Standard directional attacks, where one attacks while pressing a direction but not hard or fast enough to perform a Smash attack, were officially called "Strong Attacks" in previous games, but were called "tilts" by the community. Ultimate is the first game to use "tilt" in menus and the website.
"Neutral" was the term used by the community when using any move without pressing a direction, while "Standard" was the official name used by prior games. In Ultimate, the fan term is officially used in menus.
"Dash Dancing" is a high-level technique that originated in Melee. And now after many years, Level 9 Computers can and will "Dash Dance" in Ultimate.
Viridi uses the competitive term "edge guard" (the act of preventing an opponent from coming back on stage) in Incineroar's Palutena's Guidance skit.
The Mii Gunner costume for Sans depicts him wearing pink slippers. Although Sans wears slippers in the original game, they appear white in all of his sprites. After the game's release however, it became extremely common for fan artists and modelers to depict the slippers as being pink. This game marks his first official appearance outside of merchandise with them colored this way. He is also depicted wearing a white shirt underneath his hoodie, which the fandom usually depicted him wearing instead of an exposed ribcage which some could interpret from his sprites. The original model also gave Sans' non-gun hand actual fingers, again another common fan depiction, before Toby Fox requested it be changed to a mitten-like hand.
After it was stated that Joker entered Smash with a stolen invitation, this indicated that invitations are apparently interchangable between recipients, much like fanart depicting a character giving their invitation to another, usually out of kindness. This was brought up again with Terry and Min Min's reveal trailers, showing various characters from SNK's series of games and ARMS respectively trying and failing to grab the invitation.
The tracks that play in Smash 64's Metal Mario and Battlefield stages return in this game, giving them English names for the first time... and they merely retain their Japanese names, "Meta Crystal" and "Duel Zone", almost certainly due to the community's long-time usage of those names.
It is a common fan theory that getting into Smash is considered a huge honor In-Universe. This is referenced in both Terry's and Min Min's trailers, which show various characters getting excited over and going after the invitations, as well as Joker's reveal, where Morgana states the invitation is "the greatest treasure of all".
A spirit from Xenoblade Chronicles 2 appears under the name "Pneuma". This character, Pyra and Mythra's original form, is only called this once in reflection by the Architect, and this is never treated in-game as their proper name. The name was, however, commonly used by fans to differentiate her from her other forms.
Awesome, Dear Boy: Monolith Soft was very keen on the addition of Pyra and Mythra to the game, as they were the ones who developed their reveal trailer (Sakurai and his team only worked on the gameplay showcase), they contacted the original game's character designer to provide official art for Last Episode, New Character Pneuma for her Spirit (as the character didn't have any at first), and finally uploaded a short video showing an excited Pyra (and a feisty Mythra) ready to enter the fray, to celebrate their arrival to the game.
The 8.0.0. update released with Spring Man's logo on the LCD screen in Spring Stadium incorrectly being Springtron's. This was fixed in the 8.1.0. update, but is still fully visible in "Mr. Sakurai Presents Min Min".
Some information on the roster was leaked by GameFAQs user Vergeben. Prior to the E3 2018 reveal, he stated everyone from 3DS/Wii U would return, and that Ridley would finally become playable, alongside Simon from Castlevania. Post-E3, he'd mention Isabelle, Ken, and Incineroar as playable before their official reveals. Before E3 2019, he leaked Banjo and Erdrick, though the latter was actually a Palette Swap of the Dragon Quest XI hero. Vergeben also claimed that Minecraft content would arrive in the game, although this claim would not be confirmed until over two years later, when Steve was confirmed as the second fighter in the Fighters Pass Vol. 2.
ResetEra administrator Shinobi teased Banjo & Kazooie days before they were officially announced.
There was actually a leak◊ for the three final pre-Fighters Pass characters, including Piranha Plant, more than a month before the final pre-launch Smash Direct, though it didn't circulate until after the Direct.
On the night before the August 8, 2018 Direct, Nintendo accidentally posted the then-recently uploaded "Galaga Medley" with the title of "Bloody Tears/Monster Dance" on Ultimate's website, which spoiled that Castlevania was getting some form of representation.
On September 21, 2018, this image◊ of Ken was posted on 4chan that caused a lot of debate on whether or not it was real, especially since the Ken model was never traced back to any existing ones, and the screenshot appears to contain graphical oddities that have been observed in demo builds. Sure enough, the November 1st, 2018 Direct not only confirmed Ken, but the model from the pic as well.
Two weeks before the release day, the entire game, including the Final Boss, was leaked onto the internet thanks to Nintendo sending early copies to a Mexican mom-and-pop store that ended up selling it prematurely, and was able to be illegally downloaded from online.
On March 30, 2019, Best Buy's website featured an ad for the Fighters Pass which included a never-before-seen Joker render. It was removed later the next day, which blatantly confirmed it was his official render placed in the ad by mistake.
On April 9, 2019, a TV ad for the game briefly showed Stage Builder on a menu screen in the background, a mode which had since been missing from launch and was later confirmed to be added in the 3.0.0 update.
Microsoft listed Nintendo's E3 2019 Direct on their E3 2019 schedule, cluing people in that something pertaining to them would be revealed in the Direct, which turned out to be Banjo & Kazooie in Smash.
On July 26, 2019, 8 spirits of characters from Dragon Quest were found to have been uploaded on Ultimate's spirit database.
