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.
- ”Welcome to the Alola Region!,” Pokémon Sun & Moon
- “Island Trial,” Pokémon Sun & Moon
- “Route 4,” Pokémon Sun & Moon
- “Battle! Totem Pokémon,” Pokémon Sun & Moon
- ”Battle! Champion of Alola,” Pokémon Sun & Moon
- “Island Festival” [Remix], Pokémon Sun & Moon
- “Iki Town (Day,)” / “Iki Town (Night),” Pokémon Sun & Moon [Note: which ones plays depends on whether the stage is in day or night]
- “Battle! Zinnia,” Pokémon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire
Hazards and Statistics
|Game||Pokémon Sun & Moon|
|Home to||Pikachu, Charizard, Greninja, Decidueye|
|Size||Small-Medium [like Gerudo Valley]|
|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.
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:
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.
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