There are 74 fighters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, every fighter that has ever fought in Smash previously. But players who boot up the game only start with eight characters from the offset, leaving you with 66 characters to unlock. That's a tall order and depending on who you ask, an unreasonable grind.
There are a couple ways to unlock characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. You can either battle it out in versus mode and unlock characters after every couple of matches, or by completing a requirement. There's also the single-player Spirit mode where players begin with Kirby and "save" fighters in World of Light, thereby unlocking them. There's even a small cheat where players can boot up World of Light, leave immediately, unlock a challenger fight, shut off the software, and repeat the process.
But the problem isn't so much how you unlock characters as it is the amount of time it takes to unlock them. Unlocking the full roster could take tens of hours to complete, and because the unlock order is, for the most part, pre-determined based on timing and conditions, unlocking your favorite character could be quicker or slower depending on where they fall on the unlock order.
Kotaku's Jason Schreier tweeted about the grind and it seemed to have stirred a debate among Smash Bros. fans who either find the grind tedious or a non-issue. At the least some players believe the way Nintendo doles out new fighters could have been better handled.
Having to grind for hours before you can play every character in Smash Ultimate might be the worst decision Nintendo has made in the Switch era!— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) December 10, 2018
I enjoy putting in the time to unlock each character. I haven't played all of the Smash characters for a while, so when I unlock one, I take it as an opportunity to either remind myself of their moves or learn a new fighter entirely. pic.twitter.com/7DS1otUp8O— aniel Perez BBx) December 10, 2018
Unpopular opinion: The grind in Smash Ultimate isn't bad at all. I unlocked my whole roster in just a couple days of sustained play. It's possible to unlock it even faster than that with some tricks. Was it a good idea to lock it all? Meh, maybe. But it's hardly the worst grind.— Kat Bailey (@The_Katbot) December 10, 2018
I generally agree that it could have been done way better, like with special requirements or cool cutscenes. But it’s not random. Every late-stage unlock has a “path.” So unlocking Cloud for instance requires Samus —> Wii Trainer / Pit —> Incineroar —> Dark Samus —> Cloud.— Nick Statt (@nickstatt) December 10, 2018
Others say that the time it takes to unlock a fighter actually pushes them to focus on Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and enjoy things like the Adventure mode that they might otherwise not pay attention to if all the fighters were unlocked from the beginning.
One area of consideration that might be overlooked in the conversation regarding the fighter grind in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is what happens if you're not great at the game yet? There are players who have gone online to say that they're either not great at Smash Bros. or rusty at the game and are having a hard time defeating the character unlock challengers. Considering how tough some of these World of Light stages are, it's not too surprising.
I like Smash but I don’t like the fact that I have to unlock all these characters knowing damn well I’m terrible at video games— Mac* (@Machaizelli) December 7, 2018
While we don't typically consider Nintendo games to feature high difficulty walls, Smash Bros. Ultimate is challenging, and some fighters just might be too tricky for rusty or novice players. Luckily Smash Bros. Ultimate has a re-match feature so players can go back and unlock challengers that way, but it further pushes the time to unlock back for some players.
We've heard arguments on both sides regarding the grind to unlock Smash Bros. Ultimate fighters and our own team has had differing approaches to unlocking fighters. While there doesn't seem to be a consensus, the grind in Smash Bros. Ultimate is very real. The only thing that matters though is how you feel about it.
You can check out our Super Smash Bros. Ultimate unlock guide if you want to see how to unlock a specific fighter, or check out our Super Smash Bros. Ultimate review for the Nintendo Switch. For everything else check out our Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Guide hub.