Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Assembles

The Greatest Love Letter to Gaming (But with Punching and Kicking) is Still King

Mario, and a supporting cast of 88 Nintendo characters stand on the edge of a cliff and survey the view.

We’re Just Playing is our weekly roundup of games that are on our personal radar. They don’t need to be timely and buzzworthy, they just need to be what’s trending in our own personal zeitgeist.

Johnny Malloy

I’m not very good at fighting games. When I was in my late teens/early 20s, my buddies and I would hang out, participate in some organized chaos, and play a ton of Mortal Kombat on the Sega Genesis. None of us were all that great. Once in a while one of us would successfully execute a finishing move and the rest of us would go, “Whoa! How’d you do that?” to which the momentary gamer-god would reply, “I don’t know!”

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Switch has been out since the tail end of 2018 and it’s still cranking out new content. The second wave of new DLC fighters is here (although it has been delayed a bit due to a global pandemic you may have heard about), and the latest addition, Min Min, (from the Switch exclusive ARMS) brings yet another character with interesting new moves and abilities.

I’m still in the process of unlocking characters in the base game (74 total!), and I always get excited when I see the silhouette of a new character (or characters, in the case of the Ice Climbers) approaching. Defeating the new challenger(s) adds them to your roster of fighters.

I tend to forget that each character hews closely to the move set they have in the game they come from. This means Kirby will suck up his enemies and take on their characteristics just as he does in one of his mainline games. Knowing the character helps you, because if you know their strengths and weaknesses, they’ll probably carry over to this game as well.

Bowser gets trampled in a Yoshi stampede.
The Running of the Yoshis

Final Smashes are similar to the Finishing Moves in Mortal Kombat, although they are not relegated to the end of the match. You can execute a Final Smash by either breaking the glowing Smash Ball that appears during the course of the match, or by filling up your Final Smash meter. Once this is done, your character goes full-on en fuego, at which time all you need to do is face your opponent and hit the B button. This unleashed a devastating attack, and is accompanied by some inspired animations.

In the one for the Villager from Animal Crossing, Tom Nook and his brood construct a house that promptly explodes, damaging anyone in the vicinity. In Yoshi’s Final Smash he calls forth a stampede to trample your opponent. I admit, I frantically started mashing the screen capture button in order to get the image above.

I’m still learning the ropes, and there is so much content in this game that I easily get turned around simply navigating the menus at times. At times, especially early on, you can get lost trying to absorb all the information the game tosses at you. Even if you’re a fan of the series (I’ve played since Melee) there are always tweaks and changes that will make sure you need to learn new ways to play. For example, in lieu of trophies, SSBU uses spirits, which can support you in battle in various ways. This system is surprisingly deep, and I’ve yet to fully dive into its potential.

Fox McCloud fighting, while Skull Kid causes the screen to reverse.
Skull Kid appears, and now everything (including controls) are reversed.

I know I will be purchasing the Ultimate Fighter Pass DLC…eventually. I just shelled out for the main game, which was $59.99, and I almost never buy games at full price, but Nintendo games are considered evergreen (meaning they sell well throughout a console’s lifetime). That means they rarely drop in price unless they eventually end up part of the Nintendo Selects collection. This game is not going on sale anytime soon. About as low as it gets is $49.99, so I bit the Bullet Bill and bought it. Still, I want to play as Banjo and Kazooie, so that DLC pack will be mine one day.

Rosalina leaps over a laser.
Catherine Zeta Jones dips beneath lasers. Rosalina flips over them.

The game has an Adventure Mode called World of Light where you team up with Spirits in order to take down a baddie named Galeem. It puts you in unique battle situations, and allows you to level up characters, tinker with your Spirit buddies, and watch a silly nonsensical story play out (not unlike Brawl‘s Subspace Emissary).

While I could get better as a player by going online and fighting children who will utterly destroy me, I’ll probably stay content fighting solo, beating the challenges, unlocking new characters, and spending way too much time beating up the punching bag in Home Run Derby.

Mario squares off with the Punching Bag in Home Run Derby.
Nothing worse than doing massive damage to weaken the punching bag, only to whiff at the last second, when the baseball bat shows up for you to belt it out for distance. Total distance: 0′.

Conor O’Donnell

The player character in Dragon Quest Builders 2 stands near a pyramid they constructed

After playing a game like Curse of the Moon 2, I needed something more casual to calm the nerves. Smash is not the answer for me. Fighting games frustrate more than any other genre. I’ve tried multiple times in my life to try to get good, but I end up retreating to Magic: the Gathering where I can actually win games.

Summer Magic is the worst time to play, however. Dragon Quest Builders 2 instead keeps calling my name.  I was surprised to be enjoying the game to this degree. This is my first attempt with a farming game and was not sure what to expect.

The difficultly is non-existent which is perfect coming off ultra-hard mode games. The combat is bland with no variety. Just got to jam that triangle button and you are golden. The magic of Dragon Quest Builders 2 comes from the exploring and characters you meet along the way. Game play is what you expect, you farm materials and build villages.

The whole experience is relaxing and the perfect distraction from quarantined life. There is a fun narrative the game leads you down while giving you plenty of time to build whatever you want. We will see if my opinion changes after I finish the 60-hour campaign. Long games from Square Enix, some things never change.

Johnny Malloy

I was actually talking to one of my best buds the other day about farming sim/builder games, and I mentioned how good Dragon Quest Builders is. Stardew Valley was a good farming sim, but to me, it had limitations. At a certain point, you’re going through the motions. Also, I had no desire to hook up with people from town. I’m a loner in real life, and in the video game world. I tried giving presents to everyone in town, but every time they disapproved of a gift I gave them, I soured on them. So I live on my farm with my cat and the cows.

The DQB games have the added appeal of the Square Enix franchise, which I have been a fan of since the original American NES game Dragon Warrior. DQB2 does a great job of giving you more of that RPG flavor too. I never saw myself as someone who would enjoy crafting and building, but I am now, even though I’m not very good at doing anything wholly creative.

I’m awful at fighting games, like I said, but SSB transcends that to me, mostly because I will mostly play locally with other inexperienced fighters. A level playing field of equally average fighters is integral to the enjoyment of a game like this. Getting beaten senseless by kids online is not my idea of fun. A game like Dragon Quest Builders 2 is much more in the Chill Zone, especially in the dog days of summer.

Written by Johnny Malloy

Johnny Malloy has written for 25YL since 2019. A lifelong gamer who considers The Binding of Isaac to be a subversive masterpiece. He has written an extensive series of articles about Castlevania, Super Mario Bros, Final Fantasy, and Resident Evil.

He enjoys writing fiction when he's not watching RedLetterMedia videos on YouTube. He has one of those faces. Sorry about my face. It can't be helped.

He's @mistercecil on the Twitter. Follow him if you like wild tangents and non sequiturs.

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