Unlockable character

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Super Smash Bros. series
"Challenger" redirects here. For info on fighters, to whom the title "challenger" is often applied, see the full list of Super Smash Bros. series characters.

An unlockable character (also referred to as a secret character or hidden character, and in-game as challengers) is one that is not available at the start of the game (unlike a starter character), but instead must be received in-game (unlike downloadable characters) through other means.

A unique criterion must be met in order to unlock a certain character, as outlined below. Once the player has met this criteria in-game, a message will display; in all cases, the player is given this screen after completely finishing gameplay.

"Challenger Approaching!" screen

The Challenger Approaching! screen which Jigglypuff challenges the player in Smash 64.
The Challenger Approaching! screen which Jigglypuff challenges the player in Melee.
The Challenger Approaching! screen which Jigglypuff challenges the player in Brawl.
The Challenger Approaching! screen which Jigglypuff challenges the player in SSB4.

The "Challenger Approaching!" (挑戦者が現れました! chousensha ga urawaremashita!, A Challenger has Appeared!) screen is a message that will be displayed after the player has met a criteria required to unlock any of the available characters. Every game has its unique screen.

NTSC versions of the game had a silhouette of the character merely displayed in a blue box in front of a black background, with an exclamation point in a red circle on the top of the screen, and the phrase "Challenger Approaching" next to it. PAL and Japanese versions had the approaching challenger fully revealed. The original game also uses similar music to the 1P-Game's intro, with the only difference being the absence of drums for the "challenger approaching" tune. Melee added the phrase "A new foe has appeared!," and also had a silhouette of the approaching challenger. The poses for the challengers were silhouettes of their renders when selected on the Character Select screen (some, however, like Ganondorf's and Luigi's, were their renders from inside the boxes). The game also added animations to the screens, with an undulating matrix effect in the background, while the exclamation point, text and silhouette would be eased in. Original music was also provided solely for the screen, which took the sound of a slow, ominous siren. Brawl returned to the plain black background (there would be a silhouette of an unlockable character the player would face), but still had animations that would ease in, and when the player pressed any button, the images would fade to black, while the "Challenger Approaching!" text would scatter all over the screen; the siren is also considerably faster and more panicky in its sound than how it sounds in Melee. Smash 4 reused Brawl's warning siren, but added in considerably more colours, including hues of green, black, and violet; the screen also says "A challenger approaches!" instead of its previous quotations.

After the "Challenger Approaching!" screen, the unlockable character will then be fought in an ordinary one stock match with no time limit, on a pre-determined stage and pre-determined music. The player uses the last character played as, as well as the same palette swap; in the case of multiplayer battles, the player who won the match will fight the challenger for the first three games, though if a CPU won the match, then the players are not given the opportunity to unlock the character. Super Smash Bros. 4 changed this formula, and it is no longer necessary to win a multiplayer battle in order to fight the challenger; if a CPU wins the match, then the human-controlled player with the highest rank will fight.

By defeating the opponent, the character becomes playable. If the player fails, however, they will not unlock the character, but in the next battle they win, they are guaranteed to meet with the challenger again.

The "Challenger Approaching!" screen has become somewhat of a meme in the Smash community. Many digitally manipulated versions of these screens have appeared, often featuring characters who do not appear in the games, mostly using artwork of the character from another game instead of original artwork (which gives away its falseness). The screens became so popular that they were featured as part of the DOJO!!; in earlier updates, whenever a new character was introduced, a banner that said "Warning! Challenger Approaching!" would appear above the entry.

Super Smash Bros.


