In April of 1999, the super wacky Arena Fighter where Nintendo’s characters duke it out with each other came out for the Nintendo 64, starting a series of 5 games across every console the Big N had released up to that point.

Then 4-Player Mayhem which we all know and love came out early in the life cycle of the GameCube, with better graphics and refined gameplay, it became a favorite among the most competitive gamers even after Brawl and Smash 4 came out.

Ultimate brought back every stage ever to appear in the series, but Super Smash Bros. Melee already brought players a few stages from the original game and dozens of new ones. Now is as good a time as ever to revisit this GameCube masterpiece and discuss which of the 29 stages was best to blast each other with laser guns and throw our pokeballs around, so here is our list of

Every Super Smash Bros. Melee Stage (Worst to Best)

Infinite Glacier – Icicle Mountain (Ice Climbers)

This stage scrolls up and down and has too many platforms for my taste. Also, you can go to the end side of the screen just by walking, so it takes away the chance to throw your opponent off a ledge and see how they struggle to get back trying to grab the edge of the platform you’re fighting on.

The ice cubes and polar bears don’t really make this stage that much more interesting, and also the music is kinda dull.

Sure it may be a little nostalgic for those few that used to play Ice Climbers, but for me, the whole presentation of this stage just isn’t exciting at all, and it’s one that my pals and I only play once in a long while if it ever came out while selecting it on random.

Yoshi’s Island (Yoshi Story)

Yoshi's Island Classic level in SSBM

My fuss with this children book inspired stage is that the music is mind-numbing.

The stage layout with a center platform and 3 smaller floating ones isn’t that bad, I just don’t like the overall look and audio. think Yoshi’s stage on N64 had a little more originality to it, and I don’t even like that one that much.

Super Flat Zone – Flat Zone (Game & Watch)

Mr. Game & Watch is a weird character, and he got a weird stage. This is certainly a good way to include the history of the Game & Watch handheld systems Nintendo used to make back in the 80s, but as a stage is not a place you would pick often.

The floating platforms appear and disappear pretty fast, which is something that only happens here, but the overall presentation and music make this place one of the bottom tiers in my opinion.

Unfortunately, I never owned one of these systems, so the nostalgia factor for me is zero. I avoid this one and only played in this place at random.

Kanto Skies – Poké Floats (Pokémon)

A very interesting stage where players fight over giant statues of different pocket monsters. It really stands out over the other stages in the game, but it’s not where I want to have my bouts most of the time. It just creeps me out.

Special Stages – Final Destination

Final Destination Is the ultimate Melee level

A stage like final destination may be a choice for some tournaments in 1 vs 1 matches, and it works as a Boss Stage, but in 4-Player Free for all, it is lacking.

Smash Bros. isn’t supposed to be played as Street Fighter and all the other similar fighting games out there, Melee is supposed to be a Multiplayer Arena Party Game, and that doesn’t shine here.

Past Stages – Yoshi’s Island (Yoshi’s Story)

I prefer it over Melee’s stage but still wasn’t among my favorite places to play in. The clouds that appear and tilted platforms are welcomed to make this place a little different from other levels, but I prefer the Super Mario World inspired over this one.

Eagleland – Fourside (EarthBound)

A stage made for Ness, but nowhere near as fun to play in as the city with the cars crashing you around the stage. It has a decent length and overall design where players fight on skyscrapers rooftops and have a nice urban nighttime background, but that’s what this stage is, just “decent” in overall quality and presentation.

Dream Land – Fountain of Dreams (Kirby’s Adventure)

Dream Land Fountain of Dreams Map

Not as fun to play in as the original N64 Kirby stage, but I have to admit that it is a beautiful place and it does show off the graphic capabilities of the Cube and the artistic direction of the level designers.

I don’t mind playing 1 vs 1 or free for all battles here, but the music doesn’t really boost your mood for long sessions.

An OK stage and let’s leave it at that.

DK Island – Kongo Jungle (Donkey Kong Country)

My complaint with this stage is that the platforms where you fight are a little too small. It may work for 1 vs 1 fights, but it becomes too crowded when you add more characters into the mix.

Also, the DK Rap may have been cool once as Donkey Kong 64 intro video, but hearing it here every time you play, it gets old fast. Although it was nice to hear it in the Super Mario Bros. Movie when Donkey appears, for 5 seconds.

The shooting barrel at the bottom of the screen below the main stage is a nice touch, but it doesn’t place this stage much higher in the ranking.

