Game Theory: The Hunt for Super Smash Bros. LOST STAGE!
Articles Blog

Game Theory: The Hunt for Super Smash Bros. LOST STAGE!

November 20, 2019

Ever wanted to visit a stage from Super Smash Brothers in real life? Well maybe, you can- Provided you acknowledge the existence of stages that aren’t Final Destination (Game Theory Intro Theme) Hello, internet! Welcome to Game Theory! OHMIGOSH did you hear that Sakurai finally announced Ridley for Super Smash Brothers? (rumbling) Wamp Wamp Wamp Wamp Curse you obscure PS2 RPGs!! Now despite Super Smash Brothers Melee being 15 years old, Uhhhh Uhhh Did you just feel the collective wave of people watching this video suddenly feel really old? the community for the game is as strong as ever. Earlier this month a bunch of animators collaborated to reimagine the game’s iconic intro and it’s hilarious! And gamers have practically willed more depth out of the game by looking at it through a closer and closer microscope- like velocity canceling, which was just discovered for Melee last October. Look it up! It’s wild! I mean even the recent realization that you could hack your way into playing as Master Hand and Giga Bowser are incredible and the game continues to make news with the world’s top Smash 4 player recently revealing his tiering list for Melee! Better… late then never? I guess? Anyway, at a time when most other fighting games get immediately over shadowed by their newer, flashier sequels, unless your name is “Street Fighter V,” Melee has held on. It’s a game that truly wave-dashed its way into our collective hearts! But then, what more is there to say about this game after a decade and a half? Well for all that time, one mystery has lingered on, quite literally, in the background and today I intend to solve it. Three years ago while watching “Did You Know Gaming?” I heard this line: (from video clip) “There are also some test stages left in the game’s data. One of the stages labeled “TEST” is long and textureless Its background appears to be a photograph of the inside of a pub.” (MatPat) My mind was BLOWN! Not because there were hidden stages in Melee; I mean, that in of itself was no big surprise. Lots of test code never gets finished and remains hidden in game data. But what really caught me off guard was the restaurant… How weird is that? To see a picture of a restaurant full of people in the background of a Nintendo mascot brawler game; to see Bowser butt-stomping on Marth while people sip lattes in the background? It’s definitely unusual… And for the last three years, I couldn’t get it out of my mind. Where was this place? What sort of restaurant was it? My mind was filled with all these cool scenarios explaining why it was there in the game… Maybe it was a favorite after-work hangout near HAL Laboratories that the programmers would go to to gripe about having to code Pichu into the game. Or maybe it was a bistro in the US, outside of Nintendo of America’s headquarters where Reggie’s body was ready… for lunch! Probably the most important question that stuck in my mind was: “Could I eat there?” Was this a real place still in existence? Could I really go get a cup of coffee at an in-game location from one of the most highly-regarded fighting games of all time? (Inception sound effect) How cool would that be!? And with that… (drum beat) The quest was on. (Inception sound effect) Outside of the few sentences Young Town had on the matter in the Did You Know Video, the only other clues I had to go off of were in the Smash Brothers Melee Wiki, Which explained that it was a coffee shop in Palo Alto, California. I got excited because, as a California resident, it meant that I was close, but then on the other hand there were no references, so it could just be as meaningless as the time Wikipedia reported that Miley Cyrus had died. The only other thing it mentioned was that the coffee shop was a common test image used for Open GL 3D object texture mapping, Which begs the question, (super smash brothers baseball bat noise) What the h*** does all that mean? Well, back in the 80’s, it was hard to develop software that could work across all the different types of graphics hardware. There was no standard, and so software developers were forced to custom fit their product for each new system they were working on. Let’s see, this was the 80’s so what would be a good comparison to draw. Imagine having a VHS tape of the David Bowie, Jim Henson childhood ruining classic, Labyrinth. Say you want to relive all the eyeliner, muppet-tastic glory, but each time you go to a friend’s house you needed a different version of the same VHS tape simply because they had a different VCR or video cassette recorder for those of you who are so young you’re still trying to figure out what a VHS tape is from the last sentence. As you can imagine, that’s gonna be frustrating. The movie should work on every VCR. Having a different version for each one would be expensive, inefficient, and just a waste of time. Well that was the situation for software developers back then and Open GL or Open Graphics Library was created to solve that. A cross-platform programing interface that would work across different code languages and allow you to render 2D and 3D vector graphics, and now a days it’s used in everything from Virtual Reality to, well of course, video games, and our Super Smash Brothers Restaurant Image was apparently one that would appear in Open GL textbooks. Used for exercises where 2D images would have to be mapped onto 3D surfaces to make them appear more realistic. Basically, it was a part of a homework assignment to teach people texture mapping. A word that gets tossed around a lot in the gaming scene, but you may not actually have known what it meant until now. And so, I looked into these online manuals, and sure enough, there was our Smash Brothers Restaurant, mapped onto a martini glass. So much for it being a Nintendo specific image. My romantic visions of stalking Reggie during a luncheon from a corner booth in the pub fizzled away. That said, I was too far to turn back now. At this point, I was determined to find the Super Smash Brothers stage in real life, but my next step didn’t lie with the Gamecube, but rather the history of texture mapping itself. After doing a bunch of Google searching, I was eventually able to find another useful mention of Open GL at a coffee shop on Tomb where a group of people from 2006 were just as baffled as I was after finding our