Video Games

The Ten Best Stages in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros Ultimate - Pilotwings

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has what is potentially the best selection of stages to have ever appeared in a Smash game. At 103 stages, there are surely going to be several that you adore (and it’s inevitable there will be a few stinkers as well). I’ve selected what I think are the best ten stages in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

Keep in mind these are a matter of opinion. I know I probably love some stages that others might find tedious or dull. I also imagine I’ve left off some of your favorites, like Temple. How could I forget Temple? (To be honest, Temple was a huge hit back in Melee, and it was probably the stage I spent the most time with in Brawl. However, I prefer battles with a max of four players, and Temple is simply too large to support that without a lot of running and hiding. In the past ten years, I think a lot of stages have been created that are much better suited for Smash, and Temple simply doesn’t do it for me anymore. I apologize for those offended by this, but it’s the truth. Search your feelings; you know it to be true.)

With 103 stages to choose from, I’m forced to exclude more than 90% of the available stages to whittle this list down to ten. There’s no way I can include all of the best stages on this list. I promise you, I had to make some difficult cuts. Leaving Magicant off the list broke my heart a little.

Also, I’ve only included the main versions of these stages. Battlefield stages deserve their own list, and I plan on creating that later.

So let’s begin.

Final Destination

Super Smash Bros Ultimate - Final Destination

Every Smash game includes its own take on the Final Destination stage, but Ultimate‘s is by far the best one yet. Sure, it’s just a flat plain, but the stage design is gorgeous — it’s a sci-fi/fantasy combo of crystals, machinery, and glowy auras, and all this is set against a swirling, morphing backdrop of clouds, magic, and metal.

This stage may be simple, but it’s downright hypnotizing to look at. Stare into the sky, my friend. Stare into the sky.

Fountain of Dreams

Super Smash Bros Ultimate - Fountain of Dreams

This stage hasn’t been around since Melee, and dear lord is it beautiful in HD. The mirror-like surface of the water looks especially good, and the space backdrop with its looming auroras is quite nice to look at.

Yes, the stage design is just a take on the Battlefield layout and there’s not really a stage hazard to speak of, but sometimes that’s a nice change of pace. Fountain of Dreams is a nice respite for when you’re just plain tired of dodging the Yellow Devil on Wily’s Castle or the lava flows on Norfair.

Castle Siege

Super Smash Bros Ultimate - Castle Siege

This classic Melee stage is always a welcome addition to the Smash stage select screen. It’s a multi-phase tribute to the Fire Emblem series.

In the first phase, you’re duking it out on the rooftops with a battle blazing in the background. In the second, you’ve reached the throne room, which is filled with statues that crumble if they take too much damage. In the final phase, you end up in a lava-filled cave, which is a longstanding Fire Emblem tradition.

Oh, and this stage has fantastic music.

Boxing Ring

Super Smash Bros Ultimate - Boxing Ring

I can’t think of another stage in Smash history that works conceptually as well as Boxing Ring. It was added with Smash 4 to complement Little Mac’s appearance on the roster, and I don’t think it’s controversial to say it was one of Smash 4‘s best contributions.

The premise is simple: there’s a boxing ring in which bros can smash. Yet upon closer inspection, there’s a bit more to it. The lighting rig can be knocked down to drop an electrical hazard onto your opponents, and the areas outside the ring allow Wrestlemania-style antics.

Oh, and one of the coolest background details is that there’s a screen that gives every character a pithy nickname. How great is that?

Umbra Clock Tower

Super Smash Bros Ultimate - Umbra Clock Tower

This stage was originally released as DLC for Smash 4 alongside Bayonetta.

Here, you’re fighting on a piece of a clock tower that’s endlessly falling. Platforms of debris will form around you, but the ever-shifting nature of this stage means those platforms usually don’t last long. Occasionally, you’ll fall through a portal into the realm of Purgatorio, where you’ll see angels called Affinity and Inspired floating around in the background.

A fun detail about this stage: The clock is synced with your Switch’s clock, so as long as your Switch’s internal clock is accurate, this stage’s clock tower will always display the correct time.

Dracula’s Castle

Super Smash Bros Ultimate - Frankenstein

With almost 100 old stages making their return to Smash, there wasn’t a lot of room for new additions. Ultimate did manage to add four new ones pre-DLC (seven if you count Battlefield, Big Battlefield, and Final Destination), and Dracula’s Castle is by far the best of the new additions.

This stage includes the three things that every good Smash stage should have: a backdrop that’s fun to look at, a simple layout, and unique stage hazards.

Backdrop This stage has the darkest backdrop in Smash history. It features crumbling walls, stained glass windows, and Dracula’s coffin. It’s also got a clock tower and an eclipsed moon way off in the distance. It looks awesome.

Layout – This stage features a couple floating platforms, a staple in Smash stages, and what’s mostly just a flat floor beneath those. However, on the left-hand edge is a dilapidated stairway to nowhere. Freaky.

Stage Hazards – If you’re a fan of old-timey monster flicks (or Castlevania games), these stage hazards are top-notch. As the battle wages on, a series of monsters appears in the background to mess things up for you. You’ll see a werewolf, a bust of Medusa, the Grim Reaper, and more. Castlevania fans will recognize all of these baddies, but so will anyone who has a fondness for monster lore.

Oh, and this stage also makes Frankenstein an official part of Smash Bros. canon. Mary Shelley would be proud. Or horrified. I can’t tell which.

Pilotwings

Super Smash Bros Ultimate - Pilotwings

This choice is sure to be contentious, but I stand behind it. This was my absolute favorite stage from the launch selection of Smash 4, and I love pretty much everything about it.

There are several stages that swoop and woosh from location to location, such as Prism Tower, Delfino Plaza, and Skyloft. I tend to love those types of stages, but the fact that they’re just randomly moving platforms throws me off a bit. Using the wings of planes as platforms makes so much more sense from a practical standpoint.

Also, this one is an absolute nightmare for long-range characters like Mega Man, since the planes are constantly leaning to the left or right. I cut my teeth as a Mega Man player on this stage for this exact reason, and it will always have a special place in my bro-smashing heart.

Oh, and a fun detail here: One of the islands you fly over is flat and pixelated, while another is Wuhu Island from the Wuhu Island stage.

Pirate Ship

Super Smash Bros Ultimate - Pirate Ship

This was one of my favorite stages from Brawl, and I’m always happy to see it return. It eventually came to Smash 4 as DLC, but it was suspiciously absent from the stage selection at launch.

This stage comes straight out of The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, which was an incredible game with a unique art style. (I might even call it one of the best video games ever made.) It was introduced in Brawl to complement Toon Link’s place on the roster. The cartoony look is a perfect match to Wind Waker, and a series of misfortunes can befall your sailing vessel as it charges across the sea.

There’s a small chance that the ship will be caught in a storm and sent whirling into the sky, which is pretty awesome.

Paper Mario

Super Smash Bros Ultimate - Paper Mario

The Paper Mario stage is a masterpiece. It originally showed up on the 3DS version of Smash 4, but it definitely deserves the HD treatment it gets in Ultimate. It’s a thing of beauty.

This stage has three phases, and each folds into the next like it’s made of actual paper. And the attention to detail here is insane. In the first phase, a sudden gust of wind blows. If you watch the background, you’ll notice that somebody set up a fan, giving the impression that the whole stage is set up on a desk somewhere. After that, there’s a pirate ship phase, which includes a whale and a squid. In the third phase, a castle appears with Bowser’s face on it. Be careful, because standing inside Bowser’s mouth for too long is a recipe for disaster.

Multi-phase stages can be a real blast in Smash, and this one is a multi-phase marvel. I don’t think I’ll ever get sick of this one.

Midgar

Super Smash Bros Ultimate - Midgar

Midgar was introduced as DLC alongside Cloud in Smash Bros. 4 to complement the Final Fantasy VII addition to the game, and it might very well be the best Smash Bros. stage of all time.

First off, the backdrop is insane. This highly-detailed background will give nostalgic goosebumps to anyone who’s seen the intro to Final Fantasy VII.

Plus, Midgar has some of the coolest stage hazards that have ever been in this game series. Red summon Materia will appear randomly throughout the battle, and if you collect one it will allow you to call forth one of Final Fantasy‘s legendary summons (check out our full guide to summons in Midgar). Each summon creates its own devastating stage hazard. For instance, Odin slices the entire stage in half, while Leviathan floods the whole city with water.

This, right here, is the new gold standard for Smash stages.

Josh Wirtanen owns this place and has opinions about pretty much everything. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuajwirtanen.