Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: How to unlock characters

There isn't a precise way to unlock all of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate's characters, but there are some methods that are faster than others. Shacknews has everything you need to know about making sure everyone is here.


Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is about to arrive, carrying the tagline "Everyone is Here!" But is everyone here? That's not quite the case when booting up the game for the first time. It turns out everyone will be here. It's just going to take some work.

When starting Super Smash Bros. Ultimate for the first time, the roster will only consist of eight characters: Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, Yoshi, Samus, Kirby, Fox, and Pikachu. It's the core eight characters from the original Super Smash Bros. 64. The rest of the game's cast needs to be unlocked. To get you on your way towards ensuring that everyone is indeed here, Shacknews has a few pointers.

How to unlock characters in Smash Ultimate

With over 70 characters on the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate roster, players should be prepared to see the "Challenger Approaching" warning a lot. In fact, it'll show up roughly every five Smash battles, or after Classic Mode runs, with the winning player taking on the unlockable fighter.

There are several ways to trigger "Challenger's Approach" battles. Here are a few ways:

  • Play any type of Smash battle. A battle will trigger roughly every five matches.
  • Play Classic Mode. A battle triggers after a complete Classic run.
  • Play on the Spirit Board. A battle will trigger after roughly five attempts.
  • Play World of Light. Play roughly five World of Light matches, then back all the way out to the main menu. Upon exiting World of Light, the battle will trigger.

As noted, a Smash Bros. character will challenge you to an untimed, one stock fight. It'll be with whatever character you most recently played as, so be prepared to enter battle with that specific character. And while it may appear that approaching challengers are chosen randomly, chatter over on the Smash Bros. subreddit seems to indicate that there's a set order in which they unlock. We'll be sure to update this page with new information as it becomes available.

What if I lose the Challengers Approach battle?

Some of the unlockable characters will be jerks, coming with an amplified difficulty level. There will likely be instances where you will lose the battle to unlock them. It is possible to challenge them again, but it won't come immediately.

Spend some time in more of Ultimate's game modes, whether it's playing more Smash battles or taking some time to run through World of Light. After some time passes, return to the main menu and enter the Games & More menu. On the bottom right corner, you'll find a small icon, representing the "Challengers Approach" option. Here's where you'll be able to play your rematch against the unlockable character, only now you'll have the option to select any character to face them.

Can I pick who I can unlock?

Nintendo hasn't issued parameters regarding how to unlock specific fighters. These battles are randomized. However, there is one way to ensure you get exactly the fighter you want.

World of Light mode is a full-blown adventure that's predicated on the idea of unlocking each of the game's characters. If you battle a specific character and win, they'll be unlocked for World of Light. However, if that character wasn't available in the full game prior, they will also become available in any game mode.

Be forewarned that this is the slow way to unlock everyone. World of Light is a 20+ hour adventure and character battles don't come as often as one might think.

What's the fastest way to unlock all characters?

One of the fastest ways to unlock everyone is to play Smash mode and adjust the rules. Set all games to a one-stock battle or to a one-minute timed battle. This will expedite the process, since Challenges Approach battles trigger after roughly five matches, regardless of length.

The other quick way is to run through the World of Light adventure, making sure to back out to the main menu every five games or so. A Challengers Approach battle will trigger without fail upon reaching the main menu.

We'll be sure to update this guide once Nintendo releases the specific requirements to unlock every character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. For more how-to stories and articles, be sure to stop by Shacknews' Super Smash Bros. Ultimate walkthrough and guide.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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