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Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Small Battlefield Update (8.1.0) Implications for the Smash Bros. Scene

By LUDWIG VON KOOPA - Thanks for not abandoning us! Plus, a My Music investigation.

Last night, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate got updated from 8.0.0 to 8.1.0. 8.1.0's patch notes include:

        •The Small Battlefield stage has been added. You can also set Small Battlefield as a Preferred Rule in Online battles.
        •You can now select any stage-specific music for the Battlefield, Small Battlefield, Big Battlefield, and Final Destination stages.
        •The online user experience has been adjusted.
        •The way matching is determined when using Preferred Rules has been adjusted.
        •Following a look at the current number of players eligible for Elite Smash, the threshold for entry has been recalculated to allow more players. Additionally, the way initial values for Global Smash Power are calculated has also been adjusted.
        •Further investigations and adjustments to Online mode are expected.
        •Several issues have been fixed to improve gameplay experience.

What does this mean, and why does it matter? Let me start with the last bit under Online. Nintendo wants to go deep into what makes the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate online experience currently not the best it could be (and I previously thought the CCP Virus would prevent this investigation), and they expect to make fixes. These hopefully include input delay/lag issues.

They apparently improved matchmaking with Quickplay/Elite Smash, and made it easier to get into Elite Smash. This is of little importance, since people shouldn't be playing Quickplay/Elite Smash to begin with. It's a toxic environment, and Elite Smash is a ban list, not a reward.

Speaking of ban lists, let's talk about Small Battlefield.

Small Battlefield is like Battlefield (normally three floating platforms), but with the top platform removed, and the platforms that remain are slightly closer together. This makes it similar to hazards-less Pokémon Stadium, though the side blast zones are closer to the stage (in other words, it's easier to KO people horizontally). (As opposed to Pokémon Stadium 2, where the two platforms are far enough from the ground where Little Mac and some other characters can't land on them in one jump; those characters can get there on Pokémon Stadium and Small Battlefield.)

It's supposed to be the smaller counterpart to the six-platform Big Battlefield. I think it should've been named Baby Battlefield. It's pretty adorable and cute.

Battlefield-form Small Battlefield is kinda cursed, though, but not as cursed as Battlefield-form Final Destination. (There won't be a Small Battlefield form of other stages.)

My Music and Smash series stages (Battlefield, Final Destination)

But with all of those Smash series original stages, you can now play any song in the game that plays on another stage. Specifically, if you have a random song play (and it's random by default), you may get any of the songs possible. The first time I played on Small Battlefield I got the X vs. ZERO music from Mega Man X5 (RIP Zero). If the stage is picked, say, through online matchmaking (such as in an online tournament or Elite Smash), it'll just play a random song. If you're picking it yourself, you can choose what song you want to play for that one time, and you'll basically get the whole soundtrack.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate random from all songs Battlefield Final Destination select music
This is what happens when you press the Y button on stage selection for Small Battlefield's music.
Feel free to choose exactly the song you want, or “random from all songs”.

Normally, with any other stage, you can control the random chance a particular song plays. It's called My Music. (Again, My Music controls the probability a given song is picked on a given stage if you choose random music.) But if you try to go to My Music for Battlefield, Small Battlefield, Big Battlefield, or Final Destination, you get this limited selection:

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Small Battlefield My Music
The My Music options for Small Battlefield do not directly apply to Small Battlefield.
Same goes for Battlefield, Big Battlefield, and Final Destination.

Big difference. I'm pretty sure this whole update was rushed as a result, because a proper quality assurance operation wouldn't leave such a major option setting in the game essentially non-functional—or at least, not directly functional like it would function for any other stage's My Music.

I have extensively tested out what songs get picked for random on the Smash series stages like Small Battlefield. If a particular song is given a 0% chance to appear across all of the stages it can show up on (for example, zero-ing out Environmental Noises on the My Music settings for both Distant Planet and Garden of Hope), it will not randomly play on Small Battlefield, either. I do not know if it takes the relative chance a song can play into account, or if it takes the fact there are sixteen Super Mario Bros. stages with possibly distinct My Music selections versus there being one Mega Man stage.

