New characters, stages, modes, and more coming to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. Direct has just aired, and game director Masahiro Sakurai used the nearly thirty minutes of the event to announce a ton of news regarding the upcoming Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Despite the fact that the company shared a lot of news regarding the game back at E3, there was no shortage of new announcements today.

The event started off by confirming earlier reports of Simon Belmont, from the Castlevania series, joining the fight. The character is arriving alongside an echo fighter, Richter Belmont. Echo fighters, by the way, are characters which have the same moves as each other but have different looks, voices, and animations. The Castlevania series also arrives with a new stage, Dracula's Castle, which has a series of hazardous creatures including Dracula himself, who will only appear under certain conditions, though those weren't specified.

Since we mentioned echo fighters, two others are being added based on previously existing characters: Chrom, from the Fire Emblem series, and Dark Samus, from the Metroid series. A feature has been added to the game that will allow players to merge echo fighters into the same listing as the fighter they're based on.

Sakurai also confirmed many returning stages from previous entries in the franchise, such as Pokémon Stadium, Garden of Hope from the Pikmin series, Brinstar Depths from the Metroid franchise, and more. A new stage, New Donk City Hall, was also announced, based on the recent Super Mario Odyssey title.

In total, Smash Bros. Ultimate will feature 103 unique stages, beating previous entries by a large margin. Each stage also features a "Battlefield" and "Omega" variation, adding up to over 300 different stages. Nintendo is also introducing a new option called "Stage Morph", which allow users to select two stages before starting a fight, during which the game will transform one stage into the other after a set period of time or at random. There's a new stage exclusive to Training Mode, which features a grid and other visual elements to help players practice and perfect their techniques.

Music also plays an important role in the game, and the team has made sure that it lives up to the name of the title. Ultimate features over 800 tracks based from all the participating franchises, including 34 new tracks introduced with the new Castlevania stage alone. Adding up music from the menus and other miscellaneous parts of the game, it gets close to 900 songs. Songs are also grouped by series now, rather than being linked to specific stages, so whenever you play on any stage form any video game franchise, you'll have the chance to have any song from that franchise.

With such a large library of music to choose from, some improvements were also made to make it easier to listen to it. The Sound Test feature also groups music by franchise, but it's possible to create your own playlists, and Nintendo will create their own on a weekly basis after the game launches so you can give them a go. Additionally, it's even possible to listen to the game's music even while the Nintendo Switch's screen is off, so you can use the game as a music player without wasting too much battery.

There are also new battle modes being added in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Squad Strike is a 3v3 or 5v5 battle mode in which each side can consist of one or more players with different characters to decide who's best. There's also a tourney mode which automatically creates a tournament grid given the number of human and CPU players. Up to 32 people can participate in this mode. A new Smashdown makes it so that, after each fight, previously used characters are disabled, forcing players to get comfortable with different characters. Lastly, the game will see the return of Classic Mode, in which players have to make their way through a set of different stages to see how well they do. These sets of stages and enemies change for each character the player uses.

There are also many new items making their way to this title, such as the Banana Gun, which fires a single powerful "bullet", and the Rage Blaster, which gets strong as the user receives more damage. Poké Balls also have a few new Pokémon that can be found, mostly focusing around the creatures introduced in Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, such as Alolan Exeggutor, Solgaleo, Lunala, and more. A host of Assist Trophies are also being introduced, including Alucard from the Castlevania series and Rathalos from Monster Hunter, a character which can also double as a boss in some stages.

Nintendo closed out the presentation with a quick look at the menu, showcasing a mysterious mode which will be revealed later and a new side dashboard which contains additional options and information. But just before the presentation ended, we would get a quick look at yet another new character, King K. Rool from the Donkey Kong franchise.

After this presentation, it became clear that Nintendo is putting all of its bets for this year in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Even with all the time spent at E3, today's presentation had a ton of content and news that should please most fans of the franchise. It remains to be seen, however, if the game's success lives up to the hype. If you'd like to watch the presentation yourself, you can do so here.

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