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Ultimate Speculation: "Hazards Off?"

Equin0x - July 9, 2018

I'm sure that everyone looking forward to competing in Ultimate popped off when that guy from Nintendo Treehouse mentioned that hazards would be toggleable, but that popoff might have been premature. What exactly does it mean to turn off hazards? There are things that can easily be defined as a hazard, like the RNG and usually hitbox-equipped sprite pokemon on Saffron City (which we saw were removed with hazards off in the E3 build). However, there are many situations present in other stages that may not be so easily defined. This has inspired me to analyze the hazardless footage we've seen in an attempt to find Sakurai's definition of "hazards off" and speculate as to how that might affect other stages and how that would affect our potentially enormous legal stage list.

  1. What We Have Seen
  2. What We Haven't Seen
  3. Stages to Look Forward To

What We Have Seen 

During E3, we saw 8 stages played with hazards off: Saffron City, Frigate Orpheon, Skyworld, Town and City, Wily's Castle, Suzaku Castle, Moray Towers, and Great Plateau. Since then, we have seen several others in recordings from those with access to the demo: Kongo Jungle (Melee), Peach's Castle (Melee), Prism Tower (3DS), Spirit Tracks (3DS), and Tortimer Island (3DS).

  • Moray Towers didn't seem to have any hitboxes or moving parts on the default version of the stage, so it makes sense that the hazardless version is apparently unchanged.
    • We don't need to worry about Battlefield or Final Destination having different versions.
  • In Saffron City, many spectators noticed that the usually hitbox-packing pokemon sprites did not appear, but I haven't seen anybody mention that the platforms were stationary whereas they used to move up and down.
    • The only thing easily defined as a hazard, the pokemon sprites on Saffron City, failed to appear.
    • Moving platforms became stationary
  • The players' movement on the raft of Kongo Jungle (Melee) did not affect the positioning of the platforms above the raft, like they normally would with hazards on. The barrel beneath the raft was also absent.
    • Players could not affect the positioning of the platforms
    • Recovery barrel missing from beneath the stage
  • A lot of changes befell Peach's Castle (Melee). Unsurprisingly, the Banzai Bill never appeared. Also unsurprisingly, the switches (that would cause platforms to appear temporarily) also never appeared. Finally, the small platforms on either side, which would normally ascend when a player stood on them, were stationary.
    • Banzai Bill omitted
    • Platform-generating switches omitted
    • Platforms that would move when stood on were made stationary
  • Likewise, in Town and City, the middle platform in the "town" phase and the platforms in the "city" phase were stationary whereas their movement provided dynamic combat and offered players neither damage nor knockback. (Although, as that implies, the transformation between phases remained.) Also, the balloons never appeared.
    • Moving platforms became stationary, but they still flew offscreen between phases
  • Frigate Orpheon, in contrast to Town and City, did not transform. It remained in its first phase. Its vertically moving platform also remained mobile in contrast to the other stages. Platforms that would sometimes appear from the side blastzones did not appear without hazards.
    • No transformation
    • Moving platforms originating from the blastzones were omitted
  • Prism Tower appeared unchanged as a flying platform stage, although none of the transformations had anything that might be considered a hazard. At least we know that the flying platform archetype won't have its foundation changed.
    • Flying platform stages still transform, the base is still crossable from underneath.
  • Skyworld's characteristic destructible terrain is indestructible, and I never saw the moving platform that used to appear and cross the underside of the stage. The tower on the Great Plateau was also made indestructible.
    • Destructible terrain became indestructible
  • Spirit Tracks got toned down a lot, although it kept its rapidly moving floor. The train never shifts its position within the stage (it never moves closer to the blastzone to swap traincars), it never changes train cars, and enemies never appear in front of the train to slow it down. The moving platform that would appear from the left blastzone, linger a bit, and slowly travel into the right blastzone still appears.
    • Rapidly moving floor is unchanged
    • Stage never moves in relation tot he blastzones
    • Enemy train cars never spawn
    • Moving platform still spawns and slowly moves from blastzone to blastzone
  • Tortimer Island's water was, unfortunately, still there when played without hazards. Tortimer and his boat, which appear from and disappear into the side blastzone, did not appear as you may have come to expect.
    • Water is still water
    • Moving platform which moves into and out of the blastzone was omitted
    • Don't know how the RNG stage layout gets treated because only one is seen
  • Wily's Castle removed more than the Yellow Devil; the randomly-generated moving platforms also failed to appear. (Unfortunately this makes hazardless Wily's a Final Destination clone with walls, just like its Omega form.)
    • Yellow Devil removed
    • No RNG platforms
  • Suzaku Castle also had no hitboxes or moving parts, but it did have a walkoff, which was unchanged.
  • (A Nintendo Treehouse representative mentioned in passing that hazard toggle was meant to prevent "random things" from happening and hurting stages' competitiveness. Might mean that RNG is going to be removed. Might mean nothing.)

