Savor It Scott's Thoughts: Smash Ultimate is HERE!

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is here! This blog post concludes the Ultimate Countdown.

What a wait it has been! It’s been so fun to see glimpses of this game over the past nine months, and the next character reveal was always an event to look forward to.

Now we have the game in our hands, and our wait has been rewarded.

Savor it.

To savor is to enjoy completely. 

This game has to be the title with the most content, the most replayability, of any Nintendo game ever!

Nintendo fans have a horrible reputation for being insatiable, for calling a game “old news” the week after it hits store shelves.

It be tempting to start calling for certain balance patches, to create campaigns for additional DLC…

But this time, what about being content? How about being satiated? Let’s appreciate Sakurai, the development team, the marketing folks at Nintendo, the Treehouse testers, everyone who was involved in making this superb title.

And let’s enjoy it fully for years to come.

My Release Night Plans Scott's Thoughts: 1 Day to Smash Ultimate


We’ve endured the long wait for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, although if you think about it… the wait really hasn’t been that long! We only learned about this title in March, and development faced zero known delays, something that’s almost unheard of for this series.

Word on the street (read: Reddit) is that eShop servers will update at midnight Eastern, which is fortunately 9pm in Pacific timezone where I live. If you preloaded the game digitally, that’s when it should unlock on your home screen!

Simeon and I are ready and extremely excited to play. I just wanted to share a quick post about our plans for release night.

  • Get done with a meeting about 8:15pm. It absolutely must NOT go late, or there will be consequences!
  • Rush to Best Buy so I can pick up my physical copy at 9pm.
  • Simeon will accompany me, and will then use his phone’s mobile-hotspot feature to connect his Switch and unlock his digital copy.
  • Speed through every red light and stop sign to arrive at home. Periodically shoot Simeon dirty looks of jealousy as his Switch’s speakers emit sounds of smashing in the passenger seat.
  • Scale the 3 flights of stairs up to my apartment in about 7.3 seconds.
  • Slam the cartridge into my Switch (after a quick lick).
  • Start up a stream on our YouTube channel [ring that bell to get notified when we go live].
  • Unlock characters as fast as possible.
  • Kick Simeon’s sorry tushy with Dark Samus.

If you’re not picking up the game and playing it right away, we’d love to have you join our release night stream!

I’ve got one more blog post in this series, publishing tomorrow, Dec. 7th at noon Pacific.

Will there Be Another Smash? Scott's Thoughts: 2 Days to Smash Ultimate


noun: the best achievable or imaginable of its kind.
being or happening at the end of a process; final.

Will Super Smash Bros. Ultimate be the last game in the series? Is the subtitle more of a noun, or an adjective?

It certainly seems that this 5th entry in the series is a celebration of all things Smash. Until E3 2018, we were unsure if the Switch would see a simple port of the Wii U game, or if we would get a true sequel. From the moment the words “Everyone is Here” flashed across our screens, we knew that this game was something special.

With every character and nearly every stage reporting for battle, it’s easy to see why some would think this is the climax of the franchise.

Not to mention Sakurai’s constant threats that he may be finished with Smash development after each entry nearly kills him. He calls the games being completed a “miracle” and has battled various physical conditions while new games are in development, often putting strain on his wrists and his sleep schedule.

I believe we’re nearing a time of turnover in Nintendo’s headquarters in Japan. Of course, the President’s chair has seen a few different occupants in recent years, but their stable of developers and directors is also showing its age. Miyamoto-san has been actively raising the next generation of Mario makers, resulting in many of the new ideas found in Super Mario Odyssey. It’s only a matter of years before Aunoma decides that it’s time to retire as well.

Sakurai is a bit younger than his aforementioned contemporaries, but has seen more crunch-time than just about anyone in the industry. He also tends to take on more responsibility than necessary, insisting on doing all the balancing himself by hand. Carrying a franchise as large as Super Smash Bros., with a roster as big as it’s grown, is too big a burden for one man.

I can easily see Sakurai stepping down after Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. If he had additional games in him, I don’t think this Switch title would have gotten the name it did.

Now, from a business perspective it’s hard to imagine a world without a new SSB game in the pipeline. It’s one of Nintendo’s most dearly loved franchises, one of their best selling series, and is one of their few tenuous connections to hardcore, competitive gaming and events like EVO and Genesis.

I don’t think Nintendo will ever let Super Smash Bros. die, but Sakurai will likely pass the leadership on after the Fighter Pass DLC is complete.


The Best Characters in Smash 5 (So far) Scott's Thoughts: 3 Days to Smash Ultimate

Here’s a quick list of who the best characters are in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Note: I’m counting down to the release of the game, so this is pre-day-1-patch! Always remember that your favorite character has a good chance of being patched into oblivion. That’s another reason why character selection is only 10% of the key to victory.

But some characters are going to start out with a bit of an advantage, and here they are:


Isabelle is a beast to play against. She has the side aerials of Villager, making her a great zoner. She has a Lloyd rocket that gets planted slyly in the ground, difficult to see and able to be set off remotely or by proximity. Isabelle also has an absurdly powerful pocket move, dealing ~3x the damage of whatever she pockets. Characters like Samus, Mewtwo, Lucario, or others with charge shots can die at extremely low percents if Isabelle nabs your attack.

