Despite already having nine new stages in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U, there was even more planned. There are actually two new Mario stages that were scrapped in Smash 4‘s development, one of which was found in the code of the game, while the other was directly mentioned by Masahiro Sakurai himself.
The first of these planned stages was a Super Mario Land stage, which was briefly mentioned in Sakurai’s Famitsu column vol. 505 “The Truth Isn’t So Simple”. In a short note at the end of the column, Sakurai mentions there was Super Mario Land stage planned, but it was replaced by the “Game Boy stage” (Dream Land). While no details or images of the stage are shown, due to be being replaced by another game from the original Game Boy, it is safe to assume that it would have recreated the original visuals just like Dream Land did.
The other planned stage was a Dr. Mario stage. Unlike the Super Mario Land stage, Sakurai hasn’t talked about this one. Instead, its existence was hinted at in the code of the Wii U version. While not actual code for the stage itself, there are files for boss portraits of the Viruses from Dr. Mario. It is unknown what the Viruses did, and their models have been removed, but the fact that they had portraits suggests they had an important role, and it’s more than likely they would have appeared on a stage from the same game as them.
Even with as many stages as the Super Mario series has had, there have still been many games left behind. While this has happened for pretty much every major series in Smash, and it’s unfeasible to represent every Mario game in existence, there have been some significant Mario titles that have missed out on getting a stage in Smash. Here I will briefly mention a handful of the most questionable absences.
Super Mario Bros. 3 is the last game of the original Super Mario Bros. trilogy and one of the most praised 2D Mario platformers of all time. After both Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 2 had received stages in Smash 64 and Melee, it seemed logical that the next game would follow up with a “Mushroom Kingdom III” stage. Instead, Brawl decided to delve further back into Mario’s history and went with a Mario Bros. stage, and Smash 4 chose Wrecking Crew instead. Super Mario Bros. 3 does, however, appear in the Super Mario Maker stage, but the other three games it shares the spotlight with there have all had their own stages before. However, with most of the NES-era Mario games represented, it’s likely Super Mario Bros. 3 is next in line when it comes to selecting an old-school Mario game.
Super Mario 3D World was the most recent 3D Mario platformer when Smash Wii U came out, being released almost a whole year prior to it. Despite this, the game didn’t receive a stage, even when the even newer Super Mario Maker did as DLC. Given how Smash tends to closely miss the most recent 3D Mario games in each instalment (no Galaxy stage in Brawl, Sunshine was a year off when Melee was released), it’s likely the game will be a high priority for a stage in the next Super Smash Bros.
Mario Party is one of the Mario franchise’s largest and most popular spin-offs, being the third best-selling series after Super Mario platformers and Mario Kart. In fact, it even has more games than Mario Kart does! But despite this, the series has barely received any acknowledgement in Smash, with only a single trophy (and seventeen stickers) in Brawl and a song in Smash 4 that was a direct port from Mario Party 9. While a Mario Party board may not scream stage material compared to a Mario Kart track on setting alone, there is still potential for it to work, possibly as a WarioWare, Inc. style stage where it transitions to different minigames between regular intervals. Or perhaps not even have mini games at all, and the stage’s gimmick would instead be board events that occur when a fighter stands on a certain space.
Mario sports games have been a part of the Mario franchise for a long time (dating back to the NES with NES Open Tournament Golf), having spanned golf, tennis, baseball, soccer, basketball and a few others, and many of these sports being sub-series of their own instead of one-off titles. Unlike Mario Party, the Mario sports titles have received a fair bit of acknowledgement in Smash despite not having a stage, including a remix of Mario Power Tennis and Mario Golf: Toadstool Tour‘s title screen themes, the soccer ball item hailing from Super Mario Strikers, the Waluigi Assist Trophy using a tennis racket, Peach’s side-smash attacks involving a golf club and tennis racket, and trophies in Brawl and Smash 4 of several characters in their soccer, tennis or baseball outfits, as well as a trophy of Plum from Mario Golf in Melee. Compared to Mario Kart, Mario sports games might not make particularly good stage material, and perhaps they’ve received content in other areas to make up for it. Still, as a significant part of the Mario franchise, and collectively selling more than the Mario RPGs, perhaps the Mario sports games should receive a stage in the series someday.
