Adventure Mode: The Subspace Emissary
Adventure Mode: The Subspace Emissary (亜空の使者, Emissary of Subspace), sometimes abbreviated as SSE or shortened to Subspace Emissary, is a mode in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, similar to Melee's Adventure Mode. It was hinted at with the This world... Dojo update on July 20th, 2007, and fully unveiled on August 3rd of the same year.
On July 20th, Smash Bros. DOJO!! was updated with a collection of enigmatic images that depicted Mario and Kirby transforming from trophies into fighters (akin to the introduction of Melee). After Kirby's apparent defeat at the hands of Mario, he is changed back into a trophy, but Mario reverses the transformation and Mario and Kirby shake hands. However, the sky darkens soon after, and Meta Knight’s ship, the Halberd, flies over the stadium, soon followed by the appearance of a mysterious character. The screenshots were accompanied by this description:
In this world, trophies fight. They know nothing but fighting. Fighting is the sole reason for their existence. Being turned back into a trophy, being unable to fight, is much like death. Those are the rules of this world. But...When someone...or something...breaks those rules, the world will pay a terrible price...
The post was placed under a mode referred to as "???" until August 3rd when it was changed to "Adventure Mode". On August 3rd, Smash Bros. DOJO!! was updated again. This time, more information was given. The mode was dubbed "The Subspace Emissary", and a multitude of screenshots were shown, as well as a cutscene related to the "This World…" update. In the cutscene, Mario and Kirby were seen shaking hands, as depicted in the screenshots, and after waving to the crowd, the Halberd appeared as it did in "This World…". The mysterious character from before was shown to be one of apparently many odd, robot-like creatures formed from some sort of shadowy matter. Peach and Zelda were seen watching from the sidelines but rushed down to the middle of the stadium to assist Mario and Kirby in fighting the mysterious army. After Peach and Zelda reach the stage and help destroy the Primids, an entity from the sky called the Ancient Minister appears on the stage. The Ancient Minister drops a Subspace Bomb on the arena, then flies off. As Mario approaches the bomb, he is hit by a cannonball and is sent flying from the arena. Petey Piranha appears and captures Peach and Zelda in cages.
The various screenshots in the update depicted a multitude of new enemies, as well as a few familiar ones, such as a Hammer Bro, who was previously confirmed as an Assist Trophy, and Bullet Bills. There were also a new series of enemies that were introduced that are part of the Subspace army. Some enemies of the Subspace army appear to be helpful while other ones are dangerous.
The Subspace Emissary mode is a side-scrolling adventure in the style of a platformer, inspired by the Mario and Kirby games. However, it retains all basic mechanics of the Super Smash Bros. series, such as a damage meter, stocks, and Smash-style attacks. It can also be classified as a beat 'em up; often stages will pause at specific points and force the player to defeat a set of enemies, which prevents one from simply running through everything.
The mode features a world map where stages are selected; once a stage is selected, the difficulty can be chosen, and the character(s) will enter the stage. The selectable characters will change depending on the plot. Stages that have been completed already can be played again with the exception of some stages where the player must wait until the Subspace Emissary is beaten like Midair Stadium.
The mode also has a two-player option. When using two players, the first player will have priority over the screen, making it possible for the second player to get run off the screen if the two players are not coordinated. However, the second player has the option to warp to the first player at any time (except in boss battles) by pressing the button that would normally pause the game. The first player must be present with stock left at all times; if the first player runs out of stock, the game will end and offer a continue, regardless of whether the second player still has stock left. If the second player runs out of stock, the first player can continue alone. In addition, only the first player can navigate through doors (though the second player can still utilize keys) and temporary switches. If the second player goes into a barrel cannon or minecart they will be teleported back to the player seconds later unless the first player goes in right after. The second player can also decide when barrel cannons shoot.
When playing a level for the first time, many cutscenes will pause just before gameplay begins, showing a view of all available characters. A message will display how many stock the level allows, and a cursor will appear that allows choosing which characters to play. The order characters are chosen in is the order they will appear: they will cycle through in that order until all stock is depleted. Playing through a level again, there will be a screen before the level allowing choosing between any available characters instead of cutscenes during the level. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage: there is a wider character variety to choose from, but one cannot (for example) choose only three characters for a four-stock stage. Additionally, no mid-level cutscenes will play, including ones that would normally allow a re-pick of characters that replenishes stocks. While on many levels this makes little difference, it is very problematic on long stages like the second Subspace Bomb Factory, where a replay provides only a fraction of the stock originally given.