On September 1, 2019, a copyright for SNK was added to the page for Challenger Pack 4 on Nintendo of Europe's website. The day after, multiple leakers that included Vergeben and Sabi claimed that it would be TerryBogard, which was verified in the September 4th, 2019 Nintendo Direct.
In the August 8, 2018 Nintendo Direct, Sakurai said that the Castlevania series was very popular with the music team. Hence the reason why "Dracula's Castle", the sole Castlevania stage, contains a whopping 34 music tracks, 12 of which are new remixes.
He also declared that Mega Man was popular with the composers as well, and one person, Takeshi Kuramochi, single-handedly swelled the library of Fire Emblem remixes.
Ridley's down taunt (the one where he stands up straight) is one of Sakurai's favorites from this game.
Min Min's inclusion as a fighter was specifically requested by ARMS producer Kosuke Yabuki, as she's his favorite character.
Sakurai has a lot of respect for SNK's games, and SNK likewise hold his endeavors in high regard. Sakurai sent a list of songs for them to approve of, expecting them to approve at most 20... and SNK approved every single one on the list with little to no hesitation. So when Terry Bogard was added to Smash, the King of Fighters Stadium was given not just several fully-modeled cameo characters from across the shared settings of KoF, Fatal Fury, Art of Fighting, Psycho Soldier and Ikari Warriors, but was given 50 music tracks, with 17 of them being new remixes.
On Christmas Day, 2018, so many people tried to download the game at once that many reported having to wait up to 6 hours before the download finished.
Within seconds of the 3.0 update (which includes Joker and the stage builder) the server immediately overloaded due to many people trying to update the game at once. It also managed to take down the eShop for everyone as well since many people were trying to buy either the Joker DLC or Fighters Pass.
The announcement of Steve/Alex caused Twitter to crash within seconds for a few minutes.
Back in Brawl, Ridley was planned to be an Assist Trophy, before being converted into a boss. The similarly-draconic Rathalos appears as an Assist Trophy and a boss.
Ditto was planned to be a Poké Ball Pokémon all the way back in Melee, but was scrapped due to difficulties getting it to work. 17 years later, Ditto finally ended up appearing in Ultimate, functioning exactly how it was planned to in Melee (transforming into an AI controlled copy of the player who summoned it).
Banjo's backpack has a flap that opens at the bottom, as seen when using Talon Trot and Grenade Egg. This was something his designer Steve Mayles had wanted to include since the first Banjo-Kazooie.
Ninjara spends the second most amount of time with the envelope before he loses it, which reflects how close he was to becoming a fully playable character; Sakurai, when talking about why Min Min was picked, said that his choices were down to Min Min or Ninjara, with Min Min winning out due to ARMS producer Kosuke Yabuki telling Sakurai he wanted her in.
Rex didn't make the cut for Ultimate because Xenoblade Chronicles 2 came out well after the roster was decided on. The trailer for Pyra and Mythra makes a jab at this when Pyra reveals her invite, with Rex saying that he was originally gonna be in Smash.
Masahiro Sakurai fought tooth and nail to get every single fighter back for Ultimate; re-securing the rights to all the third-party characters and songs, in particular, was the hardest part, but he and the team were able to do it.
Grant Kirkhope had to redo his remix track for Spiral Mountain 12 times before he finally got a satisfying result, since he normally has a difficult time revisiting older songs he's composed.
When Sakurai's staff went to SNK for approval of selected songs from their game library to come with Terry, 50 of them were proposed with the prospect that an amount between 10 and 20 would make the cut. They gave the OK to every single one of them. As a result, Fatal Fury, or rather, SNK collectively (via the representation of The King of Fighters, Alpha Mission, Athena, Psycho Soldier, Art of Fighting, Samurai Shodown, Ikari Warriors and Metal Slug) has the most amount of music for a DLC and third-party franchise and the third most amount of music available for any given franchise in the game so far, only losing out to Mario and Fire Emblem.
To accommodate for the Minecraft characters' unusual playstyle, Sakurai and his team actually went back and altered the programming of every other stage in the game.
Due to Pneuma lacking any existing official artwork, Masatsugu Saito drew an exclusive illustration for her spirit. In addition, Sakurai entrusted Pyra and Mythra's reveal trailer to Monolith Soft, to keep authenticity.
With Jump Force, due to being a crossover fighting game of Shonen Jump works while Ultimate is a crossover fighting game featuring the characters from Nintendo's video game series and other related works. Plus, both games were announced at E3 2018, and were released on competing consoles (Ultimate is exclusive to the Nintendo Switch, while Jump Force instead was released on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One with no set release on the Switch itself at the time, until 2020 when it would end up coming to the Switch).
To a lesser extent, BlazBlue: Cross Tag Battle. Both games are easy to play Massive Multiplayer Crossover fighter games with characters from various franchises (though in BB:CTB's case just multiple characters fromfourdifferentfranchises compared to Ultimate) being released almost six months apart from each other and unlike Jump Force it was also ported to the Nintendo Switch but not Xbox One. It also features characters and franchises that were involved with by two different creators that died in the same year of 2015 (Satoru Iwata for Ultimate and Monty Oum for BB:CTB, though the former had a much more lasting impact than the latter).
Sakurai originally had no plans to alter Wii Fit Trainer's appearance, but the Wii Fit devs requested that he update her face.
According to Sakurai's book published in 2019, DLC was planned without the developers' will.
