Super Smash Bros. 4: The Stages
When it comes to a game series like Super Smash Bros., I find it difficult to find the right words to flesh out my feelings onto a page. Much like you, I spent those Saturday afternoons in my friend's basement, in absolute awe of the prospect of Mario, Pikachu, and Fox all duking it out before our eyes. In that same basement, our jaws dropped as Melee's roster exploded and worlds unfurled in front of us. In our adolescence, even the rancid stench of hormones could not distract us from the introduction of Snake and Sonic in Brawl. Years later, the journey from young adulthood into a real, grown-up outside world bursting at the seams is interrupted by a new detour: Super Smash Bros. 4.
I can recall those hours I've spent in all those games. From Break the Targets to Adventure Mode to Subspace Emissary. These are stepping stones in my career as a gamer. Sure, they're not perfect games. But they were always a thrill to play with your good friends. And they never got old.
Now that time has come again. I've sunk many hours into this new iteration already. And I have organized some more thoughts. In previous installments, I've discussed the most recent Super Smash Bros game by focusing on the 3DS version's Smash Run and the roster. Now that both versions of the game have been released, I've been able to smash on stages both new and old. Let's discuss them!
For the purposes of this article, I won't go over returning levels. Just the new ones.
Super Smash Bros for 3DS
: I like this side-scrolling Mario level more than Brawl's Mushroomy Kingdom. It's not so drab. There are also fewer ceiling blocks to lock you in. It's less of a prison.
: This New Super Mario Bros. 2 homage shifts from left to right as coins of all colors fill the screen. The key here is to collect one hundred coins. Once you do, you turn gold, boosting your defense and boosting your launching power. This buff doesn't last too long, thankfully.
: A flat platform travels around the Mario Kart 7 rendition of Rainbow Road. As with all Mario Kart stages, Shy Guys will drive by and ram you thoughtlessly. Watch for that warning signal.
: This one is a papercraft montage of different moments in the Paper Mario series. First, the first world of Paper Mario: Sticker Star complete with a giant Fan Thing to blow you to your doom. It transitions to the S.S. Flavio from the Thousand Year Door with a cameo from a very helpful whale. Lastly, the giant visage of Bowser pops in as you start to fight outside of Bowser's flying castle from the first Paper Mario. The head turns and it's easy to fall off stupidly here.
: One of the most memorable and unique locales from a Legend of Zelda game makes a debut in Smash Bros. Kotake and Koume show up unwelcomed to throw elemental magic at you. I try to throw enemies at the giant fire or ice. It never works. Better to spike enemies down into the center canyon.
: Link's locomotive from Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks rides the rails that chain down evil King Malladus. The train will exchange its caboose for different cars, while other trains will attack from the front or back. Use the extra platforms floating in to your advantage. Did anyone else play Spirit Tracks? I thought it was great.
: A Flat-Zone style trip back through time brings us to the early days of Kirby games. This Game Boy frame leads the fighters through different locations in glorious LED monochrome. It's not a huge stage, either. It's not too hard to get KO's by throwing foes off the side.
Unova Pokemon League
: This entry from Pokemon Black and White features Pokemon (Reshiram and Zekrom) causing chaos during combat. The energy spheres and fire pits can hurt you good if you're not paying attention. Heck, even the walkways appearing on the sides can hurt you. I'm not a huge fan of crazy-powerful Pokemon causing ruckus in my Smash Bros game. Maybe it's just my bad experiences at Spear Pillar in Brawl.
: This X/Y stage flies the players around the Eiffel To....I mean, the Prism Tower without cartoon animals giving us grief. Keep an eye for the main platform as it changes size.
: This homage to the SNES F-Zero gives us some nifty remixes to listen to as we try to avoid hitting the ground. I like this one. Does anyone know what the recovery ship does (to fighters)?
: The dream world of Magicant from the Mother series features such oddities as a giant tomato, a walking plant thing, an octopus thing, and a walking mountain thing. What a trip. In Magicant, there are five Flying Men to recruit. Be the first player to touch him, and he will fight on your side until he's KO'd.
: This arena from the latest Fire Emblem is blended with Pokemon Stadium to provide a number of different environments rising out of the dust. There's nothing too distracting here.
Reset Bomb Forest
: Sakurai's love for Kid Icarus manifests in the Reset Bomb Forest. After the Reset Bomb is detonated, the castle is leveled into a forest. The only troublesome parts are the breakable platforms of the forest, and the Lurchthorns (a.k.a. the giant, spiky fish) flying below the bottom. The explosion mentioned before does not affect the players.
: The fruit found in the trees of Tortimer Island can be used as sustenance or as weapons. The island is wide as it is high, giving you a very high ceiling for KO'ing players upward. You'll have better luck knocking enemies away from the sides by the docks. If you're lucky, a shark will come up and eat you!
