Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch) Review

Everyone is Here!

What better word is there than “ultimate” to describe a massive video game crossover that includes every single character and then some from the long-running Super Smash Bros. series? It’s hard to imagine that we have a franchise where so many iconic gaming characters duke it out. Here we are with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, a game that celebrates Nintendo and other major video game publishers that have brought joy to many people around the world.

 

Here’s my Video Review for your viewing pleasure!


The gameplay is identical to previous iterations: fight as a character from a massive roster of classic gaming mascots, use simple button combos to rack up damage on your opponents, and knock them off the stage with powerful attacks. This hybrid of party and fighting has endured for years. Ultimate offers something for every type of Smash player. If you enjoy chaotic four-player brawls with random items, the sheer amount of content allows more variability than ever. If you prefer a competitive 1v1 melee, not only is Ultimate a quicker game than the Wii U version, but it has options to foster that, including new Battlefield versions of every stage and hazard removal. Or perhaps you simply love to revel in the glorious nostalgia. The new World of Light and Classic modes are among the most entertaining and referential solo adventures to date.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Review.jpg
Donkey Kong’s punishment for the DK Rap.

Customization is expanded with the ability to save preset rules. So whether you wish to play with a Stock of three fighters, enforce a time limit for score-based battles, or use an HP meter, you can create your own rulesets. Just as important is the ability to customize your controls. While I’m not a fan of the limited buttons on a single Joy-Con, I actually find the Switch Pro Controller’s grip and button placement just as comfortable as the GameCube controller.

One of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s biggest draws is: Everyone. Is. Here. This is the largest Smash roster to date with over 70 characters, including everyone from prior games. I’m excited to see Ice Climbers and Snake back. Not every fighter is balanced, but the essence of a complete cast lends true to the moniker of “ultimate.” Eleven new challengers join the fight, but five of them are “Echo Fighters” – clones of other characters. Essentially, there are only six newcomers, not including DLC. It’s a fairly low number, but it’s hard to complain with the impressive quality.

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STAY FRESH!

I’m pleased with the additions of some of my most anticipated fighters, Metroid’s Ridley, Donkey Kong Country’s King K. Rool, and Castlevania’s Simon Belmont. Ridley is surprisingly fast and hard-hitting, while K. Rool’s powerful moveset hilariously incorporates his different personas. The Belmonts utilize their whips and arsenal of projectiles, though move fairly slow. I’ve grown to love the Pokémon Incineroar, a showboating wrestler with strong Smashes but weak recovery when knocked off the stage. Although I adore Animal Crossing’s Isabelle, her fighting style is too reminiscent of the original Villager. But I do appreciate that a cute dog wins fights by “accidentally” knocking everyone out. Finally, Splatoon’s Inkling quickly became one of my favorites, with the unique skill to splat ink onto foes to lower their defense.

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I’m convinced Isabelle is the ultimate troll character.

It was a drag unlocking most of them, though. I’m usually a fan of unlockables, but with only eight characters at the start, it’s a grind to obtain everyone through increasingly difficult bouts. Luckily, it’s a one-time process. Just make sure that you allot time to unlock characters if you plan to play multiplayer the same day you get the game.

All 100+ stages are available from the get-go. Unlike characters, not every classic stage is returning. But most fan favorites are back. I could have done without the autoscrollers and overly large stages, but I liked the new Stage Morph feature that transforms the arena midbattle. There are only a few new stages, but they hail from some of Nintendo’s latest hits such as The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, as well as third-party arrival Castlevania. The new stages are mostly simple with few gimmicks, with Splatoon’s Moray Towers as the most interesting, albeit challenging, with its sprawling vertical ramp structure.

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Final Smashes are back! Here’s Giga Bowser using it responsibly to decimate Jigglypuffs.

Everything comes together in the game’s numerous modes. The main single-player attraction is the World of Light – a full adventure. The entire cast is destroyed by a powerful force, and the sole survivor Kirby must travel through a large map, rescuing other fighters. World of Light focuses on numerous condition-based fights resembling a glorified Event Mode as opposed to the platformer-like gameplay of Super Smash Bros. Brawl’s Subspace Emissary.

You travel through a massive overworld map that lovingly mashes every gaming world into a beautiful potpourri. Standing in your way are Spirits, representing different characters from Nintendo’s past, ranging from popular to obscure. What makes these battles shine is that every match pays tribute to the Spirit character. For instance, the robotic Guardian from Breath of the Wild is represented by a giant R.O.B robot who only fires lasers, and three Simon Belmonts spamming axe throws evoke three axe users from Fire Emblem. This mode is entirely composed of one themed event after another, which is admittedly repetitive, and yet I was hooked to see the next ingenious homage.

