By Josh Speer / September 8th, 2018
I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve been anticipating this Smashing Saturdays for a while now! It was hard not to write it up last week, since a bunch of my favorite brawlers got the spotlight, but I’m glad I waited, because this week was a bit empty. Another reason I’m glad I waited? I got to play Smash Bros. Ultimate at PAX West! So I’ll start with some quick impressions of the game, and then move onto the regular analysis of the latest reveals.
At PAX West, all media get access to one special time slot the very first day, called the Press Hour (though it’s actually more like 45 minutes). This is time we can use to play games with practically zero line, other than fellow media. Well, this year it was less than even that allotted time, since instead of letting us in to play at 9AM, they instead kept us for some inexplicable reason til about 9:20AM. That was frustrating, leaving less time than I expected, but me and Chris still managed to jet over to the Nintendo booth. To nobody’s surprise, there was a line, but I was willing to wait as long as it took to play some Ultimate.
After our wait, we were ushered to the front of the line and asked if we wanted to play Smash or Mario Party. I tried very hard to not scoff at the latter, and clarified that, yes, I was only there for Smash. Then me, Chris and two other folks in line were taken to a terminal to play timed free for all. Though both me and Chris prefer Stock battles, complaining wouldn’t have accomplished anything, so we eagerly grabbed a Joy-Con and picked our characters. I suspect this is the same demo that I missed at E3, since there were none of the newly revealed Belmonts or King K. Rool. But that was fine with me, since I was there to play as Ridley.
First let me dissuade you from thinking this was some epic story of me destroying everybody with a character I hadn’t ever played. No, I didn’t dominate with Ridley, and the first match I ended up with 3rd or 4th place. However, I did pick up on his moves relatively quickly, and by the final match, I got 2nd place. Though I feel I will need to practice with him more to master him, Ridley was a lot more intuitive the first time than Mega Man was a few years back. It was thoroughly enjoyable rushing foes and tossing them off the stage, and unleashing a barrage of flames in their faces. His stabbing tail attack was a bit tricky, but overall I’m still quite glad I got to play as the dread Space Pirate.
What better segue from my new favorite character to my favorite old character? I love Ness, and spent way too much time mastering him back in Melee. Specifically, I got really good at harassing my foes from a distance with PK Thunder, though I have a deft hand with his yo-yo’s as well. His bat is hit or miss, but overall I really love Ness. He’s not the easiest to play, but there’s nobody else really like this brawler, other than his echo Lucas, of course.
I may not be a fan of Monster Hunter, but I do like giant monsters. And Rathalos certainly qualifies. This Assist Trophy will attack with its massive wings and rain fiery death, as well as stunning brawlers with a devastating roar. Sounds like fun for whoever unleashes this nasty critter.
Yoshi is one of my favorite series, specifically Yoshi’s Island, so I love getting more music from Mario’s favorite steed. Now we’re getting his Main Theme from Yoshi’s New Island in Ultimate. Composed by Shota Kageyama, it’s very light and upbeat, full of energy. Also new this week is the Fortress Boss music from Super Mario Bros. 3. By contrast, this is dire and dramatic music, befitting the challenging battles in that game. This one is composed by Akihiro Honda, and it’s sure to be a hit for fans. To listen to both songs, just click here.
If you also loved Super Mario Odyssey, you’ll be happy to see this new stage in Ultimate. This one is none other than New Donk City Hall. By touching a musician, they’ll play some music in the background. Additionally, Mayor Pauline will make a cameo. Not sure if there’s any hazards in the stage, but it still looks fun.
While the more chauvinistic gamer might think a pretty, pink princess is a lame fighter, they couldn’t be farther from the truth with Peach. Sure, she’s delicate, but she also swings a mighty golf club. Her aerial combat is incredible as well, rivaling even that of Ness. Plus it never hurts having a veggie projectile handy to keep foes at bay or a Toad to deflect attacks. And don’t even get me started on how dangerous her bodacious booty is! Peach is a fantastic brawler, and one of my mains. I can’t wait to play the princess once more in Ultimate.
I don’t like Fox and Falco is an ass. So you might think I hate Wolf as well, but you couldn’t be more wrong. Wolf is the only Star Fox character I enjoy, mostly because he’s a bit heftier and hits a little harder. I always felt like I was walking on marbles controlling the other two, and Wolf has the added distinction of being more interesting cause he’s a bad boy. I’m quite glad Wolf is back after 10 years, and hope he’s still a blast to play.
Though I do feel there’s too many reps from Fire Emblem, that doesn’t mean I don’t like Ike. He’s a bit tougher than Marth, and I like how hard hitting his attacks are. Plus all the magical fire and muscles don’t hurt.
You can’t not love King Dedede. He’s just so jolly and silly, though he does swing a nasty hammer. Being a heavy character with amazing recovery certainly doesn’t hurt. Best of all, I love how his Final Smash has been completely redone, as his grudge match smash looks a lot better than his previous one.
Final Destination is nothing new, but I have to admit I really love the new visual design. It looks a lot more dynamic than it used to, which is great since this stage is so popular competitively. You don’t really need hazards here, though I’m glad other stages have them. I’ll be curious to see if there’s a story reason Final Destination has this new sexy design in Ultimate.
I really loved the Alolan variants in Sun and Moon, so I’m happy to see another make their way to Smash! Alolan Exeggutor does his level best to be a pain in the butt, and separates the stage into two halves. You can still climb his giant neck though, in case you’re eager to get another KO.
Next up, keep reading for a new Most Wanted Brawler!
Most Wanted Brawler
If you know me, you’ve probably known this was coming for a while now. I absolutely adore the spunky genie girl Shantae, and have been a fan since I played Risky’s Revenge on my DS. I feel this series has been getting better with almost every iteration, improving on details big and large. Having said that, my favorite Shantae game isn’t Half-Genie Hero, but rather Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse. Which is why I would hope that iteration of Shantae is the one that potentially makes it to Smash Bros. Ultimate.
There’s another reason I feel this would be the best Shantae in a fighting game. Much as I love her genie magic and transformations, Sakurai has made it clear he doesn’t like characters that transform into another one. He split up Samus as well as Zelda for that reason. The only real exception is Pokémon Trainer, but that is a bit different. But that doesn’t mean this genie girl would be helpless. She would have access to Risky’s purloined pirate gear! She could use her enormous hat to hover, dash forward with a scimitar, use a cannon for a double jump, fire pistol shots and even use Pike Balls to deflect attacks. On top of that, she could whip foes with her powerful ponytail.
For a Final Smash, I could see Shantae calling in a favor from her frenemy Risky Boots. She would summon her mighty battalion and fire cannonballs all over the stage, devastating any foolish enough to be caught in its radius. I honestly think Shantae would make an amazing brawler, and hope Sakurai and company feel the same. Be sure to tune in next time for another brand new Smashing Saturdays, and count the days until Ultimate releases in December!
Alolan ExeggutorFinal DestinationikeKing DededeNessNew Donk CityoprainfallPeachRathalosSmashing SaturdaysWeek 65Wolf