Frigate Orpheon (フリゲートオルフェオン Furigēto Orufeon?) is a starter stage in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and will return in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. It is one of three stages that has its roots in the Metroid universe in Brawl, but the first based on a location in the Metroid Prime sub-series of the franchise.
Frigate Orpheon's portrayal in Brawl borrows several aspects of the original locale and implements it into the stage. The general design is very reminiscent of the frigate as it appeared in Metroid Prime. As well as that, it sometimes experiences power outages, knocking out the lights and therefore making it more difficult to see the position of the platforms. The Parasite Queen features, of course, inside the reactor core whilst utilizing the same rotating forcefield used against Samus in the boss fight with it. However, the Queen is merely there for aesthetic reasons; it has no effect on the proceedings of the brawl.
The main element that has been integrated into Frigate Orpheon is the 180 degree flip. The stage actually has two different arena layouts arranged in a vertical column opposite each other, but players are only brawling on one at a time. Every so often, a loud siren blares out and a bright yellow warning light flashes in the background. This indicates that the stage is about to turn upside down. When this happens, the camera quickly shifts around and the characters fall onto the other layout. The sudden movement can put people in difficult situations depending on their positioning when the flip took place. Fortunately, game director Masahiro Sakurai suggested on the stage's update on the Smash Bros. DOJO!! that staying in the air when the alarm is going off will reduce the negative effect it has on one's character once they have flipped.
The stage layouts are as follows:
- The first layout is a basic Final Destination-esque design: a large platform with a flat terrain type. Additions include a past-trough platform above left, and a one way past-through platform in the right side that moves vertically in three positions. The layout has only one edge located in the left side.
- The second layout is slightly bigger, resembling a slightly quashed Halberd. The primary platform has straight edges and a diagonally slanted centre that indents into the arena the downwards direction. A much smaller platform sits above this in the middle. Platforms on the left & right hand sides alternately appear and disappear, making them useful for long distance recoveries.
This stage is usually a counterpick and is sometimes banned in tournaments. This is largely due to the flipping of the stage which can cause unintentional self-destructs, and that the right ledge is ungrabbable at certain times which creates a large disadvantage for characters that rely on tether recoveries to recover, such as Olimar and Zero Suit Samus, as well as other characters who rely on the ledge to recover, such as Falco. Frigate's moving platforms can also help characters recover should they be lucky enough to land on it, similar to the Support Ghost on Yoshi's Island.
At the beginning of Metroid Prime for the Nintendo GameCube, Samus Aran received a distress signal from a nearby space frigate. She landed on Frigate Orpheon and soon discovered that the vessel had been utilized by Space Pirates to research the deadly substance known as Phazon. While fighting her way through the facility, she also learned that a parasitic virus was growing and rapidly spreading there. Eventually, she found the reactor core and battled with the Parasite Queen. This stage is based on this room. In Metroid Prime the player would have to try to aim and shoot her while these blue energy shields spun around her. Those blue energy shields can be seen in this stage. After defeating the creature, the reactor reached critical meltdown status and Samus was given just five minutes to flee the vessel. She managed to escape to her own ship and shortly afterwards, Frigate Orpheon crashed into the planet Tallon IV. For the purposes of the game, this area effectively acted as the tutorial of the controls for players. Later on in the adventure, Samus encounters the remains of the frigate and must fight her way through them in order to gain access to the Phazon Mines.
- This is the second Metroid stage in the Smash series not to include moving acid or lava (the first being Brinstar Depths).
- When the Pokémon Trainer is selected as one of the brawlers, Frigate Orpheon constructs a new platform for him to stand on in the background, to the right of the Parasite Queen. Also when the stage flips 180 degrees, Pokémon Trainer appears on the new platform by teleporting in a yellow flash, similar to his movement in the Subspace Emissary.
- The Parasite Queen, unlike everything else on the stage, is very slow to turn over when the 180 degree flip occurs. For a few seconds following the flip, the half of the reactor core in the background is empty. After that, the Queen somersaults and drops down into view.
- Due to the long-distance perspective, the Parasite queen appears much larger in Brawl than in Metroid Prime.