- For the stat held by the Pokémon Trainer's Pokémon, see Pokémon Change#Stamina. For the actual stat held by characters in this mode, see hit points.
Stamina is a gameplay option that replaces the traditional Super Smash Bros. damage percentage with a "HP gauge" similar to the life bars of conventional fighting games, which must be depleted to defeat characters. Stamina was a Special mode option prior to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, where it became a standard rule option. Battles with Stamina rules also appear in some event matches, one possible Smash Run Final Battle, and some spirit battles.
In Stamina, every hit to the player depletes some HP from them. Once a character reaches 0 HP, they are KO'd, though characters can still be knocked off the stage through conventional means. However, knockback is not affected by the amount of damage the player has taken. From Super Smash Bros. Melee to Super Smash Bros. 4, characters in Stamina only have a single life, but in Ultimate, the mode can be used with stocks; when a character reaches 0 HP, they will be instantly KO'd and respawn for as long as they have stocks remaining. When a character is defeated, the game will temporarily slow down, and the character will let out one of their KO cries, which varies based on the game. If the victim is hit by a very weak attack when they are KO'd (or defeated by a damage-over-time status effect like flower), they will perform a unique animation of them dramatically crumpling to the ground, usually falling backward or on their knees; otherwise, they will simply begin tumbling outside of player control, entering their prone state when landing on solid ground.
Defeated fighters will always stay in their prone position and flash red; they cannot be controlled by the user and will always enter a state of tumbling when hit, and can be knocked off the stage and KO'd with a blast KO as usual. In SSB4, defeated characters can also be eliminated completely if the victim is trapped in certain hazards such as Danger Zones. Any helper characters, such as Pikmin, will still stay next to the knocked-out combatant, with the exception of Luma, who will be KO'd alongside Rosalina, and the partner Ice Climber in Ultimate, who will be KO'd alongside the leader. In Ultimate, defeated fighters will explode after a brief moment, removing them from the battlefield.
Healing items and moves cannot heal a fighter's HP past their starting amount.
In knockback calculations, the opponent's post-hit percent is treated as 20%.
Stamina mode was first introduced in Melee as a Special Melee option. Unlike future games, the HP of every fighter is fixed to 150 HP. There is no legitimate way the player can edit the starting stamina, barring use of an Action Replay to modify flags in the match's data; the instruction booklet, however, shows a screenshot of Stamina Mode with HP higher than 150, suggesting that selectable Hit Points was previously considered.
Melee's version of Stamina is unusual for not having a results screen, as it will send players directly to the character selection screen once a single player remains. This makes it the only mode in all of Melee with such property; as a result, players can use the name entry glitch to use Master Hand in the mode without causing the game to crash if he wins a match.
Characters who have 0 HP remaining in Melee's Stamina mode will let out their Star KO cry. Unlike other rules, there is a noticeable pause after the final opponent being defeated, before the announcer calls out "Game!"/"Game Set!".
Super Smash Bros. Brawl once again offers Stamina mode in the game's Special Smash mode, Special Brawl. Players can now select their starting HP individually via the Handicap option, allowing increments of 10 between 10 HP and 300 HP, as well as only 1 HP. Brawl's 1HP setting allows for lightning-quick games with no legitimate winner if all players also have the flower status on them: all fighters will be KO'd at the same time, forcing the game to select a random winner.
The addition of Final Smashes affect the bodies of fighters KO'd by one: if the victim is trapped in a "trapping" Final Smash such as Ike's Great Aether or Link's Triforce Slash, the character will be "dropped out" from the move once their health is depleted.
Characters who have 0 HP remaining in Brawl's Stamina mode will let out their Star KO cry, with an additional echo effect added to it. Additionally, the announcer now calls out "Game!"/"Game Set!" as soon as the final victim is defeated, overlapping their KO cry.
In Super Smash Bros. for 3DS/Wii U
In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, Stamina mode is not a selectable option due to the lack of a Special Smash mode; as a result, there is no way to play with Stamina rules manually. However, Stamina can potentially appear as a random possible Final Battle in Smash Run. This is the only way to play with Stamina rules in for 3DS.
In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, Stamina returns as a Special Smash option, but the 1 HP option is removed, meaning the HP range is now 10-300HP.
Unlike the other games, characters who have 0 HP remaining in Smash 4's Stamina mode stay completely silent when knocked out, although the slowdown effect still occurs. There is once again a noticeable pause after the final opponent being defeated, before the announcer calls out "Game!"/"Game Set!", though not as long as in Melee.
In Ultimate, Stamina is now available as a standard rule option which can be combined with Time and Stock modes. As Stamina mode is no longer a part of Special Smash, it is now possible to play Stamina battles with a maximum of eight players. The maximum HP possible has been drastically increased, as players can now have HP ranging from 10-999 HP.