Character How to unlock Unlock location
Captain Falcon Beat the single player mode with any character on any difficulty level in less than 20 minutes. Planet Zebes
Jigglypuff Beat the single player mode with any character on any difficulty level. Saffron City
Luigi Complete Bonus 1 (Break the Targets!) with all 8 starting characters. Peach's Castle
Ness Complete the single player game on normal difficulty or higher with three stocks or less and without continuing. Dream Land


Super Smash Bros. Melee


Character How to unlock VS matches required Unlock Location Music
Jigglypuff* Complete Classic or Adventure Mode 50 Pokémon Stadium Pokémon Stadium
Dr. Mario* As Mario, complete Classic or Adventure mode without continuing 100 Princess Peach's Castle Dr. Mario
Pichu Complete Event 37: Legendary Pokémon 200 Pokémon Stadium Battle Theme
Falco Complete 100-Man Melee 300 Battlefield Corneria
Marth Play Classic Mode with all 14 starter characters, or use them all in VS. mode 400 Fountain of Dreams Fire Emblem
Young Link Complete Classic Mode with Link or Zelda after completing Classic Mode with 10 different characters. Or complete Classic Mode with Ganondorf after completing Classic Mode with 8 different characters. 500 Great Bay Saria's Theme
Ganondorf Complete Event 29: Triforce Gathering 600 Final Destination Great Bay
Mewtwo** Play VS. mode for a combined total of 20 hours 700 Final Destination Poké Floats
Luigi Complete Stage #1 of Adventure with time ending in a "2" in the seconds meter. After that, beat Luigi and Peach in less than a minute, and then complete the Adventure mode 800 Mushroom Kingdom II Mushroom Kingdom II
Roy* As Marth, complete Classic or Adventure mode without continuing 900 Temple Fire Emblem
Mr. Game & Watch* Complete Classic, Adventure, or Target Test with all other 24 characters. 1000 Flat Zone Flat Zone

*If the player had previously used the Erase Data > Hidden Characters option in the Options menu, these characters can be unlocked again if All-Star Mode is cleared under the established conditions.
**The time required to unlock Mewtwo is calculated in "player-hours" (eg. 2 human players gives 2 hours for every hour of game-time, 3 human players give 3, and four players give 4).


Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Masahiro Sakurai once stated that he feels that it would be appropriate that third-party, or "guest" characters, like Solid Snake or Sonic the Hedgehog, would be unlockable. This became true when Brawl was first released in Japan.

In addition to the challenges and versus match method of unlocking, all unlockable characters can be unlocked by playing through The Subspace Emissary. The majority of these characters are unlocked as part of the linear story of SSE. However, Jigglypuff, Wolf, and Toon Link are only unlockable after the main SSE gameplay is completed by finding a secret area while replaying levels. Once a character joins a group of playable characters, the character will be instantly unlocked for normal play (without requiring a "Challenger Approaching" battle). However, some characters, as per the SSE's story, must be battled before they will join the player's party, such as Bowser.


Character How to unlock Subspace Emissary method VS matches required Unlock location (if Subspace Emissary method is not used) Music
Ness Reflect 10 Projectiles. Complete Subspace (Part I) 5 Onett Mother (Melee)
Marth Complete Classic Mode. Complete Battlefield Fortress 10 Castle Siege Fire Emblem (Melee)
Luigi Complete Classic Mode using no continues. Complete Subspace (Part I) 22 Luigi's Mansion Luigi's Mansion Theme
Falco Complete 100-Man Brawl Complete The Swamp 50 Lylat Cruise Area 6
Captain Falcon Play through Classic Mode on Normal or higher and beat it in 12 minutes or less. Complete Outside the Ancient Ruins 70 Port Town Aero Dive Mute City
Lucario Clear all levels of Target Smash!! with any single character. Complete Glacial Peak 100 Spear Pillar Victory Road
Snake Play 15 Vs. Matches on Shadow Moses Island. Complete Battleship Halberd Interior 130 Shadow Moses Island Encounter
R.O.B. Collect 250 different trophies Complete Subspace Bomb Factory (Part II) 160 Mario Bros Mario Bros.
Ganondorf Clear Classic on Hard with Link or Zelda. Collect both Link and Zelda's trophies in Subspace (Part II) 200 Final Destination Hidden Mountain & Forest
Mr. Game & Watch Clear Target Smash with 30 different characters on any single difficulty level Complete Battleship Halberd Bridge 250 Flat Zone 2 Flat Zone 2
Sonic*** Complete Classic Mode with 10 characters, or brawl for 10 combined total hours. Complete The Great Maze 300 Green Hill Zone Sonic Heroes
Jigglypuff** Beat 20 or more events after beating the Subspace Emissary. After completing The Great Maze, defeat it in a secret room in The Swamp. (video) 350 Pokémon Stadium 2 Pokémon Center
Toon Link** Complete Classic Mode after beating the Subspace Emissary. After completing The Great Maze, defeat him in a secret room in The Forest 400 Pirate Ship Dragon Roost Island
Wolf** Complete Boss Battles mode with Fox or Falco. After completing The Great Maze, defeat him in a secret room in The Ruins 450 Lylat Cruise Star Wolf

