While the latest Nintendo Direct for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate served up a massive amount of new information, such as the introduction of a Castlevania crossover, it still left us with one lingering question. What is that hidden mode on Ultimate‘s main menu?
Toward the end of the presentation, director Masahiro Sakurai took a minute to show off the game’s menu. As you’ll see in the screenshot of it below, the menu has all of the classic staples seen in previous Super Smash Bros. titles: the multiplayer Smash section, the vault, online features, and a tab for options/additional modes. But what about the pixelated icon? Sakurai even called it out but teased that he couldn’t talk about it yet.
Well, there’s a theory that I have about the identity of this mysterious menu option. I believe it’s the placeholder for a single-player story mode. And before you remind me that Ultimate‘s Classic mode is a single-player experience, I mean something similar in format to Melee‘s story mode. It would have platforming challenges, time attacks, bosses, and more.
There are a few reasons I came to this conclusion. Let’s start with the mention of bosses during the Direct. Both Castlevania’s Dracula and Monster Hunter’s Rathalos were revealed to be bosses in Ultimate. At first, that might sound like a fancy alternative label for a stage hazard, like the Yellow Devil from the Dr. Wily’s Castle stage. However, the ways Nintendo showed both enemies in battle were slightly odd. If you look at the screenshots from the Dracula and Rathalos’ segments, you’ll see that they both only fought one character each.
If they were typical stage hazard enemies, then it’s likely Nintendo would have shown off several fighters taking on the bosses at once. Plus, Sakurai was cryptic about how to get Dracula to appear in the Dracula’s Castle stage. All he said was, “Once in a blue moon, Simon’s immortal rival will appear,” and, “Under what conditions will he appear? Time will tell.” Perhaps players will come across the Lord of Darkness at a certain point in a story mode. As for Rathalos, he is shown flying all around a Monster Hunter-themed stage, but again, with only one character to attack.
Thankfully, I’ve discovered I wasn’t the only one seeing these as nods to a story mode. On the Super Smash Bros. subreddit, user Jedi_Pacman pointed out the same moments, as well as the fact that Rathalos’ Monster Hunter stage was not seen in the full list of all 103 accessible stages. In turn, it’s possible the stage players were shown will be exclusive to a story mode, similar to Dracula’s mysterious appearance.
Let’s also take the menu’s overall layout into consideration. As previously mentioned, the menu looks relatively similar to past games in the franchise, but when you start to compare Ultimate‘s with them, there’s one area missing: a solo/story option. In particular, check out the main menus for Brawl and the Wii U entry in the gallery below. Brawl had the Solo section, while Wii U had Smash Tour.
Now, this doesn’t outright prove my theory, but it does leave two possible options. On the one hand, if Nintendo plans to follow previous releases, then it would make sense for a solo story mode to take the pixelated spot. So far, Ultimate has been revealed to include many features fans have loved from past games or have been asking for, like the addition of Ridley as a playable fighter, as well as a more customizable training mode for competitive players. Melee and Brawl‘s story modes were both positively received, and since the Wii U/3DS games didn’t include its own story mode, Ultimate could be the development team’s chance to go back to something players enjoyed. Also, in the Direct, the Smash section of Ultimate‘s menu was opened for some reason. I have a feeling it was to hint to players that the solo or story mode won’t be hidden in that area with the versus modes.
The other possibility the menu comparisons bring is that the blurred spot could be saved for a brand-new mode, similar to Wii U’s Smash Tour. Interestingly, Twitter user l’attardé had a similar idea after looking at the trailer frame by frame. As seen in their tweet below, slowing down the footage around the menu shows the word “spirits.”
— l’attardé (@noctulescent) August 8, 2018
It’s unclear what that could mean if anything. Nintendo might have known savvy sleuths would be looking for a way to decode the wording and put something random there to throw everyone off. It might even just be a joke about Luigi getting his soul ripped out by Death at the opening of the presentation. Still, it could end up meaning something significant.
Overall, this is all just a bunch of best guesses, but it seems reasonably likely that something significant will be unveiled soon. I’d also like to point out that there was a pixelated icon on the right dashboard portion of the menu. I genuinely have no idea what that could be, but since Sakurai lingered on the menu for so long, it will undoubtedly be exciting.