Young Link

Young Link is nimble and packs a hefty punch. His arrows feel a bit overpowered, as they fly quickly, have little to no endlag, and light the opponent on fire. And speaking of projectiles, Young Link isn’t damaged by his own bomb’s explosives, meaning he can be much more aggressive at close-ranges. Thanks to Ocarina of Time, he still possesses the hookshot that allows him to tether-grab and tether-recover, which his adult counterpart lacks. Young Link can also reliably kill with up-air, which has a powerful lasting hitbox to punish any airdodges.


In Smash 4, Roy appeared to be the meatier/slower/stronger version of Marth. In this game however, a group of competitive Smash players huddled around a TV watched as a challenger approached, and it turned out to be a very speedy and very strong Roy. We couldn’t believe how quick he was moving around. Getting up in people’s grilles and hitting with the base of the sword is going to be easier than ever thanks to this huge buff.

Other candidates…

It’s too early to tell on a few others, but Donkey Kong looks promising with his low-percent “Ding Dong” (carry > up-throw > up air) still in tact, and some new grounded combos. King K Rool is a heavyweight that actually has a fantastic recovery. Inkling looks to be a bit overwhelming with a super-fast squid form dash. Yoshi also has nothing but buffs (though few people will take the time to learn him).

Time will tell how tier-lists shake out after several patches and after millions of players experiment with the new roster, but if you want to get a head-start on online matches day one, these characters would be a great place to start!

The Pie-Chart of Victory in Smash Bros. Scott's Thoughts: 4 Days to Smash Ultimate

What factors determine the winner in a “serious” Super Smash Bros. match?

It’s easy to think that it all comes down to tier lists; whichever player trains with the more optimal character wins. I have also fallen into this trap, having second thoughts about playing a certain fighter because their stats are lower.

However, after giving this some thought, I’ve decided that character selection is only a small percentage of what determines the result of a match. I present… the pie-chart of victory!

Stage Choice (5%)

Stage choice is the smallest factor. Very few stages favor certain characters so much as to make them dangerous (and those can be striked/banned in the selection process). Whether you’re playing on Battlefield, Dream Land, or Smashville matters very little. I have known players that only practice on Battlefield, however, and that is to their detriment. As long as you put in some hours with each of the legal stages, nothing is going to surprise you too badly.

Character Choice (10%)

I’ve seen entire tournaments won with a bottom-tier character. I’ve seen players in a bind pull out their “pocket Cloud” or their “pocket Bayonetta” just to get trounced because, although they went with a top-tier pick, they didn’t have the practice needed. Tier lists aren’t everything, and in fact, playing the fighter with the best stats will probably cripple you in other areas. You won’t learn to compensate attacks that have slow start-ups with reads. You won’t learn how to leverage rage to even out a disadvantage. Playing characters with drawbacks teaches you the game much better than the star of the roster will.

Mindset (20%)

Most noticeable In Super Smash Bros. Melee, there’s a momentum that occurs when a player gets ahead. It would be hard to explain using only in-game language, because it’s actually a mindset problem. When a player takes his opponent’s stock, the opponent should have a good opportunity to get off the platform and strike back, starting up a combo while under invincibility. What’s more likely to happen, though, is that the winning player will take another stock. And probably a third. That’s why there are so many 4-stock compilations of SSBM. This trend applies to all Smash games, and in Smash 4 where players only had two stocks, you could often see a competitor give up after a 50% disadvantage. You wouldn’t notice this as much in the gameplay, but in the playercam. Someone who believes a comeback is always possible will be capable of unlocking the biggest key to victory:

Adaptability (30%)

This is more important in Smash Ultimate than ever before. With an enormous roster, you’ll never be able to practice every match-up, coupled with every competitive playstyle. You’ll go into tournaments or serious online matches without the knowledge needed to form a gameplan in advance. Smash Ultimate players will need to be able to plan piece-by-piece simultaneously while playing. If you get hit by a combo once, how can you get out of it the second time? A true combo—how can you avoid the setup? We have three whole stocks to work with, meaning that you have plenty of time to go from aggressive to defensive and back again if the situation calls for it. Adaptability also includes a player’s reflexes, which is just responding to what’s on screen in a split-second moment. Active learners win in Super Smash Bros.

Reads (15%)

Reading your opponent is the most proactive you can be in a game of Super Smash Bros. It’s predicting when the other player will use a laggy move, and having a response ready. It’s determining if your opponent will be recovering high or low. It’s knowing when a roll is about to come out, so you can have an attack ready. It’s the foresight to see that a counter or air-dodge is about to come out, and being ready to punish it. This is also known as “getting in the other player’s head” and will completely knock them off their game. It’s good to have fast reflexes and be able to respond quickly to what’s on screen, but it’s a whole other thing to be playing based on what’s about to be on the screen.

Experience (20%)

You can’t shortcut practice! Months and years of grinding against other competitors will allow you to level up your reads, adaptability, your mindset, and knowledge-base from which to know the right characters and stages to pick. Just showing up and losing, then watching other players will help you place better the next time.