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Well, we didn’t get Wart, but at least we got King K. Rool.

The Spirits add an RPG element. You can equip collected Spirits, some of which bestow special abilities and can level up. In World of Light, challenge lies in choosing advantageous Spirits for specific stage hazards and battle conditions. Switching between Spirits constantly was a hassle at first. But as I got stronger abilities from the skill tree and obtained better Spirits, I became addicted to collecting more, even if it trivialized the difficulty. After the end of the campaign, which took me about 20 hours, I kept coming back to see everything the World of Light had to offer. You can also collect Spirits through a bounty hunt board for fun, though it’s annoying that you must also succeed at a silly minigame after battle. My only disappointment is how Spirits replace the previous games’ Trophies. Although there are over 1,000 Spirits, there is no flavor text. It’s a shame because I enjoyed reading the Trophies’ game lore in previous versions.

Classic Mode, comprised of six battles, a bonus stage, and a boss per character, is no slouch. Unlike previous games, where the fights were random, these predetermined battles dive into gaming fanservice, with a tailor-made adventure for each character. For example, Ryu’s Classic mode route involves going to every “country” and facing the other World Warriors from Street Fighter, represented by reskins of existing Smash characters. Mega Man undergoes a similar challenge against Smash’s version of Robot Masters. I’ve never been more motivated to beat everyone’s campaign.

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There can only be one!

The lasting value for Smash is playing with friends. Whether 1v1, a free-for-all 4-player match, or the borderline unplayable but hysterical 8-player Smash is your cup of tea, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a gold standard for couch multiplayer. There are quite a few modes besides standard Smash. I won’t go over them all, but the eSports friendly Tournament, the team-based Squad Strike that turns Smash into 3v3 Marvel vs. Capcom, and Smashdown, which tasks everyone to use different fighters in a dwindling roster, are all fun alternatives to vanilla Smash. Matches earn you coins that are used to purchase extras, and along with the achievement challenges, ensure ridiculously rewarding replay value.

Online play unfortunately leaves a sore spot. You’ll likely encounter at least one match with lag. At worst, the action slows to a halt. For a fast input-based fighting game, any lag is bad. Fighting in your ideal environment is sometimes troublesome. Although you can set rule preferences, the game tends to put you in matches as fast as possible, even during background matchmaking, so you may be stuck playing through free-for-alls despite preferring 1v1. As a counterpoint, if you play well enough, you’ll unlock Elite Smash, which is more likely to pair you with others in the same competitive mindset. Randoms may be an issue, but I had little to no problems in Battle Arenas. Generally, these are more regulated spaces where the host has control over the rules and participants. It’s also the only way to play with friends. Unfortunately, you can’t chat with or invite them to arenas without external methods, and you may have to wait between matches. But I’ve had some of the most fun online, hanging out with friends in Battle Arenas.

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Where’s my Monster Hunter/Animal Crossing crossover game?

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate doesn’t look too different from the Wii U version, but I’m impressed how every character looks natural together. I appreciated some of the visual touches, like Pikachu’s more expressive faces or Link’s Breath of the Wild costume. Offline, I had no issues with slowdown, even in 8-player battles. Playing in handheld mode takes away some of the smooth graphics, but experiencing portable Smash without the control issues of the 3DS version is a dream come true for me. The menu interface takes getting used to. It’s often difficult to find the various modes and even harder to locate particular characters and stages. They’re sorted by when they were added to the Smash franchise, and you can’t re-sort them by series or name. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the soundtrack, which is always one of my favorite parts of any Smash Bros. game. New remixes and an epic vocal theme join older tracks in one blissful playlist of over 800 nostalgia-inducing songs.

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Everyone is here! Now pose!

Conclusion

If Super Smash Bros. Ultimate ends up being the finale for the series, then it’s certainly going out with a big bang. The new solo modes are fun meta challenges, and pure fights are as solid as ever, whether you’re playing for fun or glory. It isn’t perfect; beyond some of my nitpicks, online play is unreliable. And if you didn’t like Smash Bros. before or exclusively play Melee, this won’t change your mind. Nevertheless, this game is a glorious crossover that lovingly celebrates decades of video game magic, bringing everyone together for an experience that will be played for years to come. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is an excellent embodiment of why I love Nintendo: its lovable characters, attention to detail, and a focus on the nostalgic memories that have defined my life. This truly is one of the most ultimate games on the Nintendo Switch.