little test stage image in the texture files for Tomb Raider: Legend. Tomb Raider and Smash Brothers? Our little coffee shop had been making the rounds, but what role did it have in this game? After digging through footage, basically playing Where’s Waldo with an image of a 90’s coffee shop, I found it as a reflection in the sunglasses Laura wears while equipped with her special cat suit. Yeeeaah. Definitely easy to miss, since you might be distracted by other features of this particular outfit. (punching noises) But if you’re able to make eye contact long enough, sure as shootin, it’s there. Personally I think it’s pretty funny her glasses just reflecting a random cafe while she’s out there trolling trough tombs across the world. Anyway, a German user on the forum who went simply by Cochrane had gotten just about as far as I did with Open GL Programming guide, but then sometime later updated his post with a link to a personal website of a man named Paul Debevec, Chief Visual Officer at the USC Institute of Creative Technology and research professor in the USC computer science department. It’s clearly an old site, I mean look at that sweet geo-cites layout, but don’t let the lack of CSS formatting fool you, it’s actually a really cool site that chronicles the history of reflection mapping, a.k.a using a photo as a texture on a 3D model to simulate reflections on it’s surface. It starts with the first ever example of reflection mapping from 1976, the Utah Teapot. Notice the windows and doors on the pot? Yeeaah that’s where it all started. going so far as to cover the reflections on the T-1000 from Terminator 2, before finally concluding with, you guessed it, our Smash Brothers Photograph only this time, with references. (Inception noises) Apparently the photo is from a paper dating back to 1993 taken by a man named Paul Haeberli. We actually reached out to Paul Debevec, who knew the photographer, and he confirmed everything we found out about the image. He clarified that it originally was released to the public as part of a “very influential set of Silicon Graphics hardware/software demos, and could be seen mapped onto a shiny bust of Beethoven and the famous Utah Teapot. Showing the whole graphics community of the early 1990’s real-time reflection mapping which was amazingly cool.” He also explained why such an influential picture in the world of texture mapping would be a weird image of a cafe. The layout of the picture meant it could easily be mirrored, flipped over it’s axis, and then stitched together to create a believable spherical image for mapping purposes. But most importantly of all, what Paul and his site were able to confirm for us, was the name of the restaurant itself, The Caffe Verona and I know what you’re thinking, no that is not a typo, that is legitimately how they spelled their name. It is weird. Which was indeed in Palo Alto, California, so with an address in hand, the next phase of the journey began. We’d solved the mystery of the photograph, and now all that was left was to make the holy pilgrimage and literally walk into and interact with not just a small piece of Super Smash Brothers history but a critical location for all of 3D graphics as we know them. Except, after all that work, it was impossible. A search on Yelp revealed that the Caffe Verona had closed it’s doors not long after Melee was released, on August 31st, 2003. NOOOOOO! after all that effort, after all that time thinking about it, I needed closure, so I kept looking and I found an article titled The travesty of Caffe Verona. Apparently, this historic cafe, appearing in video games and 3D texture maps for years is kind of a shady place. Immigration and naturalization services had raided the kitchen for employing undocumented kids from Europe, and despite earning the title of “Best Solo Dining Experience in Palo Alto,” it was accused of serving day old food that had been heated using a microwave! (DUM DUM DUMMMM) Drama Aleert! In retrospect though, not all that shocking considering they couldn’t even spell their name right. So is that it? Is that the end of the story? Can you never visit Melee’s Test Stage? Well, not the cafe, no, it’s long gone, but the location is still operational. After remaining closed for 6 years, the space was turned into Reposado, an upscale Mexican restaurant that’s been extremely well reviewed and is still open! Chimichangas anyone? In short, all the answers in hand, I had to make peace with the fact that time had moved on, and that the cup of coffee that would make me a part of Smash History would never happen, but when you actually stop to think, it’s pretty wild to think that one picture, in the background of a test level that most people have never seen in a game that’s over 15 years old, would lead us from an office at Nintendo Japan to some key players at the dawn of realistic 3D graphics to a classic local coffee shop busted for illegal child labor in California to a killer plate of Cochinata Pibel. The world is an incredible place. Hidden around us at any given moment are a million little things just like this, filled with character, and flavor, and windows into scenes you never even knew existed, so is all this important on it’s own? Not really. The world hasn’t changed now because we know where this picture came from, but it’s thinking like this that makes sure we never stop learning everything we can from the world around us, and that’s a pretty valuable lesson coming from a decade’s old picture … But Hey! That’s Just a THEORY! A Game Theory! Thanks for Watching! And hey! If you liked that theory, check out my other Super Smash Brothers theory on the secret lore of the franchise by clicking right here. This type of annotation works on mobile too, so just click it to try it out. It’s really cool. Or in case you missed it, check out my Life is Strange Theory, which is also touchy-feely in it’s own special way talking all about the psychology of … you. It’s one I’m really proud of, and even if you’re not a big fan of Life is Strange, I think you’ll get something out of it. Now if you’ll excuse me, that whole Chimichonga idea sounded really good, so I’m gonna go eat things, maybe not in Palo Alto, California because that’s a bit of a ways away, but you know, maybe the taco stand down the street. See you next week! Reposado … (beep) Reposado … I can’t do it in a sexy voice! I cannot make this sound sexy … damn it (beep) One more time Reposado … Nope still not …