DK Island – Jungle Japes (Donkey Kong 64)

DK Island Jungle Japes

Another stage for the gorilla with the red tie. It has a big center platform with a rooftop where 4 guys can fight without trouble, and two smaller platforms closer to the edge of the screen.

The sunset background and music reminds me of the later levels of Donkey Kong Country, and while it is kinda easy to get lost and not see your character very well given its low illumination, I admit sometimes part of the fun is trying to find where you are after a bomb-omb goes off.

And that kremling that jumps out of the water to bite you just when you think you safely grabbed the edge of the platform? Hard to see it coming.

Mushroom Kingdom (Super Mario Bros.)

Based on the classic SMB 8-Bits adventure, complete with blocky platforms and pixel art background, the incredibly nostalgic environment takes you back to the simpler times of gaming but overall I really don’t think it’s that fun of a stage to play on.

The breakable blocks, bottomless pits, and weight-sensitive platforms that move with a pulley are a nice touch, but in reality, this is my least favorite Mario Bros.-inspired place to play in.

Termina – Great Bay (The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask)

Termina Great Bay

This place could use a few more floating platforms, the way it starts, there’s not much going on, but the giant sea turtle that dives every minute gives it a little variety.

The background and music is really good, and any fan of Majora’s Mask will appreciate the attention to detail they placed with the stuff going on back there.

But a regular Smash player that just wants a good fight, will consider this a low-mid level stage to do battle in.

Planet Zebes – Brinstar Depths (Metroid)

Planet Zebes Brinstar Depths

I prefer the other Metroid stage, but this one has Ripley in the background turning around the main platform, so things can turn for better or for worse pretty often.

It is a cool-looking place, but the music doesn’t get me going and I just think that 4 players matches have much more going on in other stages in the game, so not even close to my Top 10.

Lylat System – Venom (Star Fox)

Not as fun as the Corneria Stage, but you can perform good combos if you can bounce your rivals on the wings of the ship. Or attack them from below if they’re walking on the top wings.

It is an OK-ish place to fight, but the music isn’t as exciting as other Star Fox stages, and Arwings do appear and shoot at you, but it doesn’t feel as menacing as in Corneia, and you can’t fight on top of them.

I don’t remember having that many battles here, since the level layout was kinda weird. Makes sense that this stage didn’t come back to the series until Ultimate.

Kanto – Pokémon Stadium (Pokémon)

Kanto Pokémon Stadium SSBM Stage

I think I prefer the N64 Pikachu and Jigglypuff stage, but this one has a screen in the background to create a little more excitement and emphasize the action.

Also, pokeballs are really common here, so chaos unfolds when all 4 players become Pokemon trainers. It’s a middle-ranking stage in my mind.

Mushroom Kingdom II (Super Mario Bros. 2)

Based on SMB2, it is a little better than the previous stage to host your matches, and the floating red carpet, floating logs in the waterfall, and being able to catch and throw Birdo’s eggs adds a layer of strategy to the bouts, but still doesn’t rank high among the mid-level stages for me.

Mushroom Kingdom – Rainbow Cruise (Super Mario 64)

Mushroom Kingdom Rainbow Cruise Melee Stage

Things start kinda slow on the flying ship, but once you get to the SM64 inspired platforming with the camera scrolling, it is certainly something else.

It is better than the blocky SMB1 inspired place, but still isn’t as fun as the other Mario stages in my opinion, I think that the overall wackyness and fun factor of the N64 Mario stage was better, to be honest.

Past Stages – Kongo Jungle (Donkey Kong Country)

Certainly better than the Yoshi’s Story stages, this place has tilted platforms, but also moving floating platforms in the middle.

You’re gonna find yourself in the shooting barrel more often than in DK Island – Kongo Jungle, and the music is among Rare’s best compositions.

Also, while it also features a sunset, is much easier to see your characters here.

Mushroom Kingdom – Princess Peach Castle (Super Mario Bros.)

Mushroom Kingdom Princess Peach Castle

Straight from Super Mario 64 and Mario Kart, we get to play on the roof of Peach’s Castle, kinda like in the Mario Movie when the Mushroom Kingdom good guys trash Bowser’s wedding with the princess.

The background is a green field with a river, and the castle is surrounded by water, which made for outstanding graphics scenery by 2001 standards.

The music is a nice remix of the classic NES Super Mario Bros. theme, and the Bullet Bills that drill into the castle can do maximum damage to anyone close to the explosion.

Also, the colored switches and “?” floating blocks that give items are a nice touch. A good middle-ranked stage for the game.

