Super Smash Bros. Melee
In Super Smash Bros. Melee, the majority of series represented in Smash received two new stages. However, the Super Mario games received a whopping four stages (actually five, but we’ll get to that later). Despite this, not much new ground is covered, with three of the stages representing games already touched on in the previous game, and two of them even being based on the same locations. Those two, however, are much more faithful to the games they represent, seemingly making up for the inaccuracies that occurred in the last game.
The Princess’ magnificent castle, complete with waterfall and giant explosive bullets.
The first of these new stages is Princess Peach’s Castle from Super Mario 64. Unlike its Smash 64 counterpart, the stage now takes place on the titular castle. Due to this, the stage has a rather unique layout involving the central tower, which divides the stage into two halves. The castle’s design is pretty faithful to the original, even including the nearby waterfall and fences around the water’s edge, although it is a bit longer and the central tower lacks the spire on top. Occasionally, different coloured switches will appear on the stage, and hitting them causes extra platforms and ! Blocks to appear. While the colours of these switches and blocks are based on the ones in Super Mario 64, the switches function more like the ! Switches of Super Mario World, which made outline blocks tangible, and the appearing platforms here could be seen as a similar case. Same could be said for the ! Blocks, which turn into used blocks when hit rather than breaking. Banzai Bills show up as a stage hazard, but they did not appear in Super Mario 64 (however, Bullet Bills in 64 were larger and had mouths instead of arms, resembling Banzai Bills more). Like in Smash 64, the song for this stage is a remix of the Super Mario Bros. Ground Theme, although this version has the Underground Theme as a sub-track that runs simultaneously with it.
Just like the original, only prettier and not PTSD-inducing.
The second stage added was Rainbow Cruise (Rainbow Ride in the PAL version), which also hails from Super Mario 64. This stage is of course based on Rainbow Ride, the fifteenth and final course from that game. The stage starts on a winged flying boat, which was the location of one of the course’s Power Stars, but here is smaller and is more regal-looking. After a while it bumps into a platform and starts to sink, forcing players to abandon ship. The rest of the stage involves an array of different kinds of platforms, many of which appeared in this course in the original game. One of these is the magic carpets, which follow the trail of a rainbow, just like in that level, although unlike in that game they stop moving if nobody is standing on them. They even blink and disappear if someone doesn’t get back on them after a few seconds, just like in Super Mario 64. Donut Lifts also appear in this stage, which fall if stood on for too long, using the same design they had in 64. Other platforms from Rainbow Ride such as the see-saw and pendulum swing also appear, albeit with a different design. Unlike the original course, the ground can be seen in the background, as well as a large mountain that strangely has a small village on it. The stage’s track is a remix of the Slider theme from Super Mario 64, which played on Rainbow Ride and a few other locations. At the end of the song, a remix of the Super Mario Bros. Underwater Theme plays.
Much more faithful to the original. Except those enemies don’t walk off the edge. Immersion ruined.
The third stage is Mushroom Kingdom from Super Mario Bros. Like the Mushroom Kingdom stage in the previous game, this stage is based on the ground levels and recreates the retro visuals of the original game, but this time are much more faithful with the colours of blocks and mushroom platforms. The POW Blocks and usable Warp Pipes are absent this time around, but there are now ? Blocks which can be hit to receive items, and Brick Blocks are now breakable (oddly, so are the ? Blocks). The scale platforms return, but they are separated from each other by the middle of the stage, instead of being directly next to each other like in the original. Hidden just off-screen are castle walls, which only appears in World 8-3 of the original game. Like in Smash 64, the stage’s song is a direct port of the Ground Theme from the NES game, but the stage has an alternate track, which is a remix of Fever from Dr. Mario.
You probably associate the music more with Thread Simulators than this game, don’t you?
The fourth and final Mario stage in the game (and the only unlockable one) is Mushroom Kingdom II, which despite the name is actually Subcon from Super Mario Bros. 2. Since Super Mario Bros. has already had a stage before and again in this instalment, following up with a Super Mario Bros. 2 stage is a logical decision. Like Mushroom Kingdom, this stage uses retro visuals, however unlike the former, this stage’s visuals aren’t actually based on the NES game, but are instead drawn from its updated port in Super Mario All-Stars (although Sakurai name-drops Super Mario Advance, which is a port of All-Stars‘ version of SMB2). Log platforms falling down the waterfall and Pidgit’s magic carpet can be used as platforms, and sometimes Birdo will show up and attack by spitting eggs, which can actually be picked up and thrown just like in the original game. The song for the stage, despite everything else being on the All-Stars/Advance version, is the original NES Ground Theme for Super Mario Bros. 2, which becomes the Boss Theme from the same game when the timer hits 20 seconds. Like Mushroom Kingdom, Fever from Dr. Mario is an alternate track.
Woe be upon the poor soul who has a Landmaster Final Smash.
But despite there only being four stages officially labelled as Mario series stages in Melee, there is actually a fifth. Yoshi’s Island, one of Yoshi’s two stages in Melee, is from Super Mario World. It’s possible it is only treated as a Yoshi series stage due to the name, or because Yoshi needed a second stage and Super Mario World was a relevant game to him, being his game of debut. Super Mario World was also the most recent 2D Mario platformer at the time, so its inclusion also makes sense from a Mario series perspective. The stage resembles the design of the first level(Yoshi’s Island 1), with brown hills covered in grass,a large slanted pipe stacked on mini pipes, tall blue mountains and a giant diagonal slope, but goes for a more realistic approach rather than trying to recreate the retro SNES visuals. A major feature of the stage is the Rotating Blocks, which act as solid platforms but when hit will spin and become intangible while doing so, just like in the SNES title. Sprites of Banzai Bills and Fishin’ Lakitus can be seen in the background. The stage’s theme is a fast-paced banjo remix of Super Mario World‘s Athletic Theme, but rarely it will instead play a remix of the Ground Theme of Super Mario Bros. 3, which also includes the Grass Land World Map theme from the same game.
With a larger stage count compared to Smash 64, more ground was covered with the Mario series this time around. While Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario 64 are covered again (64 alone having two stages) in this game, they provide more accurate portrayals of those games, as well as a new location in 64‘s case with Rainbow Cruise, so it doesn’t feel like a waste. It should be pointed out that Melee came out in 2001 and Super Mario Sunshine was not ready at this time, so like in the last game, Super Mario 64 was the most relevant Mario platformer at the time. The new games covered are two of the main series platformers, Super Mario Bros. 2 and Super Mario World, with the former even acknowledging Super Mario All-Stars and Super Mario Advance, and both stages are pretty faithful to their games of origin. Super Mario Bros. 3 is notably absent, although it does get acknowledged through music and some other things.
Super Mario Bros.
Super Mario Bros. 2 (including Super Mario All-Stars/Super Mario Advance)
Super Mario World
Super Mario 64
Super Mario Bros. 3
That concludes Part 1 of this analysis. In Part 2 we will have a look at the Mario stages present in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U.
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Continue to: Representation of the Mario series through stages in Smash [Part 2] (Brawl and Smash 4)
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