Today, I will be covering something a little different — I’ll be talking about Melee’s Stage Selection Screen. In the Smash community, we have a lot of discussions on the fighters but we don’t really talk about the stage selection. Even though stages are just as important as fighters.
First, is that Sakurai had the concept of “front” and “back” stages for each series. These stages are part of the same universe — for example both Great Bay and Temple are from the Zelda series. The “back” stage tends to be a bit more gimmicky, or mixes things up in a unique way. This can be seen with Corneria and Venom, where Venom has a tighter battlefield.
Another interesting tidbit is that for the most part, the universes are organized by the year that they premiered. The first Smash Bros. also had this layout, with a secret Mario stage at the end. Melee follows this precedent and includes two Mario stages at the tail end of the list.
With the exception of the classic stages, Final Destination and Battlefield; Icicle Mountain and Flat Zone are the two outliers, and don’t partake in the two rows. We do know there was another Ice Climber stage in development that was cut. It’s still in the game’s code and is labelled Ice Top. It’s possible this later inspired Summit in Brawl, but there has been no official confirmation. Ice Top would have completed the Ice Climbers front and back stage.
There was another removed stage — Fire Emblem’s Akaneia. It’s possible this could have complimented Flat Zone to complete the two rows, but this is just speculated as there is no other “place” to put it.
Lastly, there was one stage that was considered — Sprout Tower of the Pokemon franchise. Since Sakurai confirmed that Venasaur’s Earthquake came from an early version of Pokemon Stadium, it’s possible that Pokefloats replaced Sprout Tower. Another possibility is that Sprout Tower would have been the third Pokemon stage. Either way, the stage was quickly dropped. (Cut Content sources here)
A lot goes into stage design and selection, but that’s another video for another day…