One of the reasons why MaiShiranui wasn't included with the rest of the SNK cameos was because CERO's (Japan's equivalent of the ESRB) restrictions prevented her from appearing in a game rated for all ages.
When Nintendo initially brought up the idea of putting Steve into the game, Sakurai relented in the grounds that implementing the character while being true to their roots would be difficult. Nintendo then asked him to try anyway.
Ridley's announcement trailer carried the slogan "Ridley Hits the Big Time!", playfully referencing how the character was considered "too big" for Smash and would be unlikely to be included for that reason. His Palutena's Guidance even begins with Pit excitedly screaming out "RIDLEY CONFIRMED!", much like the general fan reaction.
It was assumed by some fans, due to the team fighting style of Duck Hunt and one of their alternate palettes, that the two were a very obvious stand-in for the titular duo of Banjo-Kazooie. Banjo & Kazooie's release trailer for this game references this, with Duck Hunt impersonating the two as a prank before being knocked away by Banjo and Kazooie making an entrance. The first fight for Banjo & Kazooie's Classic Mode also has them fight Duck Hunt with a palette swap resembling their colors on Spiral Mountain.
Byleth's trailer has Sothis asking "Too many swordsmen, are there?", referencing a common jab at the roster.
The Crack Pairing of Sephiroth and Pichu almost immediately took off due to the proximity of the two on the website's banner mural. A couple weeks after Sephiroth was revealed, Sakurai uploaded this image to twitter seemingly showing Sephiroth defending Pichu from attackers.
King K. Rool has been called "the true Smash Ballot winner" due to Sakurai mentioning his popularity in the 3DS/Wii U ballot, and how suspicious some fans were of Bayonetta's Dark Horse Victory in that poll.
With the far-reaching Massive Multiplayer Crossover that seems to grow even more with each new announcement, Ultimate itself is playfully called "Video Games: The Video Game".
A few fans have nicknamed the Piranha Plant either "Audrey" or "Planty". Plant is also common.
After the infamous "World of Light" trailer was released, many took to calling this game "Super Smash Bros.: Infinity War".
The Adventure Mode intro's heavy focus on Kirby, as well as a theme song that sounds like it came straight from his anime and a villain that would fit right in on Pop Star, earned the mode the unofficial title of "Kirby and the World of Light". This nickname has only been reinforced by the release of the game, as the mode turns out to feature Marx as a boss and has a secondprimary villain who also would be in good company with Kirby's Rogues Gallery.
While the second major overworld level in Adventure Mode is officially known as "The Dark Realm", many players have taken to calling it the "World of Dark" to contrast the "World of Light".
The Lariat that Incineroar throws on a successful Alolan Whip results in the receiver taking a really violent hit to the neck, chin, or face. Several nicknames can apply here such as "Guillotine", "Necksnapper", "Jawbreaker", and "Facesmasher".
As if the sudden inclusion of Piranha Plant wasn't ridiculous enough, the players who picked it as a main like to kick it up by just calling it "Plant" and the people who play it the "Plant Gang". Some also refer to Ivysaur as a part of the Plant Gang, due to its typing.
One of Joker's possible stances while firing his gun has him spin in mid-air while shooting downwards. The competitive community proceeded to nickname this move "Rainstorm". Even more hilarity ensues when one realizes how much of Joker's pre-existing moveset is nearly similar to that of Dante's.
The Erdrick alt for Hero has inevitably been called "Goku" by many people, due to the resemblance between the two as a result of Akira Toriyama having designed both. The Luminary default and Solo alt have also been called "Android 17" and "Trunks" for similar reasons.
Some refer to Terry Bogard as "Hat Ken", either intentionally because of the physical similarities to Ken or because they forgot his name.
Byleth's down special is referred to as the "Warlock Axe", since, mechanically, it's basically Ganondorf's Warlock Punch, but in the form of an overhead axe swing. Because it's an overhead swing that's mechanically like the Warlock Punch, it's also been referred to as the "Warlock Doriyah," since it's a combination between two of Ganondorf's most iconic moves, his neutral special, and his Ultimate forward smash.
Due to the Steve being a case of Aerith and Bob, most fans of Smash Bros. who aren't big into Minecraft refer to Steve as "Minecraft Steve".
When the Enderman was made playable, their limbs were shortened by about half in order to work with the Steve/Alex model. Various nicknames have sprouted up to refer to this shorter individual, such as EnderBoy, Endermanlet, EnderWee, and Gary.
Downloadable Mii Costumes that completely replace the Mii's head, might come with a music track and a more elaborate presentation in the Mii Costume showcase, and are followed by Sakurai talking about them after the Mii Costume showcases in Sakurai Presentations are referred to by fans as "Deluxe", "Premium", or "PreMiiUm" Mii Costumes, the latter two despite the costumes not costing more.
"Down-Aerith" for Sephiroth's Down Air, AKA Hell's Gate, due to how it resembles how he infamously killed Aerith.
Kirby's Sephiroth hat has been referred to as "Edgeworth Kirby" due to Sephiroth's hair looking more like the latter's on Kirby.
Near the end of the E3 2018 presentation, Sakurai said "We made including every single fighter ever our number one goal, so I'm kind of hoping you aren't expecting too many new challengers..." right before revealing Ridley. In the subsequent weeks, many video game news outlets took this to mean that the full roster had already been revealed in that presentation, and that Ridley would be the last new fighter. This was proved wrong in the following months, with an additional eight fighters slowly being announced as joining the base game, and at least six more to be included as DLC.
