In the Super Smash Bros. series, each character has a set of alternate costumes (officially known as color changes, color variations, or costumes). Alternate costumes are sometimes known as palette swaps, alternate colors, or just colors. In addition to changing the appearance of characters, they distinguish players from other players using the same character. For Team Battles in Super Smash Bros., Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl certain costumes also distinguish teams. In Super Smash Bros. and Melee, most characters have purely color-based alternate costumes, while Brawl, Super Smash Bros. 4, and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate introduce a number of alternate costumes which change outfits and even swap out characters entirely.
In standard free-for-all matches, players can choose their character's costume on the character selection screen. Players cannot pick the same costume if they are using the same character. Every character has at least four costumes to choose from, one being their default costume and the rest being their alternate costumes. Starting from Brawl, randomly chosen characters may also have a random costume. Starting in SSB4, the standard amount of alternate costumes for each character is eight.
For Team Battles in Super Smash Bros., Melee, and Brawl, there are three teams: red, green, and blue. As such, each character has red, green, and blue costumes that double as team colors. Some characters' default costumes also represent a team color; for example, Mario's default costume is red, so he wears his default costume when fighting on a red team. In the original Super Smash Bros., some costumes are only usable in Team Battles, such as Samus and Captain Falcon's blue costumes and Mario, Kirby, Donkey Kong, and Captain Falcon's green costumes. Yoshi has six colors; green (default), red, light blue, and yellow are selectable normally, while dark blue and pink are only seen in the Yoshi Team. In Brawl, Wario has 12 alternate costumes with six color variations of his WarioWare costume and his classic overalls. Each variation has red, green, and blue colors usable for Team Battles, making Wario the only character in Brawl with two color choices when on a team.
If two or more characters share the same alternate costume in Team Battles or online multiplayer, the second player will have a lighter tint in their appearance. A third player uses a darker tint, and in Melee, a fourth is completely black, while in Brawl, a fourth is a darker tint than the third player. In Melee, data suggests that a fifth player would be completely gray. This aspect was slightly altered in Smash 4 as the second player now has a darker tint in their appearance, with subsequent players now sporting a slightly darker tint than the previous player. This aspect remains in Ultimate, although subsequent players following the second player instead will share the same darkened tint. It is important to note that the tint only applies towards others players if they share the same alternate costume as the character being controlled in their own Switch console. If multiple characters share the same alternate costume and are not being controlled by a player on their own console, no tint will be applies to any character. Additionally, in offline Tourney Mode, should multiple players (up to a maximum of four) use the same color, their character will instead have a specific color filter depending on their port number: Player 1 has a red filter, Player 2 has a blue filter, Player 3 has a yellow filter, and Player 4 has a green filter.
In SSB4 and Ultimate, due to the increased number of possible players with introduction of 8-Player Smash, players can choose from four different teams. Teams are indicated by a red, green, blue, or yellow outline around the character (rather than using matching alternate colors for red, yellow, blue, or green), so players can choose whichever alternate costumes they like in Team Battles.
Mii Fighter colors match their colors chosen in Mii Maker. Players can unlock or download different outfits and headgear to select for their Mii Fighters to wear. Some outfits are only available for certain Mii Fighter types, and some outfits have minor differences depending on the gender of the Mii Fighter. Each Mii Swordfighter and Mii Gunner outfit comes with a differently designed sword or gun, though they all function the same. Identical Mii Fighters do not bear any visual differentiation.
The appearance of alternate costumes for the majority are simple change in hue, but some alternate costumes have more pronounced changes, like adding new patterns, textures, pictures, and text, and even the addition of accessories. Generally, alternate costumes reference the character's earlier or alternate renderings, such as Mario's "Jumpman" blue or Luigi's "Fire Flower" costume. They may also reference other characters, like Peach's "Daisy" alternate costume, Captain Falcon's "Blood Falcon" alternate costume, or Lucas's "Claus" alternate costume. A small number of costumes reference other costumes within in the Super Smash Bros. universe, such as Melee Jigglypuff's blue bow from the original Super Smash Bros., Pikachu's goggles previously worn by Pichu in Melee, and R.O.B.'s "R.O.B. Launcher" green.
