Part of the appeal to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the sheer chaos and random environmental factors that pummel you in many of the game's colorful stages.
And while this can make for some thrilling bouts with unpredictable twists and turns, it can also be overkill, especially when packing 8 players on the same screen at once. It reaches a fever pitch where you often can't fully absorb what's happening.
Still, many of the stages - both old and new - ride that line between simplicity and detail quite nicely. Often, the best stages are those that keep you on your toes with its shifting dynamics and random elements, while opening things up for straight-up brawls. These are maps that are rich with character and atmosphere which also pull back from being too gimmicky or crazy.
Let's sift through the dozens of stages featured in Ultimate as we examine the 5 greatest and the 5 most annoying.
10 Annoying: Kalos Pokémon League
Diehard Pokémon fans might cry foul - and this stage is certainly pretty to look at. But actually playing through it is far less glamorous, and a degree more annoying.
Of course, it goes without saying that a number of Smash Bros. stages - especially the newer ones - are going to fling some hazards at you, but this one takes it too far. You've got powerful water streams, flaming platforms, gigantic swords, and other large obstructions that knock you around like a pinball. It's like Nintendo felt the need to throw every single Pokémon "element" at you here.
9 Awesome: Midgar
Final Fantasy VII vets already know of this game's uniquely rich and majestic atmosphere, and Midgar is a great representation of this iconic RPG's industrial themes.
The level adheres to the solid foundation of Battlefield - one larger area with three smaller floating platforms - while sprucing it up visually. The background is decorated with the awe-inspiring skyline of the industrial capitol of Midgar, while the epic scene is livened up with iconic soundtrack from FF7; music that's quite fitting for the Smash's frantic, epic sensibilities. The action and layout of this stage contain that Battlefield-style minimalism fans love while amping up the theatrics for more entertaining visuals.
8 Annoying: Warioware Inc.
This is a classic example of Nintendo getting in their own way with amplifying the gimmicks, which, in this case, only hinders the actual functionality of the gameplay.
Of course, Warioware fans know of this minigame comp's tendency to be wild, random, and chaotic, which is what the stage is attempting to capture. But having to deal with this pummeling of varying events and obstacles while also battling foes is just stimulation overload. Few players are keen on interrupting the action to stand perfectly still for several seconds just to "win" at the fly-by micro-games. Often times, the hazards will end you more often than your opponents in this stage.
7 Awesome: Umbra Clock Tower
This epic stage serves as a cool homage to one of the major moments that kicks off Bayonetta, while also being a very fun and functional setting for battles. This large chunk of the plummeting clock tower makes for a set piece that's cool to look at, much like the morphing aerial backgrounds, featuring some cool creatures from the game. This feeling of constantly being in motion really makes for an exhilarating feel that adds to the excitement.
The level draws from Final Destination with its minimalism, but gives it that epic Bayonetta twist, along with some subtle transformations like the addition of a couple of side platforms to keep things interesting.
6 Annoying: 75m (Donkey Kong Map)
There are a variety of stages in Smash Bros. Ultimate that invoke some feel-good nostalgia and offer some amusing concepts, but just don't work in terms of practicality. Case in point - 75m, or "the Donkey Kong level" as most common folk refer to it.
Even the most hardcore of old-school Donkey Kong fans would be hard-pressed to play through this stage without getting annoyed by the wide, sporadic layout of everything and the bothersome baddies that get in the way.
This stage is also home to one of the single most aggravating World of Light scenarios, in which you're forced to take out a fleeing Paulina while being harassed by an annoying Mario CPU.
5 Awesome: Final Destination
There's a reason most of the diehards and professional Smash'ers typically opt for this stage to engage in their heated battles; it's simply one of the best and most effective maps. Sure, there's not a ton going on, but it's this basic quality that makes it so solid. There are no gimmicks and nothing getting in your way; just a large slab which provides the foundation for you and your opponents to go at it unencumbered and unbothered.
At the same time, Ultimate livens up the stage from an atmospheric standpoint, thanks to some gorgeous scenery and cool transforming backdrops. Sure, it's fun to be at the mercy of the crazier stage like Big Blue at times, but sometimes you've just gotta fight it out on this simple, tried-and-true classic.
4 Annoying: The Great Cave Offensive
While modeling a Smash Bros. map off an entire subgame for Kirby Super Star may seem like a cool idea, most will find this novelty turn to annoyance pretty quickly.
The long and short of it? This stage is just too large, cluttered, and riddled with too many hazards. Given that kills are often notched by blasting an opponent skyward or off cliffs, defeating foes is much harder than it should be here, and often becomes an exercise in futility. Your targets will be bouncing off the walls even when dealt well over 100% of damage, and the experience typically plays out like a cat and mouse game rather than a basic brawler.
It's at least semi-tailored to the chaotic, crowded 8 player fights, but smaller groups playing here are usually in for an annoying and uneventful romp.
3 Awesome: Bridge Of Eldin
Much like the Zelda series itself, the stages modeled off this classic fantasy franchise prove similarly epic. This map manages to outdo the fan-favorite Hyrule Castle by amping up the action and dynamics.
At the same time, the stage presents an even grander atmosphere than ever, with some pretty landscapes and the towering Hyrule Castle in the background. The massive charging King Bulblin and the sporadically collapsing center of the bridge keep players on their toes without overdoing the insanity.
2 Annoying: Pac-Land
There are a number of things wrong with this annoying, cartoony stage, based on the iconic Pac Man. First off - why feature a map modeled off the relatively obscure Pac-Land, rather than the far more charming and recognizable stage from the original arcade classic?
Additionally, even though this stage is merely staying true to the flat, cartoony graphics from the '84 game, that doesn't make it any less of an eyesore, and a pretty lame backdrop to fight in. The constantly scrolling screen, pitfalls, and obstacles flung at you are supposed to add to the action, but all it does is detract from the gameplay - and will make your head spin in the process.
1 Awesome: Temple
While you may want to avoid this sizable stage when just dueling with one other player, it's tough to find a cooler, more enjoyable map for the bigger fights than Hyrule Temple. This Melee classic returns for the third time in Ultimate, and looks just as sleek and epic as ever.
This map comes with the perfect balance of simplicity and depth, with its multiple levels and myriad of platforms; especially the always amusing bottom portion, which allows for some truly gritty wars of attrition with its enclosed walls. This map really sets the stage for all sorts of action-packed, dynamic battles.