Cruel Melee, Cruel Brawl and Cruel Smash are Multi-Man modes in Super Smash Bros. Melee, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. 4, respectively. Like Endless mode, this mode challenges the player to defeat as many opponents as possible (Fighting Wire Frames in Melee, Fighting Alloy Team in Brawl, and Fighting Mii Team in Smash 4), with no KO limit or time limit before the mode ends; high scores in this mode are recorded by the number of opponents defeated.
However, Cruel mode features a complete reversal of what is normally encountered in other Multi-Man modes. While other modes all give a high knockback multiplier to the player's attacks, making the opponents very easy to knock out in one hit, Cruel mode instead applies this knockback multiplier to all of the opponents. In addition, no items will spawn at all in the mode.
With five opponents on-screen at once, all attacking the player and with any one of their attacks being an easy OHKO, attaining high scores in this mode is considered one of the toughest accomplishments in the game. Due to the relentless difficulty, players often have to resort to exploiting the AI; for example, in Cruel Melee, scores in the thousands can be obtained by exploiting an AI standstill bug, performed by standing absolutely still on the rightmost edge of the small right platform. This causes any CPUs, including the Wire Frames, to cease all movement and stand indefinitely unless the player is within attack range. In both Cruel Melee and Cruel Brawl, planking can be an effective strategy; stalling under the stage will often cause the Wire Frames or Alloys to self-destruct when attempting to edge-guard the player (as they still do not have any recovery special moves). In Super Smash Bros. 4, most possible exploits have been fixed as enemies will no longer follow the player if he/she jumps far off the ledge, and will instead wait until the player gets back on stage. Without AI exploitation, getting scores even higher than single-digit numbers is considered extremely difficult.
Videos of characters in Cruel Brawl.