Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate cover art for the Nintendo Switch. Copyrighted by Nintendo.[1]

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate[2] is a crossover fighting game developed by Nintendo[3], Bandai Namco Studios, and Sora Ltd. and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo Switch[4]. It was released on December 7, 2018, and is currently the 6th installment in the Super Smash Bros. series.[5] The game offers both a single-player mode where players can fight against bots and a multiplayer mode where players can fight each other. As of December 31, 2020, the game has sold 22.85 million copies worldwide.[6] The amount of units sold has placed Super Smash Bros. Ultimate as the best-selling fighting game of all time.[7]


Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a fighting game in which characters battle each other with the goal of knocking the opposing players out of the fighting arena. These characters are from different Nintendo games as well as from other franchises.[8] Each battle can consist of up to 8 players where each player chooses a single playable character to battle with. Players battle each other and will try to be the last one standing within the arena. The game uses a "life percentage" [9] battling system where a player's percentage will increase as they are hit by other players. Characters with higher percentages are more prone to be hit with greater impact, thus being easier to knock out of the arena as a result.[10] Players also have access to a wide range of power-ups[11], which appear on the stage at random intervals within the match and can be customized as well within the game settings. These power-ups include items such as Poke Balls and assist trophies that spawn various characters to assist the player, and the Smash Ball that gives a certain player a special, powerful attack that is unique to the character they're fighting with to unleash onto others.[11]

A battle between Ike, Little Mac, Kirby, and Pit. Copyrighted by Nintendo.[12]

Battles have a wide array of customizability. Currently, there are 69 playable characters[13] and 103 stages in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate[14] with even more available as downloadable content. Each character and stage within the game has its own variety of costumes and layouts, respectively, which lends itself to further tailoring. In addition, battles can also have different modes that players can choose from: [15]

  • Stock battles are battles won by knocking opponents off of the stage a certain amount of times with stocks acting as lives within the game.
  • Stamina battles are like stock battles, but instead of percent increasing with hits, it decreases and a character dies when their percentage hits zero.
  • Coin battles mean money drops from fighters when they get hit and is won by having the most amount of coins when a certain time limit is reached.

There are also a number of different rules that can dictate how each battle is played out, such as decreased gravity or larger characters. The game also boasts the ability to turn Miis into playable fighters, which allows for customizable move-sets, outfits, voice lines, as well as a stage builder in which players can design their own arena from top to bottom within the game.


In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, players can unlock new fighters, maps, and music by playing the game. There are three ways to progress: playing in regular Smash Mode against bots or humans, playing Classic Mode, or playing World of Light mode.[16]

When playing the game in Smash mode, players will occasionally be notified of an “approaching challenger” – this challenger will be a new unlockable fighter that can be obtained by defeating them in a 1v1 fight. If the player loses, they’ll have to wait until the challenger approaches them another time for a rematch.[17]

Meanwhile, playing the game in Classic Mode lets players unlock new content by presenting them with 7 rounds of battles for each playable character. In the last round, the player will have to fight a boss battle and upon defeating the boss, they will unlock new things such as fighters and items.[18]

In World of Light mode, players have to go through a story where an evil being named Galeem destroyed most of the galaxy and turned all of the fighters into puppets except for Kirby. Starting as Kirby, players will fight the puppet fighters and if they win, they will be able to play as the defeated fighter. The story progresses this way until all fighters are freed.[19]

SSB Ultimate's Attempt to Reunite a Divided Community

The Smash community has been divided for many years with the most popular and long-living community having been the Super Smash Bros Melee community, which is the second installment in the Super Smash Bros. series.[20] From that point forward, there has been a constant division between grassroots Melee players and players who play the most recent version of the game.[20] The main reason for most Melee players to continue playing such an old game is because of the quick speed and fluid movement it provides. In the past, Nintendo has not supported and even tried to shut down Melee according to popular commentator Kris Aldendefer.[20] They disliked the hardcore nature of the Smash Bros community and thought of them as a nuisance to their target market of casual players. Super Smash Bros Ultimate being the most recent installation of the series was Nintendo's attempt at uniting and satisfying both the competitive and casual communities.

