Unlockable character

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Super Smash Bros. series
"Challenger" redirects here. For info on fighters, to whom the title "challenger" is often applied, see List of Super Smash Bros. series characters.
Character selection screen in Super Smash Bros. indicating unlockable characters.

An unlockable character (also referred to as a secret character or hidden character, and in-game as challengers, or newcomers in the N64 game's Backup Clear menu) is one that is not available at the start of the game (unlike a starter character), but instead must be received in-game (unlike downloadable characters) through other means.

Unique criteria must be met in order to unlock each character, as outlined below. Once such criteria are met, the challenger will appear the next time the player returns to the menu. If the player wins the subsequent battle, a message will appear congratulating them for unlocking the new fighter.

In Super Smash Bros., the character select screen displayed placeholders for not yet unlocked characters. This was changed in Melee, where the clones didn't have placeholders prior to unlocking, with their portraits simply appearing afterward. The placeholder slots were completely removed from Brawl onwards.

"Challenger Approaching!" screen[edit]

The Challenger Approaching! screen which Luigi challenges the player in Super Smash Bros. 64.
The Challenger Approaching! screen which Mr. Game & Watch challenges the player in Super Smash Bros. Melee.
The Challenger Approaching! screen which Sonic challenges the player in Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
The Challenger Approaching! screen which Wario challenges the player in Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS.
The Challenger Approaching! screen which Dark Pit challenges the player in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U.

The "Challenger Approaching!" (挑戦者が現れました!, A Challenger has Appeared!) screen is a message that will be displayed after the player has met a criteria required to unlock any of the available characters. Every game has its unique screen.

The original game had a silhouette of the character merely displayed in a blue box in front of a black background, with an exclamation point in a red circle on the top of the screen, and the phrase "Challenger Approaching" next to it. The screen uses similar music to the 1P-Game's intro, with the only difference being the absence of drums for the "challenger approaching" tune. This is the only game where the challengers' silhouettes are animated, showing them in their fighting stances while rotating (like in the character select screen), rather than just shadowed versions of their official illustrations.

Melee added the phrase "A new foe has appeared!," and also had a silhouette of the approaching challenger. The poses for the challengers were silhouettes of their renders when selected on the Character Select screen (some, however, like Luigi and Ganondorf's, were their renders from inside the boxes). The game also added animations to the screens, with an undulating matrix effect in the background, while the exclamation point, text and silhouette would be eased in. Original music was also provided solely for the screen, which took the sound of a slow, ominous siren.

Brawl returned to the plain black background (there would be a silhouette of an unlockable character the player would face); but this would only occur if the Adventure Mode: The Subspace Emissary method was not used. It still had animations that would ease in, and when the player pressed any button, the images would fade to black, while the "Challenger Approaching!" text would scatter all over the screen; the siren is also considerably faster and more panicky in its sound than how it sounds in Melee.

Smash 4 reused Brawl's warning siren, but there are some differences in both versions. The 3DS version added in considerably more colors, including hues of green, black, and violet; the screen also says "A challenger approaches!" instead of its previous quotations. The Wii U version uses a font style similar to the ones in the newcomer trailers, and the background contains a picture of a supernova; the text is nonetheless reused from past games. The unlockable character in both versions of Super Smash Bros. 4 on the screen is still a silhouette that the player would face (just like in the previous three installments).

After the "Challenger Approaching!" screen, the unlockable character will then be fought in an ordinary one stock match with no time limit, on a predetermined stage with predetermined music. The player uses the last character played as, including the last used costume. In the case of multiplayer battles, in the first three Smash games, the player who won the match will fight the challenger; if a CPU wins the match, the challenger will not appear. Super Smash Bros. 4 changed this formula such that if a CPU wins the match, then the human-controlled player with the highest rank will battle the challenger.

By defeating the opponent, the character becomes playable. If the player fails, however, they will not unlock the character, but after the next battle played (or mode completed), they are guaranteed to meet with the challenger again.

The "Challenger Approaching!" screen has become somewhat of a meme in the Smash community. Many digitally manipulated versions of these screens have appeared, often featuring characters who do not appear in the games, mostly using artwork of the character from another game instead of original artwork (which gives away its falseness). The screens became so popular that they were featured as part of the DOJO!!; in earlier updates, whenever a new character was introduced, a banner that said "Warning! Challenger Approaching!" would appear above the entry.

