Super Smash Bros. created a new genre of fighting games, and after five entries in the series, it’s all too easy to lose sight of how far the game has come. Super Smash Bros Ultimate is platform fighter perfection, with the kind of casting and polish that other fighting games can only dream of. It’s easy to take for granted, and it became clear when Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl published; a full-priced game that felt like a budget title in every way imaginable, until all of Nick’s iconic characters were quietly silent throughout each game. It was haunting, almost like you were playing with possessed envelopes whose identities had been stolen. It turns out that presentation is a big deal in fighting games, so it’s a good thing that MultiVersus has done everything well so far.
The cast has yet to be fully confirmed, but everything here is either faithful to the original character designs or stylized to make them look like the other characters. Arya Stark doesn’t look unnatural next to Taz and Finn the human at all, and that’s a feat in and of itself. But even better, they feel authentic. Unlike the horrible charmless clones of Nick Brawl, here Tom and Jerry feel just like Tom and Jerry, complete with a classic OTT scream as they get out of bounds. If you’ve ever watched the cartoon (and who hasn’t?), this will put a smile on your face.
The same goes for most of the other cast members. Wonder Woman uses her whip, shield and sword, Superman has strong strikes and is floating, Jake the dog transforms into weird and wonderful shapes, Taz usually rushes around the screen like a swirling tornado – it’s chaotic , but that’s exactly what you should expect all of these characters to come together.
Of course, all of this is meaningless if the gameplay is no good. It’s still early days, but the game is clearly floating. Yes, that should of course apply to Superman, but the rest of the cast has a similar feel. It’s very easy to manipulate your character’s movement through the air with a variety of moves that can alter your trajectory. In most rig fighters, your moves are restricted to make stepping off the stage a risky business – here it’s just viable. Characters have multiple aerial jumps, multiple aerial dodges – with directional inputs – and can even chain together three special moves in a row. This means opponents are hard to keep offstage and stunned if they haven’t taken enough damage, but also allows you to chase opponents far into the air and knock them down from above, giving players skilled players who can string together combos an advantage over those who just want to land a big hit.
Things still need to be tightened up. Sometimes an attack animation seems to connect, but it just doesn’t, which leads me to believe that the hitboxes don’t always match the animations. That kind of stuff sounds like nitpicking, but it’s crucial for something as dynamic as a competitive platformer. And the competition is definitely on the mind. An online ranking system is in place, and although there is a 1v1 mode for anyone who prefers to play that way, MultiVersus is designed for 2v2 battles primarily. You can team up with a friend and battle enemies online all day long. And thanks to netcode rollback, the games I’ve played have run very smoothly, with a few minor glitches along the way.
All the tricks of live service trading are also there, as you would expect from a modern F2P game. A battle pass, of course, and more cosmetics than you can shake a box of Scooby Snacks. Luckily, unlocking characters is a fairly simple and free affair if you’re willing to put in the work, while character-specific emotes and costumes will require you to invest more than your time if you want to unlock everything you love. How much impact monetization will have on the game remains to be seen, but for now, as long as you can play online with friends as many as you want with no upfront cost, while enjoying the same level of accessibility. that smashit will be a popular proposal for children’s and adult evenings.
While it is still early for MultiVersus and maybe it’s a bit too presumptuous of me to say anything yet, I thought my gaming experience was good. In fact, I would go so far as to say very pleasant. Super Smash Bros. is a series I’ve spent countless hours with and have become a platformer fighter snob as a result, but even in this early state it’s the most I’ve ever enjoyed playing a platformer who is not smash. The roster is cool, the scenes are great, the characters sound like they should, and the online gameplay is easily better than what smash has to offer. If you’re looking for a new platformer to hang out in, MultiVersus maybe what you are looking for.
Written by Dave Aubrey on behalf of GLHF.