Super Smash Bros Ultimate to Focus on Improving 1v1 Online Play

by in Fighting Game News | Aug, 7th 2020

Fans were concerned when there was no representation for the Super Smash Bros Ultimate series at the recent Fighting Game Publishers roundtable. It turns out that this was for a good reason, though – Nintendo had some big news to drop of their own, and it seems that they didn’t want to overshadow any of their fellows in the FGC. Namely, they’re finally starting to fix one of the biggest complaints with Super Smash Bros Ultimate over the years, and that’s its extremely poor online experience. 

For years, players have been plagued with laggy matches, no matter if they were fighting someone just down the street or across the country. While it was usable, there were times and connections that were simply borderline unplayable.

However, this is the first time that Nintendo has even acknowledged that the experience is bad, and has committed to future overhauls of the system if necessary.  This is a huge step forward for Nintendo, who in the past has completely underestimated and ignored the issue and complaints from the community. However, it seems that with the last season of DLC in development and players stuck at home, they figured that now was the right time to address the issue finally. 

Sakurai was mostly quiet on the reasoning, but it’s not hard to see why it might have been brought up – a modder got Melee’s netplay via Dolphin to work far better than they ever did. It seems that Nintendo wasn’t just going to take that shaming lying down, and are actively attempting to remedy the situation. 

This could have a huge, huge impact on the competitive community and make netplay tournaments more of a normal feature of the Smash community. These tournaments have been happening regardless, but the results of them have been taken not nearly as seriously as their LAN counterparts. Meanwhile, thanks to Project Slippi, Melee tournaments are having their results counted nearly the same as LAN events. Time will tell how the community receives this patch and if Nintendo continues to improve the experience, but this is surely a step in the right direction. Finally.

Smash Ultimate Patch Notes for 8.1.0


  • The Small Battlefield stage has been added. You can also set Small Battlefield as a Preferred Rule in Online battles.
    • Small Battlefield is a version of Battlefield without the top platform and with reduced Blast Zone sizes. This should lead to a “more exciting” and faster matches. 
  • You can now select any stage-specific music for the Battlefield, Small Battlefield, Big Battlefield, and Final Destination stages.

Online Play

  •  The online user experience has been adjusted.
  • The way matching is determined when using Preferred Rules has been adjusted.
  • Following a look at the current number of players eligible for Elite Smash, the threshold for entry has been recalculated to allow more players. Additionally, the way initial values for Global Smash Power are calculated has also been adjusted.

Further investigations and adjustments to Online mode are expected.


・ Several issues have been fixed to improve gameplay experience.

How Effective Are the Super Smash Bros Ultimate Online Fixes?

We played several test matches against opponents using a Wi-Fi and Wired connection, while trying the game in both handheld, docked (with wi-fi), and docked (wired connections). While there was the occasional hiccough, the experience seemed much improved over the initial netcode, which has been in place for the better part of two years. 

When matches did lag, it seemed like the system was programmed to catch up faster. The only downside to this is that the spectator client seems to not be able to catch up very well when this happens and has a tendency to drop its buffer and lose connection with the match. 

Also, our investigations into the input lag seemed to place it about .5 frames faster, which ultimately makes the game feel snappier and closer to the offline experience. It’s not perfect, but surely it’s better than it was, and could lead to a more competitive environment for pro and amateur players alike to practice their skills. This is very important in a world where players cannot currently attend live events, and have to compete online at present – with very few other places to get solid practice.

Small Battlefield Adds More Variety

Additionally, they also added Small Battlefield, with a two platform map that uses the Battlefield skin – Sakurai was quoted as saying that the map should “offer a more exciting match,” as the map has smaller blast zones as well. It will also help to serve the competitive community, as it gives them another Small stage to pick and ban from, potentially replacing the ever problematic Lylat Cruise on the tournament-legal stage list. 

In testing Small Battlefield, our online Super Smash Bros Ultimate matches did indeed seem to go faster. This is probably one of the best patches that competitive Smash Bros has seen in quite some time, between the online fixes, this stage, and the ability to choose any song on Battlefield and Final Destination (leading to a better streaming/tournament viewing experience.)


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