I'm quite a bit behind, but before I wrapped up my thoughts on 2018 I did want to squeeze in one more review, namely, the titanic Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for Switch. The game is obviously massive, featuring every single fighter from the previous games plus a number of new ones, and practically every stage and item as well.
There are some tweaks to the other modes (which of course must play second fiddle to the pure bliss of the core smashing experience), but the most notable addition is "spirits", which are featured front and center in "World of Light", this iteration's adventure mode. Spirits function much the way that stickers did in Super Smash Bros. Brawl in that they offer bonuses (e.g. immunity to fire hazards) but you're limited to a small number active at any one time. The spirits feature beloved artwork from the whole of not only Nintendo's history, but the featured 3rd parties as well, and you win a spirit via a battle with special twists. The spirit battles themselves are in general fun nods to other games, although, as you might imagine, some of the gimmicks are more frustrating than fun. The "World of Light" mode itself is huge and features tons of spirits, maps to explore, as well as more-involved "dungeons" that evoke famous environments from other games (not to mention a satisfying number of fun boss fights). Nintendo has also been presenting special limited-time events similar to Splatoon's Splatfests in which certain spirits appear more often (for example, Fire Emblem characters). Already three new Spirits have been added to the game via these events, and as long as they don't occur too often, these should be a nice way to keep drawing completists back to the game.
Classic modes also gets a nice shake-up in that each character has a unique sequence of fights to battle through. There are a couple of new tweaks to regular local versus mode, such as the addition of the ability to save custom settings and also to set up a series of bouts where you and your opponent select a team of unique fighters to use as your stock lives (rather than all the stocks being the same fighter as in a normal match).
The new characters aren't super unique, but they're worthy additions. The inclusion of "echo" fighters that are little more than costume changes seems a little unnecessary. Still, Daisy as a Peach clone is better than no Daisy at all, so I guess I should be grateful for what we did get. The game includes all the DLC from the previous title, and we have new DLC to look forward to throughout this year.
Every Smash Bros. game has a lot to live up to, and even though Ultimate was presented as more of a "deluxe" version rather than a completely new iteration, it absolutely feels like a complete and deep experience. When a new Smash Bros. game gets released I always wonder how the series can continue to grow, and with the last few really iconic video game characters like Simon Belmont and the Inklings finally joining the fray, I wouldn't mind the series taking an extended break so I can make some progress in gaining aptitude with even a fraction of the game's huge roster. Either way this is a game that's going to be in regular rotation for a very, very long time.