Tabuu (タブー, Tabuu) is the leader of the Subspace Army, the main antagonist and final boss of Super Smash Bros. Brawl's Adventure Mode: The Subspace Emissary. He is a powerful supernatural entity who embodies the dimension of Subspace and rules it as a god. He uses the Subspace Bombs to send entire locations to his dimension, where he absorbs their power to increase his own, pursuing his plan to conquer and subjugate the universe. His name is a corruption of the word taboo, referring to something that is forbidden.
Role in The Subspace Emissary
Tabuu is the embodiment of Subspace who plotted to transport areas of the World of Trophies into Subspace for his world. However, he himself cannot leave Subspace, which is why he created the Subspace Army to act in his stead. Tabuu took over the Isle of the Ancients, the home of the R.O.B.s and forced them to serve him under the threat of annihilation. Tabuu first discovered that Mr. Game & Watch had Shadow Bugs in him and captured him to harness the power and thus the Subspace Army was born. Tabuu studied and took control of the master of the world, Master Hand, and used his powers to control him like a puppet. Tabuu used Master Hand to enlist the help of Ganondorf, Bowser and Wario. These three were sent to hunt down any fighters that would stand in the way of Tabuu's plans, while remaining unaware of Tabuu's existence. However, King Dedede learned the truth about Tabuu and began interfering with his plans.
Later in the story, after the heroes destroy the Subspace Gunship and enter Subspace, Ganondorf betrays Bowser by blasting him with a Dark Cannon. Ganondorf then goes to greet Master Hand, but soon discovers Tabuu's control over him and realizes he was tricked. Enraged, he charges a futile attack at Tabuu, who effortlessly knocks him away and causes him to land on Master Hand, freeing him from Tabuu's control (and turning Ganondorf into a trophy in the process). Now freed, Master Hand also attempts to fight back, but to no avail. After Master Hand is defeated, Tabuu uses his Off Waves to turn everyone into trophies as soon as they approach. With the only threats to his plans seemingly neutralized, a satisfied Tabuu then creates a maze out of the areas that were transported into Subspace.
However, thanks to the Dedede Brooches, two trophies who had been left behind - Luigi and Ness - were later revived and they proceed to revive Dedede himself after Ness realized that it was thanks to him that they were restored. Dedede joins their team and they rescue everyone, including Bowser, who had a fight with Dedede and soon joined the team when he learned about Master Hand's defeat. Around the same time, Kirby was revived by the brooch the captured princess had when he swallowed it and went out on his own to save the rest of the fighters, between the characters, there are Wario and Link and Zelda, the latter of which revive Ganondorf and suggest him to join them, which he begrudgingly agrees, Wario does as well and all the characters enter to the maze and battling the remainder of Tabuu's forces that reside within it. Upon reaching Tabuu, he attempts to turn everyone back into trophies again, but is ambushed by Sonic, who destroys his wings before he can do so. As a result, Tabuu's Off Waves are weakened, becoming "only" a one-hit KO attack instead of causing immediate trophification for any fighter in reach.
A selection of characters from Sonic, Bowser, Kirby, Luigi's group and those revived by these two groups (first: Luigi, Ness and King Dedede; second: Kirby), then fight Tabuu. After his defeat, the Subspace Army is gone, the areas consumed by Subspace are restored and the Isle of the Ancients disappears afterwards because of the effect of so many Subspace Bombs going off at once (commanded by Ganondorf so Tabuu could get a Subspace Gunship into the world) making it impossible for the island to escape Subspace. A luminous cross is left in its place.
Tabuu's true fate is unknown - he is last seen contorting in pain shortly before the Great Maze was restored to its original places and forms - though it is likely he was destroyed.
