While Pokémon had a great head-start in the first Super Smash Bros., in subsequent games the series began to drop behind in terms of coverage of the franchise due to a combination of only having a small amount of stages per game as well as having several stages with locations made-up for Smash. Due to this several main series, Pokémon games have missed out, and that’s not even touching on all the various spin-offs absent either. In this section, I will discuss some of the most notable absences for Pokémon stages.
Pokémon Gold and Silver was the second generation of the Pokémon games and the one that introduced many improvements to the original formula, solidifying many concepts that remain in the games to this very day. But despite being such an important step in the franchise’s history and being announced back in 1997 before even the first Super Smash Bros., the games never received a stage. As mentioned before there was discussion about a possible Sprout Tower stage early in Melee‘s development but for reasons unknown it was never made, making Gen II the only Pokémon generation to have a playable character but no stage. The remakes Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver haven’t helped it either due to being released a year after Brawl, meaning they were overshadowed by later generations by the time of Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS/Wii U.
Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire are the third generation Pokémon games and marked the series’ transition to the GameBoy Advance. These games introduced even more improvements like double battles and abilities, and they remain fan-favourites of the series. However, when it came to the time of Super Smash Bros. Brawl, only the latest generation games Diamond and Pearl were given a stage, while Generation III’s only presence in stages was through a couple of remixes and a cameo from Snorunt on Pokémon Stadium 2. Due to this, Gen III has the distinction of being the only Pokémon generation to have never had a stage or a playable character. Maybe its remakes Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, which released a couple of months after Smash Wii U, could be recent enough to have it granted a stage in the next Smash Bros. for the Nintendo Switch.
Pokémon spin-offs in general have been next to completely ignored in Super Smash Bros., not just when it comes to stages, but not even having music or even trophies beyond ZERO-ONE from Pokémon Snap present. There are so many different Pokémon spin-offs out there like Pokémon Mystery Dungeon, Pokémon Ranger, Pokémon Rumble, Pokémon Pinball and PokéPark that could all bring something different to the table for a stage or at least provide some good remixes, but for some reason all of them are ignored. This became extremely obvious in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U where despite the focus on home console games we got another X and Y stage instead of having a stage from a console-exclusive Pokémon title. It is more than likely that The Pokémon Company is responsible for this, but why they wouldn’t want to have any spin-offs acknowledged in Smash is unknown and extremely odd given how popular and marketed some of them are.
Predicting the Future
Like with the last two analysis articles, it is now time for me to discuss my predictions for what Pokémon stages we might see in the next game. As with other series, we know Pokémon always receives stages from its most recent main series titles. Unlike its fellow heavy-hitter franchise Mario however, the Pokémon series never gets stages originating from any of the spin-off titles, making stage predictions much easier. Something interesting to note is that unlike a lot of other series in Smash which tend to have stages set in early areas of their game, Pokémon‘s stages all either take place in an important town (Saffron City, Prism Tower) or at a climatic or end-game area (Spear Pillar, Unova Pokémon League, Kalos Pokémon League).
– A Pokémon Sun and Moon stage
Pokémon Sun and Moon are the newest Pokémon games currently and are the first games of the series’ seventh generation. Debuting only just last year, these games are extremely recent to the point that unless Super Smash Bros. for the Switch comes much later in the console’s life-cycle it will still be the only new generation of Pokémon post-Smash 3DS/Wii U, as opposed to the last two games where there were two new generations made prior to them. Set in the Hawaii-inspired Alola region, the location of these games could provide something quite different from the norm for Pokémon if it chooses to go for a stage set on one of the region’s islands. Alternatively, if it goes for the end-game approach we could see either an Ultra Space or Alola Pokémon League stage.
Now, going off the trend that has been true since Melee, there will more than likely be a second Pokémon stage in Smash for Switch unless it is just a port of Smash 3DS/Wii U. What makes things very unpredictable this time around however is that no matter what option they choose they will break a pattern that has been consistent with the franchise’s choices for Pokémon stages for a long time. If they choose to have a second Sun and Moon stage it will be the first time any series has gotten two stages from the same game in the same instalment of Smash since Melee (while a couple of games like X and Y got stages in both versions of Smash 3DS/Wii U, they were in separate versions), and would be the first time ever for Pokémon. If they decide to go back and pick a stage from an older generation of Pokémon, either one that has been already represented or one that missed out, it will be the first time that they have went back to a generation that is no longer recent for a stage. If they add a stage set in the Hoenn region due to Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire, it will be the first time a remake of a Pokémon game has been given a stage in Smash. Alternatively, and as unlikely as it seems, they could finally decide to add a stage based on a Pokémon spin-off, which would mark the first time they’ve ever added a stage that didn’t originate from the main series games. There is also potentially the worst possible outcome; that Pokémon might not get a second stage at all. But rest assured that no matter what option they go with, it will defy any trends Pokemon has previously gone for with stage selection before.
And with that concludes my analysis of Pokémon stages in Super Smash Bros. This one was a little trickier to write due to some of the details that had to be explained, but overall I hope I provided an interesting and informative analysis for you all. Pokémon as a series has had some rather different approaches to stages in terms of choices compared to most, so discussing stages taking place in locales that were created just for Smash is something quite different. The reliance on these original stages did cause several main series games to miss out, so hopefully, some of them are revisited in the future. I have one last stage analysis article planned before E3 comes around, so stay tuned!
Mains: Yoshi (64), Game and Watch (Melee), Wario (Brawl), Wario/Pac-Man (Smash for 3DS/Wii U)