Every lead up to a new Smash Bros. game is special. From the exciting announcements of new characters, stages, and game modes, to the ever-joyful trailers that are always in store, I’d argue that Super Smash Bros. and its developers know how to create more hype and anticipation than almost any other game. Even with this being said, there’s something different about the cycle that has been leading to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate though — and I mean that in a good way. The blatant joy that everyone has for this coming release has seemed to be amplified more than ever before, and I think a lot of that can be attributed to the game’s director, Masahiro Sakurai.
Since its initial reveal back in March of this year, the sheer amount of excitement from both myself and the community surrounding this game has seemed to be on another level. I think a lot of that is because no one was really expecting an entirely new Smash game to appear. As it has been with many Switch releases, I know that I for one expected Smash‘s first appearance on Nintendo’s new platform to take the form of a port of Smash 4. That didn’t happen and, instead, we realized we’d be getting a completely new entry in the series.
When you combine this with the fact that the pre-release cycle for Ultimate is so much more condensed than normal, I think these are the two main reasons why hype seems to be off of the charts. As it was with Smash 4, and definitely with Brawl, the lead-up to each of those games took close to a year and a half before each game released. While the trailers for each were still phenomenal when they did appear, they were much further apart from one another. Meanwhile, we’ve already seen three large showcases for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate three time over a span of six months: each showing of the game has continued to build off of the previous one.
Let’s be honest though, the real reason that myself and many others are so excited about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is because the game is giving us everything. I don’t just mean that in the sense that Smash Ultimate will be bringing in all characters and most stages from the past, I mean that Sakurai has followed through on some of the most requested additions that fans have been begging for over the past decade.
Looking at the character additions alone, Sakurai is finally adding Ridley and King K. Rool, two characters above almost all others that fans have been asking for since Brawl. The reveal trailers for both of these villains show that Sakurai is well-aware of how much they’ve been asked for, too. From King Dedede trolling the DK Crew in the King K. Rool unveiling, to the “Ridley hits the big time!” phrase used, which is a callback to the excuse that Nintendo has used in the past to explain that Ridley couldn’t join the roster due to his size. Sakurai has made it well-known in these trailers that he knows exactly what fans have been wanting, and this time, he’s going to give them just that.
Many have said this already about Smash Ultimate, but I think that this could be the final game in the series — at least for quite some time. Sakurai has talked in the past about how he’s thought of quitting the series after certain entries, and while he’s not directly said anything along those lines since the announcement of Ultimate, the way that everything is lining up just feels like it is going to be the end. I mean, why else would you create an “Ultimate” version that is a culmination of the entire series otherwise?
Sakurai has a reputation of working too hard on his games to the point of exhaustion: you don’t need to look much further back to see an example of this, either. At this year’s E3, after Nintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Ultimate tournament had concluded, Sakurai said he would be flying back to Japan on a flight at midnight so that he could begin working on the game the next day. His dedication to his work is something I admire, but it’s something that he has said in the past absolutely wears him out.
I think in the back of his mind, Sakurai knows this might be the time to hang things up as well. But before he does, he wanted to deliver one more game, and this time make it solely for the fans. This is why we have every character from the past returning, alongside new faces that fans have been wanting forever. I also think this is why the Smash Ballot existed a few years back, to gauge what players would want in one final coup de gras. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is Sakurai’s love letter to the fans, and he wanted to make sure that he could deliver everything they wanted. So far, he seems to be delivering just what everyone wanted.
It’s this willingness of Sakurai to deliver just what fans have wanted that has made the lead up to Smash Bros. Ultimate so much more exciting than normal. Sakurai surely has more tricks up his sleeve between now and its release on December 7, and what those new surprises could be have my head spinning. The most outlandish requests from fans in the past, such as seeing the additions of Banjo-Kazooie (please) or even Goku now somehow seem feasible when before they didn’t whatsoever. If this is truly the Smash that is catered entirely to fan desires, who knows what we could see announced next.
Whether or not Super Smash Bros. Ultimate ends up being the final game under Sakurai’s tenure remains to be seen, but regardless of what happens moving forward, it’s clear that he’s set on giving fans his all this time around. With this in mind, we as fans need to also be thankful that we’re even receiving this game in the first place and after release shouldn’t grief Sakurai and the rest of the development team on what was left out from Smash Ultimate–even if that does mean Waluigi is left out from the playable roster. Let’s celebrate what this game is, the developers who created it, and most importantly, just enjoy the rest of this ride up until release, because who knows when we’ll get to experience the lead up to another Super Smash Bros. again.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is slated to launch on December 7, exclusively for the Nintendo Switch. If you’d like, you can currently pre-order the game over on Amazon to ensure yourself a copy on Day One.