Mario & Luigi is one of the Mario series’ two long-running RPG spin-offs and has had just as many games as the Paper Mario series, which only predates it by a few years. Despite this, the series hasn’t received anything other than some music, as well as some stickers in Brawl. Paper Mario has been acknowledged with trophies since Melee, but due to the Mario & Luigi series being sprite-based, there are no trophies for it in Smash. With the two versions of Smash 4 focusing on handheld and console games respectively, it would have made sense to see the handheld-only RPG series debut in Smash 3DS, while a Paper Mario stage could have been in the Wii U version. Instead, Paper Mario received a stage for the 3DS version due to Paper Mario: Sticker Star and Mario & Luigi missed out. However, it did take until the fourth iteration of Smash Bros. to get a Paper Mario stage, so maybe a Mario & Luigi stage will follow soon after in the next.
Predicting the Future
While stages in Smash are arguably harder to predict than characters due to the many locations a single game can offer, there are some patterns that can be used to predict which games might receive stages in the next instalment. One pattern that has been consistent in Smash for every series (besides Kirby), is that series receive stages from some of their most recent games, and with main series titles taking priority over spin-offs, one can make a reasonable assumption about what stages are likely to get in. Another trend, and one specific to the Mario series is that it receives a retro stage in every game. With these two trends in mind, as well as some of the other information we’ve learnt in this article, we can make some educated predictions on what stages might appear in the next Super Smash Bros.
– A Super Mario 3D World stage
Super Mario 3D World was the most recent Mario platformer at the time of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U‘s release, and just like how Galaxy only just missed getting into Brawl due to its release date, it’s likely the same scenario will happen with 3D World, missing out this time but showing up in next. Mario platformers in Smash often have their stages based on one of the first levels or worlds, and with this, in mind a likely candidate for a 3D World stage would be Super Bell Hill.
– A Paper Mario: Color Splash stage
Now that the Paper Mario series has gotten its first stage in Smash, its likely it won’t be the last, and with the Paper Mario stage in Smash 3DS being for all intents and purposes a Sticker Star stage, its likely the next will be based on the next game in the series, Color Splash. Taking place on Prism Island, there is a colourful selection of locales to go with for this stage. It could either take place in a singular location such as Port Prisma, or transition through multiple areas like Smash 3DS‘ Paper Mario stage. Maybe even restoring colour to colourless patches on the level could be implemented in some way.
– A stage from the upcoming 3D Mario for Nintendo Switch
With a brand new Mario platformer heading for the newly-unveiled Nintendo Switch, it’s very possible that this new game will be ready in time to show up in the next Smash.
– A stage from the next Mario Kart title
The Mario Kart series first received a stage in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and was followed with new Mario Kart stages for both the 3DS and Wii U versions of Smash 4. With this in mind, it is likely there will be a Mario Kart stage in the next game, based on the next Mario Kart. If the Mario Kart game seen in the Nintendo Switch trailer is just an updated version of Mario Kart 8, we may just get another Mario Kart 8 stage instead, or nothing at all.
– A Super Mario Land stage
In every Smash Bros. game since the very beginning, there has always been a Mario stage based on an old-school title. These usually evoke the art-style of the original games be recreating them in 3D, or in some cases go for a more realistic look. With most of the retro Mario games being used already, there’re not many candidates left to select, and we know Sakurai planned a Super Mario Land stage for Smash 3DS. While it would be nice to finally have a Super Mario Bros. 3 stage, Sakurai might want to revisit his idea for a Super Mario Land stage in the next Smash.
And this wraps up my analysis on Mario stages in Super Smash Bros. Stages are a less-explored area of Smash, and it was interesting to be able to explain all their origins and references to other Mario games, as well as the statistics and trends behind them. The Mario series has a lot of stages spanning the series, and the list of games represented is only going to grow with the next Smash. I enjoyed typing this article, and I hope you enjoyed reading it. See you next game.
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