Squad Strike mode is Amazing! Scott's Thoughts: 5 Days to Smash Ultimate

Squad Strike mode in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate looks amazing!

Nintendo has yet to explain this mode very well, but thanks to the game leaking we have some great new details about this optional mode.

(Yes, these are leaked details—but come on, there are no spoilers for a mode in a game, right?)

I said Nintendo hasn’t done Squad Strike justice, because they weren’t very clear about what it actually does. Their short presentations left too many open questions. Do you have one stock for each character, and play as multiple characters in one round? Or are you and an opponent just creating a playlist of characters to battle in a set order? Or is it a series of different matchups, but your character’s individual stocks carry over (“winner stays in” style)?

I’m ecstatic to say that the answer to all these questions is yes!

Squad Strike has multiple modes inside the mode. It’s like mode-ception.

✅ Our dream of picking multiple characters for one match will come true. When I die with Mario, Dark Samus will appear on the spawn platform.

✅ Tournament style Crew Battles work in the game, where I can take out multiple different players in a row as long as I hang on to a stock.

✅ My sparring-partner and I can create multiple match-up scenarios ahead of time, then play through them uninterrupted.

With this much flexibility and this many new options, I might spend more time in Squad Strike than in the actual Smash mode!

Physical, Digital, and All the Options Between Scott's Thoughts: 6 Days to Smash Ultimate

Back when Simeon and I were doing the Daily Show for Nintendo fans, we put out a video that went on to be very popular: What’s Better, Physical or Digital Games?

YouTuber tip: Any time you can title a video with the exact question people are typing in to search, you’ll find a lot of viewers who need help! And I think we were able to provide some solid advice.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate hits store shelves and digital shops in one week, so it’s about time we made up our mind about what format we’re buying, eh?

Physical Advantages

  • Resale: If you get sick of Smash, you can sell it and make some investment back. (If you’re reading this blog though, you’ll probably hang on to the game forever.)
  • Lending: You can let a friend borrow your game. It helps to have real life sparring partners who can challenge you, and letting them take the game home to practice is a good way to build up a rivalry.
  • Packaging: When you spend your $60 at a retailer instead of an eShop, you get a little more. That is, you receive a box that can be placed on a shelf or propped up to display its awesome cover art.
  • Storage: Smash 5 is a big game, and takes up a lot of memory. Multiple Gigabytes, in fact. Do you want that storage used up on your Switch’s hardware (digital), or more efficiently stowed on the cartridge itself?
  • Discounts: Maybe you renewed Best Buy Gamer’s Club Unlocked or have a discount through Amazon Prime.

Digital Advantages

  • Invulnerable: It can’t get broken or eaten by a baby.
  • Unlosable: It’s built into your Switch so you won’t lose a tiny cartridge in a couch cushion or vacuum.
  • Pre-Load: You can purchase the game early and have most of its data sitting on your console, waiting to be unlocked on release day.
  • Convenience: Smash is a game that gets played a lot, and it will be super nice not to have to swap out games every time you want to play a quick match.
  • Gold Coins: Nintendo is offering additional gold coins for players who get Smash through the eShop, and you can also redeem previously-acquired gold coins to lower the price on your purchase.

I didn’t plan it that way, but it looks like there are an equal number of advantages either way! It truly is a conundrum, isn’t it?

But don’t decide just yet! There are a few more factors.

Physical Options

  • Standard game
  • Steelbook & Pro Controller bundle (Best Buy)

Digital Options

  • Standard game
  • Deluxe version (Fighter Pass included)

Console Bundle

This is another option I can’t stick under either one of the above headings, because in a way it’s physical and digital! By purchasing a Smash-emblazoned Switch, you receive a digital copy of Ultimate.

It’s a tough choice, but I think I’ve landed on physical standard. I’d like to have that case sitting on my shelf, plus I’ll get a bit of a discount, and I’ll be able to buy my Ridley amiibo at the same time. What about you? How are you going to be purchasing SSBU?

No Character is Deconfirmed Scott's Thoughts: 7 Days to Smash Ultimate

The Super Smash Bros. series is truly a celebration of all things Nintendo. With hours upon hours of remixed tunes, over a hundred stages collected from gaming history, and hundreds of combinations of unique matchups and modes, there is no shortage of fun to be had in SSB Ultimate. However, nothing causes a fan to delight more than when their favorite character is added as a playable fighter.

The cast of 70+ characters is the main attraction, and everything else is seen as ancillary. Who cares if Geno is a Mii costume, I want him to be a playable character! Goomba as a trophy—no way, he should have been added to the roster back in Melee! 

And so, Smash fans wait on pins and needles to catch a glimpse of their favorite phantasy fighter, hoping that Father Sakurai will do them justice.

You could hear the collective groans around the world when Waluigi was shown as merely an Assist Trophy at E3. He was “deconfirmed.” He didn’t stand a chance.

I disagree. I think you can look at all the Pokeball Pokemon, all the Assist Trophies, Mii Fighter costumes, and every one of the 1,000+ Spirits and be looking at a list of DLC candidates.

