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20 Questions from Smash Brothers Ultimate Direct

If you got to watch the Super Smash Brothers Ultimate Direct, at one point you probably had your mind blown. From five character reveals to the wide range of content and modes on showcase, you can say we had more than a full course meal of information to digest. Castlevania is joining Smash Bros with Simon Belmont, Richter as his Echo, and Dracula’s Castle featuring various bosses including Dracula himself. Chrom and Dark Samus are in as Echoes and bring their own unique abilities to the table. And let’s not forget that one of the most requested characters has finally found his way into Smash: King K. Rool.

No doubt we had an amazing Direct. As much as I can sing the praises of the direct, it also left me wanting to play devil’s advocate. Not that the Direct had flaws, but it left me wanting to ask several unanswered questions. The funny thing is that for every time I wrote up a response to a question, two more would suddenly pop into my mind. Meanwhile other gamers online asked their own questions I found fascinating to consider as well. It got to a point where I had to cut it at 20 since I’d probably write a novel’s worth of speculations if I could.  So, let’s not waste any time and take a look at 20 questions that came out of the Super Smash Brothers Ultimate Direct.

1) How different are Echoes to their counterparts?

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The best showcase of how Echos can be more than just a simple clone.

Before the direct, we only knew of three Echo characters: Lucina, Dark Pit and Daisy. We kind of had a good idea that Echoes were just like their originals in terms of moves and abilities minus a few tweaks here and there. Even Daisy’s gameplay was like Peach with a few minor tweaks. Before this Direct, perhaps was the case, but that may no longer be the case. While hints of Simon Belmont coming to Smash came out a couple hours before the direct, Richter Belmont caught many off guard. And while they do share some moves, there are other tidbits that do separate the Belmonts apart from each other.

Not just that, but when Chrom and Dark Samus appeared, you would have difficulty at first to say they were even Echoes. With Chrom being Roy’s Echo, you would expect him to be a harder hitting version. Instead, not only does Chrom have Ike’s Up B move and a different Final Smash, but even the way he attacks seems different from Roy. Even Dark Samus hovering in place and her falling animations show that she could be a bigger air fighter than Samus.  These two are a confirmation that Echo Fighters can be more than just simple clone characters. Will other Echoes have as much variety when they join the fight?

This leads me to my next question about Echoes.

2) Just how many Echoes will there be?

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Richter getting in shows that Echos can even go into third-party territory.

After the Direct, we are sitting at six Echoes out of a roster of sixty-seven. Ratio wise, that would be one Echo fighter per eleven characters. At first, I thought we would be lucky if the Echo roster would be just at five at most. Now, we may have something like ten Echoes before the game comes out. We not only have some Echoes be so unique they could be their own characters, but how even third party characters can have Echoes too. This can mean that Ms. Pacman may jump in, Shadow can still fight Sonic, and Ken can bump fists with Ryu.

Sakurai told us how we can set up Echoes to be their own slots in the character select screen or have them share the spot with their original counterpart. If there would be a few Echoes in Smash Ultimate, then who cares if they had their own slot or not. With the potential of so many Echos, there might be a ratio of Fighters to Echoes that goes from 11:1 to 7:1. Will there be even more third party Echo Fighters? Will the original cast get Echoes of their own? There’s a lot to consider, but it is safe to assume that we are far from done. We’ll come back to this question in a second.

3) What will happen with Robin’s Final Smash?

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Hope you have a backup plan Robin. Chrom doesn’t have your back anymore.

During the E3 reveal, many didn’t waste time in pointing out things that did not appear. These included Assist Trophies absent from the E3 build and how we did not have all the Final Smashes on display; Robin being one of them. After the Smash Direct, this was for good reason with Chrom getting promoted from a Final Smash Assistant. With Chrom now his own character, it would be a safe assumption that Robin’s Final Smash is getting a rework.

The question is, how drastic? You could say someone else from Fire Emblem Awakening will help Robin instead of Chrom. Or perhaps considering the role Robin plays in the game he’s from, we may get a callback that way. Sakurai is saving the technician for something special.

