Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has been out for a month, and if you’re anything like me, you’re still playing it all the time. What makes it great is that it is a celebration of all things Nintendo. That means that not only does it have Nintendo’s (and Smash’s) most iconic characters. It’s got the most popular items, music pieces, even an adventure mode. And yes, even stages.
It’s arguable, but I think that the stages of Super Smash Bros. are just as iconic as the characters it contains. Everyone has memories of their favorite stages, and each one has their own quirks. Here, I’m going to count down my top 10 favorite stages in the game. It might have to do with nostalgia, or it could just be great stage design. Ultimately, these are my most fun and well-designed stages to play on.
No. 10: Great Plateau Tower
You know I had to throw in an Ultimate stage. It’s fitting that the Great Plateau Tower is from one of the best games this generation: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. But the stage isn’t just great because of its source material. First, it should be said that the background for this stage is beautiful. The plains and mountains of Hyrule are in the distance, with the kingdom’s capital itself corrupted by the presence of Ganon. This is also an excellent level because it’s flat, but limits mobility. The cone-shaped top of the tower acts as a barrier players cannot jump over, so the middle acts as a sort of choke point. It’s excellent for zoners to take advantage of as close-range characters try to bridge the gap. If you’re playing with hazards on, the cone can be broken, thus making it a Final Destination of sorts.
No. 9: WarioWare, Inc.
Maybe it’s my love for Wario, but this is an excellent level. The soundtrack encapsulates the quirkiness of the WarioWare games. It also contains fun hazards that cause chaos when you’re playing with a party of people. There’s an important choice to make: Do you do the objective during one of the stage’s mini-games to get a power-up, or do you continue to fight to get the upper hand? If that’s not your type of thing, it also serves as a great competitive stage with the hazards off. The four platforms add more than Battlefield for some nice variation.
No. 8: Yoshi’s Island
I have a love for Yoshi games, if nothing else because of their charming, timeless visuals. In both Melee and Ultimate, it has such a bright, vibrant look (although it’s named Super Happy Tree in the most recent iteration). This is an interesting stage because of its platforms. There’s two slanted platforms on the left and right side of the stage, meanwhile there’s a flat one at the top. There are also clouds far on either side of the stage, which gives players who are either hurt badly or have bad recovery a chance to fight again. I’m just really happy that Nintendo brought it back for Ultimate, after being gone since Melee.
No. 7: Pirate Ship
Here’s another visually pleasing level, but what I think makes this a fun stage to play is the platform design. If you consider the deck of the ship a platform, it’s slightly curved and makes it more difficult for zoners to get the upper hand. The two platforms to the crow’s nest are great ways to avoid opponents if you’re hurt, which can open up opportunities for you to get away, or possibly get punished. While there’s a lot of hazards on this stage — from the water to the tornado that sucks the ship up — they aren’t too annoying. My only gripes are the bomb towers, which seem to be a bit more powerful than I’d like in Ultimate.
No. 6: Pokémon Stadium
This list would be incomplete without a Pokémon stage. Heck, it would be neglectful on my part not to include one variation of Pokémon Stadium or another. While Pokémon Stadium 2 is a great stage, the hazards get a little annoying. I’m talking about the original Pokémon Stadium, with the rocky mine transformation, and the watery windmill one too. My personal favorite is the fire transformation, with the burning house and tree which can cause some interesting fights. With hazards off, this stage is great in its own right. It’s a longer stage with two platforms closer to the edge, and I can say from experience and from watching tournaments that this is an extremely exciting stage in competitive.
No. 5: Jungle Japes
I have very fond memories of Jungle Japes. The atmosphere is wonderful here. I love seeing Cranky come into the view of the window to hang out in his chair, watching everyone fight each other. The river below is perilous but it’s not an insurmountable obstacle. Meanwhile, the stilted platforms on either side create some hazardous close-ranged fights and allow for zoners to thrive in their element. And the Jungle Japes theme? I can’t think of many other songs I’d rather brawl to.
No. 4: Temple
Temple separates the weak from the strong. I truly do believe that if you throw a bunch of random players into Temple, you’ll find out what kind of Smash player they are by the areas that they go to. This is a massive level, so there’s a lot to it. There’s the upper left side of it with a perilous ledge, but provides the opportunity to recover in the area below. The bottom portion of the level will put hair on your chest if you decide to duke it out down there. Meanwhile, the middle or right portions of the stage are safer opportunities to either catch a break from the action or fight without a huge fear of falling. Ah, such great times at the Temple.
No. 3: Smashville
Both Animal Crossing levels are designed to perfection, but Smashville takes the cake. Not only do I love the aesthetics of the stage, from the rotating cast of villagers in the background to the wonderful view of the village itself, but it’s one of the best competitive maps out there. It succeeds in its simplicity. The traveling platform that hovers above and beyond the stage can make for some interesting fights. It’s another tournament staple that makes for some extremely entertaining fights.
No. 2: Final Destination/Battlefield
I’ve referenced these two stages throughout the piece. I’ve also talked a bit about competitive stages. These two are the lifeblood of Smash tournaments. That’s why they deserve this spot together. Like Smashville, they excel in their simplicity. Playing on Final Destination without items is the ultimate test of skill for a Smash player. The winner will likely be the most skilled player. Battlefield’s three platforms are enough to make tournaments a bit more interesting without being obtrusive by any means. These stages are so good, that every other stage in the game receives its own Omega and Battlefield forms. If that’s not a testament to their greatness, I don’t know what is.
No. 1: Corneria
Corneria is the gift that keeps on giving. Formally known as Sector Z in the first Smash, it’s been in every entry ever since. The geometry of the stage is interesting. On one hand, playing with items can be insane since barrels and other objects roll down from the tip of the wing to the bottom. The momentum can absolutely destroy any player, making it fun to roll the containers either up or down the wing to decimate opponents. The curvature of the level also just makes it trickier to land a hit, so I feel like it requires a change in play style. The bottom right portion of the level is fun for bullying opponents in the corner and beating down on them. Since it’s at a lower point, it makes for some easier KOs at higher damage. The hazards aren’t terrible either, and the Arwings that fly by can either shoot you at inopportune moments or provide safe harbor. Overall, I just have the best memories of this level, and it’s one I’ll always come back to.
GameLuster’s Tuesday 10 is a weekly column that highlights memorable, light-hearted facets of video games or the industry at large. The No. 1 is a hill no one should die on, but it’s a hill that should be admired from afar.