My opinion isn’t popularly shared, so let me explain:

  1. Sakurai didn’t decide the DLC. Nintendo did, just as development on the title was wrapping up. (Side-note: Nintendo is careful not to work on DLC too early—otherwise gamers would accuse them of charging extra for content that was made under primary development time.) Sakurai did not know what his bosses would settle on for future roster additions, so he couldn’t have kept every potential fighter from showing up by some other means.
  2. There are over 1,000 characters represented as Spirits in this title. If being a Spirit disqualifies a character from inclusion in the main roster, then there’s no one good left to pick from gaming history.
  3. Overlap happens. One good example is Smash 3DS, where you could take Pac-Man to his stage, throw an Assist Trophy, and have 3 instances of Pac-Man ghosts on the screen at once (Smash Attack, stage, and Assist Trophy).

Being in Smash in one form doesn’t mean you can’t be in Smash in another form. If a Pokeball Pokemon was converted to a DLC fighter, I honestly think the developers would see no problem in removing that Pokemon from the Pokeball lineup anyway!

Don’t despair. Your favorite character still has a chance.

Only Buy the DLC Pass If… Scott's Thoughts: 8 Days to Smash Ultimate

Nintendo will be offering the “Fighter Pass” for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, a $25 advance payment for future DLC.

Sakurai and co. will be adding 5 characters to the game between launch and February 2020, and said characters will be accompanied by new stages and music tracks.

You can purchase these bundles individually as they are released for $6 each, or shave $5 off the cumulative pricetag by paying up-front.

Purchasers won’t be given anything up front except for a Mii Costume for fans of the Xenoblade Chronicles series.

Only plop down your $25 if one of these applies to you:

  1. You know without a shadow of a doubt that you’re going to buy all the characters anyway
  2. You want to help tournaments by bringing a complete set-up
  3. Xenoblade Chronicles is like life to you
  4. You feel sorry for Sakurai and want to donate to his Carpal Tunnel relief fund
  5. You have a tree in your back yard producing literal money
  6. Your wallet is actually getting too heavy and it’s wearing a hole in your pants

I probably fall into camps 1, 2, and 4. But I’m still going to wait until the first DLC package is actually available, then I’ll spring for the whole payment. I see no reason to fork over my twenty-five now, while I’m already spending a small fortune on the game and accessories.

What are your plans for buying or skipping the Fighter Pass?

I Played Ultimate for Several Hours Scott's Thoughts: 9 Days to Smash Ultimate

I was fortunate enough to play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for several hours over the last two days. This may come as a surprise after my previous post in the countdown, “The Game Leaked, but Who Cares?” A few points on that; I primarily wrote about the non-issue of spoilers being posted online, specifically saying Smash is fun to play instead of just learn about. So yes, I took the opportunity to play the game at a few events, but no, I won’t be hacking my Switch or installing the game illegally on my console.

No real spoilers follow.

My takeaways from several hours with Ultimate over the last few days:

  • The engine feels quite a bit different from Smash 4. You’ll have a learning curve period, and your practice won’t translate over immediately. There’s an awkward feeling of the game not responding to your inputs in the way you expect, and that’s pretty much unavoidable, but does lessen a few hours in.
  • Shielding, air-dodging, and rolling are all worse options. These defensive/evasive maneuvers are all punishable unless you’re using them sparingly and intentionally. Shield-poking happens way more often, even when half a shield appears to be in tact. Note: Once people get the hang of new Perfect Shield timing, they won’t be such a bad option.
  • Neutral is more grounded. Gravity seems to be more of a factor, and when not ledge-guarding or chasing, characters feet stay planted on the ground more. In other words, expending your double jump on stage feels like a risk as it did in Melee.
  • The graphics are beautiful. Characters are animated with a lot of personality, but the main thing I couldn’t get over was the beautiful stages. Previous games look drab by comparison.
  • Smash Ultimate is packed to the brim. Although the character selection screen is limited on startup, the rest of the game is not! The stages and modes are all there at your disposal, and so much is customizable! Decisions that would have been made for us in the past are now left up to the player to tweak, such as “Stick Sensitivity” which is now adjustable in custom controls. There will be a lot to learn in the menus, but we can finally fine-tune just about everything we’ve wanted to.

I had a lot of fun, though most of my matches were 4v4 or 3v3. In that kind of chaos, I didn’t get to put many characters through their paces like I would have wanted to. It does seem that Donkey Kong is an absolute beast, and he’s a character I’ve always tried to play since Brawl. I might have to make room for DK in my mains.

Simeon and I are planning some fun stuff for the launch of Ultimate! More on that soon.

The Game Leaked, but Who Cares? Scott's Thoughts: 10 Days to Smash Ultimate

Copies of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are circulating out in the wild, 10 days before the December 7th launch!

Nintendo didn’t intend for this to happen, but a variety of things have taken place:

  • Certain stores have broken street date and sold the game early
  • Some people received review units and have broken embargo, uploading confidential information
  • Other people have preloaded the game from the eShop and hacked their Switches to datamine the download

The cumulative result is a lot of spoilers leaked online, including soundtrack files, World of Light cutscenes, unlocking instructions, etc.