4) Is Dixie Kong a Goner?

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Can one crocodile’s inclusion lead to one monkey’s exclusion?

Leading up to the Smash Direct, there was a big debate among Donkey Kong fans for who would be next. It was a fun debate between the Ponytail Kong, Dixie and the arch nemesis of the Kongs, King K. Rool. While both sides made fair arguments, we know who won that discussion. This know leaves Dixie Kong is a rather awkward position about her involvement in Smash Bros (and if she will even be in).

Now to answer this fast: does King K. Rool mean Dixie is out of luck? Far from it. While the direct confirmed K. Rool playable, they also confirmed Dark Samus too. This means that technically, Metroid has two new representatives as a new character and an Echo.  Before this direct, I would have had a few choice words for anyone who tried to add Dixie to the game as Diddy’s Echo. After seeing what Dark Samus and Chrom can do though, calling Dixie an Echo now is plausible. Who knows if Sakurai will consider adding in an Echo per series, but Dixie may still get in.

5) Which Assist Trophies are unconfirmed? And How many more are we getting?

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Isabelle questions if she was left behind…

Watching the montage of Assist Trophies is what I like to sarcastically call, “Casualties of Production.” It would be nice if they were playable, but their involvement in Smash Ultimate will be limited compared to playable characters. Depending on who you ask, some exclusions can strike harder than others such as Bomberman, Zero, Ashley and Shovel Knight. There is nothing wrong with that since these characters are still iconic in their own way and it is great for them to get the recognition they deserve.

With the number of characters there were in the direct, it’s almost like they are hinting the Assist Trophy Roster is far from complete. Just how many more characters are we going to see come from the trophies? And will there be more boss/assists like the Rathalos from Monster Hunter?

Meanwhile, fans are paying close attention to the last set of trophies that remain unconfirmed at this point. With Dark Samus moving on from being an assist trophy, it would be fair to say it could happen once more. Out of the remaining characters, these characters are the ones fans are keeping a close eye on.

  • Dillon from Dillon’s World
  • Isabelle from Animal Crossing
  • Isaac from Golden Sun
  • Magnus and Phosphora from Kid Icarus Uprising
  • Ray MK III from Custom Robo
  • Saki Amamiya from Sin and Punishment
  • Shadow the Hedgehog
  • Skull Kid from Legend of Zelda

It isn’t that all nine of these characters will get in as playable. Considering this line up of Assist Trophies missing in action, I’d guess that Isabelle and Shadow would stand the best chance of getting in as Echoes. We’ll find out what happens the next time we get more information since we are far from done with character reveals.

6) Color Chairs + Pillows = Skull Kid?

There was one character though that has people buzzing that will get an announcement soon, and that was revealed through… Sakurai’s Furniture?

So this seems bizarre, but hear me out. While we always try to find hints for which characters are next, one of the bigger speculators believes he has found the answer in Sakurai’s background.  RelaxAlax believes that Skull Kid might be in the waiting for a variety of reasons. Besides the aforementioned absense from the Assist Trophy lineup, there is a higher focus on Villains this time around. The Moon is getting its own Assist Trophy and we do have the reappearance of Young Link and Ocarina of Time Ganondorf in the game.

While this might seem silly, he reveals the best evidence through the chairs and the pillows. If you compare the pillows with the Skull Kid, the color scheme matches up pretty nicely. Not only that, but you also have a purple and yellow chair on the other side, which could be his fairy companions of the same colors. It sounds insane, but Sakurai is the person who can be unpredictable and likes to tease people who watch closely. Could we get a 2nd Zelda antagonist soon? We’ll find out soon enough.

 

7) Why does the stage selection screen look incomplete?

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What is this!? A stage selection screen for ants?!

Just as impressive as the roster count is the number of stages we have in Ultimate. If we weren’t to count the variants (Battlefield, Big Battlefield and Final Destination), we are looking at an astronomical 103 selectable stages. It is crazy to think you have that many stages and how a good number of them can work in tournaments now if we were to turn off stage hazards. This will probably be our final stage count, but when you look at the stage selection screen, the balance seems off. The Stage Selection screen has a grid of 10×11 and since the number 103 is a prime number, you can’t make an even grid.

