Super Smash Bros. finally came to the Wii U last month. Creative types that they are, avid fans have been having a lot of fun with the game's new level editor—making neat-looking custom stages and posting them online for others to draw inspiration from. Let's check out some of them, why don't we?
Before I get into the custom stages in further detail, a quick qualification: we're still at the earliest days of the new Super Smash Bros. generation. As a result, I don't consider this roundup definitive in any way, shape, or form. Players are still figuring out how to use the level editor to the best of their abilities, let alone crafting custom stages intended for specific gameplay purposes. Part of the whole fun of Smash, meanwhile, is participating in its ever vibrant and evolving online community. Doing so is particularly important when it comes to custom stages, since Nintendo doesn't provide an easy way to share levels with other players online through the game itself. The company is planning to add that functionality at some point. But for the time being, players have to present their ideas and work to one another by other means.
Oh, Nintendo. Always leaving players to figure things out for themselves. If you want to get in on the custom stage building-and-sharing action but aren't sure where to begin, the Smash Bros. stages subreddit is a good place to start. That's the closest thing to a proper "hub" I've found so far. Also YouTubers like Game ER have kicked off custom stage showcases to highlight interesting work they've found.
I plan to update this article on a regular basis as players continue to create and discover cool new custom levels. Once we've gotten a clearer picture of how things are taking shape, I may follow up with a separate piece highlighting the best custom stages for particular purposes. So if you're a Smash fan and see anything cool enough to share with other players, please don't hesitate to reach out—either by email or by dropping a note in the comments. Sound good?
Ok, ready? Imagine I just said READY in the Smash announcer voice. Let's do this.
Ah, Good Old Nostalgia
Predictably, a lot of Smash players have been primarily interested in recreating some of their favorite levels from previous iterations. The video pros at GameXplain made one modeled off Peach's Castle, for instance, shown above. They also did another one for Zelda's equivalent Hyrule Castle:
And while we're on the subject of castles, here's one for Bowser:
And another called "Mount Yoshi," a medium-sized map inspired by "Yoshi's Island from Melee, Brawl, and the Yoshi games," that creator atomattack says is good for team matches:
Reddit's Tiamat22, meanwhile, has a large collection of "retro stages" with corresponding images and breakdowns in this Imgur album—including alternate versions of the two stages GameXplain made. Just yesterday, another Reddit user highlighted this Imgur album that contains versions of the stages from the Nintendo 64 version of Smash.
The list could go on. But remember that we're talking about Super Smash Bros. here, though. It's a fighting game that pits iconic mascots from a plethora of different franchises against one another in mortal combat. The corresponding nostalgia runs deeper than other Smash games as a result. There's been a lot of interest in creating a stage inspired by the "Master Sword" that Link wields both in The Legend of Zelda games and anywhere else he decides to show up, for instance. Here's a template for one that Game ER was especially fond of, created by Reddit user rifick:
Here's the thing in action:
A Photobucket album from chstar, meanwhile, has a Master Sword of its own:
The album also has a few wonderful-looking stages that pull from a variety of iconic levels from historic franchises featured in Smash. Like the air fortress from Super Mario Bros. 3:
...Kirby's Dream Land:
...an asteroid level from the SNES version of Star Fox:
Speaking of decidedly old school throwbacks, Reddit's OhioStateBuck has this appropriately stage that's just called..."Old School." Yep:
"Shy Guy Plateau"
This other great batch hearken back to the Donkey Kong Country games:
Since TanooKing is playing on the nostalgia angle, of course there are some Super Mario stages as well.
"SMB3 Angry Sun"
"SMW Bowser's Castle"
TanooKing's Tumblr has grids for some of them, if you want to try making them yourself.
When it comes to recreations of fan-favorite stages from past Smash games, there are honestly so many that it's hard to keep track of them. I plan to revisit recreated stages in a separate article in the future as a result. But for the time being, here are a small handful of my favorites.
