At a 2021 edition of Get On My Level (Line) marked by several DQs, the absence of supermajor-contending players and a wild Top 16, it was a familiar face who ended the tournament on top. The reigning champion n0ne overcame an early loss to 2saint in winner’s bracket to retain the crown through loser’s bracket, where he beat Jamrun, squible, Eddy Mexico, bobby big ballz, 2saint, Ginger, Aklo and moky twice. It tied n0ne with Leffen and Mango for the most amount of victories at the series.
GOML 2021 also ran a separate Melee bracket for Europe. In it, Pipsqueak won his fourth big regional tournament of the year. He defeated Ice, Jah Ridin’, Rikzz and Fuzzyness, dropping only two games throughout the entire weekend. As the current SAME circuit-qualifying player, Pipsqueak remains invited to Smash Summit 11 – however, whether or not he or Leffen will be able to attend, due to slow vaccine rollout in Sweden remains unknown.
In other news over the weekend, Plup won each of his exhibition matches at Plup Showdown, where he 5-0’d Gahtzu, 5-2’d Mew2King and 5-1’d Wizzrobe. Additionally, LSD won Gaylee Summit 2, where they beat Ryobeat, Magi, Kuyashi and Golden.
Revisiting Some of Melee’s Banned Stages
I’ve done a lot of writing about the competitive scene, so I feel like I’ve bought myself some leeway among my readers. My thought process: the scene is currently in a bit of a lull period before July, so why not write about something fun?
For this week’s column, I’m going to unleash my inner click-bait, Buzzfeed writer self. I am going to revisit ingsome of Melee’s oldest and quickest competitively banned stages. While I will not be going through every banned stage (just the ones with the least amount of history in the competitive metagame), I will evaluate the ones I picked by how fun they are and talk about everything wrong (and right) about them.
Icicle Mountain is the most aggressively unfun stage in all of Melee. When I was in high school and a casual, my hometown friends and unanimously agreed to turn this stage off in the random stage selection screen. We even had a running gag in which all of us, in our biting teenage wit, would only call it “Shit Mountain.” The good news is that while I have developed a slightly better sense of humor, my feelings on Shit Mountain have not changed.
Icicle mountain in melee, hanenbow in Brawl, great cave offensive in smash 4 anf ultimate
— Heropon Geko (@WH_Geko) September 5, 2019
Seriously; what is there to like about it? I try to envision what it’s like playing a free-for-all here, but between the vertical scrolling, the walkoffs and the low ceiling, there’s not much “fun” to be had. The one bit of novelty that the stage has is that it’s amusing to see a character standing on a platform above what is visible to other players. But that’s also not particularly unique to it. It might truly be the worst stage in Smash history.
Yoshi’s Story 64
Out of all the stages that were brought over from the previous Smash game, this was the worst one to choose. It’s way too goddamn big. I mention this as one problem, but it is so all encompassing. You can’t KO opponents quickly enough, you slowly fall to your death when you can’t recover, items spawn far away from where you and other players are fighting – it’s a mess.
I’m going to ask you something: what if the Melee developers had brought over the old Hyrule instead and renamed it Hyrule 64? It wouldn’t have to be legal, but let’s be real – in spite of its many competitive flaws, this stage was way more popular across all levels of play in the original game and I can’t imagine it wouldn’t have remained that way in Melee. Instead, we got stuck with a shitty stage from a shitty game (Yoshi’s Story).
I think the best way to describe what it’s like to play on Brinstar Depths is to think back to the three tedious Trophy Tussle events. If you missed that and wanted to re-experience it in multiplayer, this is the stage for you. However, this time, you get Kraid in the background slowly rotating a ledgeless island.
Can you believe that there’s no ledges on this stage? Surely, you would think that there would be a ledge around all of the possible “edges” of it. Want to know what could make this stage simultaneously less boring and more fun? Heighten its short blast line, speed up the rotations, add ledges, and replace the bottom blast lines with Brinstar lava. I’m glad this stage was out of the metagame by the MLG era. It is so terrible.
I liked Flat Zone as a little kid. It was Game & Watch’s stage, and because I used to play Game & Watch, I felt a strange sense of kinship with it. When I was briefly introduced to competitive Melee in high school, I was told about Flat Zone having no Z-axis and I thought, “wow, that’s so cool.” I was around 16 years old when I learned that. 16 years old.
That kind of says everything, doesn’t it? After you and your friends giggle when you get your first Mewtwo backthrow kill at 30%, it begins to dawn on you that you could have just done this on so many of the other banned stages. Better yet, you could do this without worrying about the falling hazards or the slippery oil on the ground. The only people who sincerely enjoy Flat Zone are 16 year olds, Ganondorf players or a certain kind of Marth main.
Mushroom Kingdom 1
I feel like Mushroom Kingdom 1 is so close and yet so far from being a fun illegal stage. I could imagine the middle blocks in another universe being less obnoxious and actually being fun to maneuver around. Even a different platform pathway could create wacky opportunities for fun. As is, however, the stage remains pretty bad.
While it’s a little bigger than you’d expect, you still have the dumb walkoffs on both sides of the stage and the blocks above it that exist for no reason. Were you to eliminate all the blocks in the middle, you still have ones at the top which aren’t low enough to be a consistent factor in the gameplay and yet aren’t high enough to be ignored. The two cliffs and the moving platform could theoretically create hilarious KO scenarios, but in my experience, most people just die from Flat Zone esque kills or from the top anyway. There’s just a lot of fat on this stage.
Kongo Jungle (Falls)
So they’re finally here, performing for you. If you know the words, you can join in too. Put your hands together, if you want to clap; as we take you through this monkey rap – huh! DK! Donkey Kong!
Okay, but in all seriousness, its two platforms and small size make it feel like Melee’s version of Brawl Warioware. However, there’s also that weird cliff on the right and the Klaptraps which can randomly hurt you. I guess there’s the barrel, but honestly, this stage doesn’t have much going for it.
If you’re a Star Fox 64 fan, Venom will have a special place in your heart. It’s where you defeat Andross, discover the ghost of James McCloud and escape the planet in epic fashion. To date, I always joke with my spouse that only two video game endings ever made me cry: the end of Final Fantasy X and the final sequence of Star Fox 64 where Fox looks off into space wistfully, wondering if his father is somewhere is still out there.
You’ll notice that that I haven’t really talked about the stage in Melee yet. That’s because there’s not much to say. Outside of the admittedly cool animated background, there’s basically no reason that you should ever play Venom over Corneria when it comes to banned stages. It has worse camping potential, more potential for wall infinites and is just annoying to play on.
Mushroom Kingdom 2
I’m going to be honest. I’ve heard this stage get brought up several times by other smashers as one of the best “illegal” stages to play on, and while I don’t think it’s terrible, I’ve never understood its widespread love. A memory that stands out in my mind was my dear friend Ambisinister calling me a “fucking Marth main nerd” at our last major for saying that it was overrated.
My biggest problem with MK2 is that you have no room to work with. Melee is fun because you can move yourself around, find cool positions to outplay your opponent and, even more broadly speaking, just do wacky shit with the level around you. On Mushroom Kingdom, you have this fraudulent skirmish place in the middle, the two pits surrounding the sides, Birdo shooting projectiles and pointless walk-offs on both sides. Sure, you have the flying platform, but at the end of the day, it’s just Flat Zone with more gimmicks.