Super Smash Bros. is one of those series that’s full of so many details to pore over. The tiny animations for every move, and pausing to see how intricate they are; the texture of the trophies, and the history attached to each one of them; these are the kinds of things we spend just as many hours fixating on as we do smashing the heck out of each other on the battlefield.
During a preview of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate earlier this month, video producer Patrick Gill and I spent a few hours doing all of the above (except for looking at trophies; they’ve been sadly replaced this time around). We gazed at a bunch of the new items, called spirits, from Goku and Chao (not that Goku and that Chao) to Big the Cat. We stopped and looked at every taunt for every new fighter in the Switch game. Patrick threw my characters off and around all the new stages to figure out how they work — or so he claimed. He also just so happened to rack up the most KOs in the process, but that’s fine. I’m over it.
We’ve collected six of those little things we found in SSBU, the kinds that you have to stop and find time to look at once in a while.
1. Everything about Incineroar
Patrick: Here is my favorite boy, Incineroar. He’s a cat who wrestles. After hitting certain combos and moves, he’ll take a moment to pose for the audience.
Depending on whether he lands a move, he’ll either flex victoriously or pound the ground in frustration. If he misses one, you can quickly cancel out of the animation; but if it hits, Incineroar must pop off.
While Incineroar’s moveset doesn’t seem to be modeled after one particular wrestler, he does bear a bit of a resemblance to Hiroshi Tanahashi — New Japan Pro Wrestling’s leading man. Incineroar even borrows his signature hand gesture and pose.
2. Simon Belmont’s pose
Simon Belmont is another newcomer to Smash. It’s no surprise that he comes decked out with the Vampire Killer whip and his assorted trademark items, but the most important thing is that the developers nailed his standard pose. Members of the Belmont clan are stricken with a congenital disorder that renders them unable to stand unless they are mid-lunge. Good work.
3. Simon’s Final Smash
Speaking of Simon, his Final Smash is incredibly extra, and will allow you to put any Super Smash Bros. character into a literal coffin. Pikachu: Put him in a coffin. Mario: Put him in a coffin. Ness: Put that child in a dang coffin! Once his opponent is all coffin-ed up, Simon calls on the power of Christ to pummel them with magical cruciforms.
4. Color-coded smoke trails
Smash can be sensory overload, and the effects are really working overtime to keep things readable. One nice touch is the color-coded smoke trails: When one player strikes another player hard enough to send them flying, they’ll careen away on a trail of particles that matches the attacker’s icon color. You can see it in the .gif below. Player 4 has a green icon; when they land a hit on someone, their opponent is followed by green smoke as they blast off. It’s a handy way of knowing who’s doing what, and it will make it easier to track your kills in a chaotic match.
5. Super punch-out
Last, but not least, the hitpause and zoom on the final, knockout strike of a match is so satisfying.
The camera speeds toward the impact as the fighters stay locked in their final moment. Scorching effects fill the screen. The victim trembles with potential energy, then rockets away. It’s a perfect punctuation to a hard-fought match.
Allegra: I’m on Patrick’s page for all of the above, but I’ll throw in one quick contribution.
6. A Metal Gear all-star is here to slash things up
Solid Snake has returned to Smash for the first time since Brawl (a decade ago! What! How! Stop.), and with him comes a bunch of other Metal Gear Solid friends. Three different versions of Revolver Ocelot show up in Spirits Mode, and so does Hal “Otacon” Emmerich. Now that I’ve played the original trilogy, I can appreciate all of these guys dropping in.
But our mutual favorite is Gray Fox, the cyborg ninja who stands out as one of the coolest Metal Gear characters. Once just a stationary trophy for your mantle, he now gets to join you on the battlefield as an Assist Trophy. And, hey! Gray Fox is here to eff your ess up, or your opponent’s ess up, defending on whose side he’s fighting for. And it looks very cool, indeed. Check him out:
Finding out what all the items and Assist Trophies do maybe isn’t as small a thing as the other picks we have here. But they still elicit those nice, warm feelings of surprise — just as the animations we pick up on and the moves we see for the first time do. And the power of Super Smash Bros. is that those warm feelings never really go away.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is out Dec. 7, just in time for the cozy holiday season. We’ll be snuggling up to all the details throughout the winter, for sure.