Deaf Game Review – Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Deaf Game Review – Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Can I Play That?3 minute read

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Deaf Accessibility

Individual scores

  • Visual Representation of Dialogue - 8
  • Visual Representation of Sound - 10
  • Visual Cues - 10
  • Controller Vibration - 10

Wow is there a lot going on in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate! There are more fighters and more game modes than we even understand yet, so we’ll jump right into the accessibility. And because fighting games are definitely not our area of expertise, so we will spare you our attempt to try and explain what is going on in a game you’ve undoubtedly heard much about already.

Sound option screen with sliders for music, SFX, voices, and equalization.

You can toggle different volume aspects, including music, sound effects, and character voices. And something we’ve not seen in any other game before, you can toggle the equalizer to have more bass or more treble.

Language selection screen.

Pick your language of choice and you’re ready to go!

There’s no toggle for subtitles, which wasn’t surprising for a Switch game, as they’ve been quite accessible in the past and subtitles are on for everyone because there’s no voice acting in most games. There is voice acting in some of the cutscenes here, but they’re all subtitled.

White screen with difficult to read subtitle text that says, "Thus, the universe was crushed in the hands of Galeem."

About those subtitles… They’re not always great, as you can see in the above image of white text on a white background. But they still manage to be better than they are in many games.

Marth from Fire Emblem with subtitle text that reads, "We'll each need to take down about ten."
Collection of Smash Bros. fighters with glowing red eyes with subtitle text that says, "Can anyone free the spirits from Galeem's control?"

The two above images are much more in line than what players see subtitle wise for the majority of the game. There were very few instances of text being hard to read due to poor contrast. There’s not many cutscenes or voice acting, but all you will come across are fully subtitled and quite legible.

Kirby and Samus in a Super Smash Bros. Ultimate match. Fight stage is an iceberg with big bits of ice in the background. Announcer call-out "GO!" is displayed on the screen.

All fight announcer call-outs are displayed very clearly on the screen. As is all important information such as the damage percentage each fighter has taken, who is playing as who, etc.

Pikachu and Mario fighting in a factory stage. Flames and a purple cloud surround the fighters.

There’s quite often a ton of information on the screen, from visual effects to collectibles. While the sound effects for these things don’t necessarily have an impact on gameplay, when playing in docked mode or with the Pro controller, the controller vibration does an excellent job conveying all of the sound effects.

The one sound that is not displayed visually are the call-outs of the fighters make during the fights. However (and this is the only time we are ever likely to say this) we can’t help but feel that if that info was displayed visually as well, it would be far too much on an already very busy screen.

Bottom line: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is very accessible for deaf and hoh players. The little bit of story and voice acting there is is all subtitled (and mostly legible) and important sounds are paired with suitable controller vibration or visual effects.

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