Like just about every platform fighting game before it, Warner Brothers’ Multiversus has received a number of comparisons to Super Smash Bros. Beyond its core mechanics, the very idea of a crossover party fighting game suggests Smash. While it does feature a very similar gameplay loop, centered around damaging your opponents and then knocking them out of a ring, Multiversus is its own game. That being said, there are some core mechanics and ideas across most games in the genre that you will find in Multiversus.
With the benefit of years playing Smash competitively, I’ve spent some time looking into what’s stood out to me about Multiversus. Here are five of the biggest differences and five of the most surprising similarities between Multiversus and Smash.
You might be surprised to hear that Smash is one of the few platform fighters out there that has a shield of some kind. While some, like the upcoming Fraymakers, do feature the ability to block, most do not. Instead of a block or shield, Multiversus only has dodges. Fans of Smash might also be surprised that there’s no grabbing—at least not the way that normal grabs work in a fighting game. Instead, select characters like Superman have special moves that allow them to grab their opponents.
When you use an aerial attack (one of the five separate moves tied to normal attacks in the air) in Smash, your move will be canceled the moment your character lands and you’ll be unable to do anything for a few frames. This is called landing lag. In Multiversus, instead of stopping a move once your character touches the ground or a platform, your character’s attack will continue in full until the move is no longer active (or until you’re hit out of the animation), and then you’ll land without any lag.
In the previous Smash games for Wii U and 3DS, special modes allowed you to add upgrades to a character’s ability. Otherwise, what you see is what you get in Smash. Multiversus, on the other hand, takes an approach that’d be more recognizable to MOBA and FPS players with its character power-up systems. Some perks might add extra frames of invincibility or extra damage to an attack, while others might reduce vertical knockback or restore some health on landing a hit with a projectile. There are also character specific perks that can modify specific aspects of their kit.
In Smash, the ability to grab onto the ledge of a stage after being launched off makes recovering much easier—and safer. Grabbing onto the ledge (the first time) grants you varying degrees of invulnerability throughout the franchise. In Multiversus, not only are you fully vulnerable while recovering, but you aren’t guaranteed the safety of the ledge. Instead, you’ll need to jump up the wall of the stage, use aerial jumps, air dodges and well-timed special moves to get back while avoiding being knocked out of the ring by an opponent.
Multiversus has been deliberately designed around competitive 2v2 play. While Smash does have a team mode, Multiversus has perks, passives and even moves specifically designed for use in a team match. Additionally, Smash isn’t necessarily intended to be played competitively. Optional mechanics like items, stage hazards and the like all can add a layer of chaos to the game. Multiversus isn’t the same. There are a limited number of items, which are turned off by default. Stages mirror those favored by the competitive Smash community. The result is a much less chaotic experience.
In Smash, there are a few characters with passive abilities that change or otherwise enhance their moveset and abilities on the battlefield. Lucario does more damage and knockback as he takes more damage. Little Mac and Cloud both have meters that fill up as they fight that give them different options. In Multiversus, each character has one; Bugs Bunny can dig through a box of different items to throw at opponents when crouching, for example.
One of the most important aspects of Smash, especially at a competitive level, is edgeguarding. Because it’s harder to recover in Multiversus, characters have more options to utilize in order to land on solid ground. This makes edgeguarding feel very similar to Smash. Every character has a spike (a move that launches opponents straight down) at their disposal, making the process just as tense and involved. Adding extra obstacles and removing holes in points of entry for your opponent is the name of the game here, just like in Smash.
There are a few characters in Smash, like R.O.B., who have moves that work on a cooldown after use. This is significantly more common in Multiversus; in fact, most characters have specials that function on some sort of cooldown. Some are able to reduce that cooldown through optimized play and strategic perk selection, but if Bugs uses his rocket, it’s gone until a cooldown is over, much like Robin’s spellbooks.
In Smash, you can perform a Smash attack by flicking the directional stick and pressing the attack button at the same time while on the ground. If you hold the input, you can charge up the attack. This is nearly the same in Multiversus, though more characters are also able to charge their aerials.
Air dodging has been one of the few inconsistent things throughout the Smash series. In Melee and Ultimate, you can do a directional air dodge, which allows you to do something akin to an invulnerable dash in midair. Multiversus allows you to do more air dodges per jump, but it still functions as an invincible air dash.
Charlie Wacholz is a freelance writer and college student. When he’s not playing the latest and greatest indie games, competing in Smash tournaments or working on a new cocktail recipe, you can find him on Twitter at @chas_mke.