Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a game the likes of which we’ve never seen, a monumental crossover event that brings together everything the franchise has done over the last two decades into one massive package.
More than just a fighting game, Ultimate feels like a homage to gaming in general with one of the largest collections of music, characters, stages, and more that we’ve ever seen.
This does prompt a question, however. What could the Smash Bros. series possibly do from here? How do you follow up a game so monumentally huge as Ultimate? The answer isn’t immediately clear, but really it seems like the only option forward is a reinvention of what Smash is.
The success of Ultimate is undeniable, rocketing past 12 million sales by the end of January, and becoming one of the very best-selling Nintendo games of all time. It’s one of the marquee titles of the Switch now, and it should stay that way for as long as the Switch is in existence. That’s right, Nintendo should never make another Smash Bros. game for the Switch.
Ultimate has set a high new benchmark for the series, and Nintendo plans to support it with five new DLC characters and stages, plus a variety of music. The best thing to do would simply be to update Ultimate throughout the life of the Switch, even after we’ve already received the five new characters.
Nintendo could easily keep adding stages, music, spirits, and more into the game, keeping a constant stream of content coming, much like what Splatoon 2 did for the past nearly two years. Ultimate could become the evolving game for Nintendo, one that continuously holds interest for fans with new additions.
There’s no doubt the interest would stay there too, as Smash Bros. is officially the best-selling fighting franchise of all time. It’d be especially wise for Nintendo to tie in updates with new releases, like adding in new content alongside the release of Metroid Prime 4, or a new Pokemon character with the launch of Pokemon Gen 8.
Obviously, these things aren’t going to happen, but they’re just ideas for what Nintendo could do. Next year we could even see a Smash Bros. Ultimate Game of the Year Edition get released, with all pieces of DLC included and maybe some new deluxe features.
This gives the company a good few years, at the very least three, before they even need to think about doing anything with Smash again. However, that time will eventually come.
Masahiro Sakurai, the director of the Smash series, has long been vocal about the ridiculous amount of work that went into Ultimate.
In an interview with Game Informer, Sakurai said, “Every time I work on this game, I’ve devoted myself to making it under the assumption, “this is the last one.” That said, I have no idea what future holds, so I can’t deny that there’s no next one either.”
This idea certainly holds true with Ultimate, and it’s hard to even think of another Smash Bros. at this point in time. After the Switch’s lifetime, the only way forward would be a complete reimagining of the franchise’s formula.
Maybe that means moving into a 3D space with an entirely new combat system, and refocus the roster down to a dozen or so characters. Maybe that means some kind of bold spinoff, like an RPG where the battles are Smash battles.
It’s hard to say what the best path would be, but one thing’s for certain, Nintendo can’t just do the same thing again, with one exception. If Smash Bros. can become a true “gaming All-Stars” experience, another game in the same formula could work. That means bringing in the likes of Master Chief, Ratchet & Clank, Kratos, and more.
Make a roster that disregards platform allegiances and exclusivity, to bring together all of gaming history in one place. Countless developers have tried to harness the Smash formula before, including Sony with PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royake, but to this day no one has even come close to reaching the same heights as a Smash game.
Smash is a phenomenon, something that people play at parties even if they aren’t avid gamers, that pops up at tournaments across the country, that you can find in game rooms at pop culture and anime conventions. With Ultimate achieving such grandiose heights, there are only two options, go even bigger or refocus and go smaller.