Top Smash Players Want Duck Hunt's Stage Banned

Competitive Super Smash Bros. 4 players are asking for silly dog Duck Hunt's stage to be banned from tournaments. Its architecture forces players into boring, long sequences where they stare at each other and wait.

Smash 4's Duck Hunt stage

Dunk Hunt's stage is, of course, based on the NES title Duck Hunt. It's a grassy, flat plane. Sometimes, ducks spawn from the grass. It has two "soft" platforms: A tree and a bush. It's a counterpick stage, so when a player loses the first game of a set, they can "counterpick" Duck Hunt's stage. It's a good option if you're up against a character who would fare poorly there.

It seems innocent enough, and it is widely tournament-legal, but players are complaining that the best strategy to beat someone on Duck Hunt is a boring one to watch. Players "camp" on the tree, waiting for their enemy to approach. It's safe, sure. But in such a fast-paced game, sitting on a tree for several seconds can be dull. Also, to the left side of the tree, characters with stronger recoveries than others have a significant, and perhaps unfair, advantage.

Now that Smash 4 will take top fighting games tournament EVO's prime-time Sunday slot, debate over the Dunk Hunt stage's legality has flared up. Some competitors are demanding for it to be banned before EVO.

Ally, one of the top Smash players in the world, told me that "The tree on the left is the biggest issue. People will sit on it and get very janky low % kill because the other player had no options but to approach." He says the stage "forces a lot of camping", and because of that, players will wait relatively long periods for someone to make a move.

He adds that "The Ducks can change the fate of a stock by interrupting an attack or delaying it". He wants it to be banned.

ZeRo, who was 2014-2015's top Smash 4 player and recently lost to Ally at Gen4, "really disagreed" with that perspective. On Twitter, he said it will "remove a ton of counterpick aspect too the game". In some cases, choosing Duck Hunt may not benefit you, but it could really compromise another player. He's sympathetic to environment-related losses, but thinks players should meet the challenge.

And, anyway, who would really stop watching a Smash tournament because one rarely-picked stage sometimes provokes boring stare-downs? "Removing Duck Hunt won't increase viewership," he said. "Don't change the stage list under that principle. What will is storyline & proper advertising."

Omni, a huge Smash YouTuber, takes a more conservative approach to stages. Flat stages with few platforms are "staples while everything else is just extra".

He commented under Ally's tweets:

When reached for comment, Omni told me that he'd "ban Duck Hunt for many reasons". The biggest, he said, is how "polarising it is to simply sit in the corner of the screen and wait for something to happen. It's lame. Effective but lame."

Omni added that it "comes down to preference". Personally, I think playstyles are better showcased with fewer environmental impediments. But also, how Smash players react to ridiculous situations can inspire some of the game's best surprises.


    Because strategy... except when it's working against me.

    I don't like it, mum. Change it! I'll cry louder!

    I don't see how camping on the tree is any worse than camping the edge of the stage.

    Yes, it gives some characters and advantage. Yes, it gives some characters a disadvantage. So do all stages. That assure, that's why with the counterpick system including stage striking, it's not an issue.

      Exactly. Camping in the tree is useless if your opponent doesn't approach.

    This is why Smash should never be considered a competitive fighting game. If you are upset that a stage is effecting your play, then you're not a fighting game competitor. Good fighting game players can adapt to environment changes.

      You see it in all fighting games though, even those like Street Fighter that actually don't change stage layout at all - you're always fighting on a completely flat stage, but only certain stages are used in competitive play because they consider what's going on in the background of some stages too distracting. Yep, it's dumb, but it's part and parcel of the FGC (fighting game community).

      I'm of the opinion that the Duck Hunt stage shouldn't be banned (neither should Lylat Cruise, even though I personally don't like it), because those stages exist as counterpicks for a reason. A "recommended" ruleset update was released just this week that proposes to ban both of these stages as well as a host of other ridiculous changes like counting BattleField and Dreamland 64 as the same thing (they aren't) so if you ban one, you ban the other too. The changes have been met with a huge negative backlash from the community though so I'd be very surprised if they didn't edit them.

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