At long last, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate fans have access to the Stage Builder mode once more. It was a staple feature in Brawl and the Wii U installment, but with no mention of anything like it from Nintendo when the game first launched, many wondered if we'd ever see it again.
It's a robust mode too, letting players experiment with foreground and background elements to create interesting features and pretty much opening the door to whatever takes the player's fancy at the time.
Naturally that leads to some unique creations and lessons in anatomy, but there are a lot of interesting and just plain fun stages as well.
This list compiles 10 of the best in those latter categories. Some are quirky, some are just plain weird, and others demonstrate solid design principles.
Overall, though, each stage, however varied they may be, makes for a different kind of Smash match, from those suited to tense death-match style fights to others emphasizing movement and strategy to overcome tricky obstacles.
World of B U M P
Created by: El-Emerald
World of Bump is pretty impressive for a few reasons. What initially looks like a haphazard mess is actually a carefully planned layout of bumpers that adds a nice layer of difficulty to each match.
It's possible to begin a fight without being affected by the bumpers, but inevitably, you'll get tossed around as the fracas progresses. The spacing is enough so it's not an endless bounce, though; there's a chance to recover and hop in between the other bumpers.
It's actually an effective way of getting players used to how each character moves and how to vary jump heights and ranges.
The ones on the edge of the stage are the most interesting, though.
If you've played Smash even a little, chances are, you know how it works when a foe chucks a bumper on the edge. You'll either get a nice recovery bounce, or you're chucked down to your doom.
That's basically every time characters fall off the stage here. Expect plenty of score variations in World of Bump and some hectic, frenetic matches on whole.
Created by: 8vitecek
It was bound to happen eventually. There's already a Steve Harvey and some other daytime television notables, so Dr. Phil couldn't be too far away.
The likeness is uncanny. Well, not completely, because Dr. Phil's eyes don't pop out of his head. But it's pretty impressive how a few textures, colors, and well-placed bits of virtual hair can strongly resemble something in real life.
Like Sanic (featured later in this list), this stage isn't just for looks. It's a solid Smash stage as well. The letters spelling his name serve as useful side platforms for escaping the melee if need be or storming back in from above. They also act as a hindrance if you're trying to get back to the middle of the stage, but can simultaneously keep you from getting launched too far.
The eye parts and mustache are handy regular platforms not unlike something you'd see in a Sora-built Smash stage.
Unlike World of Bump, the Dr. Phil stage is focused solely on hand-to-hand combat, with no gimmicks getting in the way of the showdown except the name from time to time.
Just try not to think about how your every move is being evaluated by a trained TV psychologist.
Created by: Ohyou
Molten Moonlit is one of many molten-themed stages, and they all present unique strengths with how they place their lava traps.
Moonlit is a bit different, though, and really lends itself to a sudden death style match or one-on-one combat (or a four-person match if you like chaos).
For one thing, those two platforms you see are essentially the only landscape you get for fighting. The earthen platform up top isn't practical to reach, though you could with certain characters like Kirby.
Jump too high or get tossed too far off the stage, and you get punished with the lava chunks. Apart from making combat a bit more difficult than usual, the way the stage is set up means damage counts are going to get a lot higher, since there are only a few openings out of the molten center.
The effects Ohyou used make the stage stand out as well. The metal platforms shine in the "moonlight", and there's a nifty blur effect as you run around on them, mimicking the heat blur you'd expect from being so near a hot surface.
Created by: shaane
Sanic might not be quite as ubiquitous as SpongeBob in the custom creations area, but there are quite a few of them roaming about. This is one of the better ones for a few reasons.
The first is that you can't help but look at it and think "Gotta Go Fast." It embodies everything meme-ish about Sanic, and he just looks so earnest and determined. It's a good rendering of an intentionally bad illustration as well, which is interesting in itself.
Fortunately, it doesn't just look amusing. It sets itself apart from other Sanic stages by making for a good Smash arena.
The screenshot doesn't quite show it, but anything behind Sanic gets blown back to the left by a surprisingly strong wind. The front side isn't affected though (which would seem like an oversight on the creator's part, but this is Sanic after all).
Any battle naturally becomes a scramble to remain on the top or the right, then. Accidentally jumping too far, getting tossed off-screen, or starting on the left makes remaining in the fight pretty difficult. It also gives players an extra focal point in battle as they try to push opponents off Sanic's head.
Pls Dont Fall
Created by: Lau
Pls Dont Fall is another stage built around challenge and careful movement. There are very few actual spaces for combat, which makes this stage perfect for heavy hitting melee fighters like King K. Rool and Link.
That being said, it lends itself to characters with very good recovery, too, like Kirby and...Kirby.
That's because falling off the platforms almost inevitably means losing a point. It's possible to try and reach the warp point, but it just throws you out to the left by the icy-looking platform, which is pretty difficult (read: almost impossible) to get back from.
The canons are one major reason why. As you can see, each points to the center of the map. Most chuck you into the left warp point, but the others shoot you out to fry in the central magma pool. Even if you make it out, there's no helpful canon to get you back into the action.
