The untold truth of Smash Bros. Ultimate

The Super Smash Bros. series has been a mainstay on Nintendo platforms since the original first showed up on the Nintendo 64. From that point forward, it's been the definition of "fan service," tossing dozens of Nintendo and non-Nintendo characters into themed stages in order to do battle. The action is fun and frantic. The soundtracks are absolutely incredible. And the series is so big that it supports a thriving esports community.

And Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the biggest Smash game yet.

With a game series that's so important to Nintendo's legacy, and in Ultimate's case, a game that's drawn more scrutiny than ever, there are bound to be some interesting stories. In the case of Smash Bros. Ultimate, there are many. From the time Nintendo first teased the game several years ago to controversy that struck weeks before its release, the tale of Smash Ultimate is one you'll definitely one to read.

Here's the untold truth of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Sakurai almost didn't come back to make the game

It's unlikely that Nintendo would have let the Smash franchise fade away. It's just way too popular. It's a system seller for a lot of people. There was a Smash Bros. game for the Nintendo 64, and for every one of Nintendo's home consoles after it. And the Wii U entry into the series was a bright spot on what was otherwise a massively unsupported system.

But all the work that series director Masahiro Sakurai put into the Wii U Smash weighed on him. So much so, in fact, that he seriously considered quitting the franchise for good.

In a 2014 interview, Sakurai spoke about how he pushed for Smash Bros. on the Wii U to go above and beyond, adding a huge roster of characters and modes. "In terms of scope, and in terms of sheer number of characters, we went beyond our limits long ago," he said. "And yet, if we cut the number of fighters or modes in a future game, I'm sure there would be complaints."

Sakurai also spoke about where he saw Smash heading in the future. "With both Melee and Brawl, I made those games with the thought that there wouldn't be any more sequels. Thus, I really can't deny the chance for another. However, as for myself, I don't think there will be."

As we now know, Sakurai dedication to the franchise got the better of him. He returned to work on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, a game that is somehow even bigger than the last.

Ultimate was first teased way back in March 2017

Nintendo is keenly aware of how important the Smash Bros. franchise is to its bottom line. And the company knows that fans of Nintendo are going to want a Smash game on a brand-new system. It would be like putting out new hardware without a flagship Super Mario title. That's what the Smash series is to Nintendo at this point: one of its major tentpoles.

Reggie Fils-Aime, the president of Nintendo of America, knows this. So shortly after the Nintendo Switch's launch in 2017, he let everyone know in not-so-veiled terms that they could expect a Smash game in the future.

In a Facebook livestream, Fils-Aime was asked about the possibility of a Smash Brosgame on Switch. In response, he explained that Nintendo wants at least one entry from each of its major franchises on every console, stating that fans could "anticipate at some point in the future, who knows when, that all of our franchises will be addressed."

"We know that fans love these games, love this content," he said, "so stay tuned."

A terribly inaccurate character leak got everyone excited

Leaks aren't all that uncommon in the video game world. Sometimes, an overly excited employee of a game company can't contain themselves, and they want to tell others about the cool projects they're working on. Others happen upon secret information and share it online as a way to gain some internet credibility. And then some simply want to troll the fans, creating elaborate-but-fake leaks in order to gin everyone up before breaking their hearts.

A leak involving potential characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fell into that last category, though no one knew at the time.

To be frank, the entire leak seemed legitimate. A banner full of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate characters was photographed by someone who seemed to work for a printing company. And the leaker went so in-depth that the individual even created a fake LinkedIn profile.

And the leaked characters seemed like real possibilities. Shadow the Hedgehog, Banjo-Kazooie, Issac from Golden Sun, Ken from Street Fighter, Mach Rider, Geno from Super Mario RPG, and the Chorus Kids from Rhythm Heaven were all set to join the roster.

But it was all too good to be true. When Nintendo's last Smash-related Direct aired, fans discovered that they'd been duped, and only Ken would be joining the fight. That was just a lucky guess, and everything else was fabricated.

The disappointment was real.

People legitimately believed that Luigi was murdered in a Nintendo Direct

Nintendo has developed a reputation over the years as being a family-friendly company. Their games focus on the fun. Their Nintendo Direct presentations are happy-go-lucky. They'd rather you faint than die, in the case of Pokemon. Which made what happened in one of the company's Nintendo Directs so shocking.

Things got real dark, real quick when Nintendo started to introduce Castlevania characters to Smash. And poor Luigi, brother of Mario, suffered as a result.

Luigi was inside Dracula's Castle from Castlevania, seemingly trying to suck up ghosts with his Luigi's Mansion vacuum, when suddenly, a character that looked a lot like Death appeared. Castlevania hero Simon Belmont couldn't save the day in time for Luigi to die a brutal death, as Death swung a scythe and literally ripped the soul right out of Luigi's body.

