Because this is a fighting game, there is something I think I need to be upfront about before this review gets going full swing. I do not play fighting games competitively, so if you are looking at a review that takes that into account, this will not be it for you.
With that out of the way, Super Smash Brothers is a fighting game featuring characters from a variety of games, mostly Nintendo properties, and you use your innate abilities and items to pummel each other off the stage. The concept itself is a fun one, and it's always a delight to see new characters getting added with each release, even better with Ultimate is that everyone who has ever been a character in a past game shows up again, like Snake who originally was only in the third title.
Talking about the core gameplay, not much has really changed. Characters play largely the same as in past titles, with minor tweaks, and the controls remain unchanged. Your A button is your normal attacks, and pressing that and a direction is a unique attack. The same applies to using B for your special attacks. You can grab, activate a shield that wears down over time, and dodge. All very simple, and controls remain the same for every character, meaning everyone has the same number of moves. Each character handles differently despite this. There are also differences in character sizes, how hard they are to knock off the stage, how much damage their attacks deal, speed, and certain unique abilities (Such as Ness being able to actively control where his PK Lighting goes after it's been fired off). The game is not hurting for variety in the slightest.
Battles also take place on a variety of stages with a slew of different items, though you can tweak the rule set to remove items, or even to use a more traditional 'Stamina' system where you die after taking so much damage rather than needing to be knocked off stage.
That's where the core appeal of the game comes in, a large amount of variety in gameplay with the large cast, the simplicity of learning how to play, and a good amount of other content aside from just pummeling your friends with Jigglypuff.
Smash Brothers Ultimate's biggest addition is Story of Light, a mode where you travel around this big world map freeing your captive Smash Comrades in order to save the world from some mysterious being that has appeared. Each fight on the map has some different conditions placed on the fight, such as Lava floors or the enemies being giant sized. There is definitely a degree of variety in the fights which is fun, and the climactic fight at the end of it all is fantastic.
But there is a big drawback, and that is how absurdly long it actually is. The gimmicks of previous fights get reused a lot due to the length of the game, and as you collect equipable spirits to give you buffs the best way to clear many of the stipulations that arise is use spirits that render you immune to them, such as Lava or shock floors. It eventually becomes a chore trudging through most of the fights, even with the great boss battles against unique enemies come up.
The spirits, while nice on paper, are almost pointless after a while. So many of them have the same ability, I think I have at least three that make me immune to lava floors, quite a few that make me resistant to strong winds, and multiple that allow me to start the fight with a beam sword. And I believe the total number of Spirits is on the upper end of 700, though there could be more.
There is also a Rock, Paper, Scissors thing in play where your Primary Spirit has an advantage or disadvantage against a certain type of enemy, which is cool, but really all it means is you just change out your Primary each fight, which gets a bit tedious. Story of Light really is just a lot of good ideas dragged out way too long, but once again it was fun despite all that. It can also be fun on a certain level to collect Spirits of all your favorite characters who didn't make it into Smash as playable, such as Geno.
Despite issues with Story of Light, the game does everything it should do. The most characters of any Smash Brothers to date, the most levels, and some fun new game modes to play around in. It's as satisfying a game to play with friends as it ever was, and while I had a very small amount of time to play online (Sorry, picking up too many extra shifts at work right now to have devoted more time to it) what I did play I was able to do with a wireless connection to my Router, and not have any in game issues.
If you've played Smash before, your view of the games thus far will tell you if you'll like the game or not. If you're not, it's a great way to jump on board. It may just be another smash game with some tweaks, but really that's all it needed to be.
Also this.... bizarrely lewd image is unlockable. o_O