Adventure Mode: World of Light
Adventure Mode: World of Light (灯火の星, The Star of Light), also called "The World of Light", is a single-player mode in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. The mode is accessed from the Spirits main menu item and revolves around the fighters teaming up with Spirits to defeat an "ultimate enemy" named Galeem.
Similar to The Subspace Emissary, World of Light features a navigable world map. Map navigation is unlike The Subspace Emissary but somewhat resembles Smash 3DS's Classic Mode: the player character has a fully rendered model on the map, and the character themselves navigate on predetermined paths between map locations.
Both spirits and imprisoned fighters appear on the map as rendered icons, with one type of icon for spirits and one type for fighters. Moving up to and interacting with an icon will reveal which character it is. Opponent fighters (including puppet fighters) appear with distinctive red eyes both on the map and in battle. Spirit fights consist of fighter characters with battle conditions that largely mimic the spirit in their home series, for example Smoky Progg features Mario in his black alternate costume with the ability to occasionally turn metal. Defeating an opponent puppet fighter obtains that spirit, along with Gold, SP, snacks, and Skill Spheres.
Kirby is the only available fighter at the start, as he is the only one to have escaped his own fate from Galeem. Defeating an imprisoned fighter unlocks that fighter both in the mode and in the main game, which can be swapped through the mode's menu. Mario is the first fighter to be unlocked, followed by a choice of Sheik, Marth, or Villager.
Defeating "master" spirits does not yield a collectible that joins the player, but instead unlocks "activities" to aid the player and their collected spirits. Gyms train spirits until they reach their maximum level; explorations send spirits to find SP, snacks, and Spirit Board items; dojos train spirits that provide a stat modification when equipped to the correct fighter; and shops sell snacks, Spirit Board items, and other collectible spirits in exchange for SP.
The world map also features several many items and obstacles, such as treasure chests (resembling those found in Crazy Orders) which yield various rewards (including Spirits, music tracks, SP, and Skill Spheres), waterfalls that can be swum through, Warp Pipes and similar teleporters, and ! Switch that transforms a row of Dotted Line Blocks on the map into a bridge of red ! Blocks over lava. Certain spirits are required to pass through obstacles, such as needing Bomberman to remove large rocks, or Lapras to traverse an ocean. Some areas also have minigames and puzzles, such as a gourmet race that reveals spirits after collecting a certain score, or the Power Plant's Zapfish on various power generators that open up pathways so that they may reach the main reactor.
Bosses are present in subareas. While Master Hand, Crazy Hand, Rathalos, Galeem, and Dharkon have rendered models, the other bosses simply appear as an icon of swirling darkness with glowing eyes and their portraits shadowed before fought. Master Hand also often plays a role in creating obstacles, such as forcefields or smashing bridges, before disappearing.
The player may zoom out to view the full map by pressing the L button; the right analog stick can also be used to scan over the map on a smaller scale. Areas not yet accessible are obscured with clouds. When fully zoomed out, the player character's model is replaced with their stock icon, opponent fighter icons similarly become flat, and various other icons representing activities, warp pipes, inaccessible obstacles, and swirling subareas appear on the map. Spirit icons do not appear on the zoomed-out map. In addition, the predetermined paths between map areas become explicitly drawn, with dotted lines showing paths that can't be traversed without the aid of a spirit.
Main article: Skill Tree
The Skill Tree is a menu item in World of Light. In it, the player can spend Skill Spheres (スキルのかけら Skill Fragments) in order to learn Adventure Skills. These are effectively power-ups akin to the skills granted by Support Spirits (and can stack with their equivalent Spirit skills), and appear as icons resembling the stat boost icons found in Smash 4's Smash Tour and Smash Run. Obtaining a power-up also makes power-ups further down the tree available. The player can spend SP to forget a power-up and gain back all of the Skill Spheres spent on it.
World of Light
The story begins with a close-up of a Blaster aimed at the horizon, revealing its wielder to be Fox, who gives the command of "Don't let a single one get away!". The camera then zooms out and pans to the left, revealing that Fox is addressing a massive army of fighters - all of whom have been summoned to the edge of a cliff. The camera then pans upward to reveal Galeem, who is currently accompanied by a looming army of Master Hands that is slowly approaching the mount. As Marth explains that every fighter present will most likely need to take down at least ten, Zelda displays her resolve, exclaiming that the time has come to stow their fear and that it's now or never. Pit reassures himself and his fellow fighters that they'll win the upcoming battle. As the fighters prepare for battle, every Master Hand surrounding Galeem slowly disintegrates into a glowing, blue streak of light that ends up being absorbed by Galeem. As the fighters prepare for the god-like being's next move, Shulk suddenly envisions the downfall of his comrades and immediately looks at them all in shock and despair, but perhaps foreseeing Kirby's escape. The singularity between Galeem and his now-absorbed Master Hand army creates a black hole, which soon collapses, creating an array of beams of intense light.