But who cares?

My flippant response surprised me a little bit. It was only a few years ago that I managed to secure an advance copy of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U for review (legally) and I practically jumped for joy when that happened!

Why am I not excited about the prospect of Smash Ultimate leaking? Well, this series is fun to play, not just learn about! Sure, character reveals are one thing, but we’ve gotten all those officially. I can wait patiently to hear the game’s music when I’ve actually bought the thing.

Besides, launch is only 10 days away! It’s coming up quick, and I have plenty of things to play before Smash 5 changes all my gaming habits. I need to hit someone with a Grenade Launcher in Fortnite to complete my challenges, play a few games I picked up on Black Friday, and finish off Hollow Knight which I’m 20 hours into.

It’s weird, but I’m content to wait the week-and-a-half until I can legitimately play SSBU. Maybe I’m growing up a little.

The Plight of Echo Fighters Scott's Thoughts: 11 Days to Smash Ultimate

Ever since Ganondorf was copy-pasted from Captain Falcon, Super Smash Bros. fans have been upset about “clones.”

And rightfully so. It feels like an offense when your favorite character is apparently mishandled in their representation (just like when a book you love is adapted poorly to film).

Sakurai seems to be calling for a truce this time around, no longer introducing “clone” characters as new fighters, but labeling them officially as “Echo Fighters.” They don’t even take up a number in the sequential count of characters.

Echo Fighters include Dark Samus, Daisy, Lucina, Chrom, Dark Pit, Ken, and Richter. (No, Isabelle is not an Echo Fighter—this is common misinformation.)

I gotta say, the one that hurts the most is Dark Samus. The rest of the lineup, I think you’ll agree, is easy to understand how their moves would be similar to the characters they are based off of. If you tried to make an argument for Ken, as an example, I’d wish you good luck!

Dark Samus had so much potential to have a unique moveset. The designers even had a handful of special moves that Dark Samus used as an Assist Trophy in Smash 4, but those are stripped away to keep her in line with basic, boring Samus.

What’s changed the most in Metroid Prime’s embodiment is her animations, which admittedly look stunning and appropriately creepy. I just wish that an equally impressive set of moves could have accompanied this addition to the roster, which could have involved Phazon and more acrobatics.

So, what is the plight of an Echo Fighter? The desire for more!

In past games, you can watch the progression as Falco, Ganondorf, Luigi, Roy, and others each become further set-apart from their source material. That progression simply felt like justice done to characters who had previously received the short end of the stick.

But now that these 7 characters are sitting comfortably under the banner of “Echo Fighters,” will there not be an incentive for developers to make them more unique in subsequent games?

I hope so, because if a character being an Echo Fighter means they’ll never be unique, I almost wish they weren’t added to the roster at all.

Warming Up to World of Light Scott's Thoughts: 12 Days to Smash Ultimate

Initially, the World of Light single-player mode in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate didn’t excite me. I wasn’t into the theme-song-with-lyrics, I was disappointed that Spirits were involved heavily in the gameplay, and I rolled my eyes during the cinematic when the only character to make it out alive was Sakurai’s baby boy, Kirby himself.

However, Nintendo recently invited a handful of influencers to explore the game and check out its various modes. I was encouraged by watching Nairo (a top-level ZSS player in Smash 4) play the first levels of Ultimate’s campaign mode.

I was particularly impressed by the Spirit battle against “Eevee,” who was personified by a Yoshi with a fluffy tail (the Raccoon item). Throughout the battle, many other enemies started jumping in and helping Eevee. I quickly recognized a red fire-breathing Yoshi (Superspicy Curry) as Flareon, a Yellow Yoshi jumping with Screw Attack as Jolteon, etc.

The realization that hit me was—wow, Smash Bros. does have a huge toolset of character pallets, items, and modifications that will allow them to make all these creative sequences. It made me not want to watch any more scenarios before launch, because I think each one of them will be a pleasant surprise, just like Event Matches in previous games.

When Nairo’s Kirby moved across the beautifully rendered overworld map to encounter Mario, the main theme blared and the player was told that defeating Mario would “awaken” the fighter. The YouTuber also had to cut out several portions of his recording, like anything featuring menus or cinematics. Yes, World of Light is shaping up to have some great cutscenes that Nintendo doesn’t want us seeing before the game’s release.

While World of Light has already been confirmed to not be a linear affair, there may still be some similarities with Brawl’s Subspace Emissary. In fact, Redditor Lioru was digging through some old Iwata Asks interviews for Super Smash Bros. Brawl and found this quote:

Sakurai: “I had envisioned a more serious tone for the story. Something with some misfortune, like a single character escaping total annihilation of his squadron and then fighting back while rounding up his allies.

It sounds like World of Light uses the original concept for Subspace Emissary! I’m now of the opinion that we’re in for a treat with World of Light. Creative fights like Event Matches, and the cinematics from a great Smash Bros. campaign without all the subpar platforming found in Brawl. As long as I can avoid the Spirits menus, I’ll be pretty happy!

