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.

Will Melee Players Finally Convert? Scott's Thoughts: 20 Days to Smash Ultimate

Since 2001, the Melee faithful have been hauling GameCubes and CRTs everywhere in order to play their favorite competitive fighter.

They thought Brawl was an absolute joke…

Smash 4 fared a little better, earning a few converts and sharing the spotlight. The keyword here is “sharing,” where Melee and SSB for Wii U were often seen side-by-side in events and tournaments.

Now we are faced with the question: will Melee players move on to Smash Ultimate? Will this entry in the series finally be the one that convinces everyone to take their 50 lb. TVs to the dump?

Reasons Melee Players SHOULD Convert to Ultimate

  • Everyone is here! Each player’s main character will be available to play in Smash Ultimate, whether they want to throw some boomerangs with Young Link or rack up their own damage percent with Pichu.
  • The stages are back. Melee players should feel right at home on Pokemon Stadium, Kongo Falls, and the beautifully updated Fountain of Dreams.
  • Directional airdodging returns. Rather than just the quick evasions found in Brawl onward, airdodges are now considerably more strategic due to being a movement option, and having a lot of cooldown. These can no longer be spammed, just like in Melee.
  • The fighting is faster. For elite players who still felt Smash 4 was too slow, rest assured that knockback has been sped up and damage ratios increased. Smash Ultimate will be played with 3 stocks rather than the previous game’s 2, fitting more action into the same match length.
  • It looks better. Melee is showing its age, and the jump in graphical fidelity is huge! Smash Bros. already made the transition to HD in its previous iteration, so the developers spent their efforts on making everything more cinematic and visually appealing for the “ultimate” version.
  • Switch is way more convenient. Smash Ultimate can be played literally anywhere: on your huge flatscreen, on the toilet, or on the plane en route to EVO. Players will be able to get more practice in, and can pack a lot lighter when attending locals and comps.
  • You can still use GameCube controllers. Father Sakurai has blessed us once more, enabling GameCube controller compatibility with a console that is 15 years newer! Nintendo is even selling brand new controllers and adapters, so they’ll last for years to come.
  • Customize your controls! Goodness, Melee players have been missing out on this one. Turn off tap-jump! Make the L button useful! Enter into a whole new world of optimization.

Reasons Melee Platers WON’T Convert to Ultimate

  • They would have to relearn. Skills won’t translate across games, the meta will be entirely different, and they might not like changes made to their main characters.
  • Ultimate will be less technical. Unless Sakurai releases a DLC pack with Melee physics, the fanbase won’t be satisfied without wavedashing.
  • Ledge mechanics. Edge-guarding and ledge-hogging were major factors in any Melee matchup, and the trumping system found in Smash 4 and Ultimate is simply more casual.
  • Too many match-ups. With 3 times the characters, it will be much harder to predict who you will be playing against, and counterpick accordingly.
  • There’s still blood in their veins, breath in their lungs, and power in their GameCubes. Melee players are a resilient folk, and the scene has endured for a decade and a half. They know how to deal with new games coming out, and still keep the community alive.

What do you think? Should Melee players make the switch?

My 5 DLC Character Wishes Scott's Thoughts: 21 Days to Smash Ultimate

5 paid DLC characters will be sold for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, following the release of Piranha Plant (who I love) and ending by February of 2020.

Nintendo has already decided who these 5 characters will be and, rudely, they neglected to consult me.

If Nintendo had allowed me to decide on the 5 DLC characters, they would be:

