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Filed under: Guest Article, Industry People, Masahiro Sakurai, Shigeru Miyamoto, Super Bros. Smash For 3DS, Super Smash Bros. (N64), Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Super Smash Bros. Series, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Representation of the Mario Series Through Stages in Smash [Part 3]

Scrapped Stages

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.

dr-mario-viruses-cap

If you get the dreaded Swine Flu from your cousin Steve, just come see Dr. Mario!

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.

Notable Absences

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.

smb3

Hopefully unlike the game, fights on this stage wouldn’t just all be an act. No room for stuntmen here.

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.

mario-town

– 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.

Conclusion

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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4 comments
  1. When you put into context how many stages are from the Mario series, it’s suddenly understandable why Sakurai was hesitant on adding too much Mario content. Though I guess it’s unavoidable for Nintendo’s most iconic series. It is possible that the Mario game for the Switch could still have a stage even if the game isn’t out before Smash is, isn’t that what happened with the Woolly World stage? Besides that, I think Mario Party does have a lot of potential for a stage based off the series, and it’s a little surprising we haven’t had one so far. Mario and Luigi, not so much, but that’s because I can’t really think of any notable environments from the series that could be recreated in Smash in a unique or interesting way. Anyway, good job with these articles, stages are an overlooked area in Smash worth people’s attention.

    Spiral on November 18 |
    • Indeed. While I am okay with Mario having the most stages since it’s the biggest franchise, they go way overboard a lot (Smash 3DS having four new stages and Smash Wii U having three or four (Wrecking Crew), when literally only Zelda and Pokemon only got two new stages in a single version). It really says something when the series with the second-largest amount of stages (Zelda/Pokemon are tied for it) has eight in total when Mario has more than double that.

      You are right. Not that I don’t think it would get a stage if it wasn’t out before Smash 4, but I was moreso saying that it is likely it will be out before the next Smash.

      I don’t really see how Mario & Luigi is any different from Paper Mario for stage material. I’d argue it has more due to having a lot more platforming in some instalments. As for interesting locations, there’s stuff like inside Bowser’s Body or the Dream World. I’d personally just be fine with the Beanbean Kingdom Outskirts. The aesthetic there alone is unique.

      Thanks, and thank you for commenting. That’s part of the reason I wrote this analysis (also spoilers, I’m working on one for another series), since stages discussion isn’t that common compared to other areas of Smash.

      MagcargoMan on November 19 |
  2. Been meaning to reply to this, but then Pokemon happened. Whoops.

    It was kinda curious to me that you went so far as to talk about Meta Crystal but didn’t have any mention of the Mushroom Kingdom stage in Melee’s adventure mode. Would have been interesting to see if it had any interesting references I failed to notice.

    Overall I feel Mario is pretty well represented in terms of stages, given how many it has that’s no surprise. Super Mario Bros 3 is the one really notable exclusion (an Airship stage could be cool), there are some other Mario games I’d certainly like to see but that’s the only one that strikes me as a necessity. There are a few specific games that get a few too many stages, but once again considering how many stages the series as a whole gets its less of an issue.

    Stage location variety is also pretty good. They tend to stick to the somewhat same-y level 1 type areas a bit much but there’s still a fair number of others that showcase other types of locations like Rainbow Cruise(sky), Mario Galaxy(space), Luigi’s Mansion(ghost house), Mushroomy Kingdom(desert?), etc. You’ve also got stuff like Mushroom Kingdom U which changes locations throughout the fight.

    I’m kinda surprised we still don’t really have a dedicated Bowser’s Castle stage (Paper Mario to and extent, but its only one form of 3 and uses the paper ascetic rather than that of the main series). It serves as the final level of most 2D platformers and some variation of it crops up in the 3D games from time to time. Its also a really common location in the spin offs: Kart, Sport, and RPG alike. As far as iconic Mario locals go, Peach’s Castle and World 1-1 are the only ones I can come up with that might be on its level, both of which have had a stage or two.

    Mettaur on November 23 |
    • So sorry for the late reply. I haven’t checked this article in a while.

      I had actually thought about the Adventure Mode stage just after I submitted Part 3 (it didn’t even cross my mind while writing the entire article), but I really couldn’t figure out how to add it without shoehorning it in (I feel like I had already written the Melee segment in a way that I’d have to change quite a bit to fit it in), plus PushDustIn felt it was okay since it’s not a conventional stage. You’re not really missing out on any references though; it’s just based on Super Mario Bros. with references to Mario Golf (a generic golf course) and Super Mario 64 (Peach’s Castle) in the background. Maybe if they ever bring back Adventure Mode and have another Mario stage in it I might do another part analysing them.

      Yeah, Super Mario Bros. 3’s absence is pretty baffling. I’m not really fond of it but it needs to be in already. An Airship level would be perfect and much more unique than the more commonly-seen Mushroom Kingdom III mock-ups people have made. While it does appear in the Super Mario Maker stage I don’t think it should count, especially since the other three games in it got stages of their own.

      What games would those be, exactly? I’d like another Super Mario World stage personally, since Super Mario Advance 2 was a big part of my childhood (Chocolate Island or the Forest of Illusion would make good stages), and as petty as it sounds, also so there can be one under the Mario series logo. Also, ever since Melee I’ve wanted Bob-omb Battlefield as a stage. It’s probably the longest time I’ve wanted a specific stage in Smash.

      To be honest I don’t really feel Mushroomy Kingdom serves as a proper desert level (it’s more of a wasteland), mainly because it’s just a decayed version of World 1-1 (although it did provide some desert music). I’d like a proper desert level, like Desert Land, Birabuto Kingdom or Shifting Sand Land. Mushroom Kingdom U was cool, but I wish they chose some better/more unique world themes from that game. Meringue Clouds and a Tower aren’t exactly that unique compared to some of the other worlds/levels, like Layer Cake Desert and the Painted Swampland level.

      I’m kinda not that fussed on getting a Bowser’s Castle stage since it’s sorta a non-game specific location, but yeah it’s weird that it hasn’t appeared yet. If they did add it, I’d hope it looks reminiscent of a specific game rather than just a generic one, but as long as it has lava, podoboos and an axe that breaks the bridge, it’d be cool. Plus it would be an opportunity to add what I think is one of the most needed Mario songs absent in Smash; Bowser’s Road.

      MagcargoMan on November 30 |