Since we have seven missing spots, it’s fair to assume that we have yet to reach the final number. These stages may tie in with upcoming characters or more stages will be added later on as DLC.  Either way, it doesn’t seem like they would just leave the stage selection screen empty like that. It’s just weird to declare you have a set number of stages and then leave it to where we scratch our heads of more unique characters coming soon. Will there be more stages coming to Smash Ultimate? It is possible, but after 100, it is fair to assume that we are nearing the peak of stages.

8) Are we getting an Arena Mode?

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Arena… Boss Battles… It’s all the same when it comes to doing a gauntlet against bosses.

The character reveals are always a delight, it can be just as fun to see the NPCs joining the roster. It was fun to see the Castlevania characters and Pauline getting to sing, but there was one character that lit me up. That came in the form of the Rathalos from Monster Hunter.

The giant flying red wyvern joins Smash as its first Assist Trophy that is also a boss.  What makes this more exciting is what they used a word we have not heard yet in Smash Ultimate before now: “Boss.”  When was the last time you heard about a boss in Smash Bros? There were the stage bosses, but they were really giant stage hazards. Meanwhile Master Hand, Crazy Hand and the various forms of Master Core were also nice, but fans wanted more like in Super Smash Brothers Brawl.

Not to say Subspace Emissary is back, but by including Dracula and the Rathalos, we could have a wide set of bosses in Smash Ultimate to fight. Could this also mean that Sakurai will also bring back previous bosses such as Petey Piranha, Rayquaza, and maybe even Big Ridley again? The flat stage that the Rathalos came with (The Ancestral Steppe from Monster Hunter 4) emulates the other boss stages from Brawl considerably. It would be a safe assumption that unless we get Monster Hunter as a playable character, this will be a special stage to fight the flying wyvern. Whether if that will happen, I will hunt me a Rathalos with Ike and his Great Sword soon enough.

9) Is the competitive scene going to add the Final Smash Meter?

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And haters will still find ways to discredit Smash Brothers as a fighting game.

Fighting game fans were ecstatic about the announcement of one highly requested feature they wanted as much as the ability to turn off stage hazards. While Smash Brothers have never been one to implement “super attacks” into the game, we got something somewhat to it with the Smash Ball. The problem is that when the Smash Ball comes out, all players usually stop what they’re doing and chase it like it was a Benny Hill skit.  With how nonsensical and unpredictable as the Smash Ball can be, Final Smashes were never considered for competitive play.

You can imagine then that when the option came up for toggling a Final Smash Meter many in the fighting game community was ecstatic. This adds a new level of gameplay to the fight as you can have consecutive Final Smashes goes off one after another. The attacks are also weaker, which means they aren’t a full out instant KO (at least in most cases). Will this mean the fighting game community will consider enabling the Final Smash Meter? or will the fights remain as they have been without screen clearing attacks?

10) Are we done with Villain reveals?

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Is this the last evil thing we will see in character reveals?

The Smash Brothers series has many things, but the one thing it lacked was villains. The series overtime continues to add antagonists and rivals, but there is a fairly big gap between them and the rest of the roster. With Smash Brothers Ultimate, it is fascinating to think of how many villains we got so far. Ridley and Dark Samus for Metroid and now King K. Rool for Donkey Kong. We are at a point where now the original eight now have all of their villains in playable form and that’s fantastic. However, is that it? While the three villains I listed off were highly requested, we may not get any more villain reveals between now and the game’s release.

Is there still potential for more villains or antagonists to appear? Perhaps, but it would be hard to say who’s left. As said earlier in this editorial, Shadow could find his way in as Sonic’s Echo while Skull Kid’s status in Smash Bros. remains in limbo. Meanwhile, I haven’t seen many requests for any Earthbound or F-Zero villains (unless if Pokey or Black Shadow is possible). It is possible that in due time, more villains will join Smash Bros., but we may have hit our limit. If there are any villains you can think of that be great, leave your thoughts in the comments below.

