Within the Smash Ultimate release month, I’ve enjoyed my time playing the latest Nintendo brawler, but it has left a lot to be desired.
Writing that first sentence about the Smash Ultimate release month really breaks my heart. I was convinced that this was going to be the Smash game to draw me away from my good ol’ tired and dusty Wii U, but as it turns out, a lot of what wasn’t broken was “fixed.”
This is a plea to Nintendo: make me want to learn Smash Ultimate inside and out. Draw me in with all of the wonderful characters and features that you’ve included. And please, make Smash Ultimate as fun to discover as Smash 4 was. Here is the trickledown effect that brought me back into playing Smash 4 over Smash Ultimate within the same month as the new game’s release.
R.I.P., Team Battles
I refuse to bore my readers with any more droning on about how much I wish For Fun and For Glory were back. That specific critique is important to this narrative in a new way, because in this piece, I’ll detail how it has led to me giving up on Smash Ultimate. Not completely, but for the time being, I have 100% given up on playing Smash Ultimate.
If I had to pick the worst element of the horrible matchmaking of the release version of Smash Ultimate, it would probably be the inability to get Team Battle matches, nearly ever. I played and learned all that I could in Smash 4‘s lighter online modes, such as 1 on 1 and Smash battles, but there came a point where I realized that the best of the best were queuing into the strategic and more balanced Team Battles.
The Team Battles in Smash 4 have given me so much excitement and joy that I’ve become a firm believer that they are the definitive serious Smash fighting environment. The battles are all teamwork based, and have a lot to do with the chemistry you have with another random player from somewhere else in the world. The concept is as exciting as it sounds, but without a dedicated server space for just Team Battles, I’ve been grouped into general Smash or item Team Battles. It’s been… lacking, to say the very least.
Battling and learning are key
I can’t commit hours to a game development team’s work that doesn’t commit the time to make a product worth playing online with. In other words: Nintendo, fix your online matchmaking, or this dedicated Smash-aholic is out for good.
I’ve been playing endless matches against others online ever since Brawl introduced the feature, but now, I couldn’t be any less interested in learning all that I need to to be successful as a fighter on Smash Ultimate.
As I wrote in my review of the game, “The best way I can describe picking a character to train as in Smash Bros. Ultimate is by comparing it to the books in Belle’s library from Beauty and the Beast. As your world expands exponentially overnight, you have little point of reference as to which one to pick up first, but if it looks pretty or violent or whatever it is you may be looking for, maybe, just maybe that character/book will end up becoming your main/favorite? It’s a game of luck to pick so blindly from such a large cast. It’s fun, don’t get me wrong. But to comment on the entirety of the cast would take years and years and years of dissection and study.”
And that study? It simply will not be happening until I get the online matchmaking that I deserve. I did not pump hundreds, maybe even THOUSANDS of hours into this wonderful series, only to be stopped in my tracks due to the most lackluster online battle system of the brawler since 2008’s Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Masahiro Sakurai, you’re our only hope
Make me want to come back. I want to want to come back. As for now, I’m done.
For the time being, the Smash 4 Team Battle servers are still populated with enough players to keep me satiated. Unfortunately, even the most loyal of Smash 4 players will eventually move on to Smash Ultimate, leaving Smash 4‘s Team servers a barren wasteland. By that point, Smash Ultimate will hopefully have an improved matchmaking system.
Smash Ultimate is performing extraordinarily well, with reports coming in that it’s well on track to outpace Smash 4 sales within the Switch game’s release month. All of these new and returning Smash players need to be given a reason to stick around and invest in future Nintendo games. If this is truly the last Smash Bros. game, or even if it’s the last for a while, it continues to break my heart that something so simple and intuitive on the Wii U was smashed, broken, and tossed aside in the Smash Ultimate online experience.