Inverted one time when Sakurai stated right after the August 2018 Direct not to expect as much of a bonanza after that showing. Fans thought he was lying and that he was going to do the opposite and reveal a huge swathe of characters, culminating in the Grinch hoax. Turned out Sakurai didn't lie.
A quote circulated after Joker's reveal seeming to show that Reggie Fils-Aime said that all of the Fighters Pass DLC characters would, like Joker, be from series never before seen in Smash, seemingly disconfirming basically every current major Nintendo franchise and also any further fighters from all current third-party franchises in Smash. In reality, his quote from the post-Joker reveal was that all of the DLC characters would be new to Smash itself, and they would be just as unexpected as Joker, like Dragon Quest's Hero was for Japan and Banjo-Kazooie's Banjo & Kazooie were to Western audiences. This also applies to Nintendo characters whose series are in the base game, like Fire Emblem's Byleth.
Many people say that Sakurai based the user interface off of Persona 5 and that the game was the main influence for Ultimate's UI design. This got more common after the reveal of Joker. Sakurai never said anything like that, he simply praised the UI of the game stating that it would probably win a game UI contest by a mile. Tellingly, he also mentions Pokémon GO as an example of good game UI and yet no one ever mentions that game when talking about Ultimate's UI. There was also minor confusion that the game took some influence from Persona 5's aesthetic (with the player color, black, and white victory screens and the Super Move Portrait Attack during the Final Smashes) but he never said anything on the manner.
Online, tons of people have used made-up rules (often called "fanrules") as reasons why a particular character "can't" or "won't" be added to Ultimate. The only rule Sakurai has given is "no fourth-parties" (i.e. all characters have to either be from a video game, or be significant to gaming like R.O.B.), but a casual perusal of Discord servers, Twitter, and any other online gathering place will show people saying characters can't be made playable in the game for reasons like "only appearing in one game" (in spite of several characters who fit this criteria, like Ness, Ice Climbers, Lucas, and Duck Hunt already being playable), "being a Spirit, Assist Trophy, or Mii costume" (Spirits deconfirming was shot down with Min Min in the second pass and, as many have pointed out, lots of popular characters are both playable and have a Mii costume based on them, though people still argue post-launch spirits and DLC costumes—especially those bundled with a song—are off the table as they would've been saved for a character otherwise), "their aesthetic clashing with the game" (despite there being all sorts of characters ranging from cartoony to realistic in the roster, and even a character who is two-dimensional), "not having moveset potential" (in a Famitsu column, Sakurai shot this one down) or "not being well-known by the Smash fandom and/or general public" (this was also discredited by Sakurai in "Mr. Sakurai Presents "Terry Bogard"", where he said "whether or not the character is fun to play as is more important than whether the character is new or old, or whether the character is recognizable to everyone").
During the announcement of more DLC beyond the first Fighters Pass, Sakurai said that more DLC fighters would mean adding more worlds to the game. As had happened when Reggie stated the Fighters Pass characters would be new to Smash, many once again took this as all post-Fighters Pass 1 DLC would continue to solely be third-party characters, disconfirming all Nintendo franchises. In reality, Source Gaming's PushDustIn had his own translation of the statement conducted, actually meaning that every time DLC is added to the game, its scope increases. The third-party assumption would later be proven false with both the last member of the first Fighters Pass, Byleth, and the first member of the second Fighters Pass, Min Min.
After it was announced that there would be more DLC characters after the Fighters Pass, many interpreted this as an announcement of a second Fighters Pass, despite there being nothing in either the September 2019 Direct or "Mr. Sakurai Presents "Banjo & Kazooie"" that suggested that the new fighters would be in a bundle. However, this turned out to be the case, as demonstrated with the announcement of Fighters Pass Vol. 2 at the tail end of "Mr. Sakurai Presents "Byleth"".
When Sakurai said that the DLC characters were chosen by Nintendo and he decides if they can create a fighter based on them, people interpreted it that Nintendo gave Sakurai a list of characters to choose from. However, the wording didn't suggest that, and he later said that the characters were not decided by him.
When the game was first released with the DLC packs underway, it was implied early on that characters that appeared as Spirits in the game would not be considered eligible for promotion to fighting as a character in-game, due to the context of how Spirits came to be. It continued to be the case until Wave 2's first fighter revealed was Min Min, a character whose Spirit was already confirmed as a Spirit to fight against in-gamenote Initially with female Corrin representing Min Min before the character's release.. With Min Min's inclusion, it opened up a second chance for characters that made it as Spirits only to appear as a fighter in Ultimate.
The whole segment after Steve's trailer where Sakurai briefly talked about the character's development was often twisted, either to things like "Sakurai being held at gunpoint to make Steve" or "Sakurai not liking the character". What he actually meant was that he didn't originally agree on doing the character simply because Sakurai believed that doing something true to his roots would take much, much too long. He also cites how characters aren't just simply added, as there are many parameters to consider, like how they interact with other existing characters, stages, and the like. In addition, he pointed out that he plays Minecraft himself in the announcement so it would be very strange not to like someone he knows that he could project himself into.
People often quote Sakurai as saying Sephiroth is the "second most" iconic video game villain after Bowser, which resulted in fans debating whether or not that was true. What he actually said in "Mr. Sakurai Presents Sephiroth" is that Sephiroth is one of the most well-known video game villains aside from Bowser, which is more broadly worded.