Already we see some rules written and some ambiguity. All hitboxes, destructible terrain, and moving platforms have been addressed. However, one transforming stage (Frigate Orpheon) became stationary while the other still transformed (Town and City). Did Town transform just because its transformation is more reactable? Is it because the main platform of Town never disappeared while Frigate's changes completely? The answer to those could deeply affect our potential stage list.

What We Haven't Seen

Having only seen a literal handful of stages, there are a lot of stage archetypes that we haven't seen with hazards off:

  • Side-scrollers (Mushroomy Kingdom, 3D Land)
    • The best possible thing I can see them doing is picking a spot in the stage and locking us there. If that spot has competitive potential, that'd be hype.
  • Flying platform stages that begin as the flying platforms (Wuhu Island)
    • If the determing factor for transformation is whether or not the main platform ever disappears, then Wuhu Island and Delfino Plaza (if it gets added) should never transform.
  • Rapidly moving water (Jungle Japes, Wuhu Island)
    • Spirit Tracks keeps its moving floor, so we can expect Big Blue to receive the same treatment. However, we still haven't seen the rushing water of Jungle Japes or Wuhu Island (although I would expect that to be treated the same, unfortunately.)
  • Player-influenceable hazards (Green Hill Zone)
    • The checkpoints on Green Hill Zone which become a hitbox when a player hits them are an example of a player-controlled stage hazard. I'd expect all cases of this to be removed.
  • Stage-produced items (Green Greens, Distant Planet)
    • Wispy in Green-Greens produces apples periodically which can be either food or throwing items and Distant Planet occasionally spawns pellets which can be used to produce items (when items are turned on). I'd expect all item-production to be cut with hazards turned off.
  • Giant stages with built-in hazards (Great Cave Offensive, Palutena's Temple)
    • Are they just going to remove the lava and spikes that are all over GCO and Palutena's? Not like they'll be competitive even if they do.
  • RNG stage layouts (Mario Maker, Tortimer Island)
    • Is the stage still going to generate stages, just without lava, breakable blocks, or moving platforms? Even if it does, the stage still has the potential to produce caves of life or walkoffs.
    • Will need multiple games played on the stage to make good speculation

Stages to Watch For

Applying the rules we've seen to other confirmed stages gives us a good idea of what stages might be competitively viable!