11) Will we get any more third party characters?

If there is one thing I can commend the Smash Brothers series for, it is having so much third party representation in the playable roster. Even now, it is unbelievable to think of these characters together to wage war against each other. These including the following:

  • Megaman, and Ryu from Capcom
  • Pac-Man from Namco
  • Sonic (and technically Bayonetta) from Sega
  • Cloud from Square-Enix
  • Snake and now Simon (and Richter) Belmont from Konami.
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My Uncle totally works at Nintendo and gave me this leaked image of the roster for Smash 4!

If you wanted to, you can now play an eight-player Smash Bros. with everyone being a non-Nintendo character. After the inclusion of Castlevania, could we be at an end for third party characters?

At the moment, some speculators believe each 3rd party will only have two characters each (with Echoes not counting). This could mean that we may see one more special character from Namco while Square-Enix is trickier to figure out. The other thing is to consider is if we will see yet another 3rd party jump aboard and get on the train. Some believe Ubisoft might find a way for Rabbid Peach to be a playable character. Others hold out hopes that Banjo & Kazooie will fly in at the last minute. Either way, who knows if we will see any more characters outside Nintendo join before the end of the year.

12) Will Monster Hunter see more representation in Smash Bros?

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How to make a Monster Hunter Fan Happy: Throw in a Rathalos into Smash Brothers.

It’s incredible the year Monster Hunter has had in 2018.  We had the release of Monster Hunter World, Generations Ultimate coming later this month and a crossover event with Final Fantasy before this direct even came out. While many Monster Hunter fans are waiting for one last big surprise, who’s to say if it may come in the form another character appearing in Smash?

There are people who look at the Monster Hunter 4 stage Ancestral Steppe, and ask, “Why is that not a part of the 103 stages?” Well, perhaps if it is with the adventure mode or boss rush mode, then it would make sense why it is a simple flat area. Still, it wouldn’t be that far fetch to consider that maybe the reason the stage is not being shown would be because, it isn’t ready yet. Would you reveal a Castlevania stage before showing a playable Belmont? Well, I guess Paper Mario is an exception, but that’s a topic for another day. Whether if we were to get a playable hunter or Palico, some believe we are getting more than just the Rathalos. Will that be the case? Probably not, but dreaming doesn’t hurt.

13) Did Rathalos hint at Isaac joining Smash Bros?

Now… Why would this screenshot be hidden away on the Smash Brothers site?

Isaac from Golden Sun is another character who’s got a high number of requests after he first appeared in Smash Brothers Brawl as an Assist Trophy. When brought into a fight, Issac can fire off a giant hand from his palm to attack enemies and push them away. In his RPG, Issac uses Earth Psynergy to fight while also being proficient with a sword. It would probably be a safe to say if he were to find his way in, the properties of the giant hand might get changes. Still, many feel like it is about time for another RPG to get representation in Smash Brothers.

So how is it that a guy who went AWOL in Smash 4 now suddenly could be playable? To answer that, all we need to do is look at the Rathalos picture on the site. While this picture looks simple enough, many Golden Sun players might feel their eye twitch when they see the positioning of the Rathalos to our sword users. With their backs turned towards the camera facing the monster, this almost looks just like a standard battle screen from Golden Sun. Now is this a hard lock that Issac is coming? Probably not, but Sakurai is the person who doesn’t do coincidences.

Or it could be that too many of us are reading too deep into it and Sakurai recreated a Monster Hunter cover with Rathalos. One or the other, right?

14) What’s going on with Online?

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Everyone was so taken by the blurred out image that Online felt like it was glanced over.

For as much information we got about everything, some hawkeye watchers made a note of one rather important key feature we didn’t see: online support. Normally with video games, we rarely bat an eye because it should be obvious that we are getting online support so we can fight random people around the world. With Smash, support has a range going from “doesn’t work at all,” to “not as good as we would like.” While we saw an icon for online in the menu was about as many details we got about anything involving online.