F-Zero Grand Prix – Big Blue

It probably features the best most stunning song in the game. Here you attack each other on top of Captain Falcon’s ship traveling in the air over a race track, and you can even get on top of F-Zero race vehicles and hit each other while traveling at great speeds.

Is kinda like the Mute City stage, but with a sidescrolling view, and although not as fun, it certainly portrays the wackiness of what Smash Bros. can be.

Very good upper-mid ranking stage.

Lylat System – Corneria (Star Fox)

Lylat System Corneria Melee Battle

Fighting on top of the Great Fox ship while traveling over Corneria sounds like fun, and it is!

This stage has appeared in the next instalments of Smash titles since it really stands out from the bunch, after all, Arwings suddenly appearing and shooting lasers at players don’t happen in other stages.

Also, if you manage to place an opponent when the Great Fox laser cannons fire, you’re gonna do great damage.

Yoshi’s Island – Yoshi’s Island (Super Mario World)

Yoshi's Island Melee

Maybe I liked Super Mario World 2: Yoshi’s Island on Super Nintendo a lot more than the dinosaur’s adventure for N64, but this stage is actually fun. And the Athletic theme from Super Mario World really gets my fingers going.

It’s a good touch that the floating yellow blocks can flip when hit and you go through them, and more than once I fell down when I lost my footing in the middle blocks.

It sits firmly in my top 10, I had several nice fast-paced battles and got many laughs on this stage.

Dream Land – Green Greens (Kirby Series)

A sort of upgrade of the N64 Dream Land Stage, now it has a couple more floating islands to the sides, and between the main platforms and the little ones. There are blocks with a star shape that can be destroyed and a bomb block appears from time to time to spice things up.

The main floating island also has a couple of suspended stages, and 4 Player battles can be pretty fun here, but I still think the mayhem and music of the past stage was better.

Still, a good place to send your friends flying.

Eagleland – Onett (EarthBound)

Eagleland Onett (Earthbound)

I’ve never played any of the Mother games, so this stage doesn’t really have any nostalgia factor for me as the other stages, but it is still a very good mid-ranking stage, given all the uneven platforms you can play in, and the fact that a car can knock you out of the stage if you’re not careful.

Also, the baseball bat item is pretty common here, so it’s a good place to practice your home runs using Nintendo heroes as balls.

F-Zero Grand Prix – Mute City (F-Zero)

F-Zero Grand Prix Mute City (F-Zero)

We really need a new F-Zero game, this stage is mindblowing and it’s always a funny sight when you knock down opponents on the race track when the platform is moving and see how they bounce back in pain.

When the platform places you on the track and you see the F-Zero pilots pass just beside you at 1000 miles per hour, that’s an awesome sight.

Always brings a smile to my face when I manage to knock back a rival and see a vehicle crash into them. And did I mention the kick-ass music?

Planet Zebes – Brinstar (Metroid)

This is a cool stage that looks like a re-design of the original N64 Samus stage. It has also been brought back to all the sequels of Smash.

The uniqueness of this level is that it can be submerged in acid, and this hazard alone makes things interesting after a while.

Also, the music is great and brings back memories of my playing Super Metroid.

Special Stages – Battlefield


Simple and to the point. Here you have a central main platform, 2 floating ones to the sides, and a center one above them.

This is a place where players really can come to blows from above or below and from the sides.

The original theme song isn’t that memorable, it sounds like the menu, but the alternative track pumps it up and gets the game going.

Hyrule Temple (The Legend of Zelda)

Hyrule Temple (The Legend of Zelda)

This great stage has been brought back to every Smash Bros. title since its inception in the series for a reason. It is the biggest standard map and 4-Player battles can become chaotic wars on such a sick battlefield.

The music and overall level design is great, and I remember most of my epic versus battles being here. And if you ever get to the bottom of the level on the tiny platform with a high % of damage, you look like a ping-pong ball bouncing back and forth just trying to survive the carnage.

It’s one of the most well-done and beloved stages in the series, and it was first introduced in Melee.

Past Stages – Dream Land (Kirby)

Past Stages Dream Land

This is my favorite stage since the N64 and it appears in every single Smash Bros. since because it is the epitome of what the series is supposed to be.

A cool fun place with cutesy bouncy music that gets you going and where mayhem is bound to happen.

Also, the fact that the boss tree Whispy Woods blows wind and can prevent you from reaching the edge of the platform when knocked off can make some players throw their controller in rage. I’ve witnessed it more than a few times.