Does anyone else find Smash Bros. really, really hard…?

Okay, so this post will either be one of two things. It will either be that piece that most people agree with and have hitherto been afraid to express themselves – or, I will debunk myself as a lone voice, a laughable noob, and the epitome of gaming ineptitude.

Let’s find out 😀

But before that: Can you help me?

Please consider supporting my River Still 教えて Kickstarter. It’s for a new cyberpunk novel inspired by Japanese manga. Click the banner for more.

Join the kickstarter

Okay, back to Smash Bros…

So I’m fairly new to the universe of Smash Bros., having only purchased my Nintendo Switch (and indeed my first Nintendo system ever) last November. I was lucky enough to play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate at launch – despite not being brave enough to purchase it myself – courtesy of my friend Josh, who sat me down with his own Switch and talked me through the basics. Before annihilating me.

Haha, no – thanks Josh. You were a good teacher. But there’s no denying the fact that when it comes to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate I am unashamedly terrible – like, you’d think I was falling off the edge on purpose. And I can’t quite put my finger on why I find this game so difficult to get my head around.

Last week, I finally took the plunge and gave Nintendo 59.99 of my hard-earned pounds and downloaded the Hardest Video Game of All Time onto my trusty handheld. I’d been itching for a new title to play, and I was about to be on the road for a week with work (together with a couple of lengthy train journeys) so it made sense to have a new game to make my fingers bleed. And besides, despite my obvious inability to intimidate the Kirbys of this world with my reluctant final smashing, there’s no denying that Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is tres tres cool – in principle. 80-something of history’s greatest video game characters thrown into a series of floating arenas that can metamorphosise at will? Shut up and take my overdraft.

“Ah, he has his back to me. This should be easy…!”

Why, then, do I suck so bad? For a start, my brain utterly refuses to grasp the controls. I mean, they’re simple enough in the first instance – two jump buttons, an attack button, a special attack button, and a shield (right? 😛 ) But this complex knowledge seems to allude me when I’m faced with my opponent’s fiery projectiles. I panic and get them all mixed up; I punch thin air when I intend to jump, and just as I’m lining up for the Yoshi death-kill, I leap gleefully into the air like a ballet dancer. Inevitably, I die more times than I live, and I’m sad to say the victories are very few and far between.

So is there something inherently confusing about the way the controls are laid out? I mean, it’s possible (and okay I can shuffle things around if need be) but I’ve played games like the Devil May Cry series – which is very combat-heavy – and I’ve experience zero confusion. And, arguably, the control system to Devil May Cry 4 is a bit more complicated than Super Smash Bros Ultimate. There’s sword attack, projectile weapon attack, grabber attack, jump, double jump, roll, Devil Trigger… But after the warm-up level in DMC4, I was bossing it with Nero, even if I do say so myself. So I know that, for all my unashamed scattiness, I am not genetically idiotic when it comes to video games, or indeed video game combat.

Perhaps, then, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is a more disorientating game? I think that’s definitely true; there’s a lot going on. Your opponent can leap around and suddenly appear above, below or beside you; his or her Spirit might also be on your case; objects might be appearing; the stage might be morphing. And heck, this is only assuming you’re in a one-on-one altercation. I feel like giving up when I find myself in the midst of a multiplayer flash mob. Moreover, in the literal blink of an eye you can find that your fighter has been subjected to an unsuspected attack and has already been propelled from the map, and you’re left frantically scanning to see where your hapless hero has ended up.

A rare victory.

Of course, none of this is to say that one can’t get better. I’ve played about four hours so far and I can already detect a slight improvement. It is slight, though, and it’s hard to stay motivated when you are being constantly crushed by the CPU. Where’s the satisfaction? It’s like being repeatedly punched in the face (and for my Mii Sword Fighter, it literally is.) Why run back into the burning building? Why not settle down with the latest iteration of Devil May Cry and remind myself that I’m not stupid, “I’m just a limited edition.”