Nintendo is getting ready to make a big push with their online service soon. This is Nintendo’s first ever approach to an online service and making a commitment to having their online services working as it should this time. For many gamers though, we were initially under the impression that by the time the online service would go live, so would Smash Ultimate. When we found out that was not the case, many were trying to figure out how Nintendo would try to sell us on their service, and all roads lead to Smash Brothers.

Imagine if next week Nintendo announces that at the time the service goes up, we’d get a test fire of Smash Ultimate that would come up at random times between now and December. Not only do you test the game but also ensure that it can survive the wave of players that will flood in when the game comes out at the end of the year. We are far from done with Smash Ultimate news, but it would be fair to assume that the next update with the game may cover online.

15) Why is Sakurai killing Nintendo characters?

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Luigi clearly has seen better days…

To ask a less serious question, there’s a weird pattern going on with the character reveals, hasn’t there? Not sure if Sakurai is working through some dark times or if he suddenly has a deep-seeded hate for Mario characters.  We’ve been seeing characters meeting their demise at the hands of villains when a new villain character joins the roster alongside with some other dark things happening.

The reveal trailer was a bright and happy sequence of Inklings fighting each other until it all suddenly goes dark. The Inkling Girl looks up to the Smash logo on fire as if something dragged them into Smash Hell. Ridley violently stabs both Megaman and Mario before taking Cappy hostage, blowing up Samus’ ship and leaving her to fight without armor. Luigi gets his soul dragged out of his body by Death and fans were confused if Luigi died. And finally, King Dedede getting slapped against the back of the head by K. Rool after trolling the Kongs and the audience.

While you would expect me to ask Sakurai to tone it down, I want to see how much further he can go with this. It would be hilarious if someone throws Bowser into lava during their reveal, and then find out that Dry Bowser is Bowser’s Echo.  Sakurai’s killing spree has only just begun and perhaps there is a reason. What could his motive be? Well, that leads to probably the biggest mystery that came out of the direct.

16) What is “Spirits”?

To censor an image can help to scramble something you want hidden, but leave it to the internet to solve the mystery before it even became one. Towards the end of the Smash Direct, Sakurai revealed the game’s clean and organized menu. We got our standard set of options, but there was two parts of the menu that got censored: One option on the right, and whatever is in the green spot. While the image was covered it still had enough details in it to where fans had a good idea what it was.

The internet sure knows how to decipher the scrambled

Twitter user @noctulescent looked at the scrambled image and found out that through a careful fix-up, the word said “Spirits.” Even the image above the word looks like a “Wisp.” For all we know, “Nintendo characters getting killed off in the trailers” might have rhyme or reason. Luigi’s soul transformed into a wisp in Death’s hand, and after Simon defeated it, Luigi went back to being a ghost and (seemingly) going back into his body. Could this be a new adventure mode to unlock the cast of Ultimate? A dark story of Heroes vs Villains where the Villains are winning and it is up to the player to save everyone? There’s a good chance that the next time we get more information, we will get a massive update about what this hidden mode will be.

17) Are Two Songs the best Square-Enix can do?

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For Reals Square-Enix… Just two?

There are many things that the fans enjoy about Smash Brothers. While the characters and stages can play the highlights, others lean towards the musical accompaniment. How incredible is it we are getting over 30 songs for Castlevania? With so much variety, it will be fun to figure out which one I love the most. Even the layout for my music is amazing too with its organization of series and carrying over the ability to use the system as an MP3 player from the 3DS. With around 900 songs and 28 hours of music, there will be a lot of good times coming soon with Smash Ultimate.

So why pray tell… Why exactly that the series that is usually best known for having some of the most unforgettable songs in the industry only has two songs? This wouldn’t be much of a bother if Capcom, Sega and even Konami offering their blessings and songs that can fill an entire soundtrack on their own. Perhaps it may be because of legal reasons we don’t get to enjoy the Final Fantasy soundtrack (much like how Cloud only has a Japanese dub). Still, I’ll be crossing my fingers that Square-Enix will give us more than the battle theme and boss themes (alongside with a certain star character too).

18) Does Smashdown give us an idea of the final roster count?

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It is entirely possible that Smashdown could help clue us in on the final roster count.

It is fun to watch Nintendo Directs solo, but discussions about them can be even more exciting when you don’t realize the significance of something until someone throws it out there. Smashdown will be a special ironman mode that will let players fight in a gauntlet of matches against each other. Once a character had their turn in a fight, they will not be selectable afterwards. For as fun as a mode that this will be to play with friends, someone on a particular forum raised a point that caught me off guard.  To paraphrase: in order for Smashdown to be a complete mode, the roster would need to have a factor of 4.

Now remember unless if Super Smash Brothers Ultimate has DLC content (cross your fingers there), this makes sense. We have 71 fighters if we count all the Echo fighters, Mii characters and the Pokemon Trainer as one each. This would mean that unless if we really were to get one more character and that’s it, we could see a roster of around 76-80 characters. This would mean that alongside with a few more newcomer characters, we would also get a handful of Echoes too. As much fun as it would be to think this would be the case, there is one other factor to consider with figuring out the roster size.

19) Does the Echo Icons also help determine the number of Echo fighters we’ll get?

It would be weird if the character selection screen looked completely unbalanced one way than the other, wouldn’t it?

The character selection screen for Smash Ultimate will be overwhelming. No arguing against that. But did you know the selection screen throughout the series has always been simple and organized? Smash 64 had a 2×6 grid for the roster of 12. Melee had a 3×9 grid with two empty corners for the 15 characters. Brawl had a 4×9 grid for the roster of 35 characters (with a random select). And finally, on the 3DS/Wii U roster got a 12×5 grid for the roster of 58 that had three empty spaces, Miis shared one spot, and one random select. Now the interesting thing to consider for the Smash 4 roster is how before the DLC characters. Before they joined the roster, the grid was 13×4 for the 51 characters.

Why is all of this math important? Consistency. Especially considering the Smash 4 roster when the DLC fighters came into play. Echo fighters would add a layer to the roster screen should players choose for them to be their own character slots. Let’s look at the Smashdown picture as an example and assume that the final roster would fit on a 7×10 grid for 70 characters. Should players decide that Echo Fighters should share their slot with their original counterparts, then that grid suddenly would become 6×10 for 60 character slots. This is far from the surefire method of determining the final number. If this were to work out as we think it might, then we could likely see at least four more Echoes before the game drops in December.

20) What if Nintendo adopted a “GaaS” approach with Super Smash?

Super Smash Brothers Ultimate keeps getting bigger with each passing month. As incredible to think of just how monstrous the roster size is, it makes me realize that the “Smash 6” will likely see a big cut in the roster size. Even Mortal Kombat rebooted everything and had a roster of 30 after the prior had 62 kombatants.

Now, I can’t pretend that Games as a Service is the greatest thing in the world. There are cases to where it can turn around and be a nightmare to deal with. If left in the right hands though, it can help the longevity of a game by ensuring a nice and steady stream of new content and support. I don’t expect Sakurai to do this as the man works himself to death whenever he works on a Smash Brothers game. Still, this could ensure Smash Ultimate lasts for some time and allow him to branch out to other games after Ultimate launches. If there is no ongoing support, I doubt many will complain since we will have so much when the game launches.

Conclusion

So those were the 20 questions that were spinning in my twisted little mind. Are these the most well thought out questions? Probably not. I know you can probably combine a few of them together, but the point remains we have tons to consider before the game comes out in December. We will probably get one final direct that will drop one final massive bombshell on us and hopefully we will also get more details in the next few months.

Either way, there’s no denying at all that hype for Smash Brothers Ultimate is reaching ludicrous levels. I’d like to think that Sakurai trolling us with King Dedede during King K. Rool’s reveal was his way of ensuring that the audience wouldn’t die of heart attacks (or destroy furniture). The hype train presses onward into Fall and there is no slowing it down now!

So what do you think?
What questions are you left with after the Smash Direct? Do you think any of the questions I asked can be so easily answered? Leave your thoughts down below and be sure to follow us here at Culture of Gaming for more news pieces on Smash Ultimate and other things gaming.

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