Where, exactly, to start with a game like Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? Maybe it’s in one of the 74-strong roster of fighters, such as newcomer Isabelle, who has the same propensity for getting shit done here as she does in her native Animal Crossing series. She’s savage, a flurry of toy hammers and candy umbrellas plus a fishing rod used to reel in her opponents, and for her final trick she calls in the muscle, summoning Nook and co who immediately construct their town hall over your poor foe.
Maybe it’s in the Spirits mode, the new single-player diversion that makes as much sense of the vast sprawl that’s built around this series since its inception, an RPG-like sprawl through an overworld where you’re tasked with collecting the souls of video game stars from far and wide. And so, if that roster of playable fighters that dips into Street Fighter by way of Final Fantasy, Castlevania and, of course, Nintendo’s own back catalogue isn’t enough for you then here’s a chance to see minor cameos from Mach Rider, from Virtua Fighter, from Advance Wars, from Street Pass Mii Plaza, from Project Zero, from… Glory of Heracles?
Forgive me for getting a little breathless, but this is that sort of game; an enthusiastic grab bag of gaming history, where familiar call-backs are met by deeper cuts and references to obscure NES RPG series by the beloved, departed Data East. And that enthusiasm is infectious, too – Smash Bros. is, and always has been, a smile of a game, an endless festival featuring all your favourites plus a few more besides. Yes, it gets a bit messy sometimes, but the best festivals always do.
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