  1. Ray MK III: The main robot from Custom Robo. I’m glad to see Ray has been getting some love from the Smash Bros. team, and has appeared in various entries as a trophy, sticker, assist trophy, and (in 21 days) as a Mii Fighter costume. Sadly, the Custom Robo series is one of the most overlooked and under-appreciated Nintendo franchises. Adding him as a playable fighter would likely ignite a spark of interest in Custom Robo, just like Marth & Roy did for Fire Emblem. His moveset has unlimited potential, thanks to any number of parts and weapons the developers could pull from (that is what makes this robo custom, after all)!
  2. Shovel Knight: Big props to Yacht Club Games for getting their hero represented in Ultimate as an Assist Trophy, but an even better indie success story would be if Shovel Knight joined the front-lines of the battle. Shovel Knight may be “third party” like Snake and Sonic, but he also has close ties to Nintendo thanks to an entire line of amiibo and strong platform support. Shovel Knight would not look out of place, and has moves that can easily be mapped to the Smash fighter template by anyone with a little imagination.
  3. Waluigi: I don’t care much about this one personally, but why not! Appease the fans! This is the Ultimate entry in the franchise after all, so why wouldn’t Nintendo throw their most dedicated players a bone and get it over with? This has to be the single most requested character since Ridley, and I doubt Sakurai wants to keep hearing fans beg for Waluigi for the next decade. This will be Wario’s third game in the series, so it’s about time for his purple cohort to join the fray.
  4. Paper Mario & Paper Luigi: We already have access to two variations of Mario, so a third would seem like overkill… unless it’s an Echo Fighter duo of Paper Mario and Luigi! Mr. Game & Watch proves that flat characters work, and the Paper Mario games speak for themselves as far as moveset potential. This addition would be perfect for fans of Luigi, who don’t always want to deal with his crazy physics and janky momentum.
  5. Fortnite Dude: Just imagine it. A crossover between Super Smash Bros. and Fortnite would shake the gaming industry! There’s no other collaboration that would turn the heads of the masses. Fortnite continues to be the hottest game for the younger demographic now that Minecraft has started to plateau. I would absolutely love to see one more 3rd party addition in a Fortnite character, who would naturally have the best costume selection and taunts in the game. Attacks wouldn’t be limited to guns, but could also include pickaxe melee moves, boogie bombs that cause opponents to taunt, a glider recovery, and maybe even a little building action!

Which of my picks do you agree with? More importantly, who do you want to see join the SSBU roster? Scroll down to the comments and type away!

It’s the Little Things Scott's Thoughts: 22 Days to Smash Ultimate

The motto is “Everyone is Here!” That’s the banner that the Smash Bros. development team has been rallying under as they seek to bring us the Ultimate crossover fighter to Switch.

But you know what? That isn’t what makes Smash 5 “Ultimate” to me. This game is going to be the ultimate entry in the franchise because Sakurai and co. are finally paying attention to all the little things.

  • Stage selection before Character selection. This is how serious players use the game, and casuals won’t even notice the difference.
  • Save your own rule presets. Tears of joy are streaming down my face as I type this! You don’t have to change it to Stock every time! You don’t have to remember to turn Team Attack on! You can just set it and forget it. Oh bless you, Sakurai-san.
  • Color Selectors. All characters have 8 different color schemes, and you don’t have to just cycle through them anymore, they can all be viewed at once and picked from.
  • Quick Menu. A slide-out menu is now mapped to a shoulder button, just a press away from adjusting anything that needs adjusted and checking anything that needs to be checked!
  • Play while you wait. When queuing up for an online match, use that time to get some practice in or knock out a few challenges.
  • Stage hazard toggle. Smash has always shipped with a lot more stages than are worth playing on, thanks to some crazy RNG factors. Now there’s a handy switch to shut that nonsense off.

It’s evident that lot of time was put into bringing many quality-of-life enhancements to Smash Bros., which will severely cut down on my frustrations with booting up the game and getting into a match. It’s the Ultimate fighter inside the arena and out in the menus.

The Link Amiibo Needs Redone Scott's Thoughts: 23 Days to Smash Ultimate

The Link amiibo needs an overhaul.

Link was released in Wave 1 on November 21st, 2014.

As a Wave 1 amiibo, Nintendo had no prior experience with optimizing poses and reinforcing figurines.

As a 2014 release, Breath of the Wild was still known simply as “Zelda Wii U.”

Look how ugly it is!

I’m thankful that Sakurai and his development team are taking the time to update Link’s visuals and moveset to match the wildly popular (get the pun?) newest game, but now we are left with an amiibo/character mismatch!

Sure, the same predicament applies to Zelda and Ganondorf, and I wouldn’t mind if Nintendo rectified those situations as well, but no amiibo is in greater need of help than our poor Link.

I can’t fathom what they were thinking when they propped him up on a pillar of frozen urine.

SMH my head.

I Love Piranha Plant Scott's Thoughts: 24 Days to Smash Ultimate

What can I say? I think I’m in love with a potted plant.