Super Smash Bros.[edit]


Character How to unlock Unlock location
Captain Falcon Complete 1P Game in 20 minutes or less with no continues. Planet Zebes
Jigglypuff Complete 1P Game with any character. Saffron City
Luigi Complete Bonus 1: Break the Targets with all starter characters. Peach's Castle
Ness Complete 1P Game on Normal with three lives and no continues. Dream Land


Super Smash Bros. Melee[edit]


Character How to unlock VS matches required Unlock Location Music
Jigglypuff[note 1] Complete Classic Mode or Adventure Mode with any character. 50 Pokémon Stadium Pokémon Stadium
Dr. Mario[note 1] Complete Classic Mode or Adventure Mode with Mario without using a continue. 100 Princess Peach's Castle Dr. Mario
Pichu Complete Event 37: Legendary Pokémon. 200 Pokémon Stadium Battle Theme
Falco Complete the 100-Man Melee. 300 Battlefield Corneria
Marth Complete Classic Mode or Adventure Mode with all starter characters, or use all starter characters at least once in VS. mode. 400 Fountain of Dreams Fire Emblem
Young Link Complete Classic Mode or Adventure Mode with 10 different characters. 500 Great Bay Saria's Theme
Ganondorf Complete Event 29: Triforce Gathering. 600 Final Destination Great Bay
Mewtwo[note 2] Play VS. mode for 20 hours. 700 Final Destination Poké Floats
Luigi Complete Adventure Mode when the second on the time limit in the first stage gets a "2". For example: XX:X2:XX. 800 Mushroom Kingdom II Mushroom Kingdom II
Roy[note 1] Complete Classic Mode or Adventure Mode with Marth without using a continue. 900 Temple Fire Emblem
Mr. Game & Watch[note 1] Complete Classic Mode, Adventure Mode, or Break the Targets with all 24 other characters. 1000 Flat Zone Flat Zone
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 If the player had previously used the Erase Data > Hidden Characters option in the Options menu, these characters can be unlocked again if All-Star Mode is cleared under the established conditions.
  2. The time required is calculated in "player-hours" (e.g. 2 human players gives 2 hours for every hour of game-time, 3 human players give 3, and four players give 4).


Super Smash Bros. Brawl[edit]

Masahiro Sakurai stated that it would be appropriate that third-party, or "guest" characters, like Solid Snake and Sonic the Hedgehog, would be unlockable characters. This became true when Brawl was released.

In addition to the challenges and versus match method of unlocking, all unlockable characters can be unlocked by playing through Adventure Mode: The Subspace Emissary. The majority of these characters are unlocked as part of the linear story of SSE. However, Jigglypuff, Wolf, and Toon Link are only unlockable after the main SSE gameplay is completed by finding a secret area while replaying levels. Once a character joins a group of playable characters, the character will be instantly unlocked for normal play (without requiring a "Challenger Approaching" battle). However, some characters, as per the SSE's story, must be battled before they will join the player's party, such as Lucario (depending on the path chosen in The Glacial Peak).


