Before we get a glimpse of the future of Super Smash Bros. later today during Nintendo’s E3 Direct, I thought it was only right to first look back at a piece of the franchise’s history for this week’s trivia spotlight. Plus, in celebration of the Electronic Entertainment Expo this week, we’re going to look at some footage from way back from E3 2001!
Super Smash Bros. Melee was a huge leap for the series, still considered a favorite among fans and the go-to entry for Smash tournaments to this day. It was certainly a delight for Zelda fans, introducing four new Zelda characters (bringing the total to five) and two Zelda-themed stages for the rich roster to spar in.
One of these stages was Great Bay, based on the coastal area of the same name from Majora’s Mask. It was a simple but cracking little stage, with plenty to look at for fans of the N64 classic. HAL Laboratory did a superb job of cramming nods to the game into a small arena, from the Four Giants holding back the moon in the background to the giant, ever-shifting Turtle that players could leap to and fight on.
I consider the end result of the Great Bay a fun addition to an excellent game, but in order to get to that finished version, it underwent a significant change from its beta phase.
You may recall that, in the finished product, the stage features the Marine Research Lab in the background of the main platform. Well, in an early version, the lab was placed in the foreground, acting as a prominent and interactive feature of the Great Bay stage.
This version was first seen in Super Smash Bros. Melee‘s reveal trailer, at E3 2001, with Ness running out of the laboratory (instead of in front of it) before grabbing Sheik. Skip to the 2:37 mark to see for yourself.
Blink and you’ll miss it, but thanks to some archived footage from IGN of an early Melee demo, you can get a much better look at the old stage in action below.
As you can see, players were originally able to jump on top of the lab as well as run through it, with its big circular window offering a visual on where fighters were positioned when inside it.
While a seemingly small change visually, an alteration like this in a fighting game can make all the difference in the dynamic of a battle. The lab could have been used as shelter from an opponent’s incoming Bob-omb, or ricochet a player on the wrong end of a Smash Attack to a different direction, saving them from a KO.
SmashWiki has a screenshot containing remnants of the laboratory’s interior below.
I would love to try out this version, just to see how a fight would play out compared to the Great Bay stage we’ve come to know. I bet the lake scientist wouldn’t be too thrilled to have Nintendo’s all-star roster brawling near all that delicate equipment, though.
Here’s hoping this stage will return in the new Smash title!