Super Smash Bros Ultimate shouldn’t be possible.

This is a game in which Mario can beat up Sonic and Pac-Man, while the iconic city skylines of Final Fantasy VII loom in the background. It’s also a game in which Simon from Castlevania and Solid Snake from Metal Gear can take on a horde of Pokémon. And weirdest of all, it’s a game in which you can make your Donkey Kong stronger by infusing him with the spirits of a bunch of obscure Street Fighter and Mega Man characters.

Nintendo’s new all-star fighting game is a dizzying, joyous buffet of fan service, offering more characters, content and pure crossover craziness than just about anything the genre has to offer. It’s without question the biggest thing to hit the Nintendo Switch in 2018, and it’s shaping up to be the system’s most essential game since The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild when it arrives on Dec. 7.

The ultimate brawl

I spent about 3 hours with a near-final build of Ultimate, which features a whopping 74 characters (more if you count the “echo fighters”), 100-plus stages, and more modes and options than I may ever know what to do with.

As I found in my previous hands-on sessions with the game, Smash Ultimate’s fighting feels as delightful as ever. The action is fast, fluid and easy to pick up, but with enough nuance to satisfy hardcore players. The game’s candy-like color palette and incredibly detailed stages looked vibrant, and fights ran smoothly no matter how much chaos was happening on screen. My favorite small touch is the way the game now zooms in on the action during big knockout blows, something that had me audibly cheering every time.

With a staggering amount of customizable rules, Ultimate gives you complete freedom to engage in insane eight-player brawls with a variety of wacky items or to stage intense, competitive one-on-one contests on flat playing fields. I was particularly fond of the game’s new Final Smash Meter option, which allowed my opponents and me to more frequently launch our ridiculous, screen-filling super moves at one another.

I had a blast with the newest additions to Ultimate’s roster. Wrestler Pokemon Incineroar is a surprisingly mobile bruiser who hits hard with lariats, grapples and dive kicks. Castlevania hero Simon is a solid all-arounder who reminds me of Zelda’s Link, thanks to a myriad of weapon attacks. Those include throwable axes, bombs, boomerangs and, of course, his trusty long-range whip.


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