Reunited with old friends.
Yesterday I was fortunate enough to get some hands on time with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. While the game was fun, I will say the playing conditions weren’t ideal for someone who prefers the For Glory style of play. I managed to play three rounds, each of which was a two and a half minute timed match with four players, items turned on, and using Switch Pro Controllers. Also, it was very clear that the TV provided to play the game had bad input lag which hurt the overall experience.
There is some good news though. My favorite characters to use in the Super Smash Bros. series are finally back this time and I gave them a try. For those who don’t know me well, I'm talking about the Ice Climbers! I still think they are one of the most unique characters to select in Smash Bros. since you are, in a sense, playing as two characters at once. Though I’ve noticed some differences this time around.
For starters the Ice Climber’s Up Air attack has been turned from a poking move to more of a hard hit which may be suitable for killing. Doing the Blizzard special now causes both Ice Climbers, Popo and Nana, to do the attack facing forward as opposed to opposite directions. If you've played as them in previous games you'll likely understand how they work. Their secret secondary recovery, mashing the Side B move, also makes a return.
Part of their arsenal has been weakened however. The Ice Climbers have long had one of the most devastating grab games in Smash history, be it Melee or Brawl. In Ultimate the computer controlled Ice Climber, Nana, now goes into a helpless state if Popo grabs or is grabbed. Also, Nana can’t grab anymore. While I’d need a lot more time to test it, it seems like their grab game won’t be nearly as effective which is a bit of a let down. Still the game isn’t finished and a lot more time and testing would need to be put in to see if anything can be done. I was able to get Nana to desync from Popo a few times, so there may be some advance Ice Climber tactics yet.
One sad thing to note is that in the Demo Version of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate there is no way to play as the backup Ice Climber Nana. In all the previous Smash Bros. games that the Ice Climbers have appeared in half of the costume options actually put Nana in the lead instead of Popo. I checked all the costume selections on the character select screen and none of them moved Nana to the front. I hope this something that gets changed before the final version of the game launches.
The Ice Climbers were my choice for the first round, but I followed up with Ridley and an Inkling. It’s hard playing as a brand new Smash character in a frantic environment, but I made due. I managed to hit Ridley’s final Smash on two other players and the visual reward was great and he blasted them both against Samus’ ship. Both character’s seemed interesting, but again it’s hard to know for sure under the given play conditions.
The game in general had a faster feel than the previous title. Also the physics when it comes to smashing others with hard hits, which I’ve heard some describe as like punching a balloon, are going to take some getting used to. If you land a hard hit on opponents who have some decent amount of damage they will now very quickly fly to their destination before coming to an abrupt halt. The reason this feels a bit odd is that it makes it seem like you should have knocked out other players due to the velocity they travel, but they will live because they come to this instant stop. It’s definitely something veteran Smash players will have to get used to. Time will tell if this is ultimately a good or bad change.
I walked away from the Smash Bros. Ultimate demo wanting more, but also wishing I could play it under better conditions. With the way this demo was set up I couldn’t get the best feel for the game and I wish I could put enough time in to discuss each character with our readers. That said, it is Smash Bros. and I really can’t wait to dive in and see what the final product has to offer.