I Think these are My Main Characters Scott's Thoughts: 13 Days to Smash Ultimate

In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, I had too many “main characters.” If you have too many mains, you don’t have a main, and that’s what happened to me! I was jack of all trades, master of none.

Well, I want to avoid that fate in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. I want to narrow my focus, which is even harder to do with the ever-expanding roster. There are so many characters to play, but I want to keep it to four maximum! I need a go-to main, a couple of counterpicks (characters I select depending on who I’m competing against), and someone I play for fun. With that said, I’ve tried to make up my mind in advance!

Dark Samus

My #1 requested character is here! DARK SAMUS! I’ve always been a huge fan of the Metroid Prime games, and I think Dark Samus is a super-intimidating force. I’ve also criticized the Smash roster for having so few villains, something that Sakurai and co. are taking huge steps to rectify this time around! Getting not one but TWO Metroid baddies added to the cast is a dream come true. Now, as a Metroid fan, I feel that Dark Samus could have had a very unique moveset if she wasn’t relegated to Echo Fighter status… But the Smash player in me isn’t upset at all, because I have dozens of hours of practice into playing Samus which will translate over, and with buffs like charging in the air, I think Dark Samus will take me far in competitions.

Piranha Plant

I love everything about Piranha Plant, and I’m excited for him (her?) to be one of my mains. I’ve always gravitated toward the odd-ball Smash inclusions, doing well with Mr. Game & Watch, Duck Hunt, Wii Fit Trainer, and other characters that you wouldn’t suspect to be prime candidates for a fighting game. Piranha Plant is a character no one asked for, and Sakurai was a troll to add him in. Likewise, I look forward to trolling my opponents as I delete their stocks out of existence with a potted plant.


Link is always one of the first characters I play in a new Super Smash Bros. game. He was the fighter I chose in a midnight-release tournament of Super Smash Bros. Brawl! I’ve also played a match as Link in Ultimate. I’m very pleased with how the team made effort to update Link, reflecting his most recent appearance and moveset in Breath of the Wild. I also think his Remote Bombs are going to be a big deal. I was actually able to set up an amazing combo in the midst of a frantic 4-player match—imagine what I’ll be able to do in a focused 1-on-1 environment. He’s going to be powerful.


Snake is also a character I’ve gone hands-on with in Smash Ultimate. I think I’m at a distinct advantage after practicing with him in Brawl, a game that most people in the Smash community did not play competitively, and which featured Snake who hasn’t appeared again until now. His tilt attacks aren’t as overpowered and disjointed as they used to be, but this has also been balanced with buffs to his special moves like Side-B, which is much faster now.

Enough about me! Who are you looking forward to maining?

How Much Money are you Spending on Ultimate? Scott's Thoughts: 14 Days to Smash Ultimate

It’s Black Friday, so I think it’s safe to say we’ve all got money on the mind!

But we can’t blow all our cash the day after Thanksgiving, because Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is coming out in two weeks! And not just the game, but a whole lot of merchandise and peripherals.

(At least two weeks’ time is enough for another paycheck to come in, right?)

Some people reading this blog will just purchase the base game, and others… well, it could get spendy for them.

Let’s look at all the ways that Smash 5 could take our money in 14 days.

The Game

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is going to cost you a base price of $60. If you walk into a store, or boot up the eShop, this is the price you’re going to see. However, savvy shoppers might be able to swing the purchase for $48 (20% off) if you have any membership left in Best Buy Gamers Club Unlocked or an old Amazon pre-order with the price honored. Note: Best Buy is also giving a $10 reward for preordering through My Best Buy, so if you want to look at the price of the game as $38 when all is said and done, go for it! If you plan on going digital, you can also cash in gold coins in the eShop to knock a few bucks off your purchase.
If you want to go really fancy and pay extra for the base game, Best Buy is offering a steelbook case. You can only get this in a box set that includes a stylized Pro Controller, and that package will run you $140!

Controllers & Adapters

Speaking of controllers, the Smash faithful won’t be content to play the game with standard Switch Joy-Con! You’ll most likely want to pick up a $30 GameCube controller, and if you don’t have one already, a $20 adapter that utilizes the Switch dock’s USB ports. However, there are quite a few more options this time around! The Pro Controller is a competent alternative for some (even tournament players), and the specially branded one will set you back $75. There are also several 3rd parties—most notably PowerA—offering different solutions like Wireless GameCube controllers (Pro Controller innards in a GCN controller shell) for $50, Wired GameCube controllers that plug in via USB for $25, and a $20 adapter called “GBros.” that will let you plug an old GameCube controller in and make it work wirelessly with Switch. There is no shortage of ways to play. Just tell your friend to “BYOC” so you don’t have to multiply these price tags by 4!

The Bundle

Maybe you’ve sat out on the Switch action until now, and you’re ready to join the rooftop party! Karen would be so proud. If you don’t have a Switch, the $360 bundle including Smash Ultimate digitally might do just the trick! You won’t save any money or get any pack-in bonuses, but the Joy-Con and dock will both be Smashified.


