I can think of few locations as epic to host a battle royale among gaming’s most iconic characters as high atop a castle overlooking the vast terrain far below. That’s why it is so exciting that Hyrule Castle is returning as an included stage in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, releasing this Friday. Let’s get ready to slam our friends back down to earth by taking a look at this classic fighting locale.
Tingle’s Maps is a series in which we explore the endless lands of Hyrule in search of our favorite places in The Legend of Zelda. We’ll explore everywhere: the beautiful landscapes that make us put down the controller in awe; the deadly terrain that threatens Link with the harshest of elements; the bustling towns that bring the game to life; and the abandoned grounds that evoke peace and sadness. As well as the grand locales, we’ll also discover all the secret caves and hidden crevices that lie between. Let’s adventure!
Hyrule Castle was one of the original nine stages in Super Smash Bros. for the Nintendo 64 and is the first stage in that game’s single player mode. It was not playable in Melee or Brawl but did return with updated textures as downloadable content in Smash 4. The castle’s design is based on its appearance in Ocarina of Time, which had been released only two months before Super Smash Bros.
The middle part of this stage is a large flat area with three platforms floating on the central spire. The highest platform lies directly above the lowest platform to the left, while the middle platform is offset to the right. Players should be careful of attacks from below, particularly from characters with far-reaching up smashes like Captain Falcon. Prepare for lots of races up the platforms when an item appears up there.
The left part of the stage contains a slightly lower platform that slants away from center stage. Many a contest to recover from launches has occurred here, leading a large proportion of players to curse Kirby and Jigglypuff’s names for their floating abilities.
On the right side of the stage, there is a shorter, lower platform with a green gazebo-like structure. It has a small, flat landing on top and is open on the bottom, allowing players to walk underneath but not jump through it. This structure is known as the tent, greenhouse, and other, shall we say, “not safe for work” titles. Whatever you call it, you don’t want to end up here unless you’re in control. Experienced players can utilize the tent to punish unsuspecting foes, effecting combinations that take you from low-percentage to KO’ed before you can even think of uttering a prayer to the goddess Hylia.
Hyrule Castle also features a characteristic hazard: miniature tornadoes that sweep players up and toss them up in the air. These little twisters appear randomly (often, it seems, when it is least convenient) at various places on the stage. Lighter characters need to be especially careful, as the tornadoes can KO them at relatively low percentages. Although they generally move slowly, allowing you to attempt to avoid or use them to your advantage, they sometimes move with incredible speed to catch you. I don’t know what we did to deserve such vengeful treatment in those circumstances, but it has traumatized me enough to be very wary when they appear. This random speedup was eliminated in Smash 4, so it is possible players won’t experience the terror in Ultimate either. The tornadoes may be a reference to those used to fast travel in The Legend of Zelda, or simply a result of high altitude winds whipping unhindered across the plains.
In the background lies the immense expanse of Hyrule with Death Mountain looming in the distance. Interestingly, Hyrule Castle was the only stage in the original Super Smash Bros. without background characters. The inaugural music for this stage was an arrangement of The Legend of Zelda’s Overworld theme, and that will return in Ultimate. Smash 4 added five Zelda tracks to accompany the combat; in Ultimate, you will be able to select any of the tracks from the Zelda series to play on any Zelda-inspired stage. According to the August’s Nintendo Direct, that’s at least nineteen tracks!
Smash 4 introduced the option to turn any stage into an omega form (essentially a Final Destination themed after the selected stage), as well as allowing up to eight players at a time. Both of these will return in Ultimate along with some new options. Players will now be able to toggle hazards on and off. At Hyrule Castle, that means you can prevent those pesky tornadoes from wreaking havoc if you wish. Also, all stages will now have a battlefield form. Like the omega form, this will allow you to alter the stage to be structured like the Battlefield stage (flat bottom with two mid-level platforms on the left and right and one high platform in the center) but keep the theme of the selected stage. Finally, you can use the stage morph option to select two stages before the battle, and the match will transform between the two. Which means that in one match you will be able to fight on both Hyrule Castle and the Temple stage, two locations which have consumed countless hours of my life. With all these options, it may be hard to find the time to play on the other over 100 stages (but against the odds, I’ll find a way).
Come December 7, Smash fans can return to Hyrule Castle for more madness, this time with even more options for customizable play. Any way you slice it, Hyrule Castle is one of the best Smash stages ever. Don’t agree? Fight me.