We have been giving Super Smash Bros. some richly deserved love recently, and our fawning of the series is not through just yet. I present to you the top ten Smash Bros. stages of all time. From the Hylian highlands to the futuristic vistas of F-Zero’s Port Town, Nintendo’s finest, joined by a host of guest appearances, have been duking it out in a true clash of the titans. The settings in which they brawl are no less epic than the spectacle itself, and it would be fair to say that over the years this series has spawned some of the best fighting locales of any game in the genre. So without further ado, let’s get down to business.
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10) Summit (Brawl)
Some Smash Bros. stages are all about spectacle, and Summit provides plenty for us to marvel at whilst trying not to get pummeled into oblivion. If fighting atop Icicle Mountain (itself a stage from Melee) was not enough for you, then surely careering down its side into the freezing Ocean below, where hungry fish lie in wait, will satisfy your thirst for action. Top this off with a Polar Bear in sunglasses and you have one of the (quite literally) coolest levels the series has to offer.
9) Fourside (Melee)
Ness’s home stage in Melee can be unlocked after playing one hundred versus matches. So not only do you enjoy every minute of this stage’s unlocking, you also get to fight in one of the most dynamic looking levels the game has to offer once you achieve the feat. Skyscrapers and UFO’s are your main help (or hindrance) here, with the setting perpetuating some outright classic battles, as each player attempts to avoid a deadly drop to the streets below, or conversely, a brutal batting into the night sky above.
8) Big Blue (Melee)
Question. What could possibly be better than actually racing in an F-Zero GP? Answer: Having a full on fight on top of the vehicles as they travel in excess of 1000KPH around the legendary Big Blue circuit, that’s what! Granted, there’s not too much else to this stage, give or take a few death defying jumps here and there. But did you not hear me before? You fight on the vehicles as they tailgate each other around the course! Also, the music on Big Blue kicks some serious ass.
7) Pirate Ship (Brawl)
This stage is small but perfectly formed for a good old high seas battle to the death. Tornadoes, cannonballs, and heavy rain must all be navigated before the ship ultimately runs aground and begins to flounder. There is not much room for maneuver along the way, which makes victory all the sweeter. Another noteworthy comment about this stage: The music is sublime. Dragon Roost Island, and the timeless Song of Storms are beautifully matched to the nautical theme, giving an already special level that extra touch of class. Brilliant.
6) Sector Z (Smash 64)
Part of the sheer amazement we felt when playing the original Smash Bros. for N64 was down to us gazing upon the fighting locales for the first time. Sector Z, along with many others from the game, gave us a glimpse into the awesomeness to come in later Smash iterations. Great Fox trundles along the universal plains with our heroes beating the life out of each other whilst avoiding laser firing Arwings, which will happily carry you into the abyss if you dare stand on top for too long. Hammering your friends into the back end of the Great Fox before smashing them out into deep space was at the same time a particular joy, and the bane of my gaming life, ah the memories!
5) Green Hill Zone (Brawl)
Who would have thought it? Back in the early 90’s there were brawls of a different kind in the playground. Children everywhere assumed the roles of Mario and Sonic before going toe to toe in primitive flamewars, with neither side coming up trumps once the dust had settled. Almost twenty years later, the brawl could be settled for real. Mario vs Sonic. And the locale for such a fighting spectacle? Why, none other than the sublime Green Hill Zone. Seriously, I love this stage. It may not be the best in terms of features, but in terms of sitting there mouth agog, watching four players use Green Hill as a battleground on a Nintendo system, there is not much that betters it. Couple this with the amazing Sonic music, and you get a stage for the ages.
4) Hyrule Castle (Smash 64)
Playing as Link in the original Super Smash Bros. was a big deal. Fighting on the roof of Hyrule Castle, with the misty fields far below us was, to say the least, monumental. The stage has three distinct sections and when four players were involved it was pure organised chaos. Getting caught under the archway to the right of the stage, before being brutally beaten off the edge was definitely something to avoid. Speaking of evasion, using the wooden ledges to avoid deadly hammer blows would infuriate many-a-foe during the heat of battle, but get it wrong and it’s goodnight. This locale is one of the originators, and still one of the best. To be honest I would expect nothing less from a Zelda stage, and it certainly does not disappoint.
3) Halberd (Brawl)
Halberd earns its lofty place on this list by actively intensifying an already intense game. This is one stage which is almost as much fun to sit and watch as it is to play. Watching the events unfold from take off (you snooze you lose here), to the massive combo cannon attack, is truly a breathless experience. The piece of stage that you battle upon may not be the most lauded or dynamic hunk of metal you have ever seen, but the way it interacts with the background is just utter brilliance. Come the end of the battle, you know you have been in a fight and the pure exhilaration makes you rearing to go again. You can not really ask for much more from a fighting stage. Awesome stuff!
2) Port Town Aero Dive (Brawl)
I know, I know. We have already had an F-Zero track appear in this top ten. But really, is it my fault that Nintendo are so stupendously good at translating the game into a fighting stage? Port Town Aero Drive is everything I personally look for in a Smash Bros. level. Incredible detail, beautifully implemented locales and interaction (being pummeled by the cars) are all aspects I look out for when playing Smash. I love the sense of height and perspective you get at certain parts of the track. The rush of speed and danger is ever present, and the frantic need to finish your opponents before they ruthlessly dispose of you into the city below all add up to make for a memorable course. Port Town is my personal pick from the irresistible Brawl line up, but not quite number one overall.
1) Saffron City (Smash 64)
To this day, Saffron City from the N64 originator sticks out as my all time favorite Smash Bros. level. But to be honest i’m not quite sure why. I have never been a big fan of Pokémon, so it’s not an infatuation with the source content that’s to blame.The stage itself is not flashy with loads going on, indeed aesthetically it does not have much going for it at all. So what is it about this level that grabs me so? Back when Smash was originally released, I used to pray for this level when we went with random select. Whenever I won, I used my “winners choice” perk to select the mighty Saffron City, and even back then I did not know what drew me to this level. I think in its simplicity lies the answer.
As much as I enjoy the stunning spectacle of arenas like Port Town and Summit, it is the little intricacies of stages like Saffron City which keep me coming back for more. The tight gaps into which you can tempt your unlucky rival, and the timing of huge Poké related explosions, make for a truly tactical fight, from which Smash lays its tournament style roots. It’s as addicting as it is maddening, and the series needs levels like Saffron City, just as much as it needs an epic journey through time and space on the back of an interstellar space ship. Saffron City is the embodiment of pure Smash Bros. goodness. The stage is simple enough to enjoy, yet has a complexity which belies its colorful facade. It is the perfect analogy for the game itself, and for this reason earns its place at the number one spot.
I hope you enjoyed this Smash Bros. top ten. Of course, these are just my personal picks, and with so many levels to choose from, i’m sure there are some you feel I may have neglected. Sound off in the comments below, and let us know what your personal picks are.