: Little Mac's stage broadcasts your battle on the jumbo-screen in back for everyone to see. It's another tall stage, seemingly shrunk by the lighting rig up top. If you attack it too much, the metal platform will fall and crash onto the poor souls underneath. But you don't want to play like that. Those are some little brother antics.
: As excited as I was to see Xenoblade get a stage, this one disappoints me. The giant gap in the middle is a little too huge, sequestering much of the combat to the upper platforms. Thus, a stage that's actually quite big feels small. Luckily, the Wii U version fixed this.
: A dangerous stage indeed. Don't touch the water or fish will come and drag you down to a KO. Balloon Fight employs wrap-around. This means that you can walk and jump from one edge and appear on the other. If you're launched to the side, however, it will kill you. I'm not sure how powerful a blast must be to constitute a KO. Better just aim them upward.
: Nothing like cute puppies and kittens hopping around to make even the most hardened swordsman, warlock, or space mercenary melt from cuteness overload. Just keep an eye skyward. Falling blocks and other junk will fall right on your dumb, gullible face. This re-arranges the stage architecture constantly. Such smash. Many fight.
: The Dark Emporer from the Mii Plaza game will barge into your brouhaha and give an upgrade or a downgrade to a figher. Keep your eyes peeled for the notification. Watch out for the Emporer's energy attacks, as well as the platform on the right collapsing. By the way, the cage containing your Mii can be broken, doing nothing, really.
This wacky, zany, Mii love simulator is the setting for this Smash Bros. stage. Your Mii's will be cooking, exercising, trying on clothes, etc. Sorta like Luigi's Mansion, being outside the house will cover up the inside of the room. This time, when a single room is empty, the interior is hidden. Seeing only where you are can hide items like Pokeballs, Assist Trophies, Smash Balls, and wayward Bob-ombs. Be careful not to run into anything unsavory. Or worse yet, walking in on a family member at a very private moment.
: It's more Pictochat. Yay.
: A simple stage rep from the Megaman series, featuring the Yellow Devil. The big guy will appear in chunks to shoot eye beams at you all. Damage him enough and he'll detonate, laying waste to about half the stage. Or you can be a loser and play the Omega version.
: This level based on old Pac-Man maps has a similar gimmick to Golden Plains. Gather enough dots and fruit to unlock Power Pellets. This boosts your attack power and turn all the ghosts fearful and blue. I tell ya, these gamer kids love their 8-bit graphics. It looks pretty cool in 3D, too.
Super Smash Bros. for Wii U
: It's Battlefield but big.
: The fantastic music of the Super Mario Galaxy series serenades fighers as they unleash their fury atop a Galaxy-type planet. While the stage curves as a Little Prince planetoid might, projectiles still shoot straight. That's to say, the apparent gravity of the planet does not bend the trajectory of missiles/lasers/whatever. That would probably screw with our heads and make dodging and attacking too difficult to plan.
Mushroom Kingdom U
: Different sections of New Super Mario Bros. U will cycle around as Kamek casts his magic. The sliding platforms inside the tower have been my demise more times than I care to count. That filthy scoundrel Nabbit will also appear. He'll kidnap you and rush you off stage! He can be defeated like any other fighter.
: The map of Mario Circuit from Mario Kart 8 found its way onto Wii U a second time. Just like the 3DS Rainbow Road, Mario Circuit drops you off on different spots on the track directly in the path of racers. With the circuit's anti-gravity craziness, the platforms flies you around in all sort of directions. Sometimes the track is above you, sometimes under you, sometimes behind you. It's pretty nuts.
: Yoshi's Woolly World hasn't even been released yet, and we already have a stage for it! This fluffy and soft stage is suspended by a mobile in the sky. Fighters jumping to and fro will affect the balance of these platforms. Try to choose a jumping and/or flying character for this one. Your aerial movement needs to be precise or else you'll fall to a clumsy, painful death.
: From Game & Wario, this stage involves hiding from the insidious eyes of 9-Volt's mother as he tries to stay up late playing video games. The stage itself is basic enough. Beware of his mother, as her line of sight will pummel anyone it spots mercilessly.
: A really unique stage. There are two environments for battling, the foreground and the background. In full DK fashion, use the barrels to launch back and forth as the pillars collapse. I'm surprised this has never been done until now. It's a really interesting way of designing a stage and I'm enjoying it a lot. But why the hell isn't it on the 3DS, too?!
: This one isn't new. I just want to say that I think this one still sucks as much as it did in Brawl. The platforms are scattered everywhere. The fire and the springs are way too powerful, and the only area large enough to feature a battle is so high up that KO'ing someone is way too easy. They tried to fix it by adding edges. Didn't work. I'd take 50M or 100M over this.
: Another platform that travels around an established location from a game. Skyloft looks even prettier in HD than on the Wii. I just wonder where everyone is. Not a Skyloftian in sight. What happened to those flying cats? Where's Groose? Come to think of it, Delfino Plaza is also suspiciously empty.