Character How to unlock Subspace Emissary method VS matches required Unlock location Music
Ness Reflect 10 projectiles. Complete Subspace (Part I). 5 Onett Mother (Melee)
Marth Complete Classic Mode. Complete Battlefield Fortress. 10 Castle Siege Fire Emblem (Melee)
Luigi Complete Classic Mode without using any continues. Complete Subspace (Part I). 22 Luigi's Mansion Luigi's Mansion Theme
Falco Complete 100-Man Brawl. Complete The Swamp. 50 Lylat Cruise Area 6
Captain Falcon Play through Classic Mode on Normal or higher and beat it in 12 minutes or less. Complete Outside the Ancient Ruins. 70 Port Town Aero Dive Mute City
Lucario Clear all levels of Target Smash!! with any single character. Complete Glacial Peak. 100 Spear Pillar Victory Road
Snake Play 15 Vs. Matches on Shadow Moses Island. Complete Battleship Halberd Interior. 130 Shadow Moses Island Encounter
R.O.B. Collect 250 different trophies. Complete Subspace Bomb Factory (Part II). 160 Mario Bros Mario Bros.
Ganondorf Clear Classic Mode on Hard with Link or Zelda. Collect both Link and Zelda's trophies in Subspace (Part II). 200 Final Destination Hidden Mountain & Forest
Mr. Game & Watch Clear Target Smash!! with 30 different characters on any single difficulty level. Complete Battleship Halberd Bridge. 250 Flat Zone 2 Flat Zone 2
Sonic Complete Classic Mode with 10 characters, or Brawl for 10 combined total hours. Complete The Great Maze. 300 Green Hill Zone Sonic Heroes
Jigglypuff[note 1] Have 20 or more events cleared after beating the Subspace Emissary. After completing The Great Maze, defeat it in a secret room in The Swamp. 350 Pokémon Stadium 2 Pokémon Center
Toon Link[note 1] Complete Classic Mode after beating the Subspace Emissary. After completing The Great Maze, defeat him in a secret room in The Forest. 400 Pirate Ship Dragon Roost Island
Wolf[note 1] Complete Boss Battles mode with Fox or Falco. After completing The Great Maze, defeat him in a secret room in The Ruins. 450 Lylat Cruise Star Wolf
  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Toon Link, Jigglypuff and Wolf are not part of the main plot of Subspace Emissary; players must beat the main story first then revisit certain stages to find them that way.

Sonic is the only character who can be unlocked 4 different ways.


Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS[edit]


The inclusion of Wendy O. Koopa (as one of Bowser Jr.'s alternate costumes) and Lucina as unlockable characters makes them the first female characters to be unlockable. After every tenth VS match, the player gets to challenge an unlockable character, starting with Ness and finishing with Jigglypuff when 120 matches are played.

In addition to the characters below, Mii Fighters are not shown on the character select screen until the player has created at least one. However, since the ability to create Mii Fighters is granted from the beginning, the characters cannot truly be called unlockable.

Although Duck Hunt has a home stage of the same name added into the game in the 1.1.1 update, they will always be fought on Battlefield in their unlocking battle regardless of which version of the game is being played.

Character How to unlock Vs. Matches Required Unlock location Music
Ness Clear Classic Mode on any difficulty 10 Magicant[note 1] Magicant / Eight Melodies (Mother)
Falco Clear Classic Mode without any continues 20 Corneria Corneria
Wario Complete 100-Man Smash 30 WarioWare, Inc.[note 2] WarioWare, Inc.
Lucina As Marth, clear Classic Mode without any continues 40 Arena Ferox Id (Purpose)
Dark Pit Clear Classic Mode with three or more characters 50 Reset Bomb Forest Wrath of the Reset Bomb
Dr. Mario As Mario, clear Classic Mode on intensity 4.0 or higher 60 Mushroomy Kingdom Ground Theme (Super Mario Bros.)
R.O.B. Collect at least 200 different trophies 70 PictoChat 2 PictoChat
Ganondorf As Zelda or Link, clear Classic Mode on intensity 5.0 or higher 80 Gerudo Valley Gerudo Valley
Mr. Game & Watch Clear Classic Mode with 10 or more characters 90 Flat Zone 2 Flat Zone 2
Bowser Jr. As Bowser, clear Classic Mode on intensity 6.0 or higher 100 3D Land Super Mario 3D Land Theme / Beach Theme
Duck Hunt Clear Classic Mode with 8 or more characters 110 Battlefield Battlefield
Jigglypuff Collect at least 30 different equipment items 120 Unova Pokémon League N's Castle Medley
  1. Flying Men do not appear.
  2. Microgames do not occur.


Super Smash Bros. for Wii U[edit]


Unlike Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS, Ness, Jigglypuff, Ganondorf & Bowser Jr. are starter characters. Like the 3DS version, a character is unlocked for every 10 versus matches played starting with Ness. Two exceptions to this are Mr. Game & Watch and Duck Hunt, which they need 20 more versus matches than R.O.B. and Mr. Game & Watch, respectively. Unlike the previous three installments (Melee, Brawl, and the 3DS version), no Super Smash Bros. universe stages are used for challenger approaching battles. Instead, all unlockable characters use a stage from their respective universe except for R.O.B., in which he uses the Wrecking Crew stage due to him not having a stage from his own universe.

In addition to the characters below, Mii Fighters are not shown on the character select screen until the player has created at least one. However, since the ability to create Mii Fighters is granted from the beginning and there is no Challenger Approaching fight, the character cannot truly be called unlockable.

