Smash Bros. Doesn’t need a Hazard Toggle

This article is partially written from a personal perspective.

As someone who interacts with a lot of people that aren’t savvy regarding Sony’s version of Smash known as PlayStation All-Stars Battle Royale, I frequently see comments resembling “stage hazards should have a toggle”. It’s interesting because Sakurai addressed this a long time ago, and yet it feels like everyone somehow skipped over the one interview where he explicitly said that it would be like PSASBR if there were such a toggle. The idea of a toggle comes up frequently when competitive balance is discussed, and sometimes on more touchy subjects such as Ridley(which is particularly ironic since PSASBR’s selection of stage hazards didn’t include bosses the way Smash 3DS/U did).

Next you’ll tell me there’s a planet somewhere that is home to people who supposedly aren’t hypocrites like Sakurai supposedly is.

Ignoring the fact that the basic design of Pyrosphere being similar to a stage in a 3DS-only game is incomparable to borrowing a mechanic from a competing company’s game, that one line in the interview holds a bit more significance than you may think. At least, when you look at it more objectively.

For the uninformed, a defining feature of PSASBR’s stage selection was the ability to disable that stage’s particular hazards while keeping the layout for characters to fight on, with background events still happening in a harmless way to the fighters, thus not making the stage feel bland. This feature made several of the otherwise chaotic stages legal for competitive play as the main offenders to their viability were disabled. For instance, Hades, one of the more commonly seen competitive stages, fast forwards the stage progression and makes the titular god a simple animated backdrop, turning the stage into a pseudo-Battlefield, which it already becomes when the stage progresses with hazards enabled.


Hades was never this patient in God of War proper.

This works for PSASBR because every stage was designed to be played on whether stage hazards were enabled or not without significantly altering the geometry of the stage in question (and because the game’s KO system is not tied to ring-outs, which incidentally can’t happen most of the time). Toggled or not toggled, you’ll still get a relatively similar experience with the stage in question, just tailored for whether a more serious or casual battle is wanted. Now what does this have to do with Smash? More than you think, actually.

Players of Smash 4 will surely know of the Omega versions of stages available, which remove all hazards and confine the match to a singular platform akin to Final Destination. It’s the same idea in concept albeit executed in a different fashion that is more familiar to the vast majority of Smash players, and sets it apart from PSASBR. With the current stage selection in Smash 4, this idea is much more consistent than a simple hazard toggle. Take stages such as Orbital Gate Assault, Kalos Pokemon League and Flat Zone X, for instance. Implementing a hazard toggle would require a complete overhaul for the stages to make them non-hostile while keeping its basic gimmick of the fighters being directly involved, which is both more time consuming than simply making a Final Destination clone and potentially detrimental in regards to how creative and varied these stages can be. Moreover, all of Smash’s hazards loop until the match ends, whereas those found in PSASBR do not.


Okay, before you get mad at me, at least it makes SOME sense since he cheats death all the time.

As a result, Smash’s design choices don’t lend themselves well to a hazard toggle option in its most basic form; disabling the hazards of a stage, due to a variety of factors. Quite honestly, you really don’t need it; the Omega versions of stages do this just as well and with a more unified result that is much easier to do in practice. 

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  1. It really doesn’t. Having limited competitive stages give those stages their own charm. If all Brawl stages were like Smashville do you really think it’ll be as loved?

  2. I get that it’d take considerable work to make hazardless versions of certain stages, but Omega stages are not the answer in the slightest. Omega stages don’t work “just as well” as a hazard toggle: PlayStation All-Stars’ hazard toggle makes every stage a unique legal stage, while Smash’s Omega toggle just turns every stage into barely altered Final Destination clones, which is incredibly redundant and not very useful. If they’re gonna attempt to pander to competitive players by making a “legal stage switch”, then they should’ve went all the way with a hazard toggle instead of copping out with the pointless Omega stages. Smash shouldn’t skip out on a good feature just because its competitor did it first.

      1. “Charm” is an abstract concept and is not a thing of real value in the competitive scene. Legal stages won’t lose the things we like about them if there’s other legal stages. Just because the competitive scene has always had to work limited tools doesn’t mean that it has to stay that way. More options is better than limited options.

          1. IMO, clearly not, but there are layouts that could work great for competitive play if they could switch off their hazards.
            and obviously, some stages are just for the sake of fun, like Hyrule Temple, that has the “problem” of being big without having the problem of stage hazards.

