Hello, and welcome to Setting The Stage, a series of articles where I take a look at some of gaming's greatest locations to include in Super Smash Bros, analyze how they could be integrated into Smash, and conjure up a possible music list that the stage could come with. Get ready for tropical beaches and overaggressive orcas, as we cover Emerald Coast from Sonic Adventure!
History of the StageSonic's poolside afternoon came to a sudden stop when his best friend Tails suddenly went down in his plane out near the coast of Station Square. Always ready to lend a hand, Sonic hops out of the beach chair, dusts off his shiny red sneakers, and runs towards the sound of the crash to help out his fox friend.
Stage 1: Emerald Coast.
Sonic Adventure blasted onto the scene in 1999, being the first full-length 3D adventure for the hedgehog. This particular adventure certainly had its ups and downs, which have been praised and criticized to death since the game's release. Nonetheless, SA1 was the most ambitious Sonic game ever at that point which is reflected in the first stage of the game: Emerald Coast.
Sonic The Hedgehog games were no stranger to tropical environments at this point; Bridge Zone from Sonic 1 (8-bit) and Angel Island Zone from Sonic 3 are examples of past levels with tropical themes. Whereas those two areas feature more jungle-like environments however, Emerald Coast is much more of a seaside environment. Sandy paths, boardwalks, grassy forests, murderous hedgehog-eating orcas, leafy palm trees, the works. It's a very important stage as it serves as an introduction to how the Adventure gameplay style works for the blue blur himself. The design is very open, setting the stage for the Dreamcast era games. In terms of story, there's not a lot - Tails crashed his plane so Sonic's gotta go fast and save his best buddy. It's a low stakes romp through a fun and relaxing environment, which is the perfect setup to have before the story ramps up into the unforgettable experience so many SA1 fans know and love. Due to how iconic the stage was, general beachside environments became somewhat of a mainstay in the Sonic franchise going forward.
In Super Smash Bros.Oddly enough though, we don't have a tropical Sonic stage in Smash. As for the Sonic stages we do have, one is the iconic Green Hill Zone, which is one of the most beloved stages in Sonic history. The other stage is Windy Hill Zone, which is technically our first "Modern Sonic" stage (aka a stage that made its debut after 1998). Windy Hill is from 2013's Sonic Lost World and it debuted in Smash the following year, leading many to believe that the stage's inclusion was to promote the Wii U exclusive platformer. While Windy Hill is enjoyable as a Smash stage, it's nearly identical to Green Hill in terms of visuals. We really only need one stage to represent grassy Sonic levels, that being Green Hill. Beaches and seasides are also a super common Sonic level trope, so having one of those is definitely a priority when including additional stages from the series. Emerald Coast was the first true beach stage in a mainline game and later beach stages take lots of inspiration from it, so it's natural we go with that one. Without further delay, let's dive into the layout of this azure blue world.
The LayoutThe graphic below uses images from Sonic Advance, though it's only to represent the possible layout of Emerald Coast, not Neo Green Hill Zone.
Imagine a somewhat smaller Big Battlefield, with one long platform within jump height for most characters, and another platform just above it. It's a large stage that can easily fit eight fighters somewhat comfortably (as shown in the above graphic), however it can be used as a counterpick in competitive 1v1 matches, specifically one that would favor rushdowns over zoners due to the abundance of platforms. The layout is not directly based on any one part of Emerald Coast, but rather the general theme of the level’s many platforms on a beach environment.
With hazards on, a Rhinotank (the first enemy in Emerald Coast) will bury out of the ground about 20 seconds after the match has started. It has a line of vision about ⅓ of the stage in front of it, and when it spots someone in front of it, the Rhinotank becomes surprised and soon after charges straight towards the fighter, hornfirst. They're pretty slow, but they keep the fighters on their toes. If you’re feeling evil, you can grab an opponent and force them to get hit by the badnik while suffering no damage yourself. When a fighter is close enough, the Rhinotank sends them flying upwards with its horn, doing somewhat of a limbless uppercut. It deals 16% damage and will start to KO opponents around 85%. You can destroy the Rhinotank by dealing 20% to it, but in order to avoid being hit yourself, you'll want to use a long disjoint or a projectile to tear down the robotic rhino. After it attacks, the Rhinotank will pause for a second before moving again.
