized as missing. Fans cried out for the return of Pac-Maze, Poké Floats, and more. While requesting more on top of such a full package might seem selfish, many hold nostalgia for specific arenas! A huge addition to Ultimate was the stage morph feature. While many competitive players scoffed and haven’t thought twice since launch, it remains popular. It was notoriously “difficult to develop”, so I believe most stages that were cut are missing because of it. It’s easy to imagine how Woolly World or Poké Floats could cause problems with transforming terrain.
This does leave an odd outlier. There is no stage in gaming as iconic as the Pac-Maze. World 1-1, Green Hill, and the Street Fighter II bonus stage might be close, but they’re still a relative longshot away. Mr. Sakurai gave us an exact reason back in 2015! As translated by Source Gaming – “If you collect 100 dots, a player-exclusive Power Pellet appears that powers up your character when consumed. The key thing to note is that the ghosts turn frightened when you eat the Power Pellet, but they don’t change on the opponents’ screens. This is just one of the many designs I’ve implemented that is only possible on the 3DS where each player has his or her own screen.”
While I’d still love to see the Geno mii costume or Poké Floats, researching this topic has opened a neat insight into how much thought is put into every Super Smash Bros. title. It will be almost impossible for any title to recapture the magic of Ultimate, and I intend to appreciate it while it lasts.