Starting in SSB4, it has become more common for alternate costumes to use entirely unique models, which may include a different outfit, voice, sounds, and for some characters, gender. A few characters have alternate costumes that change the entire identity of the character, such as Olimar switching to Alph, although gameplay-wise, they are exactly identical to their base character. The Ice Climbers are a unique case in that their alternate costumes determine whether Popo or Nana is controlled by the player.
List of alternate costumes with model changes
- Starting with Super Smash Bros. 4, some characters have alternate costumes that swap their gender.
- Villager and Inkling have male and female variants as alternate costumes, which results in different announcer calls in certain languages, as well as significant changes between individual costumes. Villager has different faces, outfits, and hairstyles, while Inkling has different outfits and colors. Inkling also has different voice lines between the two genders, while Villager remains silent.
- Wii Fit Trainer, Robin, Corrin, Pokémon Trainer (in Ultimate only), and Byleth have male and female variants as alternate costumes, which also results in new voice lines and different announcer calls in certain languages. The Pokémon Trainer's female variant doesn't affect the actual Pokémon, however. Both genders have four different colors each, but do not significantly change between them.
- Bayonetta: Bayonetta has four costumes based on her appearance in Bayonetta 2, where she wields Love is Blue, and another four based on her appearance in the original Bayonetta, where she wields Scarborough Fair. The sounds their guns make are different, as they are in the Bayonetta series.
- Bowser Jr.: Instead of alternate colors, all seven of his alternate costumes replace him with each of the seven Koopalings, all who ride their own mass-produced Junior Clown Cars. They have their own unique announcer calls, crowd chants, voices, and, in Ultimate, use their wands in place of Bowser Jr.'s hammer in their up aerials, side taunt, and one of their victory poses.
- Cloud: Cloud has four alternate costumes based on his appearance in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, with him wielding the Fusion Swords instead of the Buster Sword; two of these cover his Geostigma-infected left arm with a sleeve, and the other two reveal his left arm sans sleeve with Aerith Gainsborough's ribbon wrapped around it. From version 10.1.0 of Ultimate onward, Advent Children Cloud uses Omnislash Ver. 5 as his Final Smash, which is identical to his standard Omnislash other than its aesthetics.
- Hero: There are four different protagonists from four different iterations of the Dragon Quest games, each with two color schemes. The default is from XI and the others are from III, IV, and VIII.
- Ike (Ultimate): Ike uses his Path of Radiance appearance by default, and his Radiant Dawn appearance as alternate costumes. His voice has a slightly lower pitch in his Radiant Dawn costume, something which is more apparent in the Japanese version. Both of his designs have four colors each.
- Isabelle: Half of Isabelle's costumes use her long-sleeved Winter outfit.
- Joker: Joker has two alternate costumes based on his Shujin Academy school uniform. He removes his glasses as opposed to his mask when summoning Arsene.
- Kazuya: Kazuya has four alternate costumes for which he wears a suit and trenchcoat, based on his default appearance in Tekken 7.
- Link (Ultimate): Link has alternate costumes where he wears the Tunic of the Wild from Breath of the Wild, which closely resembles his classic design. Additionally, both his Champion's Tunic and Tunic of the Wild have four colors each.
- Little Mac: Little Mac has alternate costumes that use his wireframe model which was used in the original arcade Punch-Out!!, which changes some of his sound effects to 8-bit variants. He also has an alternate costume that uses his pink sweatsuit, as well as another alternate costume with wireframe Mac wearing a green sweatsuit with the colors of his normal hoodie and boxing gloves inversed. In Smash 4, Little Mac had 8 costumes for both regular and wireframe versions, giving him the most alternate costumes ever among all characters with a total of 16. However, Ultimate removed half of his costumes, including all but two of his "wireframe" costumes, leaving him with the standard 8.
- Mario (Ultimate): Mario has a costume where he wears his wedding tuxedo from Super Mario Odyssey, and another which uses his builder outfit from Super Mario Maker. They appear to have replaced his Wario- and Fire- based costumes in previous games.
- Meta Knight (Ultimate): Meta Knight's Galacta Knight-inspired costume slightly alters his model, removing the central vertical ridge on his mask to accommodate for textural differences, namely a vertical "scar" in his mask, so as to better resemble Galacta Knight. His Dark Meta Knight-inspired costume also has a similar scar, but the ridge on his mask is not removed to accommodate it.
- Mii Fighters: Unlike all the other characters, the Mii Fighters have customizable designs comprising of unique headgear and outfits allowing the player to customize their designs, instead of simply just recoloring their clothing.