Many people expected that the Inklings would be among the first, if not the first newcomer announced for the next iteration of Smash, due to the immense popularity of Splatoon. The Inklings were the first confirmed characters for Ultimate alongside series staples Mario and Link, although actual gameplay for the characters wasn't shown off until E3 2018.
When Link's silhouette was shown in the Inkling teaser, many people assumed that the character had been updated to reflect The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and if so, that he would also have his Tunic of the Wild as an alternate outfit in order to still represent the classic green outfit. Both things checked out come E3 2018.
Since the Ice Climbers were cut from Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U solely due to issues making their duality gimmick work on the 3DS, fans assumed that the fifth Smash game would bring them back by virtue of releasing on stronger hardware. Sure enough, when the E3 2018 presentation revealed them, nobody was surprised (but many were still excited).
Many people were expecting Dark Samus to be an Echo Fighter for Samus, due to a suspicious absence of both her Assist Trophy and Samus' Dark Samus outfit. Chrom was also expected, due to Robin's Final Smash not being shown off in his/her character videonote Amusingly, Robin's Final Smash is ultimately unchanged, and this was never officially revealed in any previews for the game. They were both confirmed on the 2018/8/8 Smash Direct, and Sakurai even teased those who made these predictions, saying "You may have seen this coming" immediately after revealing them.
Fans had been expecting Simon Belmont as a newcomer as far back as Super Smash Bros. Brawl, both due to fellow Konami fighter Solid Snake appearing in that game and due to Simon's home series having appeared more often on Nintendo consoles than the latter's. Snake's return and fellow Konami character Bomberman's introduction as an Assist Trophy made the anticipation even greater. This all culminated in an incident on August 7, 2018 where the Galaga medley sample on the official Super Smash Bros.YouTube account accidentally got renamed "Bloody Tears/Monster Dance" before being changed back. Simon ended up getting his introduction trailer during the Smash Bros. Direct the next day.
Fans were predicting that several characters who got DLC Mii Costumes in the previous game were ballot consolation prizesnote especially with the implications of Bayonetta being planned before the Ballot ended and that most of them would appear in the next game as playable. The Inklings were confirmed as the first newcomers in March 2018, Chrom and King K. Rool were confirmed in August, and Isabelle was confirmed in September. Out of the remaining Mii Costumes, only Lloyd currently remains without an appearance in the game.
Sakurai has left multiple statements indicating that characters (including veterans like Snake and newcomers like Chrom and Dark Samus) are included by "popular demand". While some speculated that these were Smash Ballot choices, it wasn't until Sakurai released a column in Famitsu after the August 2018 Nintendo Direct that he officially revealed that the Smash Ballot greatly influenced the roster for Ultimate. Before that, Nintendo had also promised that they would use the ballot for future Smash games.
Isabelle's absence as an Assist Trophy, popularity in the Ballot, and Mii costume in the previous game led to people correctly guessing that she would be a newcomer for the game. While most people thought she would be an Echo Fighter, at least one person accurately guessed she'd be a unique fighternote well, unique enough to not be considered an Echo Fighter, at least.
The hidden mode from the August 2018 Direct being called "Spirits" and involving all or most of the characters getting killed was a foregone conclusion since Sakurai first teased at it, with many piecing it together from the blurred text and the trend of characters dying in the past few reveal trailers.
Considering Ultimate's focus on Echo Fighters and the fact that Ken Masters is the original Shotoclone, it was taken for granted that he would be revealed as Ryu's Echo Fighter. Sakurai even references the above-mentioned fact that Ken is the original clone in fighting games.
Many people guessed that Incineroar and Ken would share a reveal trailer due to both of them being fire-based physical fighters and Smash Bros. generally having a fire-based theme. And since both Ken and Incineroar are combat-based fighters, many also guessed that their reveal trailer would be set in the Boxing Ring.
As The Game Awards 2018 were airing literally just hours before the game released, it was thought that Nintendo would unveil the first DLC character from the Fighters Pass at the event as a final surprise before the launch. Sure enough, "Challenger Pack 1" was unveiled during the event, with Joker being announced as well.
After it was shown that Stage Builder was removed, there has been speculation about it being added back in an update. Nintendo leaked its return via a commercial posted on April 9, 2019.
It was theorized that since Bayonetta came with her iconic handguns, Sakurai may have loosened up on the use of realistic firearms after Brawl. Sure enough, this was proven true once Joker was shown using his pistol.
Many people expected female Inkling to represent Futabas Spirit due to their resemblance to each other.
Due to the Dragon Quest series being the Trope Maker for the Eastern RPG, a personal favorite of Sakurai's, and having an updated version of Dragon Quest XI coming to the Switch in 2019, observers expected a Dragon Quest character to be added as DLC. They also correctly guessed that the Slime would be represented by Kirby in its Spirit Battle.
Due to Nintendo and Microsoft having arranged a partnership with each other involving the Xbox Live Service and the porting of Microsoft-owned games like Minecraft to the Switch, there were theories that this would lead to a Microsoft-owned character showing up. Most assumed it would be Banjo and Kazooie due to that series' history with Nintendo. This came to pass when the two were revealed at E3 2019. Everyone knew that Spiral Mountain would be Banjo & Kazooie's home stage. People also predicted that they would use expendable items in their moveset (they get five Gold Feathers, used to perform Wonderwing, per stock), that the Mighty Jinjonator would be their Final Smash, and that Donkey Kong Country characters (fellow Rare creations) or Duck Hunt (a similar "mammal and bird" duo) would appear in their trailer.
