A Look Back at Smash 4, and A Look Forward to Smash Ultimate

Strike (NEOH) - July 22, 2018

Less than five months from now, the Smash community is going to be blessed with yet another new Smash game.  This one, coming to the Nintendo Switch, is looking to quite literally be the ultimate Smash Bros experience, bringing back every veteran character, almost every stage from across all the past games, and on top of that adding in new content that almost nobody knows about yet.

Let that sink in for a minute: Smash Ultimate is less than five months away from release.

To me it’s still crazy to even think we are getting a Smash game on the Switch, and an entirely new game at that (reminder that it is a new game for all of you out there who still think its Smash 4.5 or whatever).

There aren’t too many big tournaments left at this point for Smash 4.  EVO is coming up in a few weeks, and then Super Smash Con shortly after.  Then you have, what, Shine, The Big House 8, GTX, and that’s really it.  After that point Ultimate takes over, and Smash 4 will, for the most part, cease to exist in the competitive tournament world, similar to what happened to Brawl upon the release of Smash 4.

With that in mind, I think it’s important to really step back and appreciate this game and the history created by it for what it’s worth, since there isn’t much time left before we as a community will be saying “Remember back when we used to play Smash 4?”

First came the 3DS days.  Everybody at this point was just hype for a new Smash game.  Midnight release hit, and next thing you know Smash is all anybody is playing, for the first time on a device small enough to fit in your pocket.  Nobody knew anything about the meta, but it didn’t take us long to figure it out.  Especially when the Wii U version came out about a month later, and we were given the version of the game that would go on to be featured in tournaments alongside Melee for the next four years.

Early Smash 4 meta, as most know, was incredibly unbalanced.  You had characters like Diddy Kong who could kill anyone at will with his broken Hoo Hah combo, Sheik who had the most oppressive neutral thanks to her amazing frame data and good kill power to boot, Zero Suit Samus, who, although still having her ladder combos currently, was able to kill so much earlier with them, and Luigi, who would down throw you at 0 and next thing you know your stock is gone.  On the other end of the spectrum, you had characters like Samus, who had moves that just completely didn’t work in any way, Marth (and his clone Lucina) who just felt like complete garbage due to heavy frame data and range nerfs from Brawl where he was a top tier, and Pacman, who had more glitches than actual combos or kill moves.  In this era, you either played Diddy, Sheik, Luigi, ZSS, or maybe some other top tier, or you didn’t want to win.  Ever.

Now unlike other Smash games, Smash 4 was given something that actually helped with this balance issue, and that of course are the numerous patches and updates to the game that toned down the broken characters, fixed the bad ones (for the most part, RIP the Puff), and overall made the game more fun and balanced overall.  Diddy got big nerfs with the 1.0.6 patch, and while he remained a good character, no longer was the overwhelming force he used to be.  Of course, for top Smash 4 players, especially ZeRo, that simply meant they would either have to continue to push the characters they played or move to another character and focus on them instead.  In ZeRo’s case, this meant dropping Diddy for Sheik and continuing his reign over the Smash 4 tournament scene.

The meta was changing slowly but surely as more balance patches dropped.  But patches started becoming even more meta changing as we entered the DLC era.  A Nintendo broadcast, The Super Smash Bros. 50 Fact Extravaganza, actually brought us 54 facts, with that very last one being the fact that Mewtwo, a Melee veteran, was going to be added to Smash 4 as a playable fighter, much to the delight of fans everywhere, especially if your name is Etika.

We soon found out that Mewtwo was only the first of the DLC to come.  Lucas, previously playable in Brawl, was announced as a surprise addition during a Nintendo Direct, as was the Smash Fighter Ballot, where anybody could submit their votes and requests for who they wanted to be playable in Smash.  As time passed even more fighters were announced, with the next wave including Roy, another Melee veteran, and Street Fighter’s very own Ryu.  The game was shaping up nicely, and at the time it seemed like things could only go up from here.

The final Smash 4 themed Nintendo broadcast would happen in November of 2015, introducing Corrin, the newest Fire Emblem protagonist, and Bayonetta, Platinum’s famous Umbra Witch, to the game, alongside Final Fantasy VII’s main character Cloud.  Cloud was released in December, and shortly afterward, in January 2016, the first official Smash 4 tier list was released, finally giving the community a general idea of where each character stood in the meta.  Tier lists are nothing new to Smash Bros, but before this point there was no “official” one for the game, especially since balance patches and characters being buffed/nerfed made it hard to solidly place everyone in the meta for an extended period of time.

Finally, Bayonetta and Corrin were released in February of 2016, and, after a few DLC specific patches (lol thanks Bayo and Cloud), development on Smash 4 had finally come to an end.  The game, currently in its final version of 1.1.7, is almost a completely different game since the initial release of that 3DS game back in October of 2014.  Characters who used to rule the meta with an iron fist had faded back from the spotlight, such as Luigi, and other characters who used to be considered among the worst in the game such as Marth had now shaped up to be actual threats in the meta with very strong tools and the ability to handle themselves against the top tiers.  Seven characters were added in addition to the roster of the initial game.  Three more tier lists released on the way to where we have finally ended up today in Smash 4.

Who would’ve thought we’d live in a world where the two best characters in a Smash Bros game weren’t even Nintendo characters?  Bayonetta and Cloud have certainly made their cases as the two most dominant characters to date, much to the dismay of many players/viewers.  The overexposure of these characters in tournament started to wear on players and fans, and the game began to get stale as a result.

This negativity towards the game and the current state of the meta has certainly given Smash 4 a worse image in the eyes of the community, all while also creating even more hype for Ultimate, since the general consensus among those who are lucky to have played it seems to be extremely positive.  Fans everywhere can’t wait to get their hands on Ultimate.  I’m no exception to that.

While Ultimate is certainly going to be an exciting new era for Smashers everywhere, I believe it’s important to remember what Smash 4 has given us, and the memories many have created thanks to this game.  It may fade from the spotlight, but it will never fade from the hearts of those who played the game, whether casually with friends or competing at the highest levels.

With that being said, I’m ready for the final few tournaments of Smash 4, and I’m very much so looking forward to Ultimate and everything that will come with it.  A new meta, new characters, new casual modes, and most importantly, an even bigger community featuring familiar faces and new ones too.

It’s gonna be one heck of a ride.

Edit: Bayonetta and Corrin were released in February 2016, not 2017.  This has been fixed now.  My b lol

This blog post was written by a SSB World community member. Share your Smash 4 knowledge by creating your own blog post now.

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