Well for a start I paid £60 for this, so I’m already committed! Second, I really want to sit down with my Switch friends and actually have fun with this game, without continually opening myself up to a ritual mauling.

And I have science on my side. If I play Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for long enough, I must commensurately improve, right? How many hours do they say it takes to master a new skill? (10,000 hours at first glance on Google. Or, ahem, six to 10 years…)

Okay, I’ve decided – I’m going to be disciplined about this. It’s a matter of principle now. I will run back into that burning building and go out all guns blazing. I will not be defeated by a video game that has been mastered by children. Yes! Amen, amen.

However (somewhat more meekly) please help me, Internet. Can anyone else identify with the difficulties of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate? Does anyone else out there in the void find this game an inherently disorienting experience? And is it fair to say that there is a steep learning curve? Or, conversely, is Smash Bros. a game that most people – of any ability or intelligence – can ‘pick up and play’? Let me know in the comments below, and be kind 😉

Pray for me.

  • Click here to order your own copy of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and help support this website.


  1. Smash Bros Ultimate is not an easy game for sure. Before playing it, I had no experience at all with previous games. Thinking about it, I picked off a lot of difficulties that I wasn’t facing in fighting games before. Some difficulties for me are:

    a) Facing right direction for an attack. I had to get used to the fact that I turn my characters around to hit my opponents. Add to the fact that opponents can also fly over the you, forcing you to turn around constantly.

    b) Shielding, dodging and parry mechanics are quite complicated… While shielding is quite simple in its use, it does have a limited timer and “health” pool before its broken. Dodging is difficult because you have to time it right. On top of that each sequential dodging is shorter and slower(?) than the previous one, until you do something else. Parry is also a weird mechanic, because you have to stop shielding at the moment the attack finishes to parry. Its counter intuative…

    c) Learning recovering techniques to prevent falling off the stage. When I just started playing it, I died more often from myself jumping out rather than my opponent flinging me off the stage. Double jump, vertical and horizontal moves, using hooks to land on edges… it is a lot to keep in mind amidst all the action.

    Anyway, it all comes down to Smash’s rich mechanics and niches that need to be learned to become somewhat confident at it. By your method of running back to the “burning building” you will eventually start mastering some of the moves and find you favorite characters to play (mine is Zero Suit Samus).

    I wish you luck in your Smash Bros Ultimate adventures! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, thanks for all the tips! Also it’s really refreshing to hear someone admit that it’s not the easiest of games… Thanks 😀 I’m definitely improving… I did my 50th fight last night and I’m slowly increasing the CPU difficulty level (currently at 4.) Like you, I threw myself off the ledge frequently to my death, but I’m slowly improving! Dodging still needs some work. But I’m having a lot more fun now… It certainly feels less torturous now I’m starting to grasp it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Happy to help 🙂 play through world of light or through classic mode to get yourself going. Kirby and King K-Rool are easy characters to learn how to play, do to their great recoveries.

        More important, just have fun! Its a huge game with multiple modes and challenges. It will take time to situate yourself, but by playing you will get there!


      • Thanks! I’ve not really spent much time in World of Light or Classic so I think I’ll head there tonight 👍 As you say, having fun is the main thing. On day 1 I was losing constantly and getting very sulky!! But I’m definitely enjoying myself now!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. A couple years later, but I was glad to see your post. I’ve played video games for 30 years and SSBU has been an awful learning curve for me. I watch a basic instructions video and am overwhelmed (no basic instructions should take 12 minutes I say!) — and forget about translating that info into actual gameplay haha..

    It’s still a blast to play with friends, even if I’m always first to die. There’s a charm in playing a game on the same screen that you just can’t get with online play.

    What moves this game from daunting to potentially playable was changing the key bindings to a way that made more sense to my history of gameplay and intuitive reactions.

    Have you kept playing? Did you get better?


    • I haven’t played for a few years, in all honesty. I agree with you though – I love the charm of being able to play a game on the same screen / in the same room. I may revisit it at some point. I’m finding Mario Kart a bit easier right now; not that I’m much better, but I find the controls simpler 😉


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s