As the final boss of The Subspace Emissary, Tabuu possesses a wide variety of dangerous attacks, which increase in power and speed on higher difficulties. Several of his moves are guaranteed OHKOs at least on Intense difficulty (6 out of 16 or 37.5%). Additionally, Tabuu's attacks are faster and stronger in The Subspace Emissary than in Boss Battles at comparable difficulty ratings - as usual. Notice that his moves' knockback in Boss Battles is usually the same of the previous difficulty in the Subspace Emissary, thus KOing at about the same percentage of that difficulty, while damage can be severely reduced. The gap is wider on the lower difficulties (Easy overall) than on the highest ones (Intense in particular).
Tabuu's attacks are considered to be extremely powerful but predictable. Even on Easy difficulty in Boss Battles, almost all his moves will KO middleweights not over 70% (usually below), and some will even OHKO if properly executed (with the exception of Eye Lasers, which KOs below 110%). However, dodging most of his attacks can be very easy if the player knows what is coming; this doesn't apply to Off Waves, which are very hard to avoid, cover the entire screen and required the use of very well-timed dodges. Without the Off Waves, many people consider Tabuu to be an easy boss due to his predictable moves and how he needs to wait until he can attack again, although some OHKO attacks are very difficult to prevent or avoid (such as Golden Bracket, Ghost Projection and Explosive Teleport).
Some of Tabuu's moves share a unique property: they could potentially OHKO the same players twice in a row, on the proper difficulty, if they are hit at the beginning and then immediately after they respawn. These moves include: Tabuu Boomerang, Clone Attack, Discharge Attack, and Explosion Attack. Off Waves are usually too fast to fulfil the required conditions but, if the players intentionally jump into the third ring, they can suffer a second OHKO. Notice that all the listed attacks require a very strict timing to OHKO twice in a row, and are not guaranteed to do so.
The names of the attacks are sourced from the book Dairantō Smash Bros. X: The Complete Guide, save for "Teleport", which is not given a name.
Unlike the other three sets, where the moves are picked at random, Tabuu will always alternate between Off Waves and Eye Lasers for his fourth set (i.e. Off Waves on 4th and 12th move, Eye Lasers on 8th and 16th move), making it easy to predict. Due to this repeated scheme, it seems that Tabuu needs to charge his power for a while before unleashing either one.
Though not playable, Tabuu is controllable by hacking the game in Boss Battles Mode. After hacking the game, the controller used must be a GameCube Controller and must be plugged into the player 3 slot. The start button will cause him to self-destruct, as it does for all other bosses.
HP and damage taken
Like all bosses in Brawl, Tabuu gains an additional ×0.6 damage resistance modifier when fought in co-op mode, effectively gaining 67% more health. This modifier is applied whenever the second player is in-game, and is no longer applied if the second player loses all their stocks. In Boss Battles Mode, the same change is applied without any difference, but either player being KO'd results in a game over. Notice that the health gap between the Subspace Emissary and Boss Battles Mode is higher on lower difficulties (around two thirds on Easy) than on the higher ones (around 40% on Intense).
Tabuu's main trophy is unlocked by using a Trophy Stand on Tabuu. Ways of doing this include:
The Tabuu (Wings) trophy is obtained by beating Boss Battles Mode with all characters, and can't be unlocked with a hammer, except for the PAL version. In the original Japanese version and several translation, this trophy is called Winged Tabuu instead.
In Adventure Mode: World of Light, Tabuu is presumably one of the countless spirits captured by Galeem during his takeover of the universe. After Galeem's defeat, Dharkon takes control of Galeem's spirits, including Tabuu. Tabuu's spirit is located in the Mysterious Dimension sub-dungeon of The Dark Realm as the penultimate battle before Marx. Prior to his battle, the player is quizzed on which spirit was the mastermind behind the Subspace Army.
Tabuu uses a giant Metal Bayonetta puppet fighter, referencing how Tabuu and Bayonetta feature butterfly wings, and is fought on the Final Destination stage. During the battle, the player's fighter will be occasionally inflicted with sudden damage, referencing Tabuu's damaging Off-Waves.
At least three glitches can occur during the battle against Tabuu:
Names in other languages