: Battle Central for Samus in Metroid: Other M. Here she fought Ridley, as you will , too. Other experimental creatures from the Bottle Ship will float in and annoy everyone as well. Personally, I think Ridley is far too powerful in this stage. Not too big, per se. I lost three lives to him in a five stock match, unable to get a kill of my own. Over time, I'll get used to his attacks and how to dodge them. The fact that he's able to have such a huge presence in the battle makes me think he might need a nerf. Maybe it's just me.
The Great Cave Offensive
: Made especially for extra-player battles, the cave arena from Kirby Super Star doesn't have pits or open sides for KO's. Instead, you're meant to hit foes into the lava-covered sections of wall. It's a fun break from the usual. Best for large parties of fighters; it's a snooze fest with only four. There's plenty of room to explore and escape here.
Orbital Gate Assault
: This action sequence from Starfox Assault gets an HD makeover on Wii U! Zoom around Cornerian orbit on aparoid missiles, arwings, and the Great Fox as things blow up and people die. Watch out! The missiles explode forcefully. And it's easy to fall past the Arwings as they come up to meet you. It's a tricky stage, reminiscent to me of Pokefloats.
Kalos Pokemon League
: Various chambers of elementally-themed Pokemon battles bring with them a slew of stage hazards. You have fire pillars, giant swords, a flood, and pools of metal. It's a lot to take in and I've barely begun to adapt to it all.
: This one is a Fire Emblem-themed stage with rising platforms and no bottomless pits. Nothing that exciting, honestly.
Flat Zone X
: A composition of Flat Zone Melee and Flat Zone Brawl. Firemen, lions, cooks, school children, falling tools. This stage has it all!
: This enormous level contains spikes, breakable bridges, hallways, and tons of platforms. Perfect for eight-player smash, there's so much of this stage to get lost in! It's also the one place where Pit and Palutena share dialogue about other fighers. That's how localization teams can make obscure jokes with players!
Garden of Hope
: The Garden of Hope from Pikmin 3 is full of natural detail as well as the Peckish Aristocrabs who rampage around. Sometimes Pikmin will walk in and go about their work. When they build the porcelain dome, they can trap you inside there. But yeah, the crabs are the real threat here, along with the falling platforms on the left and right.
Town and City
: It's like the Brawl Smashville. Just add the City Folk designs and downtown area. Also keep the time of day in game reflecting the time of day on the console.
Wii Fit Studio
: This yoga studio is the stuff of nightmares. Basic, white platforms float above a basic floor. The kicker? A mirror in the background. Do you know how many times I've tried to hit a recovering enemy in mid-air, only to miscalculate because I was looking at their reflection?
: This bigger version of Bionis' Leg is better designed than the 3DS one. The larger lower platforms and the ground bits with springs on either end give us much more to work with. Good thing, too. During the night phase, Xenoblade villain Metalface may come in and taunt the fighters. He'll swipe a laser and level one of the giant platforms, or maybe he'll dash through horizontally and damage anyone in his way. Metalface can be defeated. Except Mechon can only be damaged by the Monado! How do the Master Sword, a Mega Buster, and Captain Falcon's fists hurt it? I want some answers, Sakurai!
: I dunno. It's a Duck Hunt stage. It's got a HUD and a tree. What else do you want?
: This one's a real pain in the ass. This building is infinite. Attack the bombs to demolish each floor, bringing down more and more places to fight. Careful, though! If you get caught under a falling barrel, you'll get trapped in it! You'll be vulnerable until you wiggle free.
: A smooth, carefree flight along a coastal paradise is disrupted by cartoon video game mascots beating each other senseless.
: Wait, this is a separate stage? Wuhu Island is in the Pilotwings stage. Now it's its own stage? Wha? Well, I guess it's representing Wii Sports Resort. A best platform plops you and different locales around the island based on unforgettable moments in the Wii Sports franchise. Like the fountain! And the bridge!
Windy Hill Zone
: Remember when Sonic tried to be Super Mario Galaxy? Don't you wish they could do that again instead of being bondage enthusiasts? Well, you're in luck! Windy Hill Zone is your Sonic rep stage that bend slightly like Mario Galaxy. Like that stage, the gravity here does not warp the path of projectiles. I'm actually fond of this stage, with its bumpers and windmill.
: Our Namco stage today features an adaptation of the Pac-Land game that scrolls through towns and forests and whatnot. Unlike in real life, fire hydrants are not your friends.
: At some point, there is going to be a Miiverse stage similar to Battlefield. In the background there will be actual user-created Miiverse messages sent to fighters in combat. As of this writing, Nintendo hasn't said when this will be ready.
Whew! And there we are! A basic run-down of all the new stages in Super Smash Bros for 3DS and for Wii U! As I discover more things to say and little pieces of advice, I will add more to this list. Anyone who has any interesting points to say about these stages is invited to leave a comment here or to send me a PM in the Rare Gamer forums. It's an on-going endeavor, so any contribution is welcome. Thanks for reading!
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