Only registered users can comment.

  1. That uplifting message is why I wnjoy your videos (and awesome bit of detective work by all btw! I'm not sure the FBI could have done a better job tbh!)

  2. I'm from an even further future….
    But can someone please tell me what the name of the song in the end is?!
    I forgot??

  3. Wait….. does that mean every mexican person is part of the Smash Bros history?

    Can we search for the CAMERA it was taken with?

    Can we find any of the persons that were sitting there?

    Could you my dear reader be the child of anyone sitting there?

    Could you be one of the persons whos sitting there or a relative?


  4. This video didn't age well, half of the things he mentioned actually happened or something changed. Like Reggie and Ridley

  5. Wow. Actually teaching myself OpenGL now. Didn’t expect to learn more about it from game theory

  6. Ok… Youtube why are you recomending me this now? I already watched this video and it is 2 years old right now!

  7. Sure, MatPat, berets, baguettes and moustaches definitely make a kid European. So true, so true…


  9. I grew up with vhs tapes even tho i was born in 2007 we still had a BUTT LOAD OF VHS TAPES
    And a tv that could play vhs tapes

  10. I'm pretty sure that at least 1/3 of these comments have been people commenting that Ridley is playable now

  11. This may not be a theory, but is good information. Also everyone is paranoid of MatPat’s stalking skills.

  12. Wow this was a wild chase…The glasses of a character from Tomb Raider… all this. So many things are in this looking for the stage. But it was closed.

  13. 2016: Ridley is in smash shows obscure people with the name Ridley

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *