1. Toad stops being a victim and starts being a hero

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Since the introduction of Peach in Super Smash Bros. Melee, Toad has served one purpose in the series: to be a meatshield for his princess. For those not familiar, one of Peach's move involves producing Toad from a pocket dimension, using him to counter incoming attacks. As you can tell from his terrified expression above, Toad has never seemed to be on board with this arrangement. 

That all changes with Smash Bros. Ultimate on Nintendo Switch, which sees Toad willingly throwing himself in front of Peach.

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Between this and the puzzle-solving adventures of Captain Toad, these little guys appear to have strong heads on their shoulders. Or are they hats? 

2. A classic stage calls back to the series' history

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The Battlefield stage has been a series' standard since Melee (or since the N64, if you count Duel Zone). The Ultimate version is looking sharp as ever, and there's even a nice little wrinkle in the background. Look closely and you can see four other floating islands in the background, which appears to be a reference to the four past Smash Bros. games. 

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It's wild to think that while you're slugging it out on Battlefield, four other battles are raging on at the same time. Oh who are we kidding, no one's on the Brawl island.


3. Sheik's outfit gets a Breath of the Wild-flavored update

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Zelda is sporting a new look tailored after Link Between Worlds, but she's not the only one who's brought a new outfit to Ultimate. Sheik, a mysterious and completely unrelated character, has also gotten some new duds. Specifically, Sheik's outfit looks a heck of a lot like the Sheikah outfit Link wears in Breath of the Wild.

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The shoulder bands, the belt, the armwraps, the shin guards, the hoof socks -- almost everything but the headgear is straight from the Sheikah set. Could Sheik have been in Breath of the Wild the whole time and we just never noticed? Talk about stealthy.

4. Kirby has new copy abilities for Ridley and Inkling (of course)

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That's all, really. I just thought they were cute.

5. Pokemon Trainer's alternate color schemes reference classic games

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When Nintendo said that "Everyone is here," they meant it. Not only is Pokemon Trainer back, but there are both boy and girl versions to choose from. On top of that, the alternate color schemes for each trainer call back to old Pokemon games. 

These kinds of small but significant references show that Nintendo values its history, and reveres the fans who have cared enough to be there all along. 

6. Ridley makes a cheeky joke just after murdering Mario 

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The cinematic that introduced Metroid villain Ridley was a shock to the Smash community, but they were mostly focused on the fact that the highly-requested character was thought to be "too big" to make it onto the roster. Nintendo referenced this with a slight jab in Ridley's title card (seen above), but there was also another clever detail just after Ridley presumably crushed Mario's windpipe. 

When he first confronts Samus, Ridley twirls the recently-decased plumber's cap on his left hand index finger in a way that strongly resembled a shot in one of Mario Odyssey's first big trailers.

Coincidence? Given the other deep cuts seen in Smash Ultimate, a reference to Nintendo's most recent hit game isn't too much of a stretch. Plus, Ridley is absolutely the kind of space asshole who would throw in this kind of knowing taunt. 


7. Snake makes some concessions for Konami

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It was more than surprising to see Snake make a return, seeing as Konami banished the character to the land of shoddy survival games and pachinko machines. But hey, hypothetically speaking, licensing money is just as good as something like organized crime money, so here we are. Snake seems to have made the jump to 2018 intact, old voice actor included, but Konami needed one concession: The character logo was just a tad too Kojima. 

Sometimes those deep cuts can really sting. 

8. King Dedede's new Final Smash pulls out all the stops

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Many of Ultimate's characters are getting new Final Smash moves in what is said to be an effort to keep the game moving at a steady clip. King Dedede's, on the other hand, seems to have only gotten more bombastic. Not that we're complaining -- just look at this. 

Because this is Nintendo and because this is Smash Bros, you might guess that there's some meaning behind this cage match execution. And you'd be right. 

It's like someone on the development team Googled "King Dedede Boss Fights" and just picked some at random and fused them all together into one wild super move. Again, not that we're complaining.

9. The subtle background eclipse

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Plenty of stages in Smash Bros. have flashy effects in the foreground and background, but Battlefield has always been pretty straightforward. However, Ultimate Battlefield does have one nice little detail. If you pay attention to the backdrop, you can sometimes see a solar eclipse occur, at which point the stage darkens a bit.

Yeah, it's not a mindblowing easter egg or an obscure reference. Sometimes nice little details are just nice little details. 


10. Saffron City keeps it old-school

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In addition to the stacked cast, Ultimate also boasts a staggering number of stages (last count makes it seem like we're heading towards around 100). This includes levels from the very first installment of the series on Nintendo 64, as seen with the Saffron City. Textures might have been cleaned up in the Ultimate version of the stage, but those Pokemon still pop out of that same door. And those Pokemon are still made of the exact same sprites, almost 20 years later.

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There's nostalgic fanservice, and then there's fanservice based on the nostalgia of past nostalgic fanservice. That's the level we're operating on here.


11. Mr. Game and Watch makes it personal

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In theory, Mr. Game and Watch should be the easiest character to animate. He's a two-dimensional character with limited frames of movement. Even so, Nintendo didn't take the easy way out here. In Smash Ultimate, Mr. Game and Watch still juggles his opponents for his throw move, just like always -- but now the "ball" he juggles is the stock icon for the corresponding character.

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Nintendo didn't have to do this. They didn't have to do any of this. But we're glad they did.


12. Pit's illiteracy becomes Smash canon

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Lots of neat little tidbits dropped on Nintendo's E3 Treehouse stream this week, including a new voiceline for Pit. Well, it's kind of an old voiceline. See, when Pit gets tossed off the top of the stage in Ultimate, he'll yell "I never learned to reaaaad!" There's a reason for that.

What seemed like a non-sequitur joke was actually a non-sequitur joke from an older game. I take back what I said about neat details just being neat details -- you should probably assume everything in Smash Ultimate is a reference to something else.


13. Ness and Lucas' sfx harken back to Mother

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It's not happening. We're never getting Mother 3 in the West, and every time someone asks, Reggie fully translates the game himself and then drops it into a volcano. The best we're going to get is these cool throwback effects in Ultimate. 

This would be nice if I didn't already make myself depressed.


14. Link's weapons are now even more accurate to the games

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When Link transitioned to his Breath of the Wild look for Smash Ultimate, his moveset was also altered. He no longer has the hookshot, but he does have some nifty remote control bombs. On top of that, Ultimate Link's Master Sword has been lengthened to better reflect its size in BotW. Better yet, when Link is at full health, the sword now shoots out  wave beams in classic Zelda fashion.

Ultimate Link uses Guardian Arrows for his Final Smash, but still shoots regular ol' arrows whenever he's not glowing with unimaginable power. As a little bonus, Link can also pick up arrows off the ground after he shoots them -- again, just like Breath of the Wild. 

You guys, this game isn't even out for six months. People have found loads of amazing details from one press event and some publisher-sanctioned streams. Imagine what fans will find once Ultimate is actually released. Hopefully it will make up for this next one.

15. Snake gets an upsetting downgrade

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We don't have anything as comprehensive as frame data breakdowns or hitbox analysis for Ultimate Snake, at least not yet. It's impossible to say where he'll land in the nebulous Smash tier list. For now, only one thing is certain: they deflated Snake's ass.

On the plus side, at least Brawl finally did one thing better than any other Smash game.