Fans were stunned. Was that canon, they wondered? Is Luigi actually dead now? Did Nintendo actually kill off an iconic Nintendo character in a Nintendo Direct?

The answer, as it turns out, was no. Nintendo's UK Twitter account posted an update to reassure fans of Mario's bumbling brother that all was well, stating simply, "Luigi is okay."

Ultimate does away with Trophies in favor of Spirits

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate might look a lot like some of the other Smash games that came before. You'll certainly see a lot of your favorite characters from past games. And you might find that, in terms of the fighting itself, Ultimate is a lot more of what you've always loved in the series. But there are some pretty big changes that you should know about.

One of those changes has to do with Trophies. There aren't any. Instead, Smash Ultimate now has Spirits.

Eurogamer said it best when it described Spirits as "reminiscent of the sticker system in Smash Bros. Brawl." Spirits can be obtained by winning them in special battles, appropriately called Spirit Battles. And applying them to your character can add special abilities. You can even fuse Spirits together, and by leveling them up, you can make make your Spirits even more powerful.

This is a pretty significant change to the game, and there's a lot going on with regard to Spirits. There's a good chance you'll need to dive in yourself to truly wrap your head around everything packed into Spirits, but hey — it's a fresh addition to the game, and it could catch on even more than Trophies did.

It doesn't look like Waluigi is making the cut

Wah! We know how it feels when your favorite characters don't make a Smash roster. Some were really pulling for Banjo and Kazooie to make the roster, given the recent friendship Nintendo's struck with Microsoft. That didn't happen. Sonic the Hedgehog fans were really excited when that leak we covered earlier put Shadow the Hedgehog into the lineup. But guess what? That leak was made up, and Shadow isn't coming.

But there's one character that fans have been especially vocal about seeing in Smash Bros. Ultimate. One that Nintendo just loves to ignore. One who decks himself out in purple and whines constantly about everyone else cheating, no matter what the sport.

His name is Waluigi. And like Banjo, Kazooie, and Shadow, he didn't make the cut.

Now, we don't want to get ahead of our skis entirely, here. There are more characters coming to Smash Ultimate as part of the Fighters Pass. So it's entirely possible that Waluigi could show up as a member of the roster via DLC. But given how feverishly everyone campaigned to get him into the base game, and the way Nintendo put almost every other character imaginable into the game except him, offering Waluigi via DLC might make his fans even more angry.

We'll just have to see what happens.

Nintendo is once again releasing GameCube controllers for Ultimate

There's just something about the Nintendo GameCube controller that Super Smash Bros. fans can't get enough of. Ever since Smash Bros. Melee launched on the GameCube, most hardcore Smash players have pointed to the GameCube controller as the best way to play. That continued with Brawl on the Wii, and Super Smash Bros. for Wii U. Every time a new Smash game arrived, Nintendo catered to the hardcore by rolling out brand new GameCube controllers for the occasion.

And that trend will live on with Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the Nintendo Switch. Because GameCube controllers are coming out in honor of that game, too.

We know what you're thinking. "Oh, Nintendo just made some GameCube look-a-like controllers for the Switch. They can't be real GameCube controllers, right?" Actually, they are. They work just fine on the Switch, sure. But they also work on the Wii U. And the Wii. And yes, even the GameCube. Somehow, over a decade and a half later, Nintendo is still pumping these controllers out. Just for this one game series.

That's some dedication.

Nintendo recently came under fire for using offensive Native American imagery

The release of a new Super Smash Bros. game usually comes with some controversy. It's nothing new. But most of the time, that controversy has to do with characters that are left out of the game, or characters who players feel are too overpowered. You'd be hard-pressed to look back at the history of Smash and find something that's truly offensive to a certain subset of people. But with Smash Bros. Ultimate, Nintendo really stepped in it.

It had to do with Mr. Game & Watch, a character in the game that references Nintendo's old Game & Watch handheld games.

There's an old mini-game in the Game & Watch collection called Fire Attack. And in that game, cowboys and Native Americans do battle. The cowboys wear the typical cowboy garb. But the Native Americans in the game? They don the single feather on the head that's come to be looked at as a racist depiction of those indigenous people.

According to Comicbook.com, Nintendo had previously removed the reference in a remade version of Fire Attack for the Game Boy Advance. But in the last Smash Direct, the older version of the character appeared, feather and all.

An uproar followed after visuals of the character spread around online. Nintendo then quickly apologized and said it would deploy a fix for the game to remove the feather from the character's head.