          2. I’m sure that Smashville would still be quite popular, simply because of its layout combining the flat size of FD and the platform play of stages such as Battlefield with its long moving platform, which won’t change no matter how many legal stages are added. Obviously, it wouldn’t be as frequent of a pick in tournaments due to there being more legal stages to choose from, but that wouldn’t change what people love about SV. Besides, saying “But the already legal stages won’t be as loved!” is a poor argument against a theoretical option that would open up more legal stages, which would add more variety and options to competitive play.

            1. Bullshit. If every stage was exactly like Smashville’s first debut it would not be as loved.

            2. I explained why I believe your argument to be wrong, and you reply by repeating yourself with no explanation. Discussing is more than saying something over and over until people believe you. If you’re going to debate, actually refute my argument with proper counterpoints.

            3. I do not care. You’re trying to say Smashville would be just as popular which is a bunch of phony lies!

            4. I told you why I believe that Smashville would retain its popularity even in the event that a hazard toggle made many other stages tournament legal. You reply by repeating your standard “Nuh-uh!” stance, then call me a liar. I gave logical reasoning for my argument, while you have not.

              If you don’t care, then why do you even argue with others? Your attitude when debating is an extremely poor one: you believe yourself to always be absolutely correct and anyone who disagrees is a phony liar. Your behavior and comments on this site have made it clear that you are incredibly closed-minded and are not interested in debate. If you aren’t interested in actual debate and have nothing to add to the discussion, then don’t reply.

            5. Wrong. If every Brawl stage was like Smashville it wouldn’t of been popular.

              Guess what? I don’t care. 🙂

            6. Nowhere did I state that a hazard toggle would turn every stage into Smashville. Every stage being Smashville is not relevant to the discussion at hand, which is the potential pros and cons of a stage hazard toggle. Do you actually read what you reply to?

            7. It was supposed to be an example! You’re the only one who didn’t get it. Rafael caught on faster than you did.

            8. Your theoretical example was useless for discussion if taken at face value: “No one would care for Smashville if every stage had an identical layout to it”, as a hazard toggle would not turn every stage into Smashville. You replying to me implied that you wanted relevant discussion, so I figured that you meant something more meaningful: “A hazard toggle would make every stage too similar to Smashville and to each other, so no one would particularly care about Smashville or any other stage”. So excuse me for thinking that you wanted to start a meaningful discussion rather than useless theorycraft. Unlike you, Rafael made a post that was relevant: he briefly replied to your pointless example and then followed with more meaningful content, stating that the layouts of some stages just would or wouldn’t work for tournaments, even without hazards.

            9. If every stage was like Smashville it would lose what makes it stands out since there’s several identical ones.

  3. I just wish the solution wasn’t to make EVERY stage’s alternate form a Final Destination clone. A mixed selection of FD, Battlefield, and Smashville clones would’ve been more reflective of how proper competitive play actually works and wouldn’t perpetuate that pernicious “FD is the only fair stage u gaiz” misconception. My friends used to have no problem playing on damn near every stage in Brawl. Now it’s just omega stages ad nauseum. I’ve seen official competitive rulesets expand player’s horizons without turning people off (such as Pokemon VGCs popularizing double battles). By contrast, Sakurai’s For Glory solution is more cynical and regressive than it needs to be.

    1. About the only reasons I believe why For Glory didn’t go for a mix of FD, Battlefield, and Smashville was partially because the data that Sakurai/Nintendo had gathered during that time period was over-saturated with Final Destination. Anyone who played Brawl’s Basic Brawl mode usually voted for Final Destination. By the time word got out from the competitive community that Smashville and Battlefield were more preferred stages, Nintendo had ended the service to collect data and Final Destination was seemingly seen as the preferred and balanced stage.

      In short, the damage was already done and the competitive community had missed its mark to getting something they could consider as proper competitive play.

  4. I completely disagree with this article to be honest. It completely oversimplifies the issue. A few examples of stages that would be too difficult to do it on (and fairly so) do not excuse all the other stages where it WOULD be easy to do it and the game in fact does: in 8-player Smash or particular Single Player mode scenarios etc only.

    There’s no excuse for why these options couldn’t be made available. The variables are there in the game already, we just can’t access them.

    I for one am very much a “For Fun” player, but when it comes to just some certain stages, I hate having to choose between an utterly bland, featureless version of a stage via Omega or the full whammy of interesting layout AND disruptive obstacles. Hell, funnily enough the three examples you listed as too major to change are stages I wouldn’t turn off – I enjoy those stages in their vanilla state, I think the hazards there are just right, clearly telegraphed, mostly very fair and add interesting moments to casual fights as oppose to just bulldozing over the fight with their overbearing presence like say, the Flying Men or Magicant or Yellow Devil’s relentless appearance frequency in Wily Castle.

