If you thought Nintendo’s upcoming mascot-battler game Super Smash Bros. Ultimate couldn’t get any bigger, its creators had a Konami-tinged surprise on Wednesday: Castlevania’s Simon Belmont as a brand-new playable Smash fighter.
Belmont was arguably the biggest announcement to come in the latest news-filled Nintendo Direct video series. Smash Director Masahiro Sakurai confirmed that the character’s classic whip gives him the longest standard melee attack ever seen in the series, at the cost of speed—and that it can be freely waved around, just like in the SNES classic Super Castlevania IV. His other attacks take advantage of classic “magical items” like the axe (complete with its thrown arc), ground-burning holy water, and straight-thrown blue cross.
He’ll be joined by Symphony of the Night hero Richter Belmont, who will appear as an “echo fighter”—Smash’s term for an aesthetic re-skin with very slight move variations. Both characters will be able to fight in a new Dracula’s Castle stage, which will include cameos from monsters like a werewolf and Dracula that pester fighters when they randomly appear. The series’ famed Alucard will appear as an “assist trophy,” as well, to be used in combat as a temporary helper.
The video concluded with a “one more thing” video reveal of another new main character, as well: Donkey Kong Country’s King K Rool. His move set didn’t receive as detailed of a reveal, however, but Rool’s revealed attacks include a cannonball gun, a tummy bounce, and a throwable king’s hat.
Craziest of all, Sakurai says Nintendo is not done adding main characters, and he did not offer an estimate of how big this cast will get, nor how many of the additional characters will appear as “echoes.” Two more echo fighters were announced, as well: Dark Samus from the Metroid Prime series, who can replace normal Samus, and Chrom from Fire Emblem.
The video confirmed some, but not all, of the modes coming to the game. A variety of tournament-friendly combat modes will be available, including Squad Strike, which lets players choose a few characters before starting a fight and whittling each side’s three- or five-strong roster down. It’s not quite a Marvel Vs. Capcom-like team frenzy, as team swaps won’t be available mid-combat, but it’s a great option for a game with such an enormous character roster.
And a new “Smashdown” mode will automatically remove characters as available options every time they are used, so when a group of two-to-four players gets into an extended session, they’ll all be forced to re-pick fighters after every match. (Sakurai goes so far as to suggest swiping certain prized characters early in this mode to antagonize your friends.)
Lots of pre-battle tweaks can be selected, such as previous games’ “stamina” battle options. When this mode is toggled, players fight over their HP bars, like in more standard brawlers, as opposed to launching each other off the stage. Perhaps the wildest announced tweak is an optional “super meter,” which lets players charge a meter in the course of a fight to earn a “weaker” version of the series’ wild “final smash” attacks. Effectively, this adds a Street Fighter-like mechanic as an option, in terms of managing special bars and deciding when to unleash their powers, and it could make for an interesting competitive-play variant.
Apparently, one major mode was left off the reveal table today. A flash of the game’s main-menu screens included a massively blurred section where you might expect a campaign or single-player mode to appear, and Sakurai made clear that this blurred mode would be revealed at a later date. The screens also hint to “online” modes, which have also not yet been detailed.
Smash Bros. Ultimate hands-on: We put new fighters, new features to the test“We must be crazy,” Sakurai said when confirming that the game’s combat-arena count had grown to 103 as of press time. Those stages will have “more than 800 songs” that, like in prior games, players can pick and choose from before going into battle. But should you wish to simply jam to the songs while on the go, Nintendo unveiled a new Switch party trick: a “handheld music” mode that continues playing system audio even when the screen is turned off. Should you wish to toss your Switch into a bag like an old iPod, you’ll be able to keep rocking to its tunes, so long as you plug headphones in.
And, yes, that 800-plus song count includes a whopping 34 songs from the Castlevania series—great news for fans of that series’ acclaimed soundtracks. It remains to be seen how many of those are re-recorded orchestral versions (which Smash games get a lot of), as opposed to direct rips from other entries.
Today’s news follows leaks from months ago hinting to Belmont as part of the roster, but those leaks didn’t predict K. Rool’s appearance, and they have yet to reveal Nintendo’s hand for other characters. Thus, we may still have a few surprises in store ahead of the game’s December 7 launch on Nintendo Switch.
Listing image by Nintendo
More Info: arstechnica.com