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.