SSB's Standing Among Competitive Melee Players

Despite their efforts, The Washington Post states that professional players still feel "for a lot of Melee players, this is not even close to a replacement." [21]. Professional player, Jeffrey "Axe" Williamson, says that the game feels like a "sped up version of Smash 4 with more movement options." When Ultimate was released back in 2018, the top 5 melee players were at least considering playing the game professionally and were even entering several tournaments. However, they still have their doubts as top Smash player, Mang0, states that "It's the best Smash game made since Melee, which isn't saying much, but as a Melee Player I've been waiting a long time for even a decent Smash game." [22]

SSB Ultimate's Effect on Melee's Popularity

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Esports Venue [23]

With Super Smash Bros. Ultimate being the best-selling fighting game of all time[7], Melee's already declining popularity has been exacerbated. In 2020, Genesis 7, one of Melee's most popular tournaments, had peak viewership decrease by 69,000 from 2019. [24] Since the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Super Smash Bros. Melee's player base has been declining since players are shifting to playing Ultimate. Additionally, since Ultimate is relatively new, it still receives support from Nintendo in regard to tournaments whereas Melee has to rely on crowdfunding which affects the viewership of each game.[24]

Ethical Issues


Tweet regarding harassment around Masahiro Sakurai by Super Smash Bros. fans[25]

The Super Smash Bros. game series introduces characters from various Nintendo games and other video game franchises including popular series such as Mario, Pokemon, and many others. While there are many characters in the game, not every character from every video game franchise is playable within the game as only a select few are represented.[13] Usually, these consist of the most popular and well-known characters from these franchises. Waluigi is a fairly popular character in the Mario franchise but has never officially been a part of the Super Smash Bros. character roster. Throughout the Super Smash Bros. series, a huge portion of the player base has highly requested for Waluigi to be put into the game only to be ignored. At most, video game designer Masahiro Sakurai has introduced Waluigi into the Smash franchise as an Assist Trophy[26], which is an item that summons a random character to aid the user in-game, but not yet as an official playable character.

Waluigi’s omission from the playable roster within the latest Super Smash Bros. Ultimate game has led to a variety of reactions from the fans. While some see it as humorous, others have taken it personally and harrassed Masahiro Sakurai on Twitter with angry messages about the matter.[27] This has led to Sakurai blocking several accounts on Twitter as some of the messages consisted of death threats and other serious comments regarding the issue.


Players in the Super Smash Bros. community harassed Bocchi, a 15-year-old girl, after she beat Ally, a professional Smash player. Bocchi was a relatively unknown player at the time surrounded by a community largely dominated by men. One of the reasons for the complaints around Bocchi was the fact that she gained a lot of followers as a result of beating Ally, which many attributed to the fact of her being a girl rather than being good at the game. Eventually, the harassment got to a point where Bocchi left the Smash competitive scene.[28]

Sexual Assault

There have been allegations of sexual misconduct against popular Super Smash Bros. Ultimate players. Victims on Twitter have come forward and stated that they’ve allegedly been groomed, sexually assaulted, and have experienced statutory rapes from professional players and commentators. Some of these experiences include, but are not limited to, how 15 year old Smash player Zack Lauth had a sexual encounter with 20-year-old Smash Twitch streamer, Nairoby Quezada, and how Gonzalo Barrios sent 15-year-old, Jacqueline Choe, pornographic images.[29]


In order to prevent players from leaving online matches that they’re losing, Nintendo temporarily suspends (bans) players who have bad internet connections.[30] The idea is that by doing so, players are discouraged from quitting early and finish their fights all the way through which promotes good sportsmanship.

However, this rule often works against players who may have poor internet connection and actually want to play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The Nintendo Switch sometimes comes with a bad Wi-Fi chip that has inconsistent internet connections.[31] As such, players will get disconnected and banned through no fault of their own.

Popular Twitch streamer, Moonmoon_OW, reported a similar experience. While playing the game, he was suddenly disconnected due to a faulty internet connection. When he eventually was able to log back on, he was later banned from online play for 31 minutes due to this Nintendo rule.[32]


Smurfing is an extremely prevalent issue in video games that have skill-based matchmaking. Skill-based matchmaking is the idea of matching players against each other who are of a similar skill level. Ranks in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are determined by "Global Smash Power", or GSP. As a player wins or loses their performance is reflected in a change to their GSP rating. Smurfing is the act of a player intentionally playing matches at a lower skill level than what he actually is. To smurf in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, a player would lose repeatedly to drop their GSP to a level below what they theoretically should be at. Then, this player would play against people far inferior than them and defeat the purpose of the competitive system.

Video Game Addiction

Video game addiction is compulsive or uncontrolled use of video games. This disease can result in significant impairment to an individual's ability to function in various life domains over a prolonged period of time. Additionally, the structure of short competitive matches of around three to four minutes, on average, [33] leads to repetitive playing and encourages longer playing sessions, which in turn increases the risk for video game addiction. Video game addiction has many negative effects on a person's life, such as irritability, anxiety, or anger when forced to stop gaming, even for brief periods of time, inability to set limits on how much time is spent gaming, and neglect of other hobbies or friendships [34] A survey done in Japan in 2018 done by Yahoo showed that 22.9% of responders were of age 10-19 and 46.3% of responders were of age 20-29, with 80.8% of responders being male. [35] While this may not be entirely representative of the overall player pool at large, it shows a viable estimation. As the majority of players are of young age and male, they are more likely to develop an addiction to video games than older males and females. [36]


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