'Smash Ultimate' Basics: How to Play Nintendo's Popular Fighting Game

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is out now for Nintendo Switch and while it's the biggest game in the franchise's history, many of its mechanics have stayed the same.

However, there are plenty of newcomers to the fight with this brand new title.

Here's a simple guide to the basic controls for fighting in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

super smash bros ultimate e3 screen
'Super Smash Bros Ultimate' will release on Dec. 7 Nintendo


The basics of Smash Ultimate are relatively simple. You can move around using the analog sticks and dash by double tapping the sticks left or right. To jump, you can hold the analog stick up or press the Y or X button.

Blocking can be done by holding down the ZR or ZL button. A bubble will appear around your character and shrink over time and as you are hit while blocking. If your shield breaks, you'll be left dazed and open to attack. You can do a roll while blocking by tapping the analog left or right while holding block. This will allow you to roll past projectiles and even enemies.

The B button controls the character's specials. We'll cover specials a bit in the section below, but all 74 fighters in Smash Ultimate have their own set of four specials.

The A button controls strikes. Tap A repeatedly while standing to perform a simple combo. You can also use A while crouching, running, walking or jumping to perform different attacks, which change depending on the character.

Smash attacks are powerful versions of a character's strikes. By holding A and quickly tapping a direction on the analog, you will perform a Smash attack. Each character has four specific Smash attacks, one for each direction, and are unique to that fighter.

Throws are performed by pressing R or L while close to the opponent. Once grabbed, a player can tap one of the four directions on the analog stick to throw the opponent in that direction. This technique can bypass shields, but be careful, if you miss the grab you can be left open to a counterattack.

super smash ultimate controls
The default control layout in 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate' Screenshot/Nintendo

More explanation of the basics of fighting in Smash Ultimate can be found if you go to Vault and then Tips. You can also change the controller settings by going to Options and then Controllers.


Like we said in the section above, specials are unique to each fighter. Pressing B or B and any direction will perform one of four specials.

The best way to learn about each character's specials is to train or head into battle and trying them out for yourself. If you want to learn more about each character's quirks, you can head to Vault, Tips and then Fighters.


Items are a huge part of Smash Ultimate. These objects will appear randomly as the battle progresses. Most items can be picked up by pressing the A button. There are different types of items each with different uses.

The first item type are healing items. These are mostly in the form of food, you pick it up to eat it and gain some health back. The second are projectiles that can be tossed at enemies. After picking it up, you'll want to press A again to throw them. If you do so while dashing you increase the speed of the throw and its power when it hits.

Some items are weapons like bats and swords. You can pick these up with A and press A again to strike. Use a forward Smash attack with one of these weapons to deal extra damage. You can also throw these items at enemies by pressing R.

Another item type are guns. These can be lasers or even banana guns, you can pick them up with A and tap A again to fire off a projectile. These have limited ammo, however, and can also be thrown by pressing R.

Then you have Assist Trophies. These are rare items that appear from time to time, and look like glass cases. Press A to pick it up and your character will activate it, making a random character appear on the field. There are a ton of Assist Trophies in the game and each character has their own effects.

Finally, we have the Final Smash. This logo appears very rarely and can be identified by the circle glowing red, yellow and green. To activate this, you'll need to hit it until it breaks. The fighter who breaks it first will be imbued with the same glowing energy. To activate your character's Final Smash, simply stand still and press A. Each fighter's Final Smash is unique and does something different. Go out there and test it out.

Be careful though, if you don't use the Final Smash right away your opponent can knock it out of you with a large enough hit.


So now that you know how to fight, how do you win? Well, the name of the game is to get more KOs than your opponent.

You can accomplish this by knocking them off the stage. The percentage you see on the bottom of the screen starts at zero and rises with every hit you take. The higher the percentage, the easier it is to be knocked out. Fighters can be KO'd through the all four sides of the screen so be careful.

Are you enjoying Smash Ultimate ? Is there anything we left out? Let us know in the comments section below.

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