Score: 10/10

What do you think of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? What’s your favorite Smash Bros. game, and who are your favorite characters? Please share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below! Thank you so much for reading and watching!

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56 thoughts on “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Switch) Review

  1. Yeah, Ultimate’s definitely been excellent. I’v’e already poured in around 50 hours. It is definitely making a few errors with the online, but with this much content I really can’t complain. I’d certainly call it the Game of the Year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m definitely calling Super Smash Bros. Ultimate my Game of the Year! There have been some great games this year, but one of the best iterations of the Nintendo crossover party formula is just a shoe-in for me. And there is so much content. World of Light itself was pretty meaty, and I’ll be collecting Spirits, playing with friends, and playing online (hopefully it gets better over time) for the near future haha!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree! I think Sakurai definitely deserves a break after Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. If the series does continue beyond ports (and it probably will), then I hope the successor doesn’t feel too intimidated by Sakurai’s amazing work. He has really outdone himself with this one. Watch in five years when Sakurai announces Super Smash Bros. Super Ultimate hahaha!

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  2. Awesome review of an awesome game! It’s hard to compare any other fighting game franchise to the fame and legacy of Super Smash Bros. I’m really glad that *everyone is here* in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate! I’m so happy that Chrom from Fire Emblem finally saw the light of day, but I think my favorite has to be Cloud from Final Fantasy VII. Roy is close too, because well, you know, Ray hehe. I’m not that skilled when it comes to fighting games, but I feel Smash is accessible enough that players like me can enjoy it too. I feel that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has a lot of content to enjoy, and even though I didn’t get the obscure references, I thought the World of Light homages were very clever. By the way, was that Goku I saw? 😛 I don’t think this is the end of the line for Smash, but it’s hard to see how they’re going to top this. Settle it in…DETROIT SMASH! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement! It truly means a lot that you could be a part of this ultimate review! 😀 It’s been fun training together too haha! The fact that everyone is here in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is definitely one of my favorite parts. I missed Ice Climbers especially since I mained them in Super Smash Bros. Melee. And I’m also glad to see not just Snake, but so other third party characters like Cloud and now coming soon, Joker from Persona 5 woohoo! The Fire Emblem characters are great, of course, even though there are so many of them. At least they have their English voices now haha. I’m sure you like Chrom and Roy’s voices. 😛

      I do think that the Super Smash Bros. series in general appeals both for parties and competitive fighting. I want to get better at competitive, but it’s fun to play more casually, especially since we get to enjoy co-op and training together. Also, don’t worry about the obscure references. I don’t get some of them either, but I’d like to learn more about some of them, especially Goku hahaha. There you go, Goku’s in Smash. 😛 I definitely hope it’s not the end, but I think it’ll at least be the end for Sakurai’s involvement with the series. From there, who knows where it will go. Maybe it’ll just be Super Smash Bros. Ultimate ported to eternity. Or maybe a new successor will add Banjo-Kazooie haha. Either way, I’m glad that the Nintendo Switch got this ultimate entry. DETROIT SMASH!!! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have to say, the really deep-cut references in Sprite battles and Classic mode have to be my favorite parts of the game so far. Whoever sat down to come up with hundreds of battles ranging from a giant white Donkey Kong that only slams the ground as the polar bear from Ice Climbers to including extra characters like Bayonetta as a proxy Aversa in the Gangrel battle from Fire Emblem deserves all the awards.

    Out of curiosity, do you have a favorite reference in the game? I think having Toon Link’s Classic run be a Four Swords adventure that ends in a group fight against OOT Ganon probably had me smiling the most so far.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I definitely love the deep-cut references too, and it’s perhaps the reason I’ve been so invested into fighting Spirit Battles and playing through everyone’s Classic Mode route. Sakurai and his team are Nintendo geniuses, and I love all the effort and research that must have gone into making these fights from such limited conditions and character costumes. That Classic run is excellent, and I also love how Ryu and Mega Man’s are direct parallels to their own games’ structure and enemies. The entire Street Fighter segment in World of Light made me smile so much. There are so many good references, but I’m especially a fan of Ness’ Father Spirit being represented by a telephone, with the battle being against Ness and an invisible Snake. XD

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  4. Sounds like a lot of love and thought has gone in to Ultimate. While I’m not really intending to play it, I’m glad that one big anticipated release hasn’t ended in flames this year and I have very fond memories of Smash from way back when so I’m pleased to hear that they’ve managed a decent update of the game.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it and I hope you keep having fun with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind words! I hope to continue having fun with it especially with the holidays coming up. What was the last Smash game you played? I’ve been a fan of Smash since the beginning but starting with Brawl and the Wii U/3DS versions, but I was always disappointed whenever the series roster lost a fighter. I was always hoping the next Smash would return everyone, and the moment that was announced, I immediately started jumping with joy. I’m so happy that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate feels complete and has lived up to the ideal version I’ve always wanted to play!

