How Spirits work in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. with amiibo
Super Smash Bros. with amiibo (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is here, and it's the biggest Smash Bros. game ever with every single character ever featured in the franchise having a spot on its roster. There are over 70 such characters. There are also hundreds of characters that you don't actually fight with, but they'll enhance your fighter's abilities on the battlefield. These are called Spirits, and they're a new central gameplay focus for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. But what are they, and how do you use them? We answer all that and more for you right here.

What is a Spirit?

Tom Nook Spirit in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Tom Nook Spirit in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Image credit: Nintendo)

According to Smash Bros. lore, a Spirit can be considered the soul of a character. These souls were ripped from their bodies, and they long to find hosts so they can feel alive again. Their desires were so strong that they started entering the bodies of many main Smash Bros. characters, almost like some sort of paranormal possession.

You'll fight against these Spirit-imbued characters in a new mode called World of Light, where you'll travel across a linear map to take on challenges and battles, and defeating them will let you earn a gaggle of Spirits to use with your own characters. Yes, that means there are gameplay implications here, as Spirits can act as support characters to give your fighters new abilities and improved stats.

Spirits can give you a leg up in battle. You can get new attacks or items your character wouldn't normally use, resistances to counter specific fighters, and even map-altering abilities, which will make the battle arena even more hazardous than it already is. In fact, thanks to the Spirit concept, there are tons of little map tweaks that can be applied to any of the 100+ maps in the game.

Can you use a Spirit in battle?

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Spirit

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Spirit (Image credit: iMore)

You'll only be able to use Spirits while fighting against Spirits in World of Light and via Spirit Board challenges, but you won't be able to use them in standard Smash Bros. Ultimate battles. Spirits don't even appear in the fights as NPCs but are instead represented by static sticker-like pictures that can be set before each match.

Spirits are still a big part of those fights going down as they'll equip you with new tide-changing abilities, but you'll be limited to the characters available on the main roster (about 80 if you count all of the currently available DLC).

How many Spirits are there?

The final count of Spirits in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is believed to be around 1,397. You'll see tons of characters from games you know and love. Some of those characters will be well known, such as Pokémon's Gyarados, Splatoon's Octoling, Punchout's Mr. Sandman, and Animal Crossing's Digby. Others will be more obscure characters that have had a spot in Nintendo's history in one way or another.

While you should obviously expect most of the roster to be comprised of Nintendo characters, there are tons of Spirits from other studios and franchises, including Konami's Metal Gear Solid.

Every Spirit you can find in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

How do you earn new Spirits?

Acquired Spirits in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Acquired Spirits in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Image credit: Nintendo)

Spirits can be earned in a game mode called World of Light. It's there where you'll partake in special Spirit Battles against many of these characters. After each battle, you'll get a chance to capture the Spirit you defeated in a short mini-game. It's possible to capture Spirits on the first attempt, but if you miss, then you can use an item called the Shield Spacer to knock off a portion of their shield, making the Spirit easier to catch the next time you encounter it.

After you've gone through the initial gauntlet, you can pick up new fights and challenges from the Spirit Board, which houses as many as 10 challenges at a time, rotating on a regular basis.

You can also summon new Spirits by paying several Summon Points and using something called Spirit Cores that'll allow you to get the Spirits you really want. Summoning a Spirit this way requires specific cores, so if you're not lucking it out in your Spirit Board musings this may be a more reliable way to get what you want.

How do you use Spirits?

Amiibo inheriting a spirit in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Amiibo inheriting a spirit in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Image credit: Nintendo)

There are two types of Spirits: primary and support. Primary Spirits are the ones responsible for giving your fighters new abilities and improved stats. They come in four different rarities — Novice, Advanced, Ace, and Legend, weakest to strongest — and adhere to one of three fighting types in a rock-paper-scissors hierarchy for type weakness:

  • Attack beats Grab
  • Grab beats Shield
  • Shield beats Attack

Your goal, then, is to find a primary Spirit that gels well with your playstyle. Once you've decided and assigned it to your fighter of choice, you can slot a number of support Spirits to make your character even stronger. You'll be able to slot up to three support Spirits depending on which primary Spirit you're using. When combined, your fighter will become even stronger, and this growth is tracked as a power level that's a calculation of the strength of your primary and support Spirits.

Spirits can also be used to strengthen your amiibo characters. If you are bringing in Smash characters to Ultimate using amiibo, those characters will be able to take full advantage of the gameplay bonuses provided by Spirits.

As such, a large part of playing Super Smash Bros. Ultimate will be obtaining these Spirits, but it's not enough to have the cool name and shiny sticker associated with your character. You'll have to level your Spirits up if you want to be as effective as possible.

How to level up your Spirit

Training Spirits in the Dojo in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Training Spirits in the Dojo in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate (Image credit: Nintendo)

Spirits have their own experience pools, starting from level 1 and going all the way up to level 99, gaining more strength and defense along the way. Even at the level cap, there's a chance for some Spirits to change into a more powerful evolved form.

Leveling your Spirits will be one of your most common activities, then, and that'll happen a few different ways:

  • You get XP for each match you win with that Spirit.
  • You can send them off to train at a dojo.
  • You can feed them a variety of snacks.
  • You can send them to find treasure, which rewards XP.

To go along with this, you can meet a Spirit Master to customize the fighting style of your Spirit further. For instance, meeting Cap'n Cuttlefish lets you learn his Land Style, which increases ground power and movement speed while decreasing air power and your jumping ability. Spirits can be changed and customized at any time, so be sure to experiment with different teams and builds as you go.

Is winning in your Spirit?

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate could have very well been a vanilla Smash Bros. experience, but Nintendo took a massive chance with Spirits, and early indications suggest they've started down the path of something big here. With over 1,300 different Spirits to collect, no two Smash Bros. experiences will be the same. Super Smash Bros. Ultimate launched on December 7, 2018, and is available for $60.

Christine Chan

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed. When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.