Players can input a short string of characters as a name to use in gameplay, where it will "float" above the character. Names can be up to four characters long in Melee, up to five in Brawl and up to ten in for Wii U.
The Records menu allows the viewing of separate records for knock-outs, self-destructs, damage taken, pratfalls and the like for each name. It is also possible to associate some controller preferences to each name, such as the Rumble option or - starting with Brawl - control schemes different from the default; this allows the usage of useful configurations such as A-sticking and Bidou.
In Brawl, names can be transferred to the Wii Remote and can then be transferred to another Wii console. KO Stars are temporarily awarded to a given name profile for scored KOs, lasting until the player exits Versus Mode or changes their name.
In rare cases, names may affect gameplay. For example, in Melee, name tags remain visible even if they are pointing to an invisible character, making it easier to punish teleportation special moves such as Farore's Wind and Vanish.
The Name Entry is a menu where names are entered and managed. In Melee it is found in the VS. Mode menu, in Brawl under "Options" and in for Wii U in both places. New names can also be typed in at the character selection screen: in Melee this will bring up a separate name entry screen, while in Brawl and for Wii U a new name may be typed in directly (although controls cannot be set this way).
In the European version of Brawl, Latin uppercase and lowercase characters (including versions with diacritics) can be used, as well as punctuation and numbers. The PAL version of Melee allows the same possibilities. The NTSC version of Brawl allows uppercase Latin letters, punctuation, numbers and Japanese characters.
There is also an option to have the game enter a random name. Most of the random names that can appear are names of existing Nintendo characters.
The Name Entry will refuse to set names such as "CPU" and "P1", likely due to them being tags for players without names. However, variations with lowercase letters, such as "Cpu" and "p1", can be set. In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, in addition to this, the Name Entry uses the Wii U's native word filter, preventing names with potentially inappropriate jargon from being set, unlike in Melee and Brawl.
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