Nintendo’s Ultimate Party Game Still Feels Untouchable

A challenger approaches.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
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Over the years, countless games have tried to reproduce the wild success of Super Smash Brothers. For the most part, they always fail. Smash Bros. has proved to be a phenomenon over the years. To this day, there’s still a vibrant competitive scene for Super Smash Bros. Melee, which came out in 2001 for the GameCube, and teasers for new Smash Ultimate characters have served as major announcements at events like The Game Awards.

But five years ago, Nintendo decisively proved that no one will ever be able to reach its heights. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is still a staggering success, a game with such vibrant vision and ambition it manages to succeed at everything it does. A raucous multiplayer experience, it’s hard to believe the amount of content and quality crammed into every corner of Smash Ultimate. It’s a celebration of decades of video game history and quite simply the best party game ever created.

Smash Ultimate’s gameplay is impeccably well-tuned, making it very easy to pick up but packed with enough depth that it’s hard to master.


When Smash Ultimate was announced, it almost defied belief. This wasn’t just a new game in the series but would also bring back every character featured across the franchise while adding a handful of new ones. This resulted in a staggering roster that consisted of 74 characters at launch and ballooned to 89 by the end of the game’s DLC run.

What’s truly incredible is that Ultimate doesn’t feel like a rehash of past games but rather the definitive version of what Smash Bros. always wanted to be. The teams at Nintendo and Bandai Namco managed to refine the side-scrolling brawler gameplay to an incredible degree, with each fighter feeling unique and fully developed.

Having this many playable characters is a staggering task alone before you even factor in how they play off each other with different moves and strategies. The brilliance of Ultimate lies in how approachable it is as an experience that anyone can pick up.

Smash Ultimate has a mode for everyone, whether you play solo, casually at parties, or competitively.


It’s the perfect game to put on at a party and just have people swap out as they win or lose or engage in the utter chaos of an eight-player match. At the same time, Ultimate has enough depth to be played competitively, in matches with real stakes. Even if you want to play solo, there’s a ton of meaningful content to wade through with a full World of Light story mode, ever-changing Spirit Board challenges, and more.

It’s incredibly rare to find a game that’s so filled with content but doesn’t feel bloated. Smash Ultimate provides so many ways to play, but the point is to appeal to players of all preferences. If you don’t ever want to touch the story mode, you don’t have to. But there are still a half-dozen other ways to have fun. The Nintendo Switch’s portability means it’s easier than ever to play Smash Bros. anywhere, only increasing its viability as a party game.

Equally impressive is the way Nintendo continued to add to Smash Ultimate for years with phenomenal additions that make it an almost transcendent experience, one that simultaneously represents decades of console history while still feeling inherently modern. The development team put clear thought and effort into developing DLC characters and stages, making each one offer something new to the game. Dragon Quest’s Hero has a fascinating way of integrating an RPG magic system into a fighting framework, Terry and Kazuya adapt elements of their respective games into Smash’s formula, and Steve somehow manages to make Minecraft mechanics work.

Nintendo did a fantastic job with DLC characters, turning every reveal into an “event” and making the characters distinct.


Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was a monumental achievement for Nintendo when it launched. But five years later, it’s clear that it’s one of the finest multiplayer games ever made. Everything works flawlessly and every mode and element in Ultimate is there for a reason. Nothing feels superfluous. It’s still incredible to think the development team managed to pull the whole thing off, and if you need to liven a party up, a few rounds of Smash Bros. will have the crowd on their feet in no time.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is available on Nintendo Switch.

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