There's a lot to take in with Nintendo's new brawler, but these tips should help you get started.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate may have been out for little more than a week, but that hasn't stopped us from racking up hours of playtime. We've struggled to put our Joy-Cons down since launch, as we've been busy sharpening our skills in online quickplay matches and expanding our spirit collection within the World of Light solo adventure mode. What the self-proclaimed 'Ultimate' package offers is truly substantial, but for beginners, it can be hard to know where to start, and that's before delving into to the nuanced battle mechanics and expanded roster of 77 playable fighters. If you've yet to jump into the battle arena and things look a little daunting for you, then fear not, as we've compiled a few handy tips and tricks to help swing the fight in your favour.
Training Mode Is The Best Place to Get Started
Whoa there, cowboy! Before even stepping into the arena, we urge that you sample what Ultimate's enhanced training mode has to offer. This enables you to alternate between all unlockable characters and its playable graph-like training stage presents a measurable way to help you deepen your understanding of landing various move combinations. It also features tweakable parameters and you can alter the number of CPUs, how much damage they have, and how they behave towards you in battle (you can even control them if another Joy-Con is connected). We also recommend that you experiment with various battle items, as these can really give you the upper hand and only last for a few fleeting seconds during matches.
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Kirby, Pokémon Trainer, and Mario Are Worth a Try First
There's a staggering number of fighters to be unlocked in Ultimate (77 to be precise), and whilst you may naturally gravitate towards a character from your favourite franchise, we'd urge that you give either Kirby, Pokémon Trainer, or Mario a punt first. Your mileage may vary with these three, but they're our personal picks for fighters that we found more straightforward to get to grips with. Do note though that whilst Kirby and Mario are available upfront, Pokémon Trainer does require unlocking either through the World of Light or a random encounter.
Kirby gets our pick as his quintuple jump makes for excellent stage recovery, and his copy ability allows you to get a taste for some of each character's moves. Pokémon Trainer is also a strong choice as they're essentially three fighters in one since you can alternate between Squirtle, Ivysaur, and Charizard at just a push of a button. This enables you to play with three characters with varying weights and move sets, but just be careful not to plough yourself off over the edge with Charizard's side special. Mario is our last pick and may seem a bit of a bland choice, but we think there's more than one reason why the moustachioed plumber has the number one spot on the roster. Mario can toss fireball balls, deflect projectiles with a flap of his cape, and his final smash is near unavoidable, as it covers such a sweeping section of the stage.
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Use Custom Rulesets to Turn Down the Heat
When learning the ropes, it can be beneficial to create your own rulesets within Smash mode to make things a little simpler and allow you to get more of a feel for the basics. If you select 'create ruleset' you can tweak aspects such as stage hazards, score counters, and item spawns, and these can be saved so as to be accessed quickly when playing in the future. There's even an underdog boost that you can enable within the advanced settings that gives you a power bump if you find yourself continually stuck on the receiving end of a beating. Remember to adjust the CPU level before encounters too, and begin to raise it incrementally as your confidence begins to grow.
Don't Rush! Unlocking Fighters Happens At Your Own Pace
The roster of playable characters within Ultimate is pretty bare bones without putting in the required legwork. Available upfront are the eight characters that debuted alongside the 1999 N64 original - Mario, Donkey Kong, Kirby, Pikachu, Fox, Samus, Yoshi, and Link - and to unlock more you're going to want to pour time into the various modes Ultimate has to offer. We found ourselves completing the line-up in no time just by enjoying things at our own pace, so there's no rush.
Each time you play a round of Classic, VS, or World of Light a random encounter will be triggered and you'll have a chance to unlock the opposing fighter. These fighters ramp up in difficulty the more you unlock, but if you mess up your first time there's always the chance of a rematch by clicking on the gate icon in the Games & More tab. There's no need to stress about resetting your console every 10 minutes or to having to beat the 20-hour World of Light mode in full - if you just keep playing Ultimate as you wish you'll find your roster beginning to pad out.
Learn Your Spirit Types
Moving over onto the World of Light mod, our number one tip would be to become familiar with the different types of primary spirits that you will assign to your fighters. There are four different spirit types - Neutral, Shield, Fire, Attack and Grab - with each offering their own strengths and weaknesses (besides Neutral) in an almost Pokémon-like fashion. Attack has a power advantage over Grab, Grab has an advantage over Shield, and Shield has an advantage over Fire (with the weaknesses being the reverse). You should note though that you're rewarded for being an underdog and receive more rewards such as snacks and spheres if you are at a disadvantage.
Use Saved Teams and Favourites to Save Time
As you progress along the board game-like map you will start to earn hundreds of spirits, making housekeeping methods such as creating saved teams pretty useful in the long run. During some stages, there will be hazards such as poisonous fog, sleep-inducing floors, and high winds, and you may have a support spirit for these effects, but it's likely you'll only need it for this specific situation. By saving a team or by marking them individually as favourites you can quickly filter through and grab the right spirit for the job instead of having to sift through your entire collection. We'd also recommend doing this for different types of primary spirits, as you'll be alternating between them on a regular basis to receive that all-important power boost.
Keep Your Spirits Busy With Activities
Activities are a great way to make progress even when your Switch is on standby. You can send your spirits to the Gym or the Dojo to level up and you can take them on Expeditions to the caves or the mines for them to harvest resources. You'll find these Activities in specific locations on the map and they will become unlockable after defeating the master spirit that's guarding it. Activities are something that we would urge you to engage in daily as they enable you to stock up on much-need spirit points and support items, being the most time-efficient way of enhancing specific spirits past level 99. Make sure though that you aren't too quick to dismiss any weak-looking spirits during your adventure though, as you'll always need a team of workers to help find you goodies.
Dismiss Any Duplicate Spirits
Dismissing spirits is not only a good method for general housekeeping but it means that you will receive spirit points and cores that can be used for levelling up and summoning other spirits. Ultimate doesn't stack any spirits you have twice and instead includes them simultaneously within your list, so things can look a little unnecessarily messy if you aren't organised. As the same spirits can be unlocked from the Spirit Board, World of Light Mode, and the Vault Shop there's bound to be some crossover, so take advantage of this and get those extra cores and spirit points.