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Early reviews of 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate' are in — Here's what the critics are saying about the biggest Nintendo Switch game of the year

Kevin Webb
  • "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" arrives on the Nintendo Switch Friday, December 7.
  • The game will feature more than 70 playable characters and 100 stages, making it the biggest "Smash" game ever.
  • Early reviews are praising "Smash Bros. Ultimate" for its huge amount of customisable content and its mix of casual fun and surprisingly deep gameplay mechanics.

Reviews of "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" have started to trickle in on the eve of the game's release, and critics are raving about Smash's first appearance on the Nintendo Switch. "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" is easily the most anticipated Switch game of the year; a multiplayer fighting game that seems ideal for Nintendo's portable console.

"Ultimate" brings back every playable fighter from the previous Smash Bros. titles, boasting a roster of more than 70 characters in total with more than 100 stages to battle across. The game features a wide variety of single-player and multiplayer modes too, compiling a massive amount of content in the standard $US60 package.

Critics have also celebrated the game's attention to detail, which pays respects to Nintendo's storied game franchises, while also prioritising quality-of-life improvements for the dedicated Smash Bros. fanbase.

Here are a few standout snippets of "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" reviews from The Verge, Polygon, Kotaku, CNET, and NintendoLife:

On Super Smash Bros. coming to the Switch

CNET: "The 2014 3DS version was a watered-down experience. This is the real deal. I've been playing SSBU during in-between moments in my day, and it's everything I've ever wanted. On Saturday, I found myself waiting at an art gallery for two hours, wishing I'd brought my Switch the whole time."

The Verge: "This isn't 'Smash' squeezed onto a smaller device, it's the full version of the game that you can take with you pretty much anywhere ... Carrying a Switch around in your bag now means there's always a possible impromptu 'Smash' battle on the horizon."

The ability to customise your matches

Kotaku: "Players can design highly customisable presets for their preferred play mode, so the default mode after hitting 'Smash' is no longer always a timed mode. If you're like me, and you prefer to play in a stock mode with no items, you won't have to rejigger the game's settings every damn game anymore."

NintendoLife: "You're encouraged to play the game however you want to, and adjust even the most trivial features to your heart's content."

Polygon: "The ability to name and save each custom rule set has allowed me to swap between multiplayer flavours with the toggle of a single menu setting."

Thoughts on World of Light, the game's single-player adventure mode

CNET: "The World of Light board is massive - after a week of playing, I'm still finding areas that I haven't been to yet."

Polygon: "The whole mode has much more complexity than I originally expected from a Nintendo title ... World of Light offered me a palate-cleansing grinding experience unlike anything in previous Smash games, where number crunching mattered as much as my fighting skill."

The Verge: "The battles are all quite different, but what they share in common is that they're all fairly bite-sized challenges. Most only take a minute or two to complete. This makes it a natural fit for the Switch, where you can knock out a challenge (or a few) whenever you get a spare moment."

Nintendo Life: "The variety in these fights is staggering, and practically all of them are insanely good fun and a novel way to breathe additional life into battles."

Kotaku: "World of Light feels like a forced march through a Nintendo product catalogue. It failed to elicit an iota of nostalgia in me. Mostly, I was frustrated."

Reflecting on the massive cast of 74 characters

Polygon: "It's a daunting selection, even when I'm familiar with each of the represented series and its characters. I can't imagine viewing this as a younger player relatively new to the greater Nintendo mythology."

The Verge: "Much of the appeal is the fact that the game's characters span video game history, from the iconic to the obscure. One match can have Pikachu pummelling 'Final Fantasy's' Cloud, while in another, Mario and Luigi team up to knock out Ryu and Ken from 'Street Fighter.'"

NintendoLife: "With 74 characters to play as and a starting roster of only 8, you might be forgiven for thinking that you're going to be spending half your life unlocking them, but that's not the case. The game is quite generous with how frequently you unlock new fighters, but not so generous that it fails to be an exciting event."

Playing "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" with up to eight friends

Polygon: "'Ultimate' preserves the series' madcap battles just as we knew them. A four-player match in this game is manageable, but visually chaotic, especially on some of the stages with busy moving backgrounds. (I stand by the feeling that any more players than four is a novelty, and not actually fun for anyone involved.)"

The Verge: "The portability also makes 'Ultimate' a more social experience. It's still a game best played with a few friends huddled around the television, but the portable nature of the Switch opens it up in new ways. Most notably, you can now play two-player battles with the base Switch and two Joy-Con controllers. It's not ideal - a single Joy-Con is cramped and awkward to use on its own - but the sheer fact that it's playable is amazing."

Kotaku: "'Smash's' versus mode is not its only mode. It is, however, the one most everybody who buys the game will play the most. It is likewise the game's most polished, and contributing to that polish are a slew of mechanical and quality-of-life updates directly addressing past frustrations from 'Smash 4' and its predecessors."

The "Ultimate" Smash experience

"Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" is unquestionably one of the biggest games ever, with hundreds of hours' worth of gameplay and customisation to explore. While "Ultimate" builds on the strengths of past Smash games, there are plenty of new tweaks and surprises to keep the game feeling fresh for years to come, and the portability of the Nintendo Switch means that players will be able to bring that excitement with them wherever they go.