The physics of many (if not all) characters are also tweaked slightly. In general, characters run slower, fall faster, and jump better than in brawls. However, the midair jumps of a character that possesses more than one will be worse than normal. Move mechanics are not altered, although the differing jump heights, jump timing, and gravity will change how effective aerial attacks are. The most significant change is the removal of stamina from Pokémon Trainer's Pokémon, which allows one to use one Pokémon exclusively. Characters are also able to swim for significantly longer. Characters retain their standard physics in boss battles. Because Smash relies on KOs by being knocked off stage, in order for the platforming nature to be retained, the camera's reaction time in following a character decreases in proportion to the player's damage.
Grabbing mechanics are also altered. Normal enemies cannot be held onto for any length of time; they will be thrown immediately after being grabbed, making it impossible to pummel them. This means that choosing which throw to use must be done with the Control Stick during the grab animation; inputting no direction will result in a forward throw (with the exception of Donkey Kong, who cannot carry enemies, and instead will utilize his up-throw). Special moves that involve grabbing will fail to grab like Yoshi and Kirby's standard special moves; such moves have extra Subspace Emissary-only hitboxes (for example, Egg Lay will deal 13% damage, while Pikmin will deal damage when thrown). Bosses and large enemies cannot be grabbed; however, Big Primids can be grabbed effectively. None of these changes apply when facing an opposing Smasher due to playing like an actual Brawl, though Kirby will be unable to copy their abilities.
Like most other single-player modes, one can select different difficulty levels to play The Subspace Emissary. At the creation of a new game file, the player may select a "default" difficulty from Easy, Normal, Hard, Very Hard, and Intense. Stages normally use this default difficulty (which cannot be changed), although the difficulty of a stage can be altered before it is begun. The game keeps track of the hardest difficulty level at which each stage has been cleared, and when a stage is selected, it suggests a difficulty higher than the highest completion level.
As one selects higher difficulties, the game makes these adjustments:
The Subspace Emissary consists of 31 different stages. As some stages share the same name, the earlier stage is denoted with an I while the later-appearing stage is followed by a II.
When only one character is available in Co-op mode, P2 will control an alternate costume of that character. This happens in nine stages: Kirby (in the Midair Stadium vs Petey Piranha and the entirely of Subspace II), Pit (in The Skyworld, before having Mario join), Lucas (in The Ruined Zoo when he runs from the statue), Marth (in The Battlefield Fortress, before joining Meta Knight and Ike) Zero Suit Samus (in The Research Facility before she joined Pikachu), Meta Knight/Lucario (in The Glacial Peak, only in the battle against the character P1 didn't choose, Snake (in the Battleship Halberd Interior, before he joined Meta Knight and Lucario) and King Dedede (in the Subspace I, only in the battle against Bowser). A ninth battle is at the beginning of the game, where Mario and Kirby duel.
These battles are fought with the bosses having a specific amount of health; once their health runs out, they are defeated.
All the bosses return in The Great Maze.
Due to these battles being against smashers or slightly modified versions of them, they are fought like regular brawls. Note that the player characters listed are only mandatory for the first playthrough, and that other characters may be used if the level is replayed.
Note: When only one character is available to fight a boss or mini-boss in Co-op mode, the second player plays as a color change of that character. For 12 years, this was initially thought to be the only way to play as a character's alternate costume. This only happens in four battles: Mario/Kirby vs the character not chosen by P1, Kirby against Petey Piranha, Meta Knight/Lucario against the character not chosen by P1, and King Dedede against Bowser.
Other special enemy battle
Battles with Subspace Armies
Some segments in levels, or all a level, has a battle with some enemies from Subspace. Unlike ambushes during sidescrolling segments, red dots on screen are used to indicate how many enemies are left to defeat.
Similarities to Kirby Super Star and other Kirby games
The Subspace Emissary contains gameplay elements similar to the sub-games of Kirby Super Star and other elements from Kirby games. This is likely intentional, given Masahiro Sakurai's work on both games.
Differences from other game modes
Despite characters using the same moves and using much of the same engine as in the other modes of Brawl, the gameplay of the Subspace Emissary differs from that of ordinary brawls:
While various characters in the Smash series have one-liners through taunts, battle cries, and the like, the cutscenes of The Subspace Emissary have very little spoken dialogue. The vast majority of character interaction takes place through actions, gestures, and expressions, augmented by short grunts or exclamations. Some cutscenes feature moves that have battle cries where the character says the move's name, such as Ness and Lucas using their PK Thunder or Captain Falcon using his Falcon Punch. The only character who speaks in more than one scene is Pikachu, who only "speaks" via yelling its own name. In Jigglypuff's only scene, the crowd chants its name, making them the only non-playable character to say a line.
Only one character in all of The Subspace Emissary ever speaks in a full sentence; in Battleship Halberd Interior, Snake directly says to the player, "Kept you waiting, huh?" after revealing himself. This is a classic line from the Metal Gear series. In Brawl, it references the extensive voicework in the Metal Gear Solid games, the frequent breaking of the fourth wall in the series, and the fact that the player had seen a brief glimpse before already in a much earlier cutscene.