Overall, there’s not a whole lot going on at Emerald Coast, which reflects the easygoing aesthetic of a beachside waltz. But the stage has to look like an inviting vacation as well, so let’s get into the appearance.
The AppearanceEmerald Coast will remain mostly unchanged from its first appearance in terms of the overall look. Bright, blue, and beautiful. The platforms in the above graphic will be based on the boardwalk from Emerald Coast, which acts as a main path above water in the original stage.
Unlike Bowser's Castle (which we covered in the first article of this series), Emerald Coast is a floating stage, which means we get to see some awesome scenery from above - specifically, this shot near the beginning of the level.
From here, you can see rings rotating along the landscape, some kind of large structure in the distance (a later part of the level in SA1), and some seagulls. There are some new details as well, such as various types of seacraft, and smoke far in the distance from Tails' plane crash. You can even spot the bridge where Sonic would run from the deadly orca whale in the original game. Hey, you can even see the orca whale hopping around the water near the closest coast to the stage! Fret not, for he isn't hungry for hedgehogs at the moment.
There are two other cameos in this stage. The first is Big The Cat, who will walk along the water, fish for a bit, and then leave the way he came. In Sonic Adventure, he's on the lookout for his best friend Froggie who has mysteriously grown a tail…
After Big comes E-102 Gamma, an Eggman robot who has been sent by the mad scientist to look for this unusual specimen of amphibian. He'll roll along the path in the background, blasting a few Rhinotanks that pop out of the ground around him before flying off the ramp at the end of the stretch of land.
The Song ListNo beach stage in a Sonic game goes without some nice tunes to listen to. These songs were selected for Emerald Coast based on how well they fit the windy and ripply atmosphere, the laid-back nature, and the open-ended design of the stage. Most of these songs are also associated with coastal environments in Sonic games.
Bridge Zone - Sonic 1 (8 bit)
Can You Feel The Sunshine - Sonic R
Canyon Cruise - Sonic The Fighters
Azure Blue World - Sonic Adventure
Windy and Ripply - Sonic Adventure
Big Fishes at Emerald Coast - Sonic Adventure
Neo Green Hill Zone (Act 2) - Sonic Advance
Emerald Beach - Sonic Battle
Seaside Hill - Sonic Heroes
Ocean Palace - Sonic Heroes
Back 2 Back - Sonic Rush
Wave Ocean (The Water's Edge) - Sonic The Hedgehog 2006
Wave Ocean (The Inlet) - Sonic The Hedgehog 2006)
Blue Coast Zone (Act 1) - Sonic Rivals 2
A New Venture - Sonic Rush Adventure(New Remix)*
Windmill Isle (Day) - Sonic Unleashed
Theme of Dolphin Resort - Sonic Free Riders
Tropical Resort (Act 1) - Sonic Colors(New Remix)**
Juice Archipelago - Sonic Lost World
Moonlight Battlefield (Aqua Road) - Sonic Forces
A couple things to note:
*The Surfin’ S.R.A. remix of A New Venture will be used as inspiration for this new remix.
**The other new remix, Tropical Resort, is inspired by a Hyper Potions remix of the song. This is technically a fanmade remix, but Hyper Potions has worked officially with the Sonic brand several times since this track was published. Not to mention it sounds much more "tropical" than any officially used version of Tropical Resort. So it should be okay to use as inspiration for the remix.
ClosingTruth be told, I was not expecting for my next article to be Emerald Coast - I was actually working on a completely different stage and was in a bit of a writer's block before inspiration struck just recently. A lot of people want a new stage for Sonic, but Emerald Coast doesn't get talked about much in that regard so I wanted to do it some justice. I’m definitely going to veer off from platformer mascot stages for article #3, so stay tuned to see what that entails!
Thumbnail Graphic: @Zerp
Social Media: @Zerp
Author’s Note: What are your thoughts on Emerald Coast, and what are some other potential stages you’d like to see covered in the future? Let us know in the comments below!