Hello, everyone! After reading the title, you might be thinking "Wait a minute, Anthony, I thought you said you weren't doing any more columns!"
Heheh...I only said that applied to game reviews. I'd have shut down Biweekly Music Wednesday! (returning tomorrow!) if that weren't the case, so anything else is free game. And with Smash DLC being a hot topic, I figured I'd throw my thoughts and desires into a few articles.
I can't lie: after the announcement of the Smash Character Ballot during last month's Direct, my mind's been going wild with the possibilities of DLC for Super Smash Bros. for Wii U and 3DS. Well, that and studying like crazy for finals too, of course, but with a dedicated DLC service confirmed to be in the works, I can't help but dream. With Sakurai's arm acting up and the likelihood of Namco wanting its staff back, I figured we'd just get Mewtwo, the Miiverse stage, and Tourney/Photo Sharing modes.
I would've been okay with just that, mind you, but with the reveal of my beloved Lucas (THANK YOU SAKURAI), Splatoon Mii Gunner outfits announced the other day, we know they're quite active working on new content. So for fun, I figured I'd go over my most wanted content and features for DLC over four posts. It's quite possible none of my requests in these articles will happen, as even I've fallen prey to unrealistic expectations! But that's only a natural consequence of unbridled Smash hype, so just sit back and dream with me a little. Feel free to share some of yours in the comments, too!
Requests for veteran stages have been very common since the Direct last month, and while I'd definitely like to see some come back too, I believe there's a certain deterrent many people are forgetting: background music. While many stages from both Melee and Brawl returned in both versions, those that didn't had their respective music tracks divided across the new games' stages.
For example, Brawl's Pirate Ship stage--based on Zelda: Wind Waker--didn't make the cut this time, but all of its music tracks were either moved to other stages (such as Dragon Roost Island, Gerudo Valley, and Song of Storms on Temple) or simply axed (Vs. Molgera, boo!)
Now, I want that stage back badly, mainly since a) it was easily one of Brawl's best stages b) it's from Wind Waker c) Skyloft is pretty shitty, and I'm not saying that just because of my anti-Skyward Sword bias (seriously, those drop-off points only last like six seconds!). But I don't think it's gonna happen, and that's because of this music division. Having the same music play in multiple stages doesn't quite gel with Smash's meticulous design. "Big deal," you might say, but let's not forget how Sakurai prizes cohesion in his games. Even if Smash's music is of little importance to you, remember that presentation and the like are still vital.
Many have also called for certain 3DS stages to make the transition for Wii U, but as much as I'd love to see 3DS-exclusive stages like Magicant and Mute City in glorious HD, I don't think they'll be uprezzed for the same reason (that, and non-stage parity, but that's another subject). Luckily, there are quite a few old stages not affected by this problem, and so from that criteria I've chosen five of my most wanted classic stages for the Wii U version. Take a look!
Much as I'd like to see New Pork City from Brawl return for 8-Player shenanigans, it had much of its music placed into Onett. All of Mother's stages are like my children, so why not bring back the other city stage from the series: Melee's Fourside. While quite inaccurate to the source material (for one thing, it's never at night in EarthBound!), it was still a great stage to play on and one I've dearly missed. Dynamic elements like the slippery UFO and the crane-operated platform really made it stand out, and it was a great stages to practice wall jumps!
Seeing it in HD would be lovely, too, but I fear it'd get the same bare-bones treatment like Onett did. At the very least, could they please fix that...uh, weird spatial rip floor thing on the background's left portion? I still don't know how to describe it, but next time you play Melee, hop on the leftmost building and fool around with the pause screen camera and you'll spot it. It's bothered the hell out of me since forever.
For music, Fourside's in good luck here since it's theme hasn't returned since Melee, and there are two other Mother arrangements from Brawl that didn't make the cut. An ideal tracklist could work something like this:
Fourside (The Melee arrangement, of course.)
Humoresque of a Little Dog (This would've been perfect for Onett, if you ask me. But considering it worked just fine on a city stage, it should be okay here, too)
You Call This a Utopia?! (New Pork City's theme should fit like a glove here.)
Fourside (As per the pattern of several other stages, the original rip. I wonder how well it'd work with the nighttime setting, though...)
Battle Against a Machine (My favorite regular enemy theme from EarthBound could work wonders here, courtesy of the original rip)
Theme of the King P (Brawl had some slightly-arranged versions of songs from the Mother 3i/Mother+ albums. Could Shogo Sakai return to do the same here?)
Natural Killer Cyborg (Mother 3's best boss theme. What else can I say?)
Pokey Means Business! (EarthBound's incredible final boss theme, because why the hell not? Little known fact: this is actually a fan-named title, so I wonder what it's name would be in Smash?)
By the way, you know some stages have music cameos from more obscure franchises? I think something from SimCity could work well on Fourside, although I haven't found the perfect song yet (there was the Title Screen, since it provides the backdrop for a sleepy night city, but it might be a tad too repetitive). There's also the matter of legal issues, but hopefully Dr. Wright's AT appearance might pave the way for future SimCity music.
Fountain of Dreams
What's possibly Melee's most popular stage has never returned for reasons unknown, but there's a very likely guess: technical issues. The springwater reflections of the fighters tend to cause strain on the framerate (try playing a four-player Ice Climber match on there sometime), and as they'd likely have to rework that for the new games, they probably thought it wasn't worth the effort for a past stage. With over fifty characters to work with, it's chances for return become ever more slimmer...
And what a shame that is, for Fountain of Dreams remains one of the most beautiful stages in all of Smash. Just imagining the potential transformation into HD gets me all giddy...and depressed, because those dang reflections are keeping us from achieving the dream. Those auroras and Rainbow Resort circle patterns will never grace another Smash game again...
...and yet, its accompanying song is conspicuously absent from both of the new Smash games! That's shocking enough by itself, considering it's one of the best arrangements in the series.
Fountain of Dreams (I hope we get some more orchestrated arrangements in Smash's future.)
Rainbow Resort (Given the Dream Land 64 music "leak" for the 3DS version, we'd probably get the Air Ride arrangement for this. But the Nightmare in Dream Land version remains the best one. I'd be fine with either this, that, or the NES one!)
Vs. Nightmare (It's related to the setting, so why not? This is the NES version, but either it or the GBA one could work!)
Cloudy Park (One of Kirby's most majestic themes would be perfect on one of Smash's most majestic stages)
Vs. Marx (The original rip would be lovely here!)
World Map (Kirby 64) (This would complement the starry setting well, I feel.)
Nebula Belt (An arrangement of the FOD song popped up here in Air Ride, so why not have the actual course theme return the favor?)
The Beginner's Room (One of Kirby's most heartfelt arrangements is found in Air Ride.)
Candy Constellation (Yet another ethereal Kirby theme. This is the version from Rainbow Curse)
Masked Dedede Theme (I was already disappointed there wasn't any Kirby Super Star Ultra tracks or arrangements, so here's one)
Vs. Yin Yarn (And Epic Yarn, too!)
Aurora Area (Rainbow Resort's something of an ice world, so this beautiful song would be great)
C-R-O-W-N-E-D (What's with Kirby and amazing final boss themes?)
Kirby's History (How's this for an unorthodox request? Also known as Triple Deluxe's Continue screen, this stunning combination of Castle Lololo and Cloudy Park from Kirby's Dream Collection would suit the level well. Should this incredibly unlikely request ever happen, they'll probably use the shorter Triple Deluxe version.)
Moonstruck Blossom (No, really, what is with Kirby's final boss themes? I don't know, but man this would be perfect.)
Revenge of the Enemy (And so would this Triple Deluxe song.)
...did I go a little overboard? Maybe, but when considering Port Town Aero Dive also has 16 tracks, I figured Melee's second-best stage deserved just as much.
Now, wait a minute. This goes against my criteria for stages! Indeed, poor Frigate Orpheon from Brawl had nearly all of its music plopped onto the ever-controversial Pyrosphere stage, which fuels hyperbolic Metroid: Other M flame wars and has the hilariously cheap Ridley boss continuing to crush the hopes and dreams of the Purple Dragon Faithful.
But all hope is not lost, for one vital track missed the cut entirely: Metroid Prime Opening/Menu. The absence of such an amazing song is saddening enough, but it's enough to build an entirely new foundation on its own: more Metroid Prime representation! Aside from the incredible Metroid title arrangement, both of the new Smash games had a disappointing turnout for new Metroid songs, so not only would we get a fun stage back in Frigate Orpheon, but more incredible Metroid Prime music! Yeehaw!
...am I really suggesting a stage just for more musical representation? Not to mention, the Vs. Parasite Queen was placed on Pyrosphere, so that'd be awful strange should the lovely abomination return alongside Frigate Orpheon. Well, hey, Sakurai didn't put both of the Donkey Kong Country Returns themes on the Donkey Kong Country Returns stage, so there.
Metroid Prime Opening/Menu (As per Kenji Yamamoto's Smash arrangements, this isn't that different from the original, which is actually based off the credits version, but I actually think it's even better.)
Vs. Space Pirates (One of Metroid Prime's many great battle themes, and it'd be perfect thematically.)
Vs. Hive Mecha (I've always thought Prime should've used this more.)
Vs. Thardus (Creepy, just like our Parasite Queen!)
Sanctuary Fortress (Mmm, just feel that.)
Vs. Emperor Ing (Phase 1) (Also creepy!)
Escape/Vs. Dark Samus (Here we'd call attention to the Dark Samus assist trophy.)
Metroid Prime 3 Title Theme (Feel that chorus!)
Vs. Rundas (Metroid's best battle theme? You bet!)
Vs. Gandrayda (Metroid Prime 3 had an amazing soundtrack, in general.)
So if Pirate Ship is probably ineligible for return, why not one of the best stages from the original 64 Smash? Recently, some Smash 64-era Sakurai translations have revealed of the man's dissatisfaction with Hyrule Castle's backgrounds, as they turned out to be inaccurate to Ocarina of Time. Perhaps now is the time for Sakurai to finally fix the placement of the sun!
Or perhaps not? After all, Kongo Jungle 64 was practically untouched for its transition into the Wii U version, so would this stage be left alone? Actually, I suspect the three 64 stages in Melee (Kongo Jungle, Dream Land, and Yoshi's Island) were chosen in that they didn't have a whole lot of polygon action going on, as most of the others would definitely be jarring in their now-ancient graphics. If that's the case, would Hyrule Castle be completely graphically revamped?
Perhaps that might be for the better. Much as I appreciate Sakurai's dedication to retaining the original structure and code for the classics stages, the character's increasing sizes are starting to outgrow them (particularly the Melee ones). If Mario Kart can do it, why not Smash?
Hyrule Castle (The original theme, naturally.)
Hyrule Castle (Alongside the castle's theme from the series. This is the A Link Between Worlds version.)
Death Mountain (Another A Link Between Worlds arrangement.)
Hyrule Castle Courtyard (Okay, probably not likely in the slightest, but it'd be funny!)
Saria's Song (And here's another Melee arrangement we haven't seen since its inception. It'd be fun to see again, I suppose).
Deku Palace (We need more Majora's Mask music!)
Boss Battle (The Four Swords Adventures version of this A Link to the Past theme assures this won't get repetitive)
Minigame (Otherwise known as the A Link Between Worlds song that actually appeared first in Nintendo Land!)
Lorule Castle (Why not another Zelda castle theme?)
Both versions of Smash possess their respective Mushroom Kingdom stages, with the Wii U host to the wonderfully dynamic Mushroom Kingdom U while the 3DS has the melancholic Mushroomy Kingdom from Brawl. Now that we know 64 stages are definitely on the table, why not bring back that game's best stage? I mean, hey, the Wii U version has two Mario Circuits, so two Mushroom Kingdoms shouldn't be out of place.
There's also the possibility of the Melee one coming back, but that's not nearly as good as the original, what with its Warp Pipe hijinks and POW Block action. Already are the memories starting to flow back...
Most of the suitable arrangements are already on Mushroom Kingdom U, but that's no issue here.
Mushroom Kingdom (What else?)
Mushroom Kingdom 2 (They may as well make it a haven for NES Mario rips.)
SMB3 Overworld (Why two Super Mario Bros. 3 songs?)
SMB3 Athletic (Because.)
Secret Course (You know, I'm surprised they haven't done a Super Mario Sunshine arrangement yet...)
Underground Theme (This was in the 3DS version, but couldn't find a home on Wii U. While it'd work just fine on Luigi's Mansion, this would be a great fit too!)
Ground Theme v.2 (One of Smash's most bizarre arrangements for sure.)
And that's my five most wanted stages. To tell the truth, there is one more stage I'd like to see return, but that's something I'd like to discuss in a later post.
In any case, you might be wondering why I didn't set the focus on new stages. I figured that the development team is busy enough balancing the new characters, so I imagine they'd rather channel their efforts to porting over older stages. Not to mention, I actually can't think of any I'd want outside of Bowser's Castle, which is long overdue (although several Bowser-centric songs are in a few stages...maybe next time?). Of course, with that Ryu rumor looking very likely, we might end up getting a new stage with a Street Fighter motif...who knows!
Anyway, that's a wrap! I'm looking to finish this feature before E3 pops up, so expect my Smash DLC Wishlist to pop up at least once a week!