Okay, I’ve already lied to you. The addition of Isabelle to the roster is my favorite part of Smash Ultimate. However, I could not have guessed how with a couple tweaks and a bit more attention to detail, the new Classic Mode for Nintendo’s latest entry in the Super Smash Bros. franchise would become the main event of the game for me.
WARNING: If you couldn’t guess, I will be discussing the new Classic Mode in detail, including fights that appear for particular characters. If this is something you’d rather keep a surprise, do not read this spoiler-filled article until later!
In past Smash Bros.titles, Classic Mode has always had an element of randomness to it, excepting of course the original N64 title’s Classic Mode, which featured the same characters in a fixed order due to the smaller roster. For Smash Ultimate, the developers at Bandai Namco and Sora Ltd. revamped Classic Mode so that each of the game’s 74 (and counting) characters have a unique line-up of fights. These line-ups are personalized to the character, so characters like Pikachu fight in match ups against other Pokémon with lots of Pokéballs appearing in each match and Ike is pitted against characters whose alternate color schemes include mostly black to reference the Black Knight from Fire Emblem. You can get a hint at what kind of fights you’ll see when hovering over a character’s portrait in the character select screen, where you can find little titles like, “Luigi’s Nightmares,”or Yoshi’s “Jurassic Journey.”
In my first run through Classic Mode, I played as Princess Zelda and just as her Classic Mode title, “Wisdom Prevails” suggested, I was pitted against characters like Wario and King K. Rool; in other words, buffoons who prefer brawn over brain. The developers not only kept to the theme in that regard, but also paid tribute to Zelda’s roots in the Legend of Zelda franchise. I guffawed when I got to the match against several Mii Fighters dressed as the Yiga Clan from Breath of the Wild, happy to have Zelda kick their banana loving backsides, this time with no assistance needed from Link.
What surprised me most was the second big twist the developers added to Classic Mode in this iteration of Smash Bros. Unbeknownst to me at the time, not every character ends their run in Classic Mode with a fight against Master Hand like in past titles, for when I reached the last match of Zelda’s run, I was faced with the Demon King, Ganondorf himself. It makes sense that Ganondorf would be the last foe for Zelda to face but dealing with a regular fighter at the end felt a bit anticlimactic. Reader, I had a big storm comin’.
The fight ended with a quick scene of Ganondorf morphing into Ganon, beginning the real final boss fight! My jaw dropped. Boss fights aren’t new to the Smash Bros. series, but I was expecting any bosses besides Master Hand to stay safely in the World of Light mode, similar to how bosses like Petey Piranha would be found in Brawl‘s Subspace Emissary. I was not expecting to fight Ganondorf’s Final Smash form with a life bar at the end of a Classic Mode. He even features a glowing tail, hinting to where the player should aim; a weak spot well suited to a character like Zelda who can teleport behind him.
After beating Ganon, I realized that while World of Light has its charm, especially with the ways they represent characters in the Spirit fights, Classic Mode is the part of the game I’m most excited to try with every character to see how the developers have tailored the experience to each fighter. These uniquely tailored Classic Modes are just one example of how Smash Ultimate has proven itself to be the best celebration of Nintendo’s characters and franchises yet.