This is also an example of how devious bumpers can be. There's a 50/50 chance the stage's bumpers will keep you from the death trap, depending on how you hit them and how fast you react.
It's brutal, but it certainly keeps players on their toes.
Created by: Liggy
Poor Waluigi. All one of his friends, plus every enemy, joins the fun in Smash, while he's left by himself in a support trophy container. This rendition of a very sad Waluigi probably isn't far off the mark for everyone's favorite purple anti-hero.
There are other Waluigi stages, but this one breaks the fourth wall so well and encapsulates the general mood surrounding his absence from Smash. The use of background elements is noteworthy too.
Plus it's a fun stage with a lot of movement.
The shorter platforms don't work for long, drawn-out combat. You'll either get knocked off or move about to escape and draw your foe into a fight on your own ground.
The lower levels might look slippery, but they actually aren't, which provides an additional fighting area away from the main focus. There's just enough room between the bottom-most platform and Waluigi's crystallized tears to make recovery difficult for hurled opponents.
Waluigi's nose, left 'stache, and hat brim are another good risk area. The space is small, and there's hardly anything to break a fall to the left. A strong smash could send an opponent flying off-screen or at least force them to climb all the way back up, granting a major advantage to whoever occupies the hat.
The Octo Calamari
Created by Squiggly
The Octo Calamari stage is a nicely balanced example of how several features come together effectively. It's nice to see a central Splatoon theme included in a quieter fashion as well, unlike, say, Dr. Phil.
This one is a more straightforward stage without specific gimmicks meant to alter your experience. You've got several platforms to fight on, but the gray ones and larger green block are the only stable ones.
The round pink platform that seems it would be the perfect recovery tool rotates, which makes grabbing on rather more difficult than you might think at first. Those two blue ones don't offer firm footing either.
One of the things that makes this stage worthwhile is the second main platform towards the stage's bottom. These out of the way areas aren't too common in Smash stages; the Temple of Time and Palutena's Temple come to mind, but not many others.
Off-center fighting areas like this are perfect for larger matches if you're trying to lure a single fighter to you or want the added risk of being so near the boundaries.
The warp points deserve attention too. A lot of creations are using them, but not necessarily in an effective way. These actually add to the experience because while they do transport you away from immediate danger, they also put you in a dangerous position.
Created by: Danny
There are a lot of outlandish custom Smash stages, but this is certainly one of the more... interesting ones.
The man's face resembles a mid-20th-Century cartoon design. Despite being a little creepy, it's actually quite good, particularly the use of texture and how the hair was handled.
What message Danny is trying to send to us about him isn't as clear, though. Is he lonely? Did he turn to grapes to heal his lonely heart? Or is he choosing grapes over loneliness? We may never know.
At the very least, it makes for a varied Smash match. The three main surfaces lend themselves to different kinds of combat, so it's never a dull moment with Mr. Thing.
Hurling foes off the grapes is satisfying in itself. However, the lonely letters make for a different kind of fight that mixes offense and defense and forces you to use powerful moves to get opponents out from their alphabetic trenches.
Or if you want, there's the more traditional kind of brawl waiting for you on top of the hair.
Created by: Legal
This is a really good trick stage. The title hints that it's going to be one of the many stages re-creating the Switch itself in handheld mode, but obviously, that's not what it does. It's a stage full of switches instead.
The best part? They do absolutely nothing when activated. Invite a friend and don't tell them, then sit back and watch the fun.
Or if you want to enjoy it like a decent human being, that's fine too, because there's a good stage without the switch-y deception.
As you can see, falling off a platform gives you a good chance of landing in lava or a cannon that might shoot you off-screen. There is some deception there too, though.
The cannons are positioned to where they just shoot you into the magma for the most part. Anticipating a bigger blast means your first reaction is to try and move or jump, which ends up positioning you in or right near the next cannon anyway.
Created by: wy18
Many custom stages are re-creating classic scenes or characters, from 8-bit Mario and Link to Kirby stages and more. This one takes on the ambitious task of re-imagining an early first Pokemon battle, making good use of the foreground and background elements to do so.
Distance drawing is obviously rather difficult to realize with stage creation, so putting Squirtle in the background helps achieve the same affect without sacrificing the feel of the source material.
Charmander's flaming tail is particularly appreciated and actually serves to limit recovery options should you fall off the top left platform.
The stage background itself is fitting, too, since this is very much in the same vein as the first stage and Final Destination: no traps, no gimmicks, just two big platforms, some height variation, and a lotta smashing.
Like the Dr. Phil stage, one of the main draws here is atmosphere (though admittedly of a rather different kind than the Dr. Phil stage). This stage combines the best of nostalgia for those of us who grew up with original Pokemon Red and Blue, with a similar appeal from the simple-yet-solid mechanics and stage design so common with earlier Smash games.
It's hard to pick just 10 stages from a huge and ever-growing list of Smash Bros. stage builder creations, but there you have it — our top 10 choices for now.
Whether it's dancing on the frozen tears of Waluigi or falling to your doom in warp-trap hell, hopefully, these stages give you some ideas of your own to share with the world too.