As if 75 characters weren’t enough, Nintendo will be delivering 5 individual packs of downloadable characters, stages, and bonuses over the year following launch. You can pay $30 over the life of the DLC, or save a few dollars by paying $25 upfront, “pre-ordering” the new characters. I’m sure this bundle will stick around if you’d prefer to wait and see a couple of the offerings before taking the plunge, but players who are eager to don the Xenoblade Chronicles outfit will have to fork over the money now.


Inkling, Ridley, and Wolf will be launching alongside the game. The figurines have become more detailed, and in some cases larger, so Nintendo is charging more for these new additions: $16 a pop. Depending on what you’re collecting, these are going to add $0, $16, $32, or $48 to the pricetag, and again you can knock 20% if you’ve still got months left in the discontinued GCU program, which also applies to toys-to-life figures!

Strategy Guide

Although Prima is sadly closing their doors, they were able to finish a few different guides for Smash Bros. Ultimate. Depending on the edition you select, you’ll pay $15-40. Unless of course, you opt to simply look information up online, which seems to be the popular choice these days. Still, you may want to pick up one of the last printed guides that will ever be sold!

That concludes the breakdown! So, how much will you be paying out on December 7th?
I haven’t decided which format to buy the game in, but I already have an adapter and controllers. I’ll get another $30 first-party controller though, because I’m hard on them and want to take advantage of brand new models being on the market. I’d like one amiibo; Ridley, and I’ll hold off on the DLC bundle until the first character becomes available. So with the game, one amiibo, and one controller, I’m looking at about $94-106 depending on if I go digital or physical. More on that choice later.

P.S. Apologies for including only USD, hopefully the conversion isn’t too much trouble for my international friends!

Thankful for Smash Bros. Scott's Thoughts: 15 Days to Smash Ultimate

Happy Thanksgiving!

On this day of gratitude, I wanted to take a moment and thank one of the best, most fun video game franchises ever: Super Smash Bros.

  • For giving me and my little trailer-park friends something to do on the N64.
  • For putting $50 in my pocket when I sold my Melee disc a few years ago.
  • For introducing me to the competitive scene with Brawl, and showing me that I can make huge improvements with practice.
  • For keeping me and my best friend sane in our crazy adult lives with Smash 4.
  • For revealing a new game in March and releasing it in December with Ultimate!
  • For never getting old; providing new mixups and matchups every round.
  • For adding not one, but two Metroid villains to the roster.
  • For always surprising us and adding characters that no one asked for and no one could have guessed.
  • For continuing to support GameCube controllers by manufacturing them and providing adapters.
  • For committing to developing new fighters and balance patches well into the life of Smash 5.
  • For giving us something to look forward to between Thanksgiving and Christmas!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! Go spend some time with your family (before you seemingly disappear off the face of the earth in 15 days).

Best Thing About SSB (And Why Spirits Break It) Scott's Thoughts: 16 Days to Smash Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. is an extremely ambitious proposition; a game which takes a massively popular and diverse array of characters and combines them seamlessly into one fighting game. This is impressive for a number of reasons:

✅ Taking all of Nintendo’s cute characters and making them believable in battle
✅ Navigating all the different IP, studios, directors, and legal rights to make this happen (including 3rd parties)
✅ Doing it successfully where all other companies’ attempts have failed

But the most impressive thing about Super Smash Bros. is it does it all in a cohesive graphic style. Smash Bros. just wouldn’t be the same without the incredibly talented work of the designers who make Mario look good standing next to a witch twice his height, or who make a regal swordfighter match the graphic style of a water-shooting-squirrel-turtle.

Super Smash Bros. wouldn’t work without the unifying art style. It would just be too jarring.

And that’s why I hate the look of Spirits. They are disembodied key art, floating around in a rainbow aura. Oftentimes, this is lifted straight from art that shipped on boxes, posters, or was otherwise used in online marketing for Nintendo’s games.

It’s disconcerting to see in-game, especially when some of it is hand-drawn, some is 3D-modeled, others are cell-shaded…

I know Sakurai said that “trophies are a lot of work,” but I’m really going to miss them! I’ll remain open-minded about Spirits, but it’s going to take some work to convince me.

How about you? Are you on board with Spirits?

Basics of Getting Better at Smash Bros. Scott's Thoughts: 17 Days to Smash Ultimate

Hello, Super Smash Beginner! You must be excited to get your hands on Smash Ultimate in a few weeks, but also a bit nervous about getting destroyed online.

You’re in luck, because I’ve written a quick guide! This won’t make you a pro in an instant, but it will begin to transform your mindset!

