I’ll never forget when Super Smash Bros. Ultimate crash landed into my life. To be frank, things got a little bit out of hand, and shortly after launch, my work friends and I were often staying for hours at the end of the day to battle it out. Lunch times were completely consumed by it, we even organised tournaments at local bars so that we would never have to stop playing. Eight-players, as many items as possible, and game after game of exquisitely-designed party brawler fun.
When I look back on these times however, it’s not all Mario Sunshine and Rainbow Roads. No matter how brilliant, just how completely perfect Super Smash Bros. Ultimate felt in a group, there was always the looming presence of Super Smash Bros. at home. Anyone who’s played Super Smash Bros. Ultimate alone online will know it’s an absolutely miserable experience.
Even though I’d confidently rank Super Smash Bros. Ultimate among my favourite games ever made, the frequently laggy and downright ancient online capabilities make it a game of two sides. As the pandemic brought down a hammer on in-person meetups and shattered any hopes of LAN parties across the world, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate became a chore to even open, and after a while I simply put it down. I’ve no doubt that if the online actually functioned, I’d probably still be playing every single day, if only for a game or two.
Excuse the moaning, it’s just that recently all of these feelings have been dragged back up with the arrival of MultiVersus, a game where you can beat the crap out of Batman as LeBron James. Despite only being in beta currently, MultiVersus has one huge advantage over Super Smash Bros. Its online works like a dream, and because of this I’ve been struggling not to load it up at every available moment.
Perhaps it’s unfair to compare Super Smash Bros. Ultimate to MultiVersus, with the former being a Nintendo Switch exclusive after all. But then again, why shouldn’t a Switch game have a working online mode? Much has been said about Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s dismal online experience, and it all comes down to the kind of netcode it implements.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s online is plagued by lag and disconnects thanks to Nintendo’s reluctance to add rollback to the game in any of its major updates. If you’re eager to have the best solution (or at least, the best solution you can implement as a user) your solution is to simply… buy a LAN adapter for your Switch. Given that only the OLED has one built in currently, that’s not ideal, right? From there, you simply must hope for the best. And even then, online play in most Nintendo games is an abysmal time.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate boats such a complex and technical fighting style that even a millisecond of lag can really ruin a match. Despite frequent outcry from players (there was even the trending #FixUltimateOnline a couple of years back), there’s been very little improvement in the three years since launch. By all sources, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s online will likely never switch up its netcode or improve in any significant way. Especially since development on the game is effectively at an end, now.
I rarely care for online fighting games, precisely because of the lag element. But then came MultiVersus, with a focus on online play. There are local play modes too, but the core experience involves jumping into 1v1s and team battles via a streamlined set of menus. Matches are quick to set up, brief in length, and mostly free from lag or disconnects. It may sound like a small thing, but when something just works as intended it makes it a heck of a lot easier to convince yourself to load up and play.
In fact, I’ve had to start checking myself on the amount of MultiVersus I’m playing. It’s just too easy to switch on the PS5, select a character and enjoy a 3-minute game of fast-paced and ludicrous cartoon action. By already offering a stable and solid online experience, MultiVersus has the potential to have much more longevity, even if I’d never put it above Super Smash Bros. Ultimate in terms of quality.
I’m not going to try to argue that MultiVersus is a better game than Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. A character reveal like Rick Sanchez is never gonna blow my skirt up like that of Banjo Kazooie or Sephiroth, after all. What we’ve seen from the game so far has been extremely promising however, and it’s nice to play a fighting game that doesn’t have to have two completely separate metas for online and offline play.
It’s hard to go a day without hearing about rumoured fighters for MultiVersus. The roster is arguably already wackier than Super Smash Bros., and you only have to look at the staggering amount of franchises that are owned by Warner Bros. to imagine the possibilities. Godzilla, Stranger Things, hell, even Mortal Kombat are all on the cards. I would personally like to see Ted Lasso fight Jim Hopper for hunky moustache-man supremacy.
Season 1 of MultiVersus has been a bit of a dud so far, but with so much more to come in the future, I’m excited to keep playing. Not only that, I’m happy that I can keep playing at all. No LAN adapters, disconnects and ancient menus holding me back from what should be a fun time.
I’ve heard MultiVersus described as a Smash-clone or cash-grab tie-in but honestly, it absolutely wipes the floor with Smash in the areas that count the most in this new, post-lockdown world. I’m absolutely buzzing to see how MultiVersus evolves, as new modes are added and everyone from the heavily rumoured Matrix characters to personal favourites like Stripe from Gremlins join the roster.
One thing’s for certain, MultiVersus already offers a much better online service than Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, and it’s not even out of beta yet. I think people are seriously underestimating MultiVersus as a fighter (it’s had 10 million players so far), and I’m betting we’ll see it become even more popular after it gets a full release.
Hopefully I can work on some self-control by that point. I’d really like to not lose my job because I was practising my Shaggy combos.