The beams of light quickly extrude from the black hole, rapidly approaching the cliff where the fighters are situated. As they aim downwards to consume the fighters, Link successfully deflects three beams with his Hylian Shield before succumbing to a fourth beam. Samus attempts to fire at the beams, but it's to no avail before she too is engulfed by one. Both Zelda and Mewtwo simultaneously attempt to reflect the beams with Nayru's Love and Confusion respectively, before being immediately decimated. Sonic and Pikachu attempt to outrun the beams, with the former attempting to assist the latter in escaping, but both are ultimately disintegrated. Bayonetta successfully dodges three beams at once using Bat Within, but she is disintegrated by yet another beam of light as soon as she retains her original form. Both the male Pokémon Trainer and Bowser attempt to fight off Galeem's beams of light, with the former ordering his Pokémon to use Triple Finish and the latter using his Fire Breath, only to fail and be consumed by the light. Captain Falcon is briefly shown attempting to get into his Blue Falcon in order to escape the onslaught, but both he and his vehicle are destroyed just as quickly. Lucario is shown successfully teleporting away from one of the beams with Double Team, finding itself behind Greninja, who jumps upward to successfully escape from a beam. Unfortunately, this was all for naught as the beam Greninja hops over ends up engulfing Lucario instead, and yet another beam of light reaches Greninja in midair. The female and male Inklings use their Splattershots to shoot ink onto the ground and then try to hide in it, only to have yet another of Galeem's beams of light ram into the ground, decimating them. Falco is shown in his Arwing attempting to make his escape, but his exceptional flying skills are just not enough to evade the persistent tendrils of light, and he ends up getting taken down by multiple beams all at once. Both Pit and Dark Pit are seen flying away with the Power of Flight, bestowed unto them by Palutena, who attempts to buy the two angels more of a chance to escape by summoning a Reflect Barrier in the hopes of suppressing Galeem's attack. With little effort, however, the goddess is simply vaporized by a beam, which causes the (normally flightless) angelic duo to lose their ability to fly, resulting in each angel getting wiped out by a beam of light in midair. A lone cardboard box is shown on the cliff's edge, hiding away Snake, only to have a beam prove the espionage expert's attempt futile. Both Rosalina & Luma and Diddy Kong attempt to fly away from the onslaught using a Launch Star and his Rocketbarrel Pack respectively, but all three are eventually swallowed by the beams. Finally, a group consisting of the female Wii Fit Trainer (who simply strikes a yoga tree pose), Duck Hunt (consisting of the dog cowering in fear of Galeem's attack as the duck attempts to fly itself and its canine companion away to safety with Duck Jump), and the male Villager (who simply runs around in circles in a blind panic over his and the group's impending doom) eventually end up getting engulfed by the light.
Amidst the massacre, Kirby is shown flying away from a legion of Galeem's beams of light via his Warp Star. After deviating from many of them, the frequency of the Warp Star's blipping noise increases rapidly in intensity as Kirby attempts to push its power to its absolute limit, resulting in it moving at warp speed, temporarily warping Kirby to another plane of existence just before the aforementioned series of beams could swallow it and Kirby along with it. From this point onward, the beams are then shown atomizing multiple non-playable characters into oblivion. The scene then transitions to the planet in its entirety being engulfed by Galeem's light, with said light slowly expanding throughout the galaxy, engulfing and vaporizing multiple planets. Eventually, the deadly light produced by the deity-like being erases the entire universe, leaving nothing in its wake. The planet on which the ordeal started is now left as nothing more than a barren wasteland, with its remains currently inhabited by the now-hostile souls of non-playable characters. A glimmer of light is seen on the horizon, later revealed to be none other than Kirby, who has ended up becoming the sole survivor of Galeem's onslaught upon the universe, and makes a rough emergency landing into a nearby canyon. As he recovers from his crash-landing, he looks towards a vast landscape consisting of various areas, some of which are recognizable as coming from the fighters' old worlds. The landscape, constructed by Galeem, is none other than the World of Light.