  • Spend half the time in the air. Your aerial A moves are your fastest attacks, and are a great way to rack up damage! While jumping, you are less predictable and harder to hit as well.
  • Don’t forget grabs. When not pressuring with aerials, grab your opponent! You can throw and often follow up with an aerial. Whenever the enemy has their shield activated is a perfect time to go for a grab.
  • Smashes and specials are situational. In general, B moves and Smash Attacks are for kills (once you’ve racked up damage with aerials and throws). They are also for punishes; say your opponent whiffs a laggy move like Falcon Punch, you’ll be able to punish that with a stronger attack.
  • Hold onto your double jump. You only get one double jump before touching the ground, so treat it like an emergency fund you don’t want to spend unless you need it in order to get back to the stage. You’ll often be able to recover with just your Up-B, so hold onto that second jump in case you get edge-guarded. It’s also not very safe to use on-stage, because once it’s expended the other player knows you’ll have to land, and can get an easy projectile hit on you.
  • Don’t roll to move around. Rolls seem like a fast way to get from point A to Point B, but they’re actually quite predictable because your character travels the same distance every time! And in Smash Ultimate, if you roll too much the animation actually starts to slow down (as if rolls weren’t punishable enough already). Instead, run or jump to a safer spot.
  • Learn. If your opponent hits you with something, they will more than likely attempt the same attack again. Don’t be discouraged that you took damage once, but remember to avoid the same setup the next time. You’ll be ready to strike back.
  • No Johns. That means don’t make excuses. It’s easy to call a character “cheap” or a move “overpowered,” but this mindset lands you in the blastzone. Super Smash Bros. is a giant collection of rock-paper-scissors scenarios, so you can always find an answer to whatever challenge you’re facing.
  • Play every character but specialize with a few. It’s important to know how everybody plays so that you can anticipate strategies from the whole cast. But trying to master a 75-character roster is a waste of time. Hone in on a couple of your favorite characters and put the most practice in with your mains. It doesn’t matter if your selections are the most popular or “high-tier”—there will be so many balance patches that the best strategy is to stick with characters you’re comfortable with and ride the waves of nerfs and buffs.

If you have any specific questions, I’d love to respond in the comments!

Remembering Brawl (Happy Wii Day) Scott's Thoughts: 18 Days to Smash Ultimate

Today isn’t the anniversary of Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s launch…

However, today is the anniversary of Nintendo’s beloved Wii console, which came out 12 years ago on November 19th, 2006!

As we are counting down to the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, I wanted to take this time to celebrate the most under-appreciated entry in the entire franchise: Brawl.

While most of the community avoided this game like the plague and complained about its slowness, floatyness, and admittedly horrendous balancing, I ignored the haters and invest a record amount of hours into the game (700 to be exact). This title came out during the time in my life where I had the least amount of responsibilities and the most free time to play video games.

It also served as my introduction to the competitive scene! I beat most of my friends most of the time, so naturally I thought I would win my first tournament. What a rude awakening that was.

Yes, there were still plenty of people playing Brawl in bracket (alongside Melee). Though the game didn’t lend itself to tournament play by design, an interesting meta did evolve around the few most viable characters, and the mindgames necessary to secure a victory with low-tier characters like Ganondorf.

Nintendo’s marketing team has mastered the Hype Cycle for Super Smash Bros., but it all started with Brawl. During the game’s development, Sakurai would update a blog every single weekday with detailed announcements and sneak-peaks at the game. His daily updates have continued on Miiverse and other social media for subsequent games, but never were his posts so lengthy, exciting, and rich as on the Brawl Dojo website. You could wake up, log on, and find a character reveal! Nowadays those are saved for Nintendo Directs.

Upon the release of Ultimate, Smash 4 will largely be retired. However, Brawl is still fun to go back to once in a while.

Thanks, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, for bringing us third-party characters, customizable controls, Stage Builder, Subspace Emissary, and much more!

P.S. Tripping may very well be the worst idea any game developer has ever had.

Honestly… I don’t Care for Sakurai’s Modes Scott's Thoughts: 19 Days to Smash Ultimate

In counting down to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate from day 30, I’ve remained largely positive. Whether complimenting Nintendo’s marketing or writing a love letter to Piranha Plant, I’ve made it clear that I’m enthusiastic and expectant of great things.

This will be one of a few critique pieces, and it starts now:

There’s nothing I hate in Smash Bros. more than the clutter.

Sakurai introduces all manner of unnecessary complexity and weirdness into each of his games. What seems like a pretty straightforward platform fighter—even with items on—is bogged down by unneeded collectibles (stickers), currencies (coins, tickets, Smash Tags), and more.

This isn’t only true of Super Smash Bros., but also extends to Sakurai’s other work like Kid Icarus: Uprising, where the player would get taken out of the action by finding way too many weapons and food items rendered as flat object scattered over every level.

I honestly feel that his design sensibilities are in conflict with Nintendo’s!

Nintendo’s first party titles have a purity to them, presented with beautiful simplicity, easy onboarding, and instantly understandable menus. This is in stark contrast to the Smash Bros. series, where it’s always difficult to remember which menu branch your replays are stashed under, or what “Games & More” contains and what it doesn’t.

Even as one of the biggest SSB fans, I found myself tuning out during the Nintendo Direct potion about Spirits, and how there are primary spirits and spirits that boost your stats and spirits that possess copies of characters and spirits that spiritedly spirit other spirits until spirits spirits spirits spirits!

Ancillary Smash modes shouldn’t need to teach you new systems. Board the Platforms and Break the Targets are still the most fun side-modes because they take the core Smash gameplay and introduce challenging twists. I’m sad to see so much work go into Sakurai’s new complex modes that will, for the most part, just be played to unlock characters and stages before they’re abandoned.