The final Smash Direct opened with a bit of a snoozer: an Echo Fighter and a Pokemon being confirmed as the final roster additions.
Sure, the fake leak didn’t help to keep our expectations down, but seriously? I would have to sit out the next 35 minutes of the Direct without another exciting character reveal?

Thankfully, Piranha Plant completely blindsided me and brought that wow-factor I craved.

He (she?) has a lot going for him (her?)!

  • Free before February
  • Never leaked, suspected, or even requested from anyone on God’s green earth
  • Not a sword-fighter
  • Completely unique moveset
  • Has an amazingly detailed amiibo
  • Adds another much-needed villain to the cast

The only thing you could really criticize my good buddy P.P. (as I like to call him [her?]) is that it makes the Mario series even more over-represented. So what! Fire Emblem was catching up to Mario in character count, and if any franchise should have the biggest presence, it’s the plumber and his pals.

I’m trying to keep my rotation of characters smaller in this game—more on that later—but I’ll undoubtedly make room for this DLC.

P.S. If you call Piranha Plant “Petey” one more time, I will smack you.

Could this Game Possibly be Balanced? Scott's Thoughts: 25 Days to Smash Ultimate

The Super Smash Bros. series has had a very rocky history when it comes to balancing, an important aspect of all video games, but especially ones in the fighting genre.

The director of the series, Sakurai-san, has often insisted on fine-tuning each character personally. As such a critical task, he really only trusts himself (and holds himself responsible) for how the game ships.

And as the cartridges or discs were produced and transported to the retailer, that’s exactly how the balance remains to this day. It wasn’t until Super Smash Bros. for 3DS & Wii U when patches were enabled.

If you go back and play the first three iterations of Super Smash Bros., you won’t find balanced games. Many characters are completely inviable, and certain ones can be selected for their exploits; Ice Climbers and Meta Knight are a few prime examples. These characters were so off-balance that a handful of techniques had to be regulated by tournament organizers, and Meta Knight wasn’t allowed in many competitive Brawl events!

Thankfully, Nintendo finally created an online infrastructure for their 2012 Wii U console (only a decade late, give them a break) to allow for patches. The result? One of the most balanced fighting games ever: Smash 4!

What made Super Smash Bros. 4 so balanced? A huge change was made to the ledge mechanics; getting rid of ledgehogging and introducing trumping. This effectively allowed the entire roster to reliably make it back to the stage. And the aforementioned patches, which constantly tweaked stats in order to level the playing-field, ensured that no character was too overpowered.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is increasing the character count by 28%. Is it possible that Sakurai can maintain such minute balance when adding an extra quarter of the cast?

I don’t think the game will be balanced at launch. I remember fondly my Smash 4 pre-patch Sheik, who could kill with forward-air, back-air, up-air, down-B, and jab. (I’m joking about that last one.) But over the coming months, Sheik was nerfed to an appropriate level. I think you’ll see a similar pattern in the 5th Smash title; some characters will launch OP and others will be UP, but we’ll have to wait for a few tournaments to take place to discover which characters are the most abusable by professionals.

Non-pros will also have an influence on the game’s balance, as the development team has already gone on record to say that Elite players’ results will be monitored! So if a certain attack is killing way too often, or a specific set-up is impossible to avoid, those things are going to get expedited into a patch.

Ultimate will be the biggest Smash game yet, but also has the potential to be the most balanced.
If not, I guess that’s one good reason to go back and play 4!

Thoughts from my Hands-On with Smash Ultimate Scott's Thoughts: 26 Days to Smash Ultimate

A couple months ago, I got to go hands-on with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate!

I stuck with the long lines at PAX twice to get to play the game, for a total of four separate matches. Reflecting on that experience, here are some of my impressions of Smash 5:

  • It’s faster. Due to higher damage ratios, as well as knockback that plays out faster, there’s no dilly-dallying. That appears to be why 3 stocks is the default instead of 2.
  • Returning characters feel new. This is especially true of Link, who has been reworked from his visuals, to the bombs he throws, to his grab, to the addition of a 0% blade beam attack.
  • It’s more animated than ever. Characters are super expressive, explosions and hits look beautiful in person and at 60fps, and even the stages come to life more than ever before.
  • Attention to detail is off-the-charts. Sakurai is truly making this the Ultimate entry in the series, fine-tuning quality of life improvements like having stage select before characters, allowing rule presets to be created, giving a visual representation of all character colors available, and much more.
  • There’s a lot to learn. This is no port of Smash 4, and the clearest examples of this may be air-dodging and perfect-shielding, mechanics that have been completely revamped. Gamers will need to break habits, adapt, and relearn how to play.
  • And… it’s fun!