Character How to unlock Vs. Matches Required Unlock location Music
Falco Clear Classic Mode 10 Orbital Gate Assault Theme from Area 6 / Missile Slipstream
Wario Clear 100-Man Smash 20 Gamer Gamer
Lucina Clear Classic Mode on intensity 5.5 or higher 30 Coliseum The Devoted
Dark Pit Clear All-Star Mode on Normal 40 Palutena's Temple Boss Fight 1 (Kid Icarus: Uprising)
Dr. Mario Clear Master Orders on Hard 50 Delfino Plaza Delfino Plaza
R.O.B. Clear Crazy Orders after 10 rounds and defeat Crazy Hand 60 Wrecking Crew Wrecking Crew Medley
Mr. Game & Watch Clear Classic Mode on intensity 2.0 or higher with 5 characters 80 Flat Zone X Flat Zone 2
Duck Hunt Get at least 1 KO in Cruel Smash 100 Duck Hunt[note 1] Duck Hunt Medley
  1. Dog and ducks do not appear.


Super Smash Bros. Ultimate[edit]

It has been confirmed that the eight starter characters from the original Super Smash Bros. will be the starting roster, and all other fighters are unlockable. The unlocking conditions have also been made much easier and faster compared to previous games. It is also unknown if one-on-one Challenger Approaching fights are returning.



  • The original Super Smash Bros. is the only game where all characters cannot be unlocked by playing enough Vs. Mode matches.
  • In Smash 64, Brawl, and for 3DS, the AI level of unlockable character fights increases with each consecutive character.
    • In Melee, the opposite is the case.
    • In for Wii U, the AI level for all eight characters is high, no matter what order they are fought in.(citation needed)
  • The music in challenger encounters may be music that cannot otherwise play on the stage in question, such as the Fire Emblem theme playing on Fountain of Dreams in Melee when Marth is unlocked.
  • Masahiro Sakurai originally intended for all the characters in Super Smash Bros. for Wii U to be available from the start, but eventually decided against it.
  • The Yoshi series is the only franchise to have never had any unlockable characters.
  • Roy and Mr. Game and Watch in Melee and Wolf in Brawl are the only unlockable characters to have unlock criteria that involve other unlockable characters.
    • Mr. Game and Watch in Melee is the only character that must be unlocked last in any Smash game, since his unlock criteria involves all other playable characters.
      • It is theoretically possible though pointlessly difficult to bypass this, by playing 1000 Vs. Mode matches and SDing in all ten of the first challenger battles.
  • Wario was the first character who debuted as a starter to become an unlockable character afterwards, being a starter in Brawl before becoming unlockable in Smash 4.
  • In Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, DLC characters have a "(character name) Joins the Battle!" screen that appears once they are purchased, much like the unlockable characters. Unlike with unlockable characters, the last letters of their names are not larger.
  • When a player fights a secret character to unlock in Brawl, their character always uses their default costume even if the character was originally using an alternative costume.
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate marks the unlockable debut for many characters that debuted as starters, as all characters that debuted from Melee onwards, along with the first game's unlockables have been made unlockable regardless of their status in previous games.
  • Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the first game in the series to feature unlockable characters in its cover artwork.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, each character unlock notification has a different tone depending on the debut game of the character.
    • Strangely, Jigglypuff's unlock notification tone is the same as the Brawl newcomers despite debuting from Smash 64. This is likely because it is unlocked in the post-game Subspace Emissary, as well as its internal ID being right next to Toon Link and Wolf, Brawl newcomers.
    • Smash 64 newcomers (except Jigglypuff) use "Rare Trophy" from Melee, Melee newcomers use Brawl's stage unlock fanfare, and Brawl newcomers (and Jigglypuff) use Brawl's sound effect when collecting songs or completing minor challenges.
  • Ultimate marks the first time all newcomers introduced in any Smash game are unlockable, whereas only four, nine, six, four, and three are unlockable in Smash 64, Melee, Brawl, Smash 3DS, and Smash Wii U, respectively.
  • Aside from Super Smash Bros. itself, Super Smash Bros. Brawl and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are the only games where the original 4 unlockable characters from Smash 64 are all unlockable.

See also[edit]

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