Posted on December 27 2018 by Brandon Schmitz
Having been absent from Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS, Adventure Mode makes its grand comeback in Ultimate. Just as Brawl’s Subspace Emissary distinguished itself from Melee’s Adventure Mode, Ultimate’s World of Light puts its own spin on the single-player campaign. As series creator Masahiro Sakurai himself said, there’s a much greater emphasis on gameplay and less of an emphasis on story this time around. Gone are the side-scrolling levels and the near-hour’s worth of pre-rendered cutscenes, and in its place is a massive hub world that serves as the host for hundreds of unique battles.
Spanning roughly 30 hours, World of Light takes full advantage of the spirits system. Almost every battle feels lovingly crafted to suit the characteristics of the spirit you’re fighting — it goes a long way toward contextualizing what would otherwise be just a series of random CPU battles. Simply put, the game made me believe I was fighting Zant, a Shine Sprite from Super Mario Sunshine, Krystal from Star Fox Adventures, Ryoma from Fire Emblem Fates, or any one of the spirits populating big baddie Galeem’s new world.
Speaking of Galeem, the way in which this angelic entity kicks the game off is simple, yet effective. It’s just as the description on the main menu says — at the outset of the campaign, it truly feels as if you’re fighting in a world where all hope seems lost. I mean, I love Kirby, but starting off, it’s him versus all of Nintendo. As you steadily rescue and recruit the other 70-something fighters, it feels as if you’re amassing this army to fight a god.
Considering I played World of Light almost exclusively until it was complete, it was so satisfying to watch the playable roster expand throughout the adventure. Even outside of the campaign, you initially boot up the game with just eight of the 12 fighters from the original Smash title. Seeing that roster grow as I played through World of Light just felt so grand.
Bigger doesn’t always mean better, but the sheer size of Ultimate’s map puts it over Melee’s replayable, yet brief campaign. Going into the game, the real question for me was this: how will it stack up to Subspace?
I feel as if I’m a bigger fan of Brawl’s adventure mode than most people — heck, Brawl in general, as it was my favorite entry in the series until Ultimate arrived. Indeed, it’s difficult to argue that Subspace isn’t the most ambitious of Smash’s single-player campaigns, but that ambition doesn’t always translate to success. As fun as the side-scrolling sequences were at times, they could also be either dull or downright frustrating. The Great Maze quest at the end, especially, was just a slog to get through.
Conversely, I never wanted World of Light to end. In fact, I’m so tempted to tackle New Game Plus. And although there isn’t a whole lot of story to speak of, there is one moment about mid-way through the adventure that caught me off guard in the best possible way. Similarly, the climax is far more satisfying than Subspace’s lackluster Tabuu fight. For me, World of Light is not only the best version of Smash’s adventure mode, but also one of the most fun single-player campaigns I’ve ever played.
What about you, though? Is World of Light your favorite adventure mode, too, or do you still prefer one of the other two? Does Brawl’s bevy of awesome cutscenes tip the scales in its favor, or do you prefer the purity and simplicity of Melee’s mode? Let us know in the comments below!