A 2019 video ad that showcased upcoming July Switch releases, and also featured a snippet of Hero's gameplay, was later hastily changed to say "Summer", which had most fans believing this accidentally tipped off a release within the month for Hero. They turned out to be correct once he was launched on the 30th.
A dataminer had uncovered 16 dummy character slots among the files for World Of Light, with 6 of them seemingly being used by Piranha Plant and the Fighters Pass characters (although it was revealed that Hero and Banjo & Kazooie don't use up said slots). A select few believed that this meant there would be more DLC planned after the Fighters Pass, and this was confirmed to be the case after Terry was revealed.
People have been using post-release Spirit Events as a measure for whether a title would get in as a DLC fighter. After all, logic dictates that if that character is a DLC, then its spirits wouldn't be featured as a standalone event. Indeed, many games for the Nintendo Switch have Spirit Events to commemorate their release. And yet surprisingly enough, Fire Emblem: Three Houses never got one. Sure enough, Byleth, the main protagonist of Three Houses, appears in Ultimate as the final character in the first Fighters Pass.
Most fans expected the Fighters Pass format to continue in 2020 onward. This is indeed the case, as Fighters Pass 2 was announced within Byleth's showcase.
There was the assumption that Fighters Pass 2 would be the final phase of DLC, despite Sakurai not explicitly saying so during the presentation for Byleth. He later confirmed it in a Famitsu column article in February 2020.
Due to her massive popularity amongst both the staff and fans, as well as having won the ARMS Party Crash Bash over Ninjara, many fans have called Min Min being the ARMS fighter prior to her reveal.
Several fans assumed that since Spirits are a replacement for trophies, this wouldn't prevent any of them from getting a character promotion like Mewtwo and Lucas in 4. Min Min becoming playable removed all doubt over this.
For a good while, some fans argued the possibility that any character that already had a piece of art used for their spirit could simply use a different one, should they become playable. This was proven after Min Min's launch, as her fighter spirit makes use of a drawing that showcased her before ARMS launched.
Alex was expected to arrive as an alt skin for Steve long before he was confirmed as playable.
Kirby's Steve hat was theorized by some fans to just be Kirby, but in Minecraft's signature voxel style. The Steve presentation shows that this is indeed the case.
Due to the relative lack of gaming/Smash news on Nintendo's part during November and early December 2020, some fans assumed that there would be a fighter reveal being prepared for that year's Game Awards, like with Joker two years prior. That came true, as the announcement for it was posted several hours before the event would start.
The topic of specific noteworthy series coming with an oddly minimal amount of content in the base game was an extended debate, as that could have supposedly pointed to the arrival of more content from them such as fighters and spirits as DLC. This was eventually confirmed with Final Fantasy VII's Sephiroth coming via Fighters Pass 2, adding more content to bare bones material from that game. He was soon followed up by Xenoblade Chronicles 2's Pyra and Mythra, whose game had a relatively lacking amount of content compared to the first Xenoblade in the base game.
Barrett and Tifa were expected to receive Mii costumes, which they did with Sephiroth's arrival.
For a good while, Fighters Pass 2 was seen by fans as an opportunity for Sakurai to finally add playable Xenoblade Chronicles 2 representation after missing out on the base roster, even if it wasn't Rex. In addition, at least one fan near-accurately theorized how Pyra & Mythra might function as fighters.
A few fans assumed that the Monster Hunter Mii costumes would return from the previous game, for the sake of promoting Monster Hunter: Rise. Ditto in regards to a spirit event.
Technical issues displaying Rex and Pyra/Mythra at the same time as duo fighters (particularly the amount of detail that their designs would be required to render at once) was correctly theorised as the main determining factor behind the former being passed over and settling for the latter.
Killer App: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was positioned as the keystone for Nintendo's holiday 2018 season, and it not only moved many Switch units when it launched but also sold so many copies itself that within just 4 months (13.81 million worldwide by then) it became the best-selling Fighting Game of all time.
This Nintendo Versus tweet announcing Richter's debut in Ultimate says "Enough talk! Have at you!" in reference to one of Dracula's lines from the infamous dialogue between Richter and Dracula in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. The announcement of the Castlevania-themed event for the Spirit Board also riffs on this line.
This Nintendo UK VS tweet wishes luck to all the European players at the Genesis Smash tournament... with a picture depicting four King Dededes on Battlefield-form Summit, referencing the "European players are penguins" meme that started just days prior.
This Nintendo Versus tweet mentions the Plant Gang, Piranha Plant mains' term for themselves.
Octopath Traveler was released July 13, 2018, with a Spirit Event for the game planned for July 10-15, 2020.
Missing Trailer Scene: The dialogue for Joker's reveal trailer at The Game Awards 2018 is different at the beginning from the version released on the Smash Bros. website. The Game Awards trailer has Joker mentioning he's infiltrated the Awards Show and the rest of his team are shocked he ran off alone until Morgana explains why. The online version removes all mentions of The Game Awards.
Joker: This is Joker, I've infiltrated the theater. Ryuji: Wait, seriously?! He went alone to The Game Awards?! Ann: But it's so far away, why is he there?
Joker: This is Joker, the mission is go. Ryuji: Wait a second! You mean...he went alone?! Ann: What's so important that he'd run off by himself?