**Toon Link, Jigglypuff and Wolf are not part of the main plot of Subspace Emissary; players must beat the main story first then revisit certain stages to find them that way.
***Sonic is the only character who can be unlocked 4 different ways.


Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS


The inclusion of Lucina and Wendy O. Koopa (as part of Bowser Jr.'s palette swaps) as unlockable characters makes them the first female characters to be unlockable.

In addition to the characters below, Mii Fighters are not shown on the character select screen until the player has created at least one. However, since the ability to create Mii Fighters is granted from the beginning, the character cannot truly be called unlockable.

Characters will be unlocked differently in the Wii U version.

Character How to unlock Vs. Matches Required Unlock location
Ness Clear Classic Mode on any difficulty 10 Magicant
Falco Clear Classic Mode without any continues 20 Corneria
Wario Complete 100-Man Smash 30 WarioWare, Inc.*
Lucina As Marth, clear Classic Mode without any continues 40 Arena Ferox
Dark Pit Clear Classic Mode with three or more characters 50 Reset Bomb Forest
Dr. Mario As Mario, clear Classic Mode on intensity 4.0 or higher 60 Mushroomy Kingdom
R.O.B. Collect at least 200 different trophies 70 PictoChat 2
Ganondorf As Zelda or Link, clear Classic Mode on intensity 5.0 or higher 80 Gerudo Valley
Mr. Game & Watch Clear Classic Mode with 10 or more characters 90 Flat Zone 2
Bowser Jr. As Bowser, clear Classic Mode on intensity 6.0 or higher 100 3D Land
Duck Hunt Clear Classic Mode with 8 or more characters 110 Battlefield
Jigglypuff Collect at least 30 different equipment items 120 Unova Pokémon League

* - Microgames not present.


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Super Smash Bros. for Wii U


Unlike Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, Bowser Jr., Jigglypuff, Ganondorf, and Ness are starter characters. Characters are unlocked differently in the 3DS version.

In addition to the characters below, Mii Fighters are not shown on the character select screen until the player has created at least one. However, since the ability to create Mii Fighters is granted from the beginning, the character cannot truly be called unlockable.

Character How to unlock Vs. Matches Required Unlock location
Falco ??? ??? ???
Wario ??? ??? ???
Lucina ??? ??? ???
Dark Pit ??? ??? ???
Dr. Mario ??? ??? ???
R.O.B. ??? ??? ???
Mr. Game & Watch ??? ??? ???
Duck Hunt ??? ??? ???


  • Jigglypuff and Captain Falcon had their unlock conditions swapped for the international release of Super Smash Bros. for unknown reasons.
  • Captain Falcon, Marth, Lucario, Luigi, Sonic, Ness, Wario, Toon Link, and Jigglypuff are the only nine characters to have both been starter characters and unlockable characters in separate iterations of the series.
    • Wario is currently the first (and so far, only) character to have debuted in the series as a starter before becoming unlockable in the next iteration.
    • While Luigi and Jigglypuff were hidden characters in all of the first three Smash titles, Luigi is now a starter in the 3DS and Wii U versions for the first time in the series while Jigglypuff appears as a starter in the Wii U version only.
  • Mr. Game & Watch, R.O.B., Dr. Mario, and Falco are the only characters to be unlockable in every game in which they are playable.
  • In Smash 64 and Melee, the AI level of the unlockable character that is fought before they become available will decrease with each consecutive unlockable character; in Brawl and Smash 4, the opposite happens.

See also