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      1. Since I haven’t been a console gamer in a long time, the only one I played (but I played it a lot) was the N64 version. Still, I sank a lot hours into that one and was determined to beat the solo game campaign as every single character on the line-up. I almost succeeded as well though there were a couple I didn’t quite make it through with. I also just loved getting a friend over and spending hours mixing up different fights together.

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      2. The original Super Smash Bros. for N64 was perfect for that. I have fond memories playing it for the first time, and remembering my first times with the Internet and being surprised that a game that had Mario, Link, and Pikachu at the same time could exist. So much fun, and it was much easier to beat all the solo campaigns when there were only 12 characters instead of 70+ hahaha!

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      3. Haha yeah. I didn’t get through everyone in the Wii U version, or if I did, it was a slog. I’m definitely motivated to complete it in Ultimate, though, just because of how fun their classic mode routes are this time around.

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  5. Great review! I generally don’t dare buy myself anything in December to avoid admonishment (“We were going to get that for you!!!”) But I do plan on getting it eventually. One feature that has me especially intrigued is the Smash Ball being replaceable by a Super Meter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you very much man! Ohhh, I know how you feel with the holidays. I usually just make a wish list at this point because nobody knows what I already have anymore haha. I hope you enjoy the Smash Bros. Ultimate whenever you get it! I like the Super Meter idea better than the Smash Ball, just because I know I never end up getting the ball during a chase. The meter feels like how other fighting games work, where if you’re hit more often, you’ll get a bigger boost. You get smaller boosts for just hitting opponents. It’s a good system, though I’m not used to seeing it much when I play online. It’s usually no items or all items (including Smash Ball). I’d love to play whenever you pick it up! 😄

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  6. I am absolutely loving it as well. I love how the fights in World of Light reference each spirit and how Classic Mode is different for each character (I am currently in the process of beating it with all of them due to that uniqueness). Sakurai did an excellent job here, even if WoL has its share of flaws.

    Awesome review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much Matt! The WoL is so well done. It could have just been a generic fight after another, but Sakurai and the team really put in the effort and research to make the game as referential as ever. I’m eating it all up! Same with the themed classic modes! We should definitely play Smash online sometime! 😄

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  7. Oooh I was waiting for this one! It’s always exciting when a new Smash Bros. comes out! Great roster (we FINALLY got K. Rool), and I like that you can customize the controls. Perhaps, most surprising is the adventure mode, which looks like a better Mario Party (which, btw, is another way of referring to Smash Bros!). I’m with you on swapping trophies for “spirits,” as I liked reading the little logs. That’s a small complaint though. All in all this looks like the best Smash Bros in a while, and I’m glad they were only joking about killing Luigi!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes!!! Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is finally here my friend! There are only a few newcomers (not including DLC), but wow did they pick some of the best newcomers. King K. Rool? Finally! Simon Belmont? Even got Richter Belmont too! I’m digging Ridley too! Ultimate is my favorite since Melee, and I DID like the Wii U version. Customizable controls are good, though most people will use the GameCube controller anyway, which is apparently perfection for Smash haha. World of Light is a wonderful mode, and kind of reminds me of Mario Party. It’s more fun than Super Mario Party, at least. I just wish they had Trophies back. I loved reading them. They’re not even rendered in 3D modes anymore. They’re just flat images. Shame right? I know you’re glad to know Wario does have his signature charge attack back. He can still fart too, don’t you worry. No Waluigi, though. I’m not sure about Luigi. He might just be a ghost at this point. I guess we’ll find out in Luigi’s Mansion 3 his mortality status. Anyway, point is, we have to play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate together at some point my friend! 😄 I still remember the good old days of Melee! Thank you again for your great comments, and I look forward to settling it in Smash!

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    1. Would have loved to see Geno! I mean, I want to see Geno in any Mario RPG game, period. He needs to come back one day and not just be a one-off cameo in Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga. Otherwise, agreed that Ultimate is the best Smash Bros. yet!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yeah, I feel bad for the Isaac people though. If he was gonna be stuck as an Assist Trophy, they should have shown it off a lot sooner instead of getting people’s hopes up. Like you said, luckily, Geno wasn’t relegated to Assist Trophy.
        If this is Sakurai’s last Smash game (at the helm, any way), adding Geno as like the last character would be pretty poetic. He’s really the last “must-have” character that fans have been begging for, and for him to be added as Sakurai’s last contribution as the director of Smash would be the perfect way to go out.
        Plus, we all just want Geno back.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m in the boat of wanting Isaac in Smash. Though, I don’t want him as much as I used to, given how average Golden Sun: Dark Dawn felt for me. I’d like to see Sakurai end out on the best final DLC note. Seems like the Mii costumes are popular choices, Geno included. He’ll probably pull a fast one and introduce a third-party character that’s completely out of left field haha.