YouTuber Smash Highlights has a stellar rendition of "Board The Platforms," which was a single-player mini-game in the original Super Smash Bros. all the way back in the N64 generation. This video does an excellent side-by-side comparison of the two:
One stage that has proved particularly popular among retro stage builders is the Star Fox-themed level from Melee, Corneria. This makes sense, seeing as Corneria itself is, essentially, a revised version of the classic "Sector Z" stage from the original Smash. There are a ton of different attempts to revisit both stages using a variety of building methods, so for now I'll just highlight three of the coolest renditions I've seen.
This first one, by Imgur's Paterk, comes with high praise from a number of different Smash players who sent it may way:
It's Imgur album includes thorough notes on how it was made.
Kotaku reader Blake Hunter gave Corneria a slight "twist" with this 2.0 version:
Here's how he describes it:
This is my remake of Corneria with a twist. The inner area of the spaceship is hollow with some lava along the top, there is lava coming from the jet, there are 2 other spaceships (both along the camera-line), and a bunch of barrels. The barrel on the top right shoots you into the main spaceship. The barrel on the bottom right shoots you onto grabbing the left ledge on the small platmore underneath the ship. The barrel attached to the main spaceship shoots you over to an area off-screen (I like putting small hiding spots on maps. Plus, if anyone camps on either platform below the ship, someone can just blast them away with a barrel). The barrel to the top of the platform to the left of the screen shoots you to the right ledge of the small platform directly below the ship. Then, the last barrel to the left of the center small platform shoots you onto the gun of the ship originally from Corneria.
Map size: Large
And for a completely different sort of Corneria entirely, Reddit's RetroStu has this version, which goes all the way back to the original Star Fox:
Let's Play Some...Smash-ketball?
One of the best ideas I've come across proposes some new ways to play Smash by treating it like a whacky sort of sports game. Basketball is the most common connection, thanks in large part to the way that the Donkey Kong barrels in the game can be used to add a de facto "dunking" mechanic. Many versions of this trace back to a player who goes by the handle "OCHO robo," and posted about something called "Super Sports Bros." on his personal Tumblr. Other players took to the idea, and already put it into action:
The idea for Smash-ketball is to erect a series of barriers above the stage and to both sides, thereby leaving the bottom of the stage as the only place for fighters to drop off and plummet to their death. The territorial constraint makes the game all the more frenetic, since it sends fighters ricocheting around a tight enclosure ever faster until someone slips through the cracks at the bottom corners.
Blake Hunter came up with an idea to revise the original Smashketball template, which he spelled out in this comment calling it "Smashketball 2.0."
Here's how he breaks it down:
I really liked the concept of Smashketball and your map you created, so I decided to make my own version of it. The only thing I didn't like in the other one was that the barrels on the hoops pointed down, so I decided to make mine more realistic, where you hit players into the openings of cannons similar to the openings of basketball hoops. The Cannon on the left hoop shoots you into the left cannon in the top center, whereas the right cannon does the same for the right cannon in the top center. The two cannons at the top shoot you directly off of the map. The cannon on the bottom center also shoots you directly to your death; however, a large moving platform may save you. Above this large moving platform is lava to save people who fall to the bottom. The two barrels on the bottom right/left shoots you onto the right/left hoops to your safety from the lava. There is also lava on the top to prevent deaths as well.
Map Size: Medium
The same player who recreated Sector Z also offered up a revised version of Smashketball in the same album, nothing that the platforms are oriented in such a way as to make them meet in unison:
Once Smashketball became a big hit, players continued to riff on the idea of "sports" stages. None of the others have taken off in quite the same way yet. But experimentation is part of the fun.
Here's a soccer one, which uses actual soccer balls:
Another player went for more of a pinball vibe (posted on a GameFAQs thread):
YouTubers TheBaldingGamers put another pinball idea into action here:
Animan even included a screenshot from the late 70's, early 80's early classic just to show how faithful a rendition it was:
Circling back to the cannon-heavy stages, Reddit's masterdixon had a neat idea for something called "Gale Force Winds."
Here are the rules offered for the map:
I thought it would be fun to play this map with these rules:
- Players: 2
- Items Allowed: Gust Bellows, Ore Club
- Preferred Character(s): Mario, Link
- Objective: Use the Gust Bellows and Ore Club tornado's to blast your opponent into one of the cannons.
