I originally posted this article as Hidden details in the Smash Stage Selection. This was before the Wii U version was released, and I was speculating what stages would appear based on the order I figured out. It feels like it’s been forever since I posted that article, and since Source Gaming wasn’t that popular I feel that many people don’t know how the stage selection screen is laid out. After posting the Secrets of Melee’s Stage Selection Screen, some people in the comments requested an explanation for Wii U/3DS. So, let’s break it down!
First, I noticed that there was even a pattern when I was reflecting on the ERSB leak and the final 3DS version. Some of the stages are swapped around, and the final order was very intentional.
I realized that there are a couple of “rules” that the stage selection screen follows.
Rule 1: The stage list is divided into 7 categories — based on when the characters were made playable in Smash. Therefore the first set are Smash stages, then Smash 64 veterans, then the Melee, Brawl, Smash for Wii U series, other Nintendo series and then the guests.
Rule 2: In each category, the returning stages come last. You can best see this on the Wii U.
There’s also a subsets of the Mario series. Yes, the stages are organized by first stages based on the main Mario titles, then Mario Kart with the spinoffs.
Melee subset is based on the unlock order. Brawl is based on the announcement order.
For the Smash for Wii U sub-series, the order is also based on when the characters were announced.
The other series are based on the release dates of the game. Donkey Kong, Wrecking Crew, Pilot Wings, Wii Sports Resort.
For guest, it seems it was based on when the character was added or announced to Smash. So…Sonic, Mega Man and Pac-Man.
DLC Stages are just ordered in the order of their release. For stages released at the same time, they were ordered by their series debut.
So the take away of this — history and dates matter a lot to Sakurai. That’s why he made a big deal of Pac-Man’s date in his announcement trailer. It’s why All-Star Mode is organized by first appearance too.