Army of Puppets
Following Kirby's arrival in the World of Light, the scene cuts to a dark room, in which the only source of light found in it reveals that of a now-unconscious Mario being held captive by a series of fibers made out of pure energy. A golden liquid resembling that of molten metal is poured upon Mario's body, which is then absorbed by the fibers holding him. The liquid then passes through the stand on which he is situated to create a monochrome clone of him, which forms on the stand's opposite end. The resulting puppet fighter then disconnects from the stand and falls to the ground, motionless. The spirit of a Smoky Progg then weaves around the darkroom and, coming across the lifeless Mario clone, is forced by Galeem to possess it, thus giving life to the previously inanimate statue, which now dons distinctive red, glowing eyes. The camera slowly zooms outward, revealing that Galeem has already made puppet fighters out of every single playable character (except for Kirby), with the intention of unleashing this army upon the planet to stop Kirby from freeing his comrades. The scene then cuts back to Kirby, now about to take his first steps into the World of Light.
From Light to Dark
Kirby rescues many fighters and spirits (with Mario always being the first fighter rescued) and defeats Giga Bowser, Galleom, and Rathalos powering Galeem's shield. A Master Hand puppet appears to intercept but is destroyed. The fighters defeat Galeem, but this victory is short-lived as a crack appears in the sky. The crack shatters and Dharkon and his army of Crazy Hands emerge, taking advantage of the situation and forcing Galeem to retreat. The World of Light is then swallowed by darkness, with Dharkon taking control of Galeem's remaining spirits and fighters.
The Final Battle
The fighters continue to free the puppets and spirits under Dharkon's control, and defeat Ganon, Marx, and Dracula to force Dharkon to appear. After the fighters defeat Dharkon, he retreats, but Galeem soon comes back and launches an assault with a new army of spirits and puppet fighters. Both of them try to defeat the other, but Mario, Simon, Pit, Zelda, Kirby, Fox, Greninja, Bowser, Samus, Sonic, and the rest of the fighters soon catch up in the middle with both Dharkon and Galeem noticing. The final battle is about to begin.
Gameplay-wise, The Final Battle takes place on a map that uniquely has no sub-areas and no obscuring clouds, with the player at the center bottom, Dharkon at the top left, and Galeem at the top right. Initially, there is no path to reach either Galeem or Dharkon, and the background is split in half with Dharkon controlling the dark side and Galeem controlling the light side. As the player defeats more dark spirits, the background moves so that more of it is covered with light, and vice versa.
Consumed by Light
This bad ending is achieved if the fighters defeat enough dark spirits, and few enough light spirits, allowing Galeem's light to dominate enough of the background that it covers Dharkon, creating a path to fight him. Alternatively, if the paths to both bosses are clear while the background is balanced, the player may choose to fight only Dharkon.
With Dharkon and his army of darkness defeated, Galeem blasts Dharkon with beams of light, vaporizing him. Galeem then consumes the universe in his light once more, engulfing Mario, Samus, Fox, Zelda, Greninja, Bowser, and the other fighters in the process.
Swallowed by Darkness
This bad ending is achieved if the fighters defeat enough light spirits, and few enough dark spirits, allowing Dharkon's darkness to dominate enough of the background that it covers Galeem, creating a path to fight him. Alternatively, if the paths to both bosses are clear while the background is balanced, the player may choose to fight only Galeem.
With Galeem and his army of light crushed, Dharkon then engulfs the world in darkness, destroying the Master Hand army in the process, and piercing Galeem with chains. Mario is then shown dropping on the ground (presumably dead) as the screen turns to static, then black. The world then rots into a necrotic desert, and Dharkon's eye is then shown in the corrupted world (watching the player), now completely dark forever.
The fighters rescue Roy and Dark Samus and defeat a Master Hand and a Crazy Hand. Galeem calls on Palutena and the original Master Hand as reinforcements, while Dharkon calls on Bayonetta and the original Crazy Hand. The fighters also free all four from Galeem and Dharkon's control.
At this point, the Hands appear at the top center of the map, but there is no path to reach them unless the number of dark and light spirits on each side is exactly equal. Once this condition is met, interacting with the Hands causes them to come to the fighters' aid, creating a fracture in the background where Master Hand dives in. He becomes a temporarily playable character as he defeats an onslaught of 50 puppet fighters consisting of Mario, Link, Samus, Meta Knight, Snake, Sonic, Cloud, and King K. Rool; destroying the former light and dark background and replacing it with a golden backdrop. This opens up the paths to fight Galeem or Dharkon solo (as seeing both bad endings is necessary to obtain 100% clear), but also creates a new true ending path in the middle where Galeem and Dharkon come together from their previous positions, face to face, for the final confrontation.
