Gigabowser, one of World of Light’s massive bosses.
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we're playing.  

While most of the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate players on our staff are busy beating the living crap out of friends, family and random strangers, I’m having fun making my way through the game’s World of Light adventure mode. While our review called the side mode “unnecessarily involved,” juggling stats, skill points and power-ups is right up my alley.

I started Smash Bros. Ultimate as I imagine many players did, by going straight for Smash mode to unlock all the characters. But here’s the thing: I am not good at Smash Bros. My skill level, at least when I first started the game, was somewhere between desperately trying not to kill myself falling off the stage and “Oh hey, there’s a shield button?” I was winning battles, but it was really tedious.

So I wandered over to the World of Light, the single-player adventure that begins with every character in the game save Kirby falling at the hands of an evil force, plunging the world into foggy darkness. The pink puffball stands alone at first, just a cute little sphere ready to take on all comers as he traverses a map dotted with enemy encounters.

The fog clears as Kirby (and friends) make their way across the World of Light.

Kirby’s task, along with freeing other combatants to join him on his quest, is to collect spirits, stat-enhancing stickers featuring characters from across gaming history. There are two types of spirits. Primary spirits are companions, lending their strength to the player during battle. They come in different flavors like attack, defense and grab, each with strengths and weaknesses against other types. If my opponent’s affinity is defense, I need a primary spirit with a grab affinity. If they are attack, I’m better off with defense. Primary spirits can also be powered up using “snacks” earned through battle, enhancing their stats and sometimes unlocking additional power.

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Then there are support spirits. Each primary spirit has one to three slots that can be filled by support spirits. While support spirits do not level up, they do provide skills and buffs essential to progressing through the World of Light. For example, a battle in which poor Kirby was blown all over the stage by strong winds was made much easier by equipping a spirit with wind resistance.

My favorite feature of the World of Light is seeing how the game utilizes existing fighters to replicate spirit characters. Each encounter on the map features one of the game’s main fighters colored or accessorized to represent a character not included in the roster.

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In the battle to obtain the spirit of Rabbid Kong, Donkey Kong naturally takes the Rabbid’s place. Not only is Kong sporting white fur, he’s also put on bunny ears for the occasion.

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Blaze the Cat, secretly my favorite Sonic the Hedgehog character, is Robin from Fire Emblem dressed in pink.

Powerful legend-class support spirit Ho-Oh is represented by “Curry Charizard.” Mmmm.

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Spirit battles are rarely as intense and involved as normal Smash Bros. fights. They’re generally over quickly, especially when the player’s power far outweighs their foe. In my case a play session in the World of Light involves several rapid-fire battles, a trip to the spirit shop (run by a pair of Animal Crossing raccoon brothers) and the spending of any earned skill points in the mode’s skill tree.

What I’ve found over the course of the past week or so is that these short, sweet battles are helping me build my confidence. I’ll probably catch that ledge instead of down-B’ing myself to an early grave.

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The World of Light is more than just wandering about a map, fighting things. There are dungeons to explore, each with their own unique boss battle. Collecting certain spirits open up new paths on the map as the game progresses.

The Molten Fortress, where Gigabowser hung out.

There are unique battles here against epic foes that players won’t find anywhere else in the game.

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But most of all there isn’t much pressure, leaving stat-counters like me free to manage those skill points and spirits to my heart’s content. And as an added bonus, every character I unlock in World of Light is unlocked in the main game. Everybody wins, except all the haters. So, mainly me. Yay!