A major selling point for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is its huge lineup of characters. For the first time, every character that has ever featured in previous games is available, all in one place. Boasting a base list of 74 fighters, Ultimate isn’t short on choice, to say the least.
Still, Nintendo isn’t about to let you have your cake and eat it too. When you first load the game, you’ll have only the original eight fighters to choose from. As for the other 66? You’ve got to unlock them. There are a few ways to do that, and with the help of this guide, you’ll have a full roster before you know it.
10 The 10 Minute Rule
Whenever you’re playing the game—whether you’re going solo or trashing your family— for around every 10 minutes of play time, a new challenger may appear. You’ll hear that classic siren sound and see the silhouette of a character you haven’t yet unlocked.
Now’s your chance.
You’ll face off against this foe, and if you defeat them, they’ll be added to your roster. Fail, and they’ll escape you… for now, at least. It won’t be your last shot, so don’t panic. We’ll explain how to access rematches later on...
9 Play Matches
Sounds obvious, right? But seriously, this is the easiest way to unlock characters without changing what you’d normally be doing. When you play in Versus Mode, you can fight against up to eight other players: human or CPU. Grab your best friend, your mom, or set up a computer-controlled player (as tough or as weedy as you like).
You can play matches as usual, grabbing and smashing your way to victory. Or you could lose shamefully, over and over again. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you play. It’ll still count towards that 10-minute mark.
8 Winners Do The Work
It doesn’t have to be just you grinding alone, slogging it to the top. You might get a greater sense of pride in doing it that way, but is it worth it? If you’re like me and your favorite way to play Smash is pummel your friends and family, just stick with that. If you win the match, you get the honor of attempting to unlock the next character. If you lose, kick back and let whoever won do the hard work. And ta-da! A new character to decimate them with. What are friends for, right?
7 The (Not So) Secret Order
For those who want to carry on playing as normal, unlocking fighters in between the battles of Versus Mode, you’ll be interested to know that the characters you encounter aren’t random. There are no hidden stats here; it’s actually a specific order. It starts with Ness, Falco at the midway point, and many more fighters down the line with it finally ending with Palutena. When it comes to rematches, the characters will appear again in the same order. They’ll likely be tougher to beat the next time around, though.
6 Fights Get Tougher With Time
You might think certain characters are more difficult to defeat than others, or that it might be based on random probability. It turns out, that isn’t the case. As you defeat the characters in order, they will become progressively more difficult; the more you unlock, the harder they’ll get. I found the battle against Luigi surprisingly hard, and thought maybe Nintendo made him overly powerful to make up for his life in the shadows. It was actually just because he’s way down on the list of opponents. Hopeful,ly your skill will grow as the difficulty does, and you’ll be more prepared than I was.
5 The Challenger’s Approach
So you’ve just rolled off the side of the stage, or maybe you’ve been bullied by Luigi’s Green Missile. You’ve fluffed it. Don’t worry; if you’re determined to beat your opponent into submission until they join you, you can still do that. Under the "Games & More" menu, a glowing door will appear, labelled "Challenger’s Approach." Select it, and you’ll see the list of characters who have bested you. You can face off against them again as many times as it takes to defeat them once and for all. At least this time around you’ll have more fighters to choose from.
4 Play Classic Mode
The Classic Mode has been part of the Smash Bros. franchise since the very first game. In this entry, the fighter of your choice must win six battles and defeat a final boss, which varies depending on who you’re playing as. At the end of the credits, a new challenger will appear.
Each fighter has a specific order of characters that they can unlock; e.g., Mario’s first unlockable opponent will be Sonic, followed by Bayonetta. Once that round ends, if you complete Classic Mode again with the same character, you’ll face the next opponent on the list.
3 Free Captive Fighters
If you’re a fan of the single-player adventure, World of Light, this method might be for you. Every time you unlock a character in this campaign, by defeating them, they will also be unlocked in the main game. So if you spend most of your time in this mode, slowly punching, kicking, and slashing your way through that enormous map, you may as well carry on as you please, and watch the main roster grow. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work the other way around, so don’t be disappointed when all your hard work from Classic Mode doesn’t show in the campaign.
2 Play All The Modes
Smash Bros. Ultimate might be the most jam-packed game in the series, filled to the brim with content. To get the most out of it, I’d suggest doing a mixture of all three modes (or just the ones you love best). Enjoy the nostalgia of the Classic Mode, duke it out in Versus Mode, or if you love pouring hours into World of Light, you can just do that! You can even combine these methods; return to the menu from inside World of Light, and a challenger will appear after that 10-minute timeout. If you fancy a quick break from the grind, try it!
1 The Restart Trick
If you’re not content to amble your way through the game, there’s a little trick you can try to speed things up. Once you’ve battled a new challenger, regardless of whether you win or lose, quit the game. Go to the home menu, exit the game completely, then boot it up again.
Now, play another quick match; the fastest way to do this would be to play a one-stock battle and jump off the edge. Even though it hasn’t been 10 minutes, a new challenger should appear. You can repeat this trick several times; now you can blitz through the roster! Good luck!