There are still dozens and dozens of characters I can’t wait to try out. Come quickly December 7th!

It’s Time for More Competitive Stages! Scott's Thoughts: 27 Days to Smash Ultimate

In Super Smash Bros. 64, there was only one tournament legal stage: Dream Land.

Thankfully, in Super Smash Bros. Melee, the count rose to 5 or 6, depending on the ruleset.

The community couldn’t agree on stages with Brawl, but those who tried to take the game seriously had roughly 10 stages that could be counted as tournament legal, and 31 others that were usually banned.

Smash 4 brought a record-breaking 55 stages to the select-screen after DLC, but only a depressing 5 were given the thumbs-up by tournament organizers (TOs).
Lots of competitions even banned the Omega versions of stages because some had walls that certain characters could cling to, or jump off!

When a community limits stage selection in an attempt to keep gameplay 100% pure, the following aspects are also limited: music selection, aesthetic variety, strategy, and challenge.
Those aren’t aspects of Smash Bros. I want to lose!

I honestly think limiting the stage selection shortens the lifespan of a game. It can be pretty boring watching players get into a match in Smash 4: rock-paper-scissors, ban Lylat, strike a few stages, and end up at Smashville. The player who loses will switch to a character who kills off the top and take his or her opponent to Town & City, where the upper blast-zone is small. It can be very predictable.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate introduces a welcome feature: A toggle for turning off stage hazards! This will prevent terraforming stages like Pokemon Stadium from moving, shut off boss encounters and other NPC interference, and more.

Now, this is a Sakurai-developed feature, so it won’t always work exactly how an eSports player would design it, and there’s already talk of ignoring the toggle and keeping the stage pool small. Some TOs are reluctant to have a bigger selection of stages available, because it makes our made-up stage striking process take longer.

Forget our process! Embrace the toggle!* Let’s inject some variety into the scene and let players learn how to adapt. This will help the competitive scene take off, and thrive for years to come.

*Note: The hazards-off toggle may make some stages worse, like Smashville where the floating platform doesn’t move at all and stays still in the middle. The moving platform wasn’t a problem, so I believe the toggle will NOT be appropriate for some stages, but WILL allow others into tournament rotation. Selective stage-hazards for the win.

Where do you stand? Tell me in the comments.

Let’s Talk about the Waluigi in the Room Scott's Thoughts: 28 Days to Smash Ultimate

You could say that the fanbase is “mildly upset” to “PASSIONATELY AND VEHEMENTLY ENRAGED” that Waluigi has not been announced as a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate character yet.

Case in point…

Daddy Sakurai has spoken. So, do we need to tone it down a little bit with requesting Waluigi? Yes… and no.

  • ✅ DO express your excitement about Nintendo, Super Smash Bros., and your favorite characters.
  • ✅ DO talk about your character wishes with other fans and on social media.
  • ✅ DO hold on to hope. Ridley was requested for 15 years before being added as a playable fighter.
  • ❌ DON’T @ Nintendo employees about your wants. That crosses a bit of a boundary and really doesn’t accomplish anything.
  • ❌ DON’T (and I know this hurts you to read) expect Waluigi soon. As evidenced by Ridley, fans CAN impact the course of a game series, but the precedent shown is that it takes over a decade. Waluigi’s groundswell of support is relatively new, and I say that as a Nintendo fandom veteran. If not this time, maybe next?
  • ❌ DON’T let disappointment ruin your enjoyment. The Super Smash Bros. series has always offered hundreds of hours of fun, even back in the day when the roster capped out at 12 characters. One omission should not occupy your mind to the point where you cannot enjoy all 75 other characters!

So, are you one of the purple mustachioed villain’s diehard supporters? Or could you not care less if he made it onto the roster? I’m curious—comment below!

How Smash Will Change my Gaming Habits Scott's Thoughts: 29 Days to Smash Ultimate

You know that a game is a big deal when you start planning your schedule around its launch…

  • How many days am I going to take off work?
  • What’s the earliest possible time I can purchase this game? Does the eShop update at the stroke of midnight? Should I drive to another timezone?
  • Should I say goodbye to my family just in case I can’t turn the game off?

