There is a reason that Super Smash Brothers Ultimate is known as the Avengers of video games. The all-star mashup of video games features plenty of characters from Nintendo’s rich history along with guest characters from different game studios such as Mario’s former rival Sonic, third party characters such as Solid Snake, Bayonetta, and exciting newcomers to the franchise such as Persona 5’s Joker. And like blockbuster movies, there will always be newcomers excited to join in the action.
While I’m not the best competitive Smash player or even remotely close to what you would consider a good player, there will be plenty of tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years of playing Smash games casually that will improve your game or to help new players get into the series. There’s a reason why Smash is appealing to even non-fighting game players as it plays differently from the usual Tekken games or Street Fighter games. You don’t have to memorize long strings of combos or complicated 360 degree moves (sorry Zangief) to get into Smash. Special moves are as simple as tapping the B button or the B button and a direction and “combos” are pretty much just following up from a grab move or from a special move.
To help get newcomers into the game, here are a few tips and tricks that you may want to know when you start playing Smash:
- Watch the How to Play Video
If you’re new to Smash, the very first thing you should do when you open up the game is to watch the How to Play video. Forget the Gamecube controllers and Pro Controllers for a bit and head to the video. Trust me it’s a must for new players.
By going to Vault > Movies > How to Play, you’ll be given a brief rundown on why there’s a % bar instead of a life bar, how to use special moves, grabs and recovery moves and it only takes less than 2 minutes of your time.
- Learn the difference between Smash and Tilt attacks
Smash attacks are some of the strongest attacks in your arsenal, and more often than not, will be used to finish off your opponent. On the downside, Smash attacks are slow and can leave you open to a counterattack if you miss, and you’ll look like a fool when your fully charged Smash attack misses. These are performed with the A (attack button) + smashing the stick and holding it in a direction.
On the other side, Tilt attacks are regular attacks + a direction on the stick, these are usually faster moves that complement your other attacks and leaves your opponent guessing. Some characters have particularly effective tilt attacks such as Snake and Donkey Kong and are essential if you want to maximize your effectiveness with the character.
A common confusion is that both Smash and Tilt attacks are A+direction, and the only real difference is that Tilt attacks are A+direction and Smash attacks are A+strong direction, in short, you Smash the stick to the desired direction! It can be hard to get used to in the heat of battle, so many people recommend that players remap the right stick to tilt attacks in the settings.
- It’s not over till you hear the announcer say GAME!
If you ever encounter a Smash stream, you might hear them talk about DI. DI stands for “Directional Influence” and while it sounds complicated, it’s as simple as tilting your stick to the opposite direction you’re flying off to, in order to influence your recovery and help you survive the attack. You’ve probably already done it by accident if you’ve played Smash for a few hours.
In Smash Ultimate, when the camera zooms in for the final attack, there’s still a chance that DI can still save you from your fate for a chance to comeback. Don’t let go of the controller until you see GAME! On the screen.
- Frustration can be your best weapon
It’s typical for newcomers to fighting games to be overly aggressive and try to finish their opponent off quickly. In Smash, there’s plenty of room in most stages to evade, run and dodge and think of your next move or read your opponent. Use this to frustrate your opponent and wait for the next item or assist drop (if you have them enabled) to get your chance to strike back.
Learn to maximize the use of shield and dodge as well which is shown in the How to Play video, but remember that these have limited use and can leave you open for a nasty punish.
- Training mode is your best friend
We talking about practice? We’re talking about practice man. The Training mode is your best friend. Really! Want to learn a new character? Go to training mode. Want to practice a combo? Training mode!
Like every great fighting game, hours and hours in the Training mode can really help you hone your skills. Pick a character, pick a character you want to beat up on (Jigglypuff has the best face reactions trust me), pick a CPU level you’re comfortable with and wail away without the pressure of an actual match. It’s a great way to learn how to react against actual opponents as the Smash Ultimate CPU is not kidding around. It can be very brutal at times and you can learn your mistakes from it. Plus, it’s a great way to de-stress from a very long day!
BONUS PRO TIP: Smash away in local multiplayer, with 1 player in handheld mode!
I don’t know how to call this “mode” as this isn’t particularly documented by Nintendo: If you don’t have a table to prop your Switch on for some multiplayer portable Smash, 1 player can play in handheld mode as other players join in on a controller or a separate joycon! Player 1 can act as the “screen” for all players while having full access to handheld controls as well.
I discovered this while waiting for the New Year’s countdown with my brother with a few minutes to go. It was a fun experience and surreal being able to play Smash on the go while standing around waiting for 2019.
Smash Ultimate adheres to the “easy to pick up, difficult to master” mindset that has always been Nintendo’s mantra – while it may look colorful and family friendly, there are countless of techniques that are hard to master. I’m only scratching the surface with this “guide” so go out there, pick a character among the 70 or so, play against friends, play against the CPU to practice, watch guides, Smash away, and most importantly, don’t forget to have fun!
Article by Franz Francisco Chan