The only real imbalance I have run into is that two items won't usually spawn right off the bat.
Ok, one last cannon then I'll cut myself off I promise. Reddit's dahahawgy made a marvelously intricate and decidedly non-competitive stage called "Incursion." You can see a detailed guide for it on its Imgur album, but the screenshots make it look positively chaotic—in a good way, of course:
Now, How About Some Competition?
Custom stages that are designed for use by the competitive community have been the trickiest ones for me to assess, thanks in no small part to the fact that I'm far, far below a competitive level as a player. I also haven't seen nearly as many self-described "competitive" stages as I have non-competitive ones. Like the recreations, therefore, I plan to revisit the topic for a separate piece in the future.
YouTubers Cobbs Games made this nice video showing seven competitive-focused custom stages:
I imagine that many more competitive stages will start to appear as the pro community for the new Super Smash Bros. continues to take shape.
These Just Look Cool, Simple As That
Separate from specific gameplay ideas or thematic inspirations, I've also just seen a lot of custom stages that, I dunno...just look like they'd be a lot of fun? It's difficult to source many of these properly, since players usually just post Imgur links in threads on popular forums like GameFAQs, Reddit, and the like. Here are a few more from that GameFAQs thread where I found the pinball one, for instance:
This one's called " Face Island":
" Primal Crest":
" Space Triangles":
" Asteroid Field":
On another GameFAQs thread, user Solar_Crimson posted a few shots of this epic-looking, lava-drenched level that makes me wish Nintendo would create a Mount Doom themed stage:
(Insert joke about how one does not simply walk into Super Smash Bros. here)
Speaking of Mordor, Reddit's alyobro went all-in on the Lord of the Rings references with this epic-looking thing:
At the very least, it makes for a great view:
This rendition of the Royal Crest from The Legend of Zelda comes from Kotaku reader JakeJakeThePillowSnake:
Reddit's rifick, who made one of the Master Sword stages listed above, has continued to produce wonderful work in the game's level editor. He posted another batch on Reddit and Imgur after this story was originally published that all look very cool. Here's a star level:
Which makes for possibly the most triumphant Mario I've ever seen:
Another take on Peach's castle:
This one, simply called "Station," plays around with moving platforms.
Rifick wrote in the Imgur album notes that "rare glitches" ended up making this level simpler than intended. But it's still "a little less casual than other maps with this much movement going on."
This untitled stage is "probably best suited for smaller more serious games," because the angle of the ledges characters can grab onto limits the amount of characters who can actually latch onto them:
Here, Have Some Awesome Pixel Art
As some of the stages in that last section suggest, players aren't only thinking about the playable function of their custom stages. The form is just as important. What unifies this last batch to me is the aesthetic mindset that people have brought to the stage builder, regardless of how much fun one might be relative to another.
Kirby, which comes from Smash creator Masahiro Sakurai himself:
The Wii Fit trainer:
A Koopa shell:
"Keyblade," by Reddit's Catwednesday
And just so I can end on the most adorable note possible, here's one last Blake Hunter stage, this one with Goombas!
Ok, technically this is a remake of a GameCube-era Smash stage. Read his explanation here.
Alright, that's all for now. But as I said above, I'm going to keep updating this list today and (probably) well into the future. So let me know: What are some of your favorite custom stages?
Also: if you like what you saw here, make sure to check out our post on how to play Smashketball. Or, to get a peek at the raunchier side of Smash Bros., slide on over to our roundup of the game's NSFW stages.
UPDATE 12/09/14 10:50 am: Added a bunch of additional stages at the bottom of the article. Keep 'em coming!
UPDATE 2 12/24/14 4:30 pm: I added a bunch of new stages to the "nostalgia" section and filled out the Smashketball section with some other ideas for Smash sports games. I also added two new sections focused on pixel art and competitive play. This is still far from definitive. The competitive section in particular could really use some more work. So if you see, or make, or play on any custom stages that you want other players to learn about, don't hesitate to reach out or chime in with a comment. Merry almost-Christmas!