The fighters climb the long stairwell while being attacked by Galeem and Dharkon and defeating more puppets. Afterward, they fight all six bosses once again. The two deity-like beings continue to battle each other before turning their attention to the fighters in a three-way climactic clash. Even in the midst of a shared enemy, the two deities still wage war against one another. When both Galeem and Dharkon are destroyed, their armies vanish as they fall into the ocean and explode, cleansing the universe of their influence. Now free, the spirits return to their original worlds. The imagery of this last scene strongly mirrors the lyrics of the main theme.
All who opposed Galeem (aside from Kirby) are scattered among three realms, each being ruled over by Galeem and/or Dharkon, and must be defeated before joining the fight. 42 characters (with Pokémon Trainer counting as one) can be found in The Light Realm. 27 more characters can be found in The Dark Realm after defeating Galeem. The final 4 characters are found in The Final Battle following Dharkon's defeat. Several characters require more than just reaching their location on the map, such as King Dedede requiring collecting 11 foods in a minigame. DLC characters will only join after purchasing them and awakening at least 10 fighters. In total are 73 characters (with Pokémon Trainer counting as one) to rescue, not counting DLC.
The maps below show the location where the player can find the characters within the Adventure Mode. (Note: Luigi and Greninja are missing from the Dark Realm map)
Sub-worlds are additional maps that are separate from the main maps. There are eleven in total, eight in the Light Realm and three in the Dark Realm. They tend to have a puzzle in order to advance the area, and each has at least one character trapped within. Six of them also contain bosses, three per each realm; every sub-area of the Dark Realm has a boss. They are themed after certain games, many of which are related to the captured fighters hidden within.
In The Light Realm
Characters that are trapped within the Light Realm's sub-worlds are:
All other characters in the Light Realm are encountered outside of sub-worlds. They are Mario (right at the beginning), Donkey Kong, Link, Samus (beyond the light breach), Yoshi, Fox, Pikachu, Ness (beyond the light breach), Captain Falcon, Jigglypuff, Ice Climbers, Sheik (on the northern starter route), Dr. Mario, Falco, Marth (on the western starter route), Mr. Game & Watch (beyond the light breach), Zero Suit Samus (beyond the light breach), Pokémon Trainer (beyond the light breach), Lucas, Olimar, Lucario, Villager (on the eastern starter route), Mega Man, Wii Fit Trainer, Little Mac, Mii Swordfighter, Mii Gunner (beyond the light breach), Pac-Man, Shulk (beyond the light breach), Duck Hunt, Inkling, and Isabelle.
In The Dark Realm
These maps show where the player can find the characters in the sub-worlds of the Dark Realm.
In The Final Battle area
Each fighter must be unlocked through a fighter battle, with a few exceptions:
The fighter battles all feature the same single condition: Win the battle to awaken the fighter
Characters may be unlocked through this mode. Playing this mode is required to unlock the ability to train spirits in the dojo or have them explore for treasure. Defeating bosses in this mode is the only way to get their spirits. Completing the mode with the true ending requirements grants the player spirits of Galeem and Dharkon which makes attacks more powerful against puppet fighters controlled by Dharkon and Galeem respectively if used, and unlocks the ability to change the menu's music in My Music.
Completing the mode also unlocks New Game+ which allows the player to begin a new save file while carrying over any fighters and Activities they unlocked.
Spirits required to overcome obstacles
Main article: Spirits with overworld effects
Main article: The Light Realm
There are five bosses present in the Light Realm, with three of them fought in sub-worlds. Giga Bowser is found in the Molten Fortress, Galleom is found in the Base, and Rathalos is found in the Forest Hill. After defeating the previous three bosses, Master Hand will then guard the path to Galeem.
Main article: The Dark Realm
There are 5 bosses in the Dark Realm with Crazy Hand fought three separate times. Marx is fought in the Mysterious Dimension, Dracula is fought in Dracula's Castle, and Ganon is fought in the Sacred Land. Defeating every boss lets the player fight Dharkon.
Main article: The Final Battle (World of Light)
There are no new bosses in the Final Battle. Rather, the area faces the player against Master Hand twice, Crazy Hand twice, Galeem, Dharkon, and both Galeem and Dharkon together. The Galeem & Dharkon fight lets the player choose any three currently available fighters and pits them against the sub-world bosses before fighting them.