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      3. Yeah, fingers crossed it’s Geno though. Fans have wanted him in since Melee. He can make the other three DLC characters (after Joker) whoever he wants. But the fans are kind of owed Geno at this point, after the Mii Fighter Costume fiasco. Plus, seeing as this would be the character’s big return after so long, it just makes sense.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Yeah, it would be a great return for Geno. Maybe there’ll be a Geno resurgence in the RPGs as well. Maybe Square Enix will make a new Super Mario RPG. So much hope after the somewhat disappointing Paper Jam and wherever the Paper Mario series has gone.

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      5. A proper follow-up to Super Mario RPG would be a dream come true. And what better way to build up to that than the re-introduction of Geno in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? I just…REALLY want Geno in Smash (and I’m not the only one).

        Paper Mario and Mario & Luigi have both lost their way, it seems. Super Mario RPG 2 seems more enticing than ever.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. I would love a Super Mario RPG 2 that feels retro like Octopath Traveler but doesn’t suffer from the same issues that plague much of Square Enix’s modern games like microtransactions and needing DLC for a complete experience. And of course, it should have Geno, Mallo, playable Peach and Bowser, and maybe some nice other new characters like Luigi! I’m disappointed that Paper Mario ditched its RPG route and did not enjoy Sticker Star at all. And Mario & Luigi, while still fun, don’t have the same creativity it used to, which is likely why Nintendo keeps releasing remakes of the classic M&L games instead.

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Yep, and DKC2 and SMRPG have my favorite gaming soundtracks (but Tropical Freeze, the Galaxy games and Undertale are up there as well). My two favorite SNES games for sure.

        Also, slightly off subject, but seeing as you awarded Ultimate a 10, I was curious. Do you know about how many games you would award a 10? I only ask because, as I stated in a recent blog, I’v been thinking of re-evaluating what makes a 10 for me, and wondering if my site needs another soft reboot. Or you can always leave a comment with your thoughts on the subject. 😛

        Also, great review for Ultimate. Again, nearly perfect game, save for the online issues and lack of Geno.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. I love DKC2’s soundtrack so much. One of my favorites (under Smash’s gigantic album). As for how many games I would award a 10, I’m not really sure. I’d probably give a bunch of my old favorite classics a 10 without batting an eye, but I wouldn’t be sure unless I really went back to review them. I will say that a 10 for me means that I fully enjoyed the game, and it does something truly special, whether redefining games (as in Zelda: Breath of the Wild) or is a standout in its own formula or genre (like Super Mario Odyssey). Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is in the latter for me and represents so much of what the series stands for. It pulls it off with superb fashion (even the online has improved with the recent patch), and it’s pure fun. I reserve it for my favorites, but I don’t think it necessarily has to be an exclusive number nor one that represents perfection. Just one that I can look back and say that was a classic in my eyes. Hope that gives some insight! Thank you again so much man! 😄

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I love this game! I was ridiculously excited for K. Rool, and couldn’t wait to unlock him! Smash Bros. Ultimate does have a ton of replay value, because there is always something different to do! I’m working on unlocking all of the characters, and like you said, I’m also enjoying how different all of their Classic Modes are. 🙂

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    1. Yessss!! K. Rool was one of the characters I was most anticipating. I actually voted for him in the Smash Fighter Ballot back for the Wii U version. Well, him and the Ice Climbers. Now both are here. Everyone is here! I love all the replay value with all the modes, and it’s one of the first Smash Bros. games where I’m really just trying to play a bunch online and try to get better. We should definitely play online together sometime! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I voted for him back then too! He’s definitely a character that doesn’t get as much recognition as he deserves… maybe now that he’s in Smash, that will change! 😉 The last time I played Smash online was on the Wii, haha! I never did sign up for the online service for the Switch, but I’ll let you know when I do so we can play! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was so disappointed when K. Rool wasn’t the main villain of the new Donkey Kong Country games. The new enemies are okay, but nothing compared to the nostalgic Kremlings and Zingers. Aww ok, if you ever do get online for the Switch, let me know and I’d love to play with you! 😄

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