How to unlock characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate quickly became the signature game of the Nintendo Switch. The character roster and massive amount of content made the wait for this game all worth it. There are almost 80 characters players can choose from, making the fighting combinations endless. Although you only start with a small selection of eight characters, you’ll be able to grind your way to expanding your roster in no time!

Although this process can be fun, it can also be a bit of a hassle if you want to just play as your main fighter. Luckily, we’ve found the best ways to make that happen, so get ready for a fight.

Further reading

Tips and tricks to unlock characters fast in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Although there are purchasable characters, most characters can be unlocked in three different ways: Playing Classic Mode, fighting against a character in the game’s adventure mode World of Light, or through the Rotating List. When a fight becomes available, you’ll see a screen that says “Challenger Approaching,” along with a dark silhouette of the character. Here are a few tips to make the most of each, including what you can do to speed up the process.

Super Smash Bros Ultimate Challenger Approaches

1. Start with Classic Mode

Classic Mode is back, pitting you against a group of selected fighters, with a platforming section and a final boss at the end. It’s a fun mode that can get you up to speed with Ultimate, in case it’s been a while since you played a Smash title. It also proves to be a quick way to unlock a