  5. I agree with you in the concept that a lot of stages in smash have random effects and complex layouts, and those doesn’t seem to interfere with the competitive play, but IMO, some stages could benefit if there is a somewhat “regulator switch” that could regulate the “intensity” of the hazards. (sometimes is fun to fight Ridley or the Yellow Devil)
    but as you say, it would require a lot of work for some stages.
    A simple one, might be switching off the Yellow Devil from Wally Castle but without touching the modular platforms.
    In other hand, Orbital Gate Assault works as a hard platforming stage, that leave little space to maneuver (Still, I’m sure that there are players that have offensive and defensive strategies for every frame of the stage), so changing it, would transform it into another thing entirely.
    In the end I believe that the stage hazards are a cool thing for casual play, and the Omega stages are good for those who are starting in the competitive game, but it will be nice that we could get some interesting layouts to fight without depending on randomness.
    Great article =)

  6. But omega stages AREN’T just the answer.
    let’s stick with Pyrosphere as an example. That’s actually a pretty solid stage; i like the layout a lot and none of the other stages have that kind of platform layout. But sometimes, I want to play that stage WITHOUT Ridley being the predominant focus of every single match, but still enjoy the platforms.
    Instead my options are deal with every stage hazard, or play it on final destination (in a new hat)

    Wily’s Castle is in the same vein. I love all the platforms that come in & out, so it’s a shame that Yellow Devil takes precedence every like 20 seconds.And it’s not as fun to fight as Ridley or Metal Face imo.

    Let’s look at a non-boss example: Norfair. I actually don’t mind the lava gimmick, it gives it some charm, but again sometimes I just want to play on that weird V shaped arena withotu having to worry about the lava coming from everywhere.

    And the kicker to all of this is, they clearly can do this pretty easily? Some 8 PLayer stages will disable certain hazards, and so willl certain non-8P stages in All Stars. Norfair, for instance, when played in 8P or All Stars, disables the lava completely. Luigi Mansion, a stage defined by its destruction gimmick, disables the pillars completely. I am pretty sure that Magicant will disable the Flying Men while playing All Stars.

    I don’t think EVERY stage needs a hazard toggle, but they also probably wouldn’t do that in the first place. Like Flat Zone is entirely about its weird hazards and strange screen, that could probably stay. Or any auto-scroller stage since the “hazard” is the moving screen which is the entire point. Gaur Plains is so huge that Metal Face actually helps it out. But some stages like Pyrosphere or Norfair or Wily’s Castle could totally work without them and still be really fun non-flat stages.

  7. I fail to see how a hazard toggle would be hard to implement. For most stages, it’s as simple as removing a certain element, such as the Yellow Devil from Wily Castle. As for the particular stages you brought up…

    Orbital Gate would simply be a clone of Corneria from Melee. Just copy the Great Fox model into a stage file that isn’t coded to move or transition. In modding, we’ve done this sort of thing with relative ease, using fan-developed tools and even importing models from things like trophies. ( It’s hard to imagine that Sakurai and the team at Namco would be incapable of doing this.

    Kalos would simply stay in the base form, without transforming, featuring two platforms and being quite nice for competitive play. If they wanted, Sakurai and the team could have it still transform, but without affecting gameplay.

    Flat Zone could simply stay in the form based on the Melee stage, or any of the other forms. Alternatively, the transformations could be kept, but without the damaging hazards.

    Making an entirely new, tournament-legal stage layout is one thing; removing hazards from an existing stage is much less difficult.

  8. So because some stages don’t lend themselves well to a straight hazard toggle no stages can have it? I can maybe understand the desire for consistency but that’s still a pretty weak argument at best. Also I don’t think anyone would complain if the hazardless versions of stages like Orbital Gate Assault and Kalos League were simply omega forms but with more varied platform layouts, which wouldn’t be much more work for the team than the omega stages already are.

    I guess I’d agree that Smash Bros doesn’t absolutely NEED a hazard toggle as the previous games have all be great without it. However I feel the feature would definitely add more to the Smash experience than the addition of 50 variations of Final Destination.

  9. “Hazard toggle” is not the hardest thing to think of, and for some, an obvious idea even if they didn’t heard about Playstation All-Stars, I don’t think it’s a “rip-off” as much as multiple games having difficult selection, boss rush mode, arcade mode, control change… it’s just options, in this case an specific, but not surprising one. Or like saying Mario shouldn’t have the star power-up because it would be similar to the power-pellet from Pac-Man, I guess… I think I understand Sakurai, even if it’s not a ‘rip-off’, but an natural or obvious option that one can think in my opinion, it wouldn’t feel cool to have something in the game that is similar to the competitors’ “rip-off” of Smash. Like… If Mario Kart 8 borrowed ideas from Kart Fighter? Maybe that’s why he doesn’t thinks it’s right? I don’t know.. xD (Or of course, he could just want the game to be more different than Playstation All-Stars..)

