Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Fighters Pass (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Az Elias 02.03.2020

Review for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Fighters Pass on Nintendo Switch

Hands up who is really a fan of purchasable content passes that don't inform what will be in them until a much later date? Nintendo has been pretty careful with what it does with DLC and potential money makers post release of its games. Making its first character pass for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate available to buy without revealing which fighters would be included didn't sit well on a personal level, however. Sure, people have a choice about whether to take a gamble on it, but given the inability to get a refund on pre-ordered digital downloads, buying the Fighters Pass is still just that: a gamble. It was always going to be wise for fans to wait and see which characters were included. Now that all five have arrived, is this first major DLC bundle worth the price, or does it fall into the trap most other fighting game passes do?

A lot can be discussed about character and "season" passes in video games, but the fighting game genre is heavily caught up in it. So much can be portioned off into separately purchasable chunks, such as characters, stages and costumes, that it is rare that any fighting game doesn't have some sort of DLC or pass these days. Sadly, publishers will try to charge as much as they can for as little content as possible, and some franchises are far worse than others when it comes to what is included and the prices they are charging. Very few fighting game passes are ever worth it.

Nintendo, however, seems to have come out with one of the best valued passes of any current fighting game on the market. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is bursting at the seams with content already, and while there is an argument there isn't much extra over the past game on Wii U when it comes to stages and music, this first Fighters Pass really ups the ante when it comes to delivering what fans want in these sorts of post-launch DLCs, bolstering this game even more in a variety of ways.

Screenshot for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Fighters Pass on Nintendo Switch

Five brand-new fighters enter the fray, with one or two ground-breaking newcomers that might surprise a few fans. Persona 5's protagonist Joker is here; Dragon Quest's Hero brings along four variations of his appearance from past games; incredibly, Rare's bear and bird duo Banjo and Kazooie swoop in; The King of Fighters' Terry Bogard shows up; and, lastly, Nintendo adds one of its own in the form of Fire Emblem: Three Houses' lead character Byleth, with female and male alternate forms.

It is an impressive line-up that focuses a lot on bringing third party characters into the Smash world, where there no doubt must have been extreme effort made by Nintendo to get the likes of Microsoft and Square Enix to work with them (where the latter is concerned, it already seemed like Cloud Strife's return was slim, so continuing to pursue the publisher for Hero must have also been tough). Most fighters also have unique move-sets, such as Hero's ability to cycle through a whole range of actions in old-school RPG fashion. In addition, every combatant gets their own Classic mode run, bringing them in line with the rest of the cast, and a whole host of new Spirits (if anyone really cares about those) are there to fight and claim.

Screenshot for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Fighters Pass on Nintendo Switch

Despite being titled a Fighters Pass, though, this isn't just about characters. New stages and music were a sorely lacking area when Ultimate initially launched, regardless of the ones that carried over, but this pass brings with it a range that helps improve those aspects dramatically.

A stage from every DLC fighter's franchise makes its way in, with different attributes and gimmicks to mix up battles. Persona 5's Mementos features a passing-through train and terrain that can hit and damage fighters; Yggdrasil's Altar has the player battling on a platform that flies around the world of Dragon Quest XI, showcasing many locations from the game; and Spiral Mountain is the home of Banjo and Kazooie, with the peak of the stage changing slightly as the camera rotates to show off familiar spots and characters in the background.

The King of Fighters Stadium is a bit of a plain arena, but has invisible walls that cause fighters to bounce back into play unless a strong hit forces them through to a KO, and also features guest characters from the series in the background (although Nintendo disappointingly chickened out of placing popular female fighter Mai Shiranui in there over concerns of sexiness, which is ironic given the women already in the game, and despite there being any number of ways to cover her up). Finally, Garreg Mach Monastery is perhaps the weakest of the bunch, as this one also cycles through a handful of areas from Three Houses, with a few breakable shops on the sides of the marketplace.

Screenshot for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Fighters Pass on Nintendo Switch

When it comes to music, the choice is heavily imbalanced, with most arenas coming with anywhere from eight to eleven tracks. The King of Fighters Stadium, however, is the anomaly, with SNK pretty much saying to Nintendo, "Here, take all these and do what you want!" because this stage has a whopping 50 tracks to choose from! It makes other third parties look stingy in comparison, and begs the question why others didn't just do the same and let Nintendo use however many they wanted. It wouldn't even matter about rearranging many, if any, because while there are some brilliant tracks from the likes of Banjo-Kazooie in there, there are glaring omissions in the form of Rusty Bucket Bay and Click Clock Wood that would have sufficed in all their original glory. It's easy to have a bit of a moan when personal favourites miss the cut, though, and it still doesn't take away from the fact that the range of content is massive.

Nintendo is asking for £22.49 for this bundle, and while that's more than a third of the price of the entire standard game itself, in terms of fighting game passes, this is some of the best value out there. Other publishers charge more for less content, and that oftentimes doesn't include any additional stages or music, either. There are plenty of personal desires that any Smash fan might wish were included, such as particular songs and alternate costumes (an even bigger incentive to get people to splash out on this would have been new skins for older characters), but it's hard to feel too miffed about a really diverse pack that brings so many great third party characters into this universe. It's going to be very exciting to see just who Nintendo brings on board for the second pass.

Screenshot for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: Fighters Pass on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

Nintendo has shown the rest of the fighting game world how to do a proper DLC pass. Whilst it's unfortunate that this doesn't include many of the extras available separately, like Mii costumes, the Fighters Pass not only brings five fantastic characters into the Smash universe, including some excellent surprises, but adds five stages with mostly unique features, as well as a shedload of music tracks. It helps to be a fan of at least some of the characters here, but it's hard to argue with the value.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Fighting

Players

8

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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