- Olimar (SSB4, Ultimate): Four of Olimar's alternate costumes replace him with Alph. Alph has his own announcer call, costumes, and crowd chants.
- Pac-Man: Five of his costumes have the Wing Shoes power-up from Pac-Land. Six of them add a colored armband. One gives him leggings.
- Peach (Melee): Unlike in Brawl and SSB4, where her Daisy costume is simply a recolor of Peach with Daisy's colors (and with long hair and gloves, while Daisy's hair and gloves are shorter), Peach's Daisy costume in Melee is an exact recreation of Daisy's design at the time, aside from her hairstyle.
- Pikachu, Jigglypuff, and Pichu all wear colored hats and accessories instead of significantly changing color; the former two still subtly change color, with some costumes giving them the same color as their respective shiny forms in the Pokémon games.
- Pikachu (Ultimate): Pikachu has two female alternate costumes, indicated by its heart-shaped tail. One is a standard female Pikachu wearing Selene's Casual Cap from Pokémon Sun and Moon; the other is a Cosplay Pikachu wearing the Pikachu Libre costume which debuted in Pokémon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire.
- Pichu (Ultimate): One of Pichu's costumes is the spiky-eared Pichu from Pokémon HeartGold and SoulSilver.
- Piranha Plant: Piranha Plant has alternate costumes where it is in a Warp Pipe, whereas its default costume is in a flower pot. Both containers are used for half of its costumes each.
- Ridley: Ridley has two alternate costumes that use his Meta Ridley form.
- Sephiroth: Sephiroth has two costumes with his coat and top off, referencing his appearance in the final fight of Final Fantasy VII.
- Shulk: Shulk's eighth alternate costume is based on his swimsuit armor set from Xenoblade Chronicles.
- Sonic: All of Sonic's costumes have him sport differently-modeled and colored cuffs, with his shoes matching the color of his cuffs.
- Sora: Sora's alternate costumes in Ultimate are taken from his appearances in Kingdom Hearts, Kingdom Hearts II, Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, and Kingdom Hearts III. Each costume has two color schemes. Unlike the original games, where Sora's design changes as he grows up, these costumes maintain a consistent look. Additionally, Sora's Timeless River outfit changes his face and hair to be more simplistic compared to the default design.
- Steve: Three of Steve's alternate costumes replace him with his female counterpart, Alex, who has thinner limbs in comparison. The last two costumes are Zombie and Enderman, the latter of which uses even thinner limbs. However, because Steve's simplistic design relies on textures for most of its detail, his and Alex's palette swaps are also more substantial than simple color variations.
- Wario: Wario has alternate costumes that use his classic overalls, as opposed to his biker outfit featured in the WarioWare games. This was the first instance of a major alternate costume change and the only such one in Brawl. Both his biker and classic outfits had six different colors each in Brawl, while both SSB4 and Ultimate reduced the number of colors each to just four.
- Zero Suit Samus (SSB4, Ultimate): Zero Suit Samus has two alternate costumes based on the crop top and shorts worn in the endings of Metroid: Zero Mission and Metroid Fusion.
- Wario (in Brawl) and Little Mac (in Smash 4) are the only characters who have ever had more than 8 alternate costumes.
- R.O.B. is the only character since Smash 4 whose default costume is switched depending on the selected language.
- In Melee, each of Captain Falcon's costumes slightly changes the width of his environment collision box, minutely affecting when he collides with stage elements, being the only character in the series with such a quirk.
- Yoshi is the only character in the series to have an alternate costume based on a then-upcoming game, being his Yoshi's Crafted World alternate costume in Ultimate, which replaces his black palette swap from Smash 4.
- Cloud in Ultimate is the only character in the series to have a different attack depending on their costume.
- In Ultimate, Wii Fit Trainer, Inkling, Ike, Byleth and Pokémon Trainer have alternate costumes with different animations, being the only characters in the series with this distinction. Pokémon Trainer and Byleth's alternate costumes have different idle animations, victory poses, and taunts; Inkling has an altered idle animation, victory pose, and Screen KO; Ike has a different clapping animation, and Wii Fit Trainer has a different hitstun animation.
- Mii Costume
- Alternate costume (SSB)
- Alternate costume (SSBM)
- Alternate costume (SSBB)
- Alternate costume (SSB4)
- Alternate costume (SSBU)
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