When playing with more than one stock or during a timed match, losing all HP causes an instant KO and respawn; on the fighter's final stock, KO'd characters will enter their motionless defeated pose, and will eventually explode after a few seconds (instead of permanently staying on-screen unless knocked off, like in previous games). As with other default modes, the final blow will feature the "Final Zoom" effect regardless of how strong the move was unless the KO was a Blast KO; if such, the game just ends like a normal match. If the character dies by a blast zone, then there is a slight delay before the match ending, likely because of the delay present when a character reaches 0 HP. Randomly the announcer may say game at the same time a last character is KO'd on their last stock and the results screen plays during the final zoom.
In Ultimate, victims caught in a trapping or cinematic (e.g. Chain Attack, Max Malicious Moonsault, The Mighty Jinjonator) Final Smash will not go below 0.1 HP until the final hit. However, a few of these Final Smashes do not have this ability (such as Isabelle's Dream Town Hall or Luigi's Poltergust G-00), and opponents that attack a trapped foe in a non-cutscene Final Smash will still KO the victim before the move ends. Additionally, Final Smashes that previously had extremely high or OHKO potential (such as Critical Hit) have their knockback significantly reduced to prevent them from KOing opponents with high HP, unlike in Brawl or Smash 4.
Characters who are out of HP and have lost all of their lives in Ultimate's Stamina mode will let out an echoed version of their primary Blast KO cries. As a result:
- Samus no longer makes any sounds during the animation. This also applies to her Echo Fighter, Dark Samus.
- Daisy (who exclaims "Ow, ouch!"), Zelda (who exclaims "いやぁっ!" (Nooo!)), and Zero Suit Samus (who says "No!") are only characters who utter a meaningful word during the animation.
There are a few exceptions:
- Marth, Ike's Radiant Dawn alternate costumes in English, and his Path of Radiance costumes in Japanese use their alternate KO voice clips.
- Mario, Dr. Mario, Hero, Terry, Byleth's English voice, Min Min, Sephiroth, Pyra, Mythra, Kazuya and Sora use one of their heavy knockback cries.
- Joker (from 3.1.0 onward), Banjo & Kazooie, and Byleth's Japanese voice use a unique knockout voice clip not heard anywhere else.
- Mr. Game & Watch, R.O.B., Mega Man, Steve and the Mii Fighters fall silently. Prior to 3.1.0, Joker also fell silently.
Some team characters appear to be inconsistent:
- The Ice Climbers have both Popo and Nana scream simultaneously.
- For Pokémon Trainer, the trainer does not vocalize if the match was 1-on-1, or there were no more allies in team battle (as in normal rules).
- For Rosalina & Luma and Banjo & Kazooie, only Rosalina and Banjo vocalize during the animation (for Luma's case, they will have the instant KO explosion regardless of how many stocks are left; Kazooie lacks blast KO voice clips altogether).
If a character lost their final stock by conditions that are capable of instantly KOing them under normal circumstances (e.g. Triforce of Wisdom, Whack, Thwack, Danger Zones, Death's Scythe and Mimikyu), their knockout voice clip will be heard, but the instant KO explosion occurs without entering the defeated animation, like normal rule.
In competitive play
Stamina mode is rarely seen in tournaments due to its format being unpopular among the community. However, some tournaments run stamina brackets as a side event, potentially with some other unconventional conditions as a fun event.
While a simple change on the surface, changing the damage from a percent to hit points completely changes how the game is played. Due to reaching the blast lines no longer being the only way to take a stock, new strategies that deprioritize doing so form. Due to how hit points work in-game, all attacks essentially only have base knockback the entire game, which completely changes the functionality of certain moves that heavily rely on knockback scaling to be effective while indirectly improving attacks with set knockback. Also, since any attack can now KO regardless of knockback, poking and playing defensively is preferable to being aggressive and paying dearly for a mistake.
While no "official" tier lists for stamina mode exist, some generally agreed upon results exist. The best characters for stamina mode are those that excel in combos that can rack up damage quickly, and those that can play keep-away by whittling down their opponent's health from far away. While high damage is still important, it is inherently less impactful without knockback, forcing slow characters without good projectiles or long combos to play carefully and slowly get close to do as much damage as possible before the opponent can run away. That being said, lower knockback than usual can help some characters make longer combos due to the opponent not being knocked away, helping those same characters that need to get in close.
Ganondorf's HP is depleted in Ultimate, which results in an instant KO.
An example of unusual Stamina KO voice clip in Ultimate; in this case, Mario, with his high knockback voice clip is used instead of his regular KO voice clip.
- Giga Bowser, Wario-Man, Giga Mac, Mega Charizard X, and Mega Lucario cause an Undead Glitch when reduced to 0 HP, prior to Ultimate.