Newbie Boom: As a running theme among first-party titles to the Nintendo Switch, this game brought in a whole ton of fans that had never played a Smash Bros. game before due to the hype train surrounding it before release and the Switch's install base, which has led to the game selling nearly Brawl's lifetime sales in a month. This has led to a lot of people experiencing many of the things that for 3DS/Wii U introduced. The boom was especially apparent in Japan, where the series had been decently popular but not nearly as popular as it was in North America; Ultimate managed to outsell the lifetime sales of the previous Japanese best-seller (for 3DS at about 2.5 million) in a bit over a month.
No Budget: According to Sakurai, the budget for the DLC characters' gameplay overviews practically ran out after Joker's flashy trailer, which is how the "mock livestream" setup, "Mr. Sakurai Presents", came about for the gameplay overviews for Hero, Banjo & Kazooie, Terry, Byleth, and a special, at home under quarantine set-up for Min Min and Steve. Fan reactions to this new setup have been very positive regardless.
The Sakurai Presentations for Min Min, Steve, Sephiroth, and the Pyra/Mythra duo are not dubbed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic making things very complicated for translators, resulting in subtitles being added to all presentations outside of Japan, as opposed to outside of Japan and English-speaking countries. This also extends to their crowd cheers (barring Pyra and Mythra due to their Dub Name Change); while Min Min, Zombie, and Sephiroth can get away with it, Steve, Alex, and Enderman's crowd cheers sound too much like "Stivu!", "Alesu!", and "Endamon!" to be from native English speakers.
From a character standpoint, Cloud is still voiced by Takahiro Sakurai due to Steve Burton's complicated contractual issues stemming from him being part of a union and the Smash dub being a non-union work. Meanwhile, Sephiroth is voiced by his Japanese voice actor Toshiyuki Morikawa, rather than English VAs Lance Bass, George Newbern, or Tyler Hoechlin.
While Lyn is played by Lani Minella in Smash games, all English Fire Emblem media starting with Fire Emblem Heroes (which was released after For 3DS/Wii U) has her played by Wendee Lee. Since Ultimate opted to recycle voice clips from previous games instead of updating them, Lyn is once again played by Minella.note Wendee Lee is still in the credits, however.
Zelda and Sheik are now voiced by Ayumi Fujimura (reprising her role as Zelda from A Link Between Worlds) rather than Jun Mizusawa. For a brief moment in the English World of Light introduction, Zelda is voiced by Brandy Kopp as well.
Dayci Brookshire takes over Hynden Walch's role as Viridi. In addition to recording all of Viridi's lines during the new Palutena's Guidance conversations, Brookshire also redubbed all of Viridi's old dialogue from Smash 4.
While Takashi Nagasako does return to replace Hironori Miyata as the voice of Ganondorf, he does not do so for his other major role as Donkey Kong, whom he voices in most games outside of the Smash series, with DK once again using his realistic gorilla roars from previous entries. This also applies to Bowser, Diddy, and King K. Rool, who all utilize Stock Sound Effects instead of being voiced by Kenny James, Katsumi Suzuki, and Toshihide Tsuchiya respectively.
Billy Bob Thompson takes over for Michele Knotz as the male Pokémon Trainer, though Knotz still reprises Squirtle in the roster. Additionally, Ivysaur is now voiced by Justin Anselmi rather than Craig Blair in English, and by Inuko Inuyama (replacing the late Tomoko Kawakami) in Japanese. In the Italian version, Tania Di Domenico replaces Francesca Giudice as Pokémon Trainer.
Incineroar is voiced in Japanese by Unshō Ishizuka, who died of esophageal cancer 4 months before the release of Ultimate.
Colonel Roy Campbell appears in the game via reused codec calls from Brawl. His Japanese voice actor, Takeshi Aono, died of a stroke in 2012. His passing is a heavily cited reason as to why there are no new codecs, since this was the exact reason why Campbell was retired from the series.
Pre-Order Bonus: Of a sort: from December 17 - 22, 2020, players who purchased the Sephiroth DLC or Fighters Pass Vol. 2 could play the Sephiroth Challenge, which features him as a boss. If they cleared the challenge, they could play him and his stage before the general release on December 22, 2020.
An accidental example - the Masked Man Spirit used a fan-made sprite prior to Version 2.0.0, which was replaced by his canon sprite in that patch.
Abby Trott, the singer of the English version of "Lifelight", is a life-long fan of Nintendo and said that she cried when she was told that the song was for Smash.
Likewise, Erina Koga, the singer for the Japanese version of "Lifelight" was also a fan of Smash via playing as Kirby. She didn't actually know Sakurai created Kirby until she looked him up after meeting him in person.
According to Sakurai, it was a dream for Yūki Kaji, the voice actor for Eight, to provide voicework for both Dragon Quest and Smash Bros. Kaji was more than happy to express his excitement on Twitter.
Sakurai himself used to play many SNK games in Japanese arcades and on the Neo-Geo, and the presentation video for Terry makes it very obvious that Sakurai is very ecstatic to be working with the characters from the games he grew up playing so much and eager to go over the games' history.
Zach Aguilar, the voice of male Byleth, said that it was a dream come true to voice him in Smash Bros.
Ditto was originally supposed to implemented as a Poké Ball Pokémon as far back as Melee, but hardware limitations prevented it from being used. Ditto was finally implemented once the Switch had the processing power to have it transform into a duplicate AI partner of the player.