  10. Eight Player Stages work without Metal Face or Ridley. So why not making a Rule option to turn them off for four and less Player matches?
    Orbital Gate has not really active hazards. There is a big difference if you can fall down easily or a big crab is rushing into your battle! 😉

    1. A theoretical toggle for hazards would not remove anything casual from the game. Its just an option, there for people who want it, easily ignorable by people who don’t.

  11. I feel the few examples of stages that would be too difficult to do it on (and fairly so) in the article do not excuse all the other stages where it WOULD be easy to do it and the game in fact does: in 8-player Smash or particular Single Player mode scenarios etc only. There’s no excuse for why these options couldn’t be made available. The variables are there in the game already, we just can’t access them.

    I for one am very much a “For Fun” player, but when it comes to just some certain stages, I hate having to choose between an utterly bland, featureless version of a stage via Omega or the full whammy of interesting layout AND disruptive obstacles. Funnily enough the three examples listed as too major to change are stages I wouldn’t turn off – I enjoy those stages in their vanilla state, I think the hazards there are just right, clearly telegraphed, mostly very fair and add interesting moments to casual fights. As oppose to just bulldozing over the fight with their overbearing presence like say, the Flying Men or Magicant or Yellow Devil’s relentless appearance frequency in Wily Castle.

    1. (Whoops excuse the double post I commented a second time because my first one had seemed to be perpetually stuck in “waiting to be moderated” limbo for hours on end while other comments were going through lol).

    1. My dream would be for each stage to have one of each of the following:
      Omegas – Pretty much exactly what they are.
      Alphas – Like Omegas, but with the Battlefield layout instead of FD.
      Betas – Hazards off mode of the stage.

  12. The funny thing is that even if Smash did have a hazard toggle, a lot of currently banned stages in competitive play would *still* be banned because of walk-offs, walls and/or ceilings, etc.

    I do agree fully that Smash does not need a hazard toggle, mostly because the idea clashes with the nature of Smash. Stages are supposed to be unique and representative of their series. If you removed the Yellow Devil from Mega Man’s stage, it’d only be a Mega Man stage in name and look. I know it’s no good for competitive play, but the game wasn’t exactly designed to be competitive from the start, so…

    Also, I think the reason Omega stages turn every stage into a clone of FD is because FD represents what a typical fighting game looks like: a flat stage with absolutely nothing in between the fighters. No platforms, no moving objects, no shifting terrain, nothing. Objectively, FD removes as many obstructions between the players as possible while keeping the basic feel of matches intact. If there was ever a stage to be competitive, it’s that one. Considering the meta takes a long time to settle on the stages and rules it actually wants, it could have been a waste of time making the Omega stages only to have some of them eventually banned. Heck, some tournaments just ban Omega stages outright (but why, I don’t know), so I think that’s at least one example of how there’s not really one right way to handle things that’ll satisfy everyone.

    1. Actually, there’s quite a few stages that would be legal if there were no hazards. Pokemon Stadium 2, Kalos Pokemon League, and Wily Castle are the best examples, possibly Mushroom Kingdom U, and also Norfair and Pyrosphere could possibly legal in doubles. And if you widen the definition of hazards, you get even more – Wuhu Island, Delfino Plaza, Wuhu Island, Mario Circuit U, Halberd, and Skyloft could all be legal if it was just one static form without hazards. Of course it takes out some of the uniqueness, but it’s not like a hazards off switch takes away the ability to play on the stages regularly.

  13. I’m going to disagree. Sure, it may take out the main “point” of some stages, but at the competitive level, but it does promote more variety. It lets you enjoy a lot of diverse layouts without being distracted.

    Wily Castle’s main gimmick happens to the Yellow Devil. Take him out and you are still left with the platforms, which do make it a more interesting stage than Omega Wily Castle.

    I could argue similarly for Jungle Japes (without the flowing water), Gerudo Valley (where the bridge doesn’t collapse and the hazards don’t occur), Pac-Maze (without the ghosts), Norfair (without its lava), the first section of Castle etc. etc.

    My point is that all these stages have unique layouts not found in any other stage and having a hazard toggle would let the player enjoy those without having to worry about those constantly being killed or screwed over.

  14. This is by far the worst article I’ve ever seen on this website. Logic has been completely bypassed to the point that I’m actually not sure if it’s serious.

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