10:00 am EST, November 27, 2018

Goodbye, ‘Smash 4’: A tribute to a roller coaster of a Nintendo fighting game

Smash 4 has had its run, but now it’s time to have some fun. Smash Ultimate promises to be everything that Smash 4 couldn’t be, but that doesn’t mean all Smash 4 did was bad.

Smash Ultimate is the Melee for the modern-aged gamer. Its gameplay is faster, more technical, and punishes repeated rolling (that last one is very important).

Smash 4 felt like it reveled in the controversy in ways that Smash Ultimate is already steering clear of. Ultimate looks to be a (mostly) balanced and clean title. While only time will tell, Ultimate feels like the simple answer to Smash 4‘s lifespan. For when you can play the ultimate of anything, why play it for Wii U?

Letting our links to the past go

smash 4 link zelda

Anyone who follows the Smash competitive scene knows full well that Melee will likely always be the longstanding popularity contest winner at gaming tournaments. Smash 4 simply won’t face the same fate.

The game started off with a pretty broken Sheik, but that was it for the most part. She was patched up, made so nerfed so as to nearly neutralize all of her kill options, and the world moved on.

Then everything changed when the DLC characters attacked.

Mere months after Super Smash Bros. for 3DS released in 2014, it was announced that a major milestone in the Smash series was being breached: paid DLC characters.

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smash 4 bayonetta

The DLC characters were voted upon, bringing us two of the most broken characters in Smash Bros. history since Brawl‘s Meta Knight: Cloud and Bayonetta.

Cloud had, and still has, an incredible range with his buster sword. He can do falling up-air combos into more falling up-air follow-ups, and has a limit charge that adds an insane amount of pressure.

As for Bayonetta… she is still broken. So, so, sooooo broken. She could easily 0-to-kill nearly any character when she was first released, and this was hardly improved as time went on. She’s unapproachable offstage due to her ever-present hitboxes on her side special and up special moves, and she is buffed even more with her counter that slows down time.

Cloud and Bayonetta brought the Smash community to its knees. We all begged for a ban or a nerf to justify using any other characters in the roster. Alas, the nerfs were minimal, and they remain in the top tier for all of the wrong reasons.

As Ultimate hits, it’s time to let go of these broken characters. I’ve played Ultimate, and I know: the game is balancing other low tier characters into the higher tier. While there will inevitably be broken characters in Ultimate, at least they won’t be Cloud or Bayonetta.

Without story, there is no need for a mode

smash 4 mega man

Series creator Masahiro Sakurai has gone on the record as saying that the major reason there weren’t any story cutscenes for Smash 4 was because he was upset that they would all leak before the game’s release. Ultimate includes many, many cutscenes, and they have all been leaked.

Not having a story mode in Smash 4 gave the entire game a much different tone from Melee and especially Brawl. Subspace Emissary was beautiful, epic, and everything we ever could have wanted out of a Nintendo mashup. Smash 4, instead, had trophy run.

I don’t mean to make it sound as if Smash 4 was a dull game; it wasn’t. On the contrary, I’ve never had so much fun playing a Smash game ever before. However, there wasn’t much to do in the single-player mode, other than the increasingly frustrating event battles.

The World of Light story looks great from what we’ve seen of it in the officially released footage (I’m remaining spoiler-free until I see it in the game’s actual release). Was it worth adding in all of this content just for it to get released? As far as Smash 4‘s lackluster single player campaign is concerned, hell yeah.

Encore, encore

Smash 4 will be sorely missed by the professional players and casual fighters alike that have trained endlessly for years in attempts to perfect their techniques. The game had a lot of in-depth matchups, stage choices, and even its fair share of exploitable glitches.

This is an odd situation, as there isn’t an overall distaste for Smash 4 as there was for the floaty and broken Brawl. Brawl is rarely, if ever played in professional tournaments, as players who joined the scene then have naturally moved on to either Melee, Smash 4, or both.

What is Smash 4‘s competitive fate? I’m sure there will still be players lingering around to play it for some time. It has a much simpler physics than Ultimate‘s insanely fast game engine, which has appeal for players looking to have a more strategic battle.

The online battles will probably be around for a few more years, but I honestly don’t see it lasting any longer than 2021. The Miiverse service discontinuation has shown that Nintendo fully accepts the relative flop that the Wii U is, and that it will only be a matter of time before they will bring all online functionality on the console out to pasture, just as they did with the Wii.

There are still days when I miss playing Brawl on Nintendo’s servers. Sure, it was lawless and full of trolls, but there is a certain appeal to a taunt party every now and again. I wonder how we’ll all feel once Smash 4‘s online servers are killed?

Enjoy the time left that you have with Smash 4, because before you know it, you’ll be so wrapped up in playing Ultimate that you’ll be asking yourself “Cloud who?” and “Bayonetta what?”.

Thank you for the memories, the friends, the countless hours spent, and the fun, Smash 4. I’ve always loved you the most, but I have a feeling that our remaining time together is short.

Smash Ultimate releases for the Nintendo Switch on December 7, 2018.

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