The plot of World of Light is one of the ideas that Sakurai had for Brawl's Subspace Emissary.
Ultimate is the first game in which the English voice of Fox isn't recast. Mike West not only returns, but Sakurai confirmed that all of his dialogue was re-recorded, indicating he's aware of the poor reception to West's voice acting in the previous game and the subsequent vast improvement he made for Star Fox Zero.
Jay Ward returns from Brawl to voice Wolf in Ultimate (not using his VA in Star Fox 64 3D and Star Fox Zero). However he voices him with a new style - with a slightly deeper and rougher voice rather than having a Southern drawl.
In English, at least, this is also the first time the announcer and Master Hand weren't recast, with Xander Mobus returning from the 3DS/Wii U game to voice them once again after every other game gave them different voice actors.
Haruna Takatsu reprises her role as Min Min for Ultimate as well.
While all Captain Falcon's dialogue by Ryo Horikawa has been in place since 64 (including the then-unused Final Smash quote), he was asked to record new dialogue for the first time in 22 years for Min Min's trailer, specifically for Captain Falcon eating and slurping ramen noodles.
Toshiyuki Morikawa returns as the Japanese voice of Sephiroth; much like Cloud before him, this applies to Sephiroth's appearances in all regions in the game. This continues the trend set since Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children was released in 2005, 15 years before Sephiroth's inclusion as a playable fighter.
In one of Sakurai's Famitsu Columns, he mentioned that it was either very expensive or very difficult to secure the rights to some of the music for a worldwide release. While he didn't say which franchises were affected by this, most people conclude that is the reason why the Final Fantasy and Sonic the Hedgehog franchises in particular have a limited amount of songs in the game. Similarly, this was also assumed for the Dragon Quest songs after Hero was released, due to the songs in the game only being in MIDI format, and their composer Koichi Sugiyama being infamously difficult to work with. In the presentation for Sephiroth, Sakurai states that which songs and how many can be featured in Super Smash Bros. depends on getting the approval by the company or companies that hold the copyright and, in some cases, in every region, and confirms this as the reason why Final Fantasy has had a very limited selection of songs in for Wii U / 3DS and Ultimate (initially, as with Sephiroth's inclusion, the franchise has an additional nine songs).
Among the very few songs from Brawl not returning for Ultimate are Checker Knights, which was originally from the anime Kirby: Right Back at Ya!, and all of the Strawberry Flower songs for the Pikmin stages, which no doubt would have carried a fatter price tag than the songs owned wholly by Nintendo.
While in his livestream, Sakurai stated that there would be no music from the original Minecraft because the music in that game was "too relaxing", elsewhere he's alluded to other issues leading to the omission. Given that the original Minecraft has a community-made soundtrack with contributions from numerous composers, it's likely the licensing and royalty complications were at the very least a contributing factor.
Serendipity Writes the Plot: The original idea for a Xenoblade Chronicles 2 fighter was to have Rex and Pyra/Mythra fight together, but it turned out to be rather complex to implement within the game's limitations, so that idea was scrapped in favor of just Pyra/Mythra.
Spoiled by the Merchandise: Infamously, after Isabelle was revealed, the box for the Special Edition was unveiled, showing off every fighter revealed thus far (except for Isabelle) on the sides. Because of the way the characters were organized, it implied that only two characters were left to be revealed, with one of them being an Echo Fighter of one fighter from a specific set of characters. People figured out that the two missing characters were Ken and Incineroar, which the leaker Vergeben later confirmed.
Xander Mobus returns as the Announcer and Master & Crazy Hand, and reprises his role as Joker, while Jun Fukuyama (who already plays Roy in Japanese) reprises as Joker as well. This marks the first time the voice actor of Master Hand shares a role with another member of the roster.
Ikue Otani voices both Pikachu (in all regions) and Morgana (in Japanese).
Billy Bob Thompson now voices the male Pokémon Trainer, as well as Greninja.
Brandy Kopp voices both Palutena and Zelda (though the latter only in the World of Light cutscene).
Sakurai noted during an interview that the reversibility of the World of Light's Japanese title to refer to Kirby note 灯火の星/Hoshi no Kabi. Kabi being the Japanese pronunciation of Kirby, meaning if you reversed the order of the characters, it could be read as "Kirby of the Stars" was a coincidence, but one that they did notice during development and ultimately left in.
In a less intentional case, the "Don't be late. [S]" message in Terry's reveal trailer actually stemmed from an in-joke among the staff, with the "S" in brackets standing for Sakurai. The man himself was quite embarrassed when he found out that it was left in, and he stated that the "S" could also mean Super Smash Bros.
Trolling Creator: In a jab at fans who complain that there are "too many anime sword-users," Byleth is initially shown off in his/her trailer using only sword attacks alongside other sword-wielders to fool those fans into thinking that he/she is just another generic Fire Emblem character. To show that Nintendo is well aware of this complaint, Sothis wryly remarks, "Too many swordsmen, are there?" and only after that is it revealed that Byleth can actually use a variety of different weapons.
Why Fandom Can't Have Nice Things: Nintendo went nuclear when Smash Ultimate was leaked more than two weeks ahead of schedule, striking down YouTube channels (such as that of longtime game soundtrack uploader Crunchii) that uploaded music videos, Classic and World of Light videos, and generally a wide assortment of Smash footage.