Dream Arenas: Melemele Island

Note: thanks to Nantenjex for edits, and especially to Voyager for the stage render.

While we can’t deny the luster of Pokémon Sun & Moon have been somewhat dulled over the months since its November release by the sheer scope of buzz for Breath of the Wild and the Switch, the latest showcase for Game Freak’s Pocket Monsters has still been an acclaimed, popular shake-up for a series that could have used one. The series’ seventh generation is big, it’s good, and if the rumors of a Switch port are correct, it’s only going to stay relevant for some time – especially hot on the heels of the immensely successful Pokémon GO. It makes sense for it to get serious Smash representation, whether or not that includes a character. And while the islands of Alola are inundated with gorgeous, diverse landscapes, I’d suggest the introductory island of Melemele. It’s the least interesting of the four, admittedly, but it carries a strong iconography in the centerpiece of my stage idea: the platform of Iki Town’s annual festival, in which the player gets his or her starter Pokémon.

Architecturally, the stage is basic. It’s a small to medium-sized walk off set in the center of Iki Town, with the festival platform in the center providing a moderate change in elevation. Two semisoft platforms built for the stage on stilts stand past the primary one, along with a two flat soft platforms floating above it. Trees and pillars appear in the background before a dense forest, and the stage will randomly take place at either day or night, much in the way Boxing Ring and Spear Pillar have different graphics chosen at random.

Music Ideas:

Hazards and Statistics

Game Pokémon Sun & Moon
Series Pokémon
Home to Pikachu, Charizard, Greninja, Decidueye
Size Small-Medium [like Gerudo Valley]
Niche Performative arena
Blast Zones Walk off, medium
Gimmick Avoiding and using stage hazards 

While the layout is simple, it’s still a Pokémon stage through and through, so intrusive monsters are something of a staple. Instead of the creatures attacking the stage directly, though, the Guardian Deities – Tapu Koko, Lele, Bulu, and Fini – and the Ultra Beast Nihilego approach the player from the background and unleash moves to affect the stage. Tapu Koko deploys Charge to boost attack power while dealing residual damage to a fighter it touches, Tapu Lele uses Nature’s Madness to raise or lower a random fighter’s damage, Tapu Bulu uses Rototiller to trip and hurt fighters standing on the parts of the ground that aren’t wooden but boost their defense afterwards, Tapu Fini uses Aqua Ring to create a floating water vortex that heals them but lowers the damage and knockback they deal once they touch it (shown through a dull, bluish gray light effect that stays with them until the effect runs out), and Nilihego fires Sludge Wave across the stage, doing damage and giving fighters caught in the blast flowers. Every one of these attacks begins after a few seconds of windup in which the affected areas begin to glow, giving players time to react.

With the exception of Nihilego, all the moves affecting the stage are both an assault and a boon to fighters, emphasizing how the Guardians of Alola function as capricious sprites in the mythology of Pokémon Sun & Moon and giving players choices on whether they might want to interact with them. There are cases in which taking the hit may be beneficial for you or your opponent, and it also mollifies the sting of embarrassment that comes from being hit by a stage hazard.

Omega Form

The central platform raised on planks is now an island, positioned nearer to the treetops. The same Pokémon fly around the stage every so often in the background, sometimes moving closer to watch the fight.

More images of Voyager’s render:

Click here for a small tour around Iki Town

Original reference images:

And here is Voyager’s video

When I started coming up with this stage, I thought about the most important or memorable parts of Sun & Moon and quickly latched onto the idea of the Guardians interacting with the fighters. We’ve seen a number of stage hazards of varying severity in the series, along with a scant few that help instead of hurt, but I liked the idea of one that does both at the same time. In the ideal version, fighters would actually have a legitimate choice about whether or not they might want to be hit by an offscreen danger. It also gets into Sun & Moon’s depiction of deities who interact with the world on a frequent basis, and how it presents battles as these culturally significant events. These are not balanced, and some are more hazardous than helpful, but every one of them other than Nihilego is not purely good or bad.

Wolfman_J

Wolfman_J

Librarian, amateur film critic, gourmet, and meshuggeneh, I've as many fitful obsessions and interests as you can count. My articles predominately focus on critical analysis of a wide range of Nintendo titles with a particular eye to the company’s ongoing history. First played the original Smash Bros. blind at a neighbor’s house, and have been fascinated with it since.
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2 comments

  1. Pretty cool idea for a stage. Never considered it for a potential Sun and Moon stage due to them never picking early-game areas for stages, but the iconicness of it works in its favour. It’d certainly have a different flavour from other Pokémon stages. I like the layout and find it pretty interesting, which is why I feel this stage doesn’t really need to be hazard-heavy; especially since it’s not really a climatic area in the games. I think Tapu Koko would be fine though since he’s the guardian of that island. That said I liked the idea of hazards that have potential benefits; it’s pretty unique.

    “While the layout is simple, it’s still a Pokémon stage through and through, so intrusive monsters are something of a staple.”
    It’s funny you mention that actually, because only half the Pokémon stages in Smash have Pokémon as stage hazards. No enemy Pokémon on either Pokémon Stadium, Poké Floats or Prism Tower. Not a criticism or anything, just thought it was interesting to point that out.

    Also, stage needs Wild Pokemon Battle! (Sun and Moon) as a song. Could use some more songs from other regions too,

  2. I do see Iki Town being a Pokemon Sun/Moon based battle stage does make sense rather choosing Pokemon League stages and central cities like Saffron City and Prism Tower. Using the Tapus as hazard Pokemons does make sense, while its surprising you’d bring Nihilego for this case too. I could see this stage coming to the next Smash game, so I could expect seeing this stage in some form. I mean, what else could they bring from Pokemon Sun/Moon other than this?

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