Difficulty is an option in some single player/co-op modes that allows a player to adjust the game after one's skill. In the most cases, there are five difficulty levels. Depending on what mode is being played, different difficulty levels will affect the game in different ways. For example, a higher difficulty level in the Subspace Emissary will make the enemies harder by giving them more HP and making their attacks stronger, while a higher difficulty level in Target Smash won't affect the characters' properties at all, but instead change the stage's design into a more difficult one. Sometimes, unlockables such as trophies or stickers depend on the difficulty on which a game mode is cleared. In the Subspace Emissary, Stock Balls vary in number, from appearing in most levels in Easy to never appearing in Intense.
In Smash 64, the difficulty setting is only available for the 1P Game. In the other three games, the setting appears for the Classic Mode, Adventure Mode/Subspace Emissary and All-Star Mode. Additionally, in Brawl, the setting is available for Boss Battles, and has been added to Event matches and Target Smash!!. However, the event matches in Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. 4 only have three difficulties (Easy, Normal, and Hard).
In Event Matches, only three difficulty levels are available: Easy, Normal, and Hard.
Difficulty levels were significantly overhauled in Smash 4. The game's retooled Classic Mode features the Fiend's Scale to determine the game's difficulty. In this system, the player is able to select an intensity from 0.0 to 9.0, with higher intensities leading to harder fights, but more rewards; the default intensity is 2.0, and selecting other intensities requires some gold, with each .1 increment costing the player a set number of gold depending on the intensity.
Selecting an intensity lower than 2.0 also costs gold, with the amount increasing per decrement.
The difficulty chosen - in addition to making the CPU opponents tougher and the prizes greater - determines what is faced at the end of the game, with higher intensities keeping what is fought in the lower, but adding a new foe to the mix. In both versions, the encounter is as follows:
*Master Fortress does not appear in Co-op Classic Mode and the 3DS version.
Every time the player loses, he or she is given the option to continue. If the player elects to continue, the intensity lowers by 0.5. Regardless of whether or not the player continues, some rewards attained in the Classic Mode will be lost, as will some gold on the Fiend's Scale. The system is essentially identical to the Fiend's Cauldron intensity system from Masahiro Sakurai's previous game, Kid Icarus: Uprising, including the same titles.
The game's All-Star mode and Event Matches, however, use the traditional difficulties, though only three are available: Easy, Normal, and Hard. Unlike in Brawl, however, the colors for Normal and Hard are yellow and red, respectively.