  • Battlefield
  • Final Destination
  • Yoshi's Island (64)
    • The disappearing Clouds far offstage which allow for camping prevent may not appear with hazards turned off. If that's true, then Yoshi's Island could offer a nice tri-plat with interesting angled platforms in a more vertical orientation. If they appear but do not disappear when players stand on them, it's instantly disqualified because it would be too easy to camp.
  • Dreamland (64)
    • Already legal in Wii U, I expect Dreamland's wind to be removed. Since we'll likely have a plethora of triplats to choose from, that may help Dreamland's chances against the others.
  • Yoshi's Story (Melee)
    • Randall may not appear, because he's a moving platform that originates within the stage. If he receives the Town and City treatment and is made stationary, he could only be on one side, but I don't think that'd be condusive to competition either. There are multiple cases each of platforms not spawning, moving platforms made stationary, and moving platforms unchanged.
    • Shy guys would almost certainly not appear.
  • Brinstar (Melee)
    • The lava will definitely not appear, and the destructible floor and platform tethers will likely not have hurtboxes. I think the interesting platform layout gives Brinstar good chances of being a counterpick.
  • Pokemon Stadium 1/2
    • I expect both Pokemon Stadiums to be stationary due to the large degree to which they transform, but at the *least*, Pokemon Stadium 2's wacky phases with wind, ice, and conveyer belts are certainly off the table. We'll at least have one stage with that gorgeous layout.
  • Yoshi's Island (Brawl)
    • The platform may not tilt and the random platforms to the side will probably not appear.
  • Frigate Orpheon (Brawl) (seen)
    • Without the wacky transformation, the first phase seems interesting, at least. I wouldn't mind seeing it as a CP.
  • Smashville (Brawl)
    • If Smashville's platform receives the Town and City treatment, I expect the "hazardous" version to stay the legal one, because the platform lacks the length to justify its being stuck in the middle of the stage (or, even worse, on one of the sides). However, it's very possible for the platform to still move and for the balloons' absence to be the only change.
  • Lylat Cruise (Brawl)
    • The stage will either stay the same, which might lead to it being a CP, or stop tilting, which might lead to it becoming a viable starter, even with the larger stage pool.
  • Castle Siege (Brawl)
    • If they don't want complete transformations, the stage may be stationary in its first phase and become a potential CP. However, the small size might be too much with the greater mobility across the board.
  • Warioware (Brawl)
    • Warioware without minigames has been used as a stage in PM since its inception and may finally become competitively viable in an official title. The platform layout lends itself to ladders like Norfair, but the main platform is wide enough to allow players space to land without being sharked. Possibly a starter but likely a CP.
  • Prism Tower (3DS) (seen)
    • If the initial walkoff phase (10s every few minutes) can be overlooked, Prism Tower may offer a competitively viable experience as a flying platform stage because its other phases are relatively tame for its archetype. Possibly a CP.
  • Town and City (Wii U) (seen)
    • I'd expect the "hazards" version of T&C to be the legal one, since the platforms in the city transition are stuck in their most threatening position for horizontal combos and edgeguards, but both versions are competitively viable.
  • Kalos Pokemon League (Wii U)
    • If the stage doesn't transform, it may offer a stage similar to Town and City's city phase with its platforms almost fully extended, without the transformation to another phase.
  • Wuhu Island (Wii U)
    • If the stage doesn't transform, Wuhu offers another flying platform stage- this time with a unique, static layout and a uniquely wide main platform.
  • Midgar (3DS/Wii U)
    • Another triplat to add to the pile.
  • Honorable mentions: Jungle Japes, Green Greens, Luigi's Mansion, Norfair, Halberd, Castle Siege (1st phase), Reset Bomb Forest (1st phase), Unova Pokemon League, Duck Hunt
  • Not yet confirmed, but with potential: Fountain of Dreams, Delfino Plaza, Rainbow Road, Jungle Hijinx, Miiverse

I hope you're excited as I am for future news about Smash Ultimate! Let me know what you think about my analysis and speculation. Do you agree or disagree with me? What are you looking forward to with regards to stages in Ultimate?

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Comments

Smashville, Jungle Hijinx and Delfino Plaza are all confirmed.

Personally, I'm looking super forward to Kalos and Unova being viable. I'd like us to have a flat set of starter stages and rotating CPs every half-season or full season.
Magma743 - June 28, 2018
Where were those three confirmed? I reviewed all of the character videos, the direct, and the blog posts and I haven't seen them.
Equin0x - June 28, 2018
I've found a video by Gamexplain showing that SV is in the game, but I still haven't seen any evidence of Hijinx or Delfino.
Equin0x - July 1, 2018

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