When Nintendo officially revealed Super Smash Bros Ultimate at E3 2018, it blew the minds of fans new and old. From its reveal trailer, it was immediately obvious that Smash Ultimate was going to be a celebration of video games like no other. We’ve spent the last three years reacting to amazing character reveals — some of us even shed tears — so it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come since then. As we wait for Masahiro Sakurai to present the final character showcase on October 5, let’s take a walk down memory lane, reflecting on the incredible journey of Super Smash Bros Ultimate that we experienced together.
Everybody is here!
During the March 2018 Nintendo Direct, the very first tease for what would become Super Smash Bros Ultimate occurred after Splatoon 2‘s Octo Expansion reveal, wrapping up what can be described as one of Nintendo’s finest online showcases. All we could interpret at the time was that the Inklings would be in the game, with the female Inkling turning towards that dramatic Smash Ball on fire. As such, everybody knew that E3 2018 would be a big moment for Nintendo, with Smash Bros as the major focus.
Series director Masahiro Sakurai arrived at the showcase to introduce the game, showing off a few characters both expected (Mario) and less expected (Cloud). But then Solid Snake suddenly appeared, along with a major declaration: “Everybody is here!”
That sentence caused shockwaves in the Nintendo community, resulting in some amazing video reactions and online discussions. Masahiro Sakurai proudly revealed that every single fighter in Super Smash Bros history would appear in the game, including Snake, who had skipped Super Smash Bros for Wii U and Nintendo 3DS. As this was the most ambitious Smash game to date, Sakurai explained why he felt that Super Smash Bros Ultimate was an appropriate title. We got a glimpse at the differences compared to its predecessors, the introduction of echo fighters, and an overview of some of the game’s stages.
Then in classic “one more announcement” fashion, the E3 showcase cut to Mario, Mega Man, and Samus exploring an abandoned facility. The Blue Bomber and Mario are suddenly struck down in the blink of an eye, and Samus slowly turns around to face her arch nemesis, Ridley! Fans had been begging for Ridley in Smash Bros for years, another dream come true.
The road to release
Immediately after Ridley’s reveal, a release date of December 7, 2018 was announced for Super Smash Bros Ultimate, closer than most people had ever expected. Those six months leading up to release nonetheless felt like a long road, but we had plenty of information to look forward to. A Super Smash Bros Ultimate Nintendo Direct on August 8, 2018 depicted the “death” of Luigi as his soul was ripped out of his body, but it was all just an elaborate reveal for Simon and Richter Belmont from the Castlevania series. The introduction of echo fighters Chrom and Dark Samus followed.
Then the finale of the presentation transported us to the world of Donkey Kong, watching DK and Diddy having a nap. A tremor wakes the pair up, which turns out to be King Dedede playing a prank of being the threatening King K. Rool. Then the real deal appears behind him, launching Dedede miles away using his sharp claws. The official announcement of King K. Rool followed, featuring “Gangplank Galleon” by David Wise playing in the background. I can vividly remember getting too excited during this reveal, and I’ll never forget it!
In a September 2018 Nintendo Direct, Isabelle would be revealed for Super Smash Bros Ultimate next, alongside the announcement of Animal Crossing: New Horizons, delighting Animal Crossing fans everywhere.
The World of Light
With just over a month to go until launch, Nintendo hosted the final Super Smash Bros Ultimate Direct presentation on November 1, 2018, where Little Mac faces off against the legendary Ken from the Street Fighter franchise. Ken is revealed to be an echo fighter of Ryu, while a mysterious challenger watches from the shadows. After Ken finishes off Little Mac, Incineroar from Pokémon Sun and Moon ambushes him, marking the final characters reveals for Super Smash Bros Ultimate.
However, there was a lot more in store for us, as Masahiro Sakurai announced a bunch of exciting new features for the game. There was the introduction of spirits and the spirits board, Spectator mode, the Nintendo Switch Online app, online functionality, and much more. The biggest announcement regarding spirits was the World of Light, an adventure mode similar to Super Smash Bros Brawl’s Subspace Emissary. Unlike that mode, the World of Light focuses on individual fights based on particular spirits. This excited series fans, as the previous game lacked this sort of thing.
DLC has been its own massive journey for Super Smash Bros Ultimate
Masahiro Sakurai further confirmed in the November 2018 Direct that development had started on five DLC characters. Additionally, Piranha Plant from the Super Mario series would be a free purchase bonus to those who bought the game close to launch. Our first look at the downloadable content was presented during The Game Awards 2018, with Joker from Persona 5 making a dramatic entrance to the series. This was the beginning of more bonkers character reveals post-launch.
The next two DLC characters were revealed at E3 2019, opening and closing another fantastic appearance from Nintendo. The Hero from Dragon Quest and Rare’s Banjo & Kazooie solicited widespread celebration from the East and West respectively. Later that year, Terry Bogard from Fatal Fury was announced, causing even more excitement within the community, especially in Latin America.
However, the final DLC character, Byleth, didn’t receive as much praise as the other reveals. Fans were disappointed with yet another Fire Emblem character joining the game, as the game has many anime sword-fighters.
However, Sakurai suddenly announced Super Smash Bros Ultimate Fighters Pass Vol. 2, featuring six more DLC characters. Min Min from Arms kicked off the second round of DLC, shortly followed by the hilarious (and long-plotted) reveal of Steve from Minecraft. Fighters Pass Vol. 2 was off to a great start, which continued through to the surprising third reveal, Sephiroph from Final Fantasy VII, who could be uniquely unlocked early if you beat him in a “boss” fight. Then in February 2021, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 fans received the love they desperately wanted as Pyra and Mythra were announced.
At E3 2021 earlier this year, Kazuya from Tekken joined as the fifth DLC fighter, a sensible choice since Bandai Namco developed Super Smash Bros Ultimate. Many Nintendo characters lost their lives in the reveal that day, aside from Kirby. (You can’t kill Kirby.) It has been nearly four months since then, with fans across the world awaiting the final DLC reveal. There’s no knowing what to expect, so we must go in with reasonable expectations. Some fans are craving characters such as Sora and Master Chief, so it will be interesting to see online reactions.
The journey is about to end for Super Smash Bros Ultimate
Although the journey may be about over for Super Smash Bros Ultimate, there’s no denying how much of a ride these past three or so years have been with wild character reveals, from first-party surprises like Ridley to third-party shockers like Banjo and Sephiroth. As we wait for the final Mr. Sakurai Presents on Tuesday, October 5, it’s nice to reflect on what a tremendous shared experience this game has given us. Who would you like to see as the final DLC character for Super Smash Bros Ultimate?