When it comes to fighting games on Nintendo consoles and handheld systems, there's arguably nothing bigger than Smash Bros., which made its debut nearly 20 years ago and has been consistently popular and highly rated ever since. On December 7, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will debut on on Nintendo's equally blockbuster Switch hybrid console -- and it enters an era where companion apps are getting to be all the rage.
But instead of getting an app of its own, "Smash World" will get parked inside of Nintendo's Switch Online app (Android, iOS). Through this platform, people who want to play Switch games with each other over the Internet can do so for $20 a year (compared to $60 for Sony's PlayStation Plus or Microsoft's Xbox Live Gold).
In addition to Switch Online's other perks (see below), Smash World will let you upload your gameplay videos and share them in an online hub; it's apparently like a YouTube (Android, iOS) for Smash Bros. clips.
That $20 a year also includes cloud storage for your saved games, voice chat for games that use it, and access to a library of vintage Nintendo Entertainment System titles, which will be updated regularly, Netflix-style. If you don't want to pay upfront for a whole year, you can also subscribe for $4 a month, or $8 every three months. There's also a family plan for up to 8 people for $35 a year. All plans include a 7-day free trial.
In most cases, the app is actually required if you want to do voice chat. Despite the fact that the Switch console has a headphone jack, few games can use it for microphone input. Instead, you plug your headphones into your mobile device and use the Switch Online app to send and receive headset audio.
The device's gamepads don't have headphone jacks, either, so when the system is docked, you'd need a pretty long headset cable if you're playing on your couch anyway.
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What makes Smash Bros. such a hot item?
Unlike most fighting games, you defeat an opponent by knocking them off a platform, which starts out as a difficult task but becomes easier as the fight progresses. Meanwhile, the control system is much simpler and doesn't require lightning-quick reflexes or memorized button combinations.
As long as you understand its rock-paper-scissors theme -- attacking counters grabbing, grabbing counters shields, and shields counter attacks -- you have a much better chance of competing against more experienced players than you do with traditional fighting games.
Plus, the franchise features piles of popular characters from other Nintendo franchises -- like Legend of Zelda, Mario Bros., and Metroid -- and you'll frequently get to play characters from games published by other companies, like Solid Snake from Metal Gear Solid or Cloud from Final Fantasy 7.
So needless to say, there's a lot of anticipation for Smash Bros. first appearance on the Switch, and we look forward to seeing how the video sharing hub will work.
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, due to arrive on the Nintendo Switch hybrid console on December 7, is getting a hub in the Switch Online mobile app that will let players upload and share their gameplay videos.
- Gamers will need a subscription to the Switch Online service, which starts at $4 a month or $20 a year and also grants access to voice chat and a modest but growing library of classic Nintendo Entertainment System titles.
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