Those are the kind of considerations I have to make when preparing for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to come out on December 7th!

I’ll talk more about my specific plans for launch day as it comes closer, but today I’m reflecting on my normal gaming habits, and how the release of a monumental title like Smash might affect them.

  1. Indies, hop in the back-burner. And I apologize for this one, because I love supporting independent games… Simeon and I usually take turns working through the latest eShop indie adventure during our breaks at work, but we’re absolutely going to convert that time into Smash sparring! Sure, we might look a little dorky with our screen on the table and a mess of wires draped everywhere in some crazy workaround to use GameCube controllers in tabletop mode, but who cares? And yeah, our coworkers might look up from their phones to cast disparaging looks at Simeon each time he cries out in agony when I secure victory after victory, but they’ll have to deal with it.
  2. Fortnite, it’s been great, but I’ll see you later. Fortnite captivated me with its ingenious design, compelling gameplay loop, and constant stream of content additions. It’s been the absolute best game to unwind with on a daily basis, whether I’m feeling competitive and want to go for that Victory Royale, or if I want to take it easier and knock out a few challenges. It passed up my Breath of the Wild hour-count, then doubled it(!), firmly securing the position of my most-played Switch game. And that’s not a position that Smash Ultimate is going to allow Fortnite to keep. I’m just getting to the point of being a bit Fortnite’d out (even though I know they’re going to try and pull me back in with new weapons and modes), so I’m ready for something fresh and exciting! I want to master a few characters, climb the online ladder, and dive really deep into SSBU.
  3. Also goodbye sleep. I’ve been pretty good about not taking my Switch into the bedroom, but let’s be honest; that’s not gonna last. Not until every character and stage is unlocked, at least!

Yep, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is poised to wreck my gaming life (and perhaps a bit of my personal life too). What about you? Do you see any gaming habits changing? Leave a reply!

The Game that Mastered the Hype Cycle Scott's Thoughts: 30 Days to Smash Ultimate

The Super Smash Bros. series has completely mastered the hype cycle.

I haven’t seen another game whip up fans into as much of a frenzy, and it can be done with a simple glimpse of a logo, a single sound effect, or another cue that tells fans “More Smash Bros. is on the way. Buckle up.” (We discussed this more in the Art of Video Game Trailers Podcast.)

Excitement is at an all time high for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which is why I’m kicking off this blog series: 30 Days to Smash Ultimate! Every day between now and December 7th when the game launches, I’ll be posting a new “Scott’s Thoughts” blog post. You’ll be able to read the whole series here.

One of my favorite things to do is watch a Smash Direct, then go to YouTube and find a Nintendo store crowd reaction clip. Smash fans are packed like sardines in front of a big screen, waiting with baited breath for new announcements. As soon as a sliver of a new character appears on screen, they jump up and down, flailing their arms like their favorite sports team just won.

And in a sense—they did! I’ve been at Smash tournaments where competitors and spectators alike say “these are my sports.” Whether you’re rooting for Zero to win Evo, or cheering on Nintendo as they regain ground in the console wars, every Super Smash Bros. announcement feels like a victory for your home team.

Nintendo Switch owners were treated to quite the surprise in March, while watching a regular quarterly Nintendo Direct. That’s when a Splatoon 2 announcement ended and the Inklings retook center stage for the shocking reveal of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, unveiled for the first time, and coming out in 2018 no less!

Ever since, we’ve been getting drip-fed information from Sakurai and his development team, with the occasional flood of information that accompanies each character reveal!

Better yet, the hype cycle doesn’t come to a screeching halt on launch day, because this Ultimate entry in the series will continue development through February of 2020! We can look forward to seeing that mysterious Smash orb logo alight into flames in many Nintendo Directs over the next 16 months. And you can bet that the Nintendo NY crowd will be there to jump up and down, and express how we are all feeling!

Where is your hype meter sitting at? Let me know in the comments!

The Fortnite Bundle That Makes NO Sense

Epic Games is releasing Fortnite on Nintendo Switch… PHYSICALLY! For $30. As if having a custom console bundle with Nintendo for the holidays was not enough, they feel the need to get on even more store shelves. This one doesn’t quite add up, especially for the consumer!

“Exit the Premises” Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0