In Super Smash Bros. 64, there was only one tournament legal stage: Dream Land.
Thankfully, in Super Smash Bros. Melee, the count rose to 5 or 6, depending on the ruleset.
The community couldn’t agree on stages with Brawl, but those who tried to take the game seriously had roughly 10 stages that could be counted as tournament legal, and 31 others that were usually banned.
Smash 4 brought a record-breaking 55 stages to the select-screen after DLC, but only a depressing 5 were given the thumbs-up by tournament organizers (TOs).
Lots of competitions even banned the Omega versions of stages because some had walls that certain characters could cling to, or jump off!
When a community limits stage selection in an attempt to keep gameplay 100% pure, the following aspects are also limited: music selection, aesthetic variety, strategy, and challenge.
Those aren’t aspects of Smash Bros. I want to lose!
I honestly think limiting the stage selection shortens the lifespan of a game. It can be pretty boring watching players get into a match in Smash 4: rock-paper-scissors, ban Lylat, strike a few stages, and end up at Smashville. The player who loses will switch to a character who kills off the top and take his or her opponent to Town & City, where the upper blast-zone is small. It can be very predictable.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate introduces a welcome feature: A toggle for turning off stage hazards! This will prevent terraforming stages like Pokemon Stadium from moving, shut off boss encounters and other NPC interference, and more.
Now, this is a Sakurai-developed feature, so it won’t always work exactly how an eSports player would design it, and there’s already talk of ignoring the toggle and keeping the stage pool small. Some TOs are reluctant to have a bigger selection of stages available, because it makes our made-up stage striking process take longer.
Forget our process! Embrace the toggle!* Let’s inject some variety into the scene and let players learn how to adapt. This will help the competitive scene take off, and thrive for years to come.
*Note: The hazards-off toggle may make some stages worse, like Smashville where the floating platform doesn’t move at all and stays still in the middle. The moving platform wasn’t a problem, so I believe the toggle will NOT be appropriate for some stages, but WILL allow others into tournament rotation. Selective stage-hazards for the win.
Where do you stand? Tell me in the comments.