- If Mega Man is defeated in Stamina Mode, the orbs that are part of his regular KO explosion will appear around him, which is a more accurate reference of his death animation in classic Mega Man games (though Mega Man himself won't explode except in Ultimate).
- Similarly, Inkling's squid ghost can be seen flying away when KO'd in Stamina Mode, referencing Splatoon's death animation.
- When Crazy Hand and Master Hand's stamina reaches 0 in VS. Mode, they do not make KO screams, and the camera does not freeze right before they fly off.
- Staryu in Brawl will still target defeated characters.
- Prior to Ultimate:
- Defeated characters that are hit with a Banana or other slip hitbox will be knocked into their sitting position. Once the time is up, they will stand, only to immediately lie back down.
- Defeated characters can grab ledges.
- Defeated characters cannot swim and so will instantly drown if they fall into the water.
- If Sudden Death occurs, the players will have 1 HP.
- In Ultimate, if a player uses stamina boosting spirits they will start with extra HP but will incorrectly be shown with 1 HP. Taking damage will update their HP to the correct amount.
- Because of this, the aforementioned "1 HP Flower Smash" from Brawl can still be played in Smash 4 and Ultimate when Sudden Death occur in Special Smash/Custom Smash with Flower effect being enabled.
- Five moves in the Smash Bros. series can force victims into Stamina mode's unique falling animation outside of the mode itself: a fully-charged Focus Attack from Ryu or Ken, Ridley's sweetspotted Skewer on a grounded opponent, and three moves from Kazuya (the 9th hit of 10-Hit Combo, Demon God Fist, and sweetspotted Devil Fist).
- In Brawl, if a player is using the Ice Climbers in this mode and the leader is KO'd before the partner, the partner will still fight on their own as though the leader were grabbed or otherwise trapped. This effect lasts indefinitely until the partner is KO'd, or until the match ends. This was fixed in Ultimate so both Ice Climbers will be KO'd simultaneously.
- However, since the partner's health is not required for victory, the game still treats the Ice Climber player as having been defeated, and thus it is not possible for them to win.
- In Ultimate, the knockout screams in Stamina mode have separated files from their normal counterparts, carrying over the in-game echo. Despite this, none of them are present in Sound Test. This is unlike Star KO screams, as well as most of vocalized Final Smashes, which only add echo effects in-game, but rather similar to the echo effect used for Jigglypuff's Sing, Wii Fit Trainer's Wii Fit, and Viridi's voice clips in Reset Bomb Forest.
- The Mii Fighters' knockout voice clips exist within the game's data. The reason that these voice clips went unused is unknown.
- In Ultimate, the knockout screams of Young Link and Inkling are higher-pitched variants of their Blast KO screams.
- In Brawl, Pokémon Trainer will not use his losing animation whenever his Pokémon gets defeated or KO'd by the blast lines. This was fixed in Ultimate.
- In Ultimate, Cloud's Palutena's Guidance conversation is slightly altered when playing in Stamina Mode, with Pit commenting that his Finishing Touch isn't a threat in this mode.
- In Ultimate, Terry normally gains the ability to execute Super Special Moves once he reaches 100% Damage, but in Stamina Mode, he instead gains it when his HP reaches 1/3 of its original value (e.g. at 50 HP in a 150-HP match). Similarly, Kazuya enters Rage state upon reaching 1/4 of his starting stamina (e.g. 50 HP in a 200-HP match).
- However, if the starting HP is set to more than 300, the ability will not activate until Terry's HP reaches 100.
- Additionally, exclusive to this mode is an animation where, upon losing, Terry's hat will come flying off.
- In Ultimate, if a fighter has a full Final Smash Meter upon losing their last stock, it will only partially empty (as it normally does upon being KO'd) once they explode a few seconds later.
- Recoil damage allows the user to KO themselves in Stamina Mode. This includes attacks such as Pichu's electric moves (except Volt Tackle), and Incineroar's failed Alolan Whip. If the self-KOing user also happens to KO a remaining opponent with said move, the game will consider it a tie and move to Sudden Death.
- In Ultimate, if Sora is the fighter to land the final blow, a special slow motion effect goes into place while the camera pans around and fades into white, referencing the visual effects that play when defeating a Boss in the Kingdom Hearts series. The exceptions are if the victim is offscreen when the blow is landed, or if the opponent is instantly KO'd, in which case the normal Finish Zoom occurs.
- In the English version of Ultimate, Mario, Dr. Mario, and all DLC fighters except for Joker and Banjo & Kazooie use one of their heavy knockback screams rather than their standard KO scream when KO'd by reaching 0 HP during their final stock in Stamina Mode. In the Japanese version, Joker, Banjo & Kazooie, and both male and female Byleth use unique voice clips when KO'd in Stamina Mode.
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