When Super Smash Bros. Ultimate arrived on Switch and brought with it every single fighter from the series' history, it sent us back through the older games. With the original Super Smash Bros. now over 20 years old, and the most recent nominated for GOTY at The Game Awards 2019, it's incredible to see how the series has evolved over two decades. Just how do they rank against each other? Is this 'Ultimate' iteration really the last word in Smash?
There's a strong argument for it, and with the recent arrival of SNK's Terry Bogard, the identity of Challenger #5 still a mystery and even more DLC fighters confirmed to be coming after this initial batch, there's still plenty to come. But just how do the other entries measure up against the Switch game?
Well, simply scroll down to see where Ultimate sits compared to its predecessors according to us here at Nintendo Life...
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It's usually a good sign if the very first entry in a franchise sits at the bottom of the pecking order. That should be the worst it ever gets, as it suggests that the franchise has grown since. So, it's by no means a slight on the excellent Super Smash Bros. that it sits at the bottom of the pile.
It might not be the strongest entry, but it kicked off the franchise in style. At the time, the idea of a fighting game without health bars was pretty revolutionary. Instead, you'd beat up an opponent to increase a percentage bar. The higher this bar, the more that player will get knocked back by an opponent's attacks. The goal is to knock your opponent out of the arena entirely.
The control scheme is also considerably less complicated than fighters such as Street Fighter or Tekken, with each character sharing the same controls. The depth comes from a weight system similar to Mario Kart, with heavier characters being more difficult to fling out of the arena than lighter characters, but lighter characters finding it easier to recover.
Include weapons and power-ups to pick up along the way, platforming elements, and the ability to play with four people in multiplayer, and you can consider Super Smash Bros. to be an incredibly revolutionary title at the time, that reinvented the fighting genre.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a victim of its age. It built on everything that came before it, introducing a wealth of new features like online multiplayer, third party characters, and a massive single-player mode, and allowed support for a greater range of controllers than ever before.
Unfortunately though, its successors included all of these and more. So while Brawl gets a nice big salute from us, this is the highest the poor game can climb in this list.
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS introduced the ability to customise your Smash fighters by changing their attacks and providing them with unique power-ups. That way, you can create a playstyle that works best for you. It also introduced amiibo into the mix, allowing you to train CPU characters and import them into a match with a simple tap of the amiibo on the NFC reader.
Super Smash Bros. 3DS was the same game you could get on Wii U, except you could take it on the go with you. The portable version included support for the 3DS's stereoscopic 3D, optional cel-shading for the characters, and two exclusive modes: Smash Run and StreetSmash.
If Super Smash Bros. for Wii U is the same game as the 3DS Super Smash Bros., why is it higher? Well, that's simple: it included a local play mode that allows you to play with a whopping eight players for the first time ever. Oh, and the 1080p HD visuals certainly help.
On top of that, you've got three exclusive modes: Smash Tour, Special Orders, and Event Mode, support for a wealth of controllers, and the inclusion of Special Smash.
So basically, the Wii U version has way more of what we love from Super Smash Bros..
Ah, Super Smash Bros. Melee. It never got any better than you, did it? Melee nailed the formula to such an insane extent that it remains the go-to Super Smash Bros. for tournaments even today. In fact, it's the sole reason why Nintendo just can't give up on GameCube controllers, giving us those 'Melee feels' when we play any other Smash Bros. entry.
So why has Super Smash Bros. Melee remained at the top of the pile for so many years? Well, there are numerous different reasons. Fans will say it's tighter, faster and requires more skill. They'll point to it being far more entertaining to watch than its successors, down to this faster pace. They'll point towards the better balance. The truth is, it's all of those things.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has a heck of a fight on its hands to deserve the 'Ultimate' in its title.
It's official: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the ultimate version of Super Smash Bros.. Sakurai has done it, finally toppling Melee as the best entry in the franchise for a number of different reasons.
As our resident Smash expert and YouTube aficionado Alex put it:
We’re not sure how you could make a more robust or pleasing Smash game. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate truly is the ultimate instalment in the series, and it makes you wonder where Sakurai can possibly take this franchise next.
We couldn't have put it better ourselves! Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the tightest, biggest, and best entry in the series ever and it'll probably never be toppled.
Where does your favourite Super Smash Bros. sit in the list? Do you agree that Ultimate really is the, errrr, ultimate Smash? Are Melee's days as a tournament fave numbered? Let us know in the comments section below.