Regardless, this essentially changes My Music considerations from what you want playing on a particular stage, to what playlist you want for Battlefield, its family, and Final Destination. I don't think this is a good decision, because some songs that I think would be fitting on one particular stage in the game I don't think would be fitting on Final Destination. But because I set that song on that one stage, it now has a chance of appearing.

What Small Battlefield Means for the Competitive Scene

Anyway, Small Battlefield is a fun stage and great for one-versus-one matches. It's a smaller stage in a game full of bigger stages, which makes it much more difficult for strategies like time-stalling and camping. This is something the competitive scene has been asking for. We've also been asking for a Hazards On/Off toggle on the stage selection screen instead of at the ruleset level. But since we don't have that yet, Small Battlefield opens up an opportunity for a hazards-on ruleset. Previously, you had to pick Pokémon Stadium (2) for a two-platform layout, and those HAVE to have hazards off or the stage will transform to uncompetitive layouts.

But what if we can have hazards-on and have Fountain of Dreams be on the stage list so we can play with its moving platforms? That'd be fun. I mainly just want Fountain of Dreams to be on tournament stage lists, since it's the best stage.

It was mainly competitive players who wanted Small Battlefield, and Masahiro Sakurai's team is catering to that audience. This is after many people thought that Nintendo was going to permanently ignore the competitive community after the revelations from the start of July 2020 that several prominent figures—including people that Nintendo had done marketing with (such as E3 tournaments, flights to Japan, Nintendo Treehouse Live events)—are rapists, pedophiles, and all-around creeps.

I gotta say, it made a lot of sense why Nintendo wouldn't want to involve itself in the community. Made even more sense when the entire EVO 2020 (and its EVO Online version) got cancelled this year due to creepy behaviour, after people thought Super Smash Bros. Ultimate being excluded from it was a big deal.

But here they are, with a free update that caters to the crowd everyone thought they'd forever turn a blind eye to. That's a good sign. The Super Smash Bros. community is trying to get rid of its filth and be a better community. Let's hope Nintendo forgives us. If they don't want to actually sponsor the competitive scene and help make it safe like every other eSport developer, then at least updating the game so it's hospitable towards it (which also benefits casual players) is the least they can do.

While writing this article, Ludwig has played on Small Battlefield dozens of times, and has yet to come across a song that he had completely off across any stage in My Music. His theory on the random music choice is that any song with a greater than zero chance of being played on a stage is put into a drawing pool, and they are all given an equal chance of being picked. The math is complicated a bit if you're playing online with multiple people's My Music to take into account.

One alternative to playing in Quickplay is to join Battle Arenas. Read up on Battle Arena etiquette before you do!
When Nintendo next hosts a competitive tourney, they put Small Battlefield as a legal stage.
Version 10.1 now allows you to set random music based on My Music, or based on actually being random.


  1. I am definitely correct about "if it's zero'd out in My Music it has 0 chance of being picked on a Smash series stage".
    Smash series stages also have a chance to pull up non-zero'd Smash series My Music, so Small Battlefield's My Music has a purpose. Though it's not explained in-game whatsoever.

    1. I've updated and even restructured the article to take into account my investigations.

  2. I mean, as far as I've experienced, if you're not ok with gaming toxicity whatsoever, you shouldn't even be playing Smash with other people. Heck, for the most part you shouldn't be PLAYING VIDEO GAMES with other people. :(

    1. That's not at all what I said.

      Quickplay specifically fosters degenerate playing conditions that are at odds with competitive play, and would also never work in local multiplayer.

    2. It's not what you said--it's what I'm saying. Competitive play is in itself degenerate. It denigrates other forms of play and considers them lesser than itself. That's degenerate at face value.

    3. U are also degen. lehticos

    4. That's more a statement on some competitive players, but not competitive play as an institution.

      And certainly not all or even most competitive players denigrate "casual" play like that.

      Either way, Quickplay is a cesspool and I don't consider it competitive or casual play. It's basically trolling. >_>

  3. yes this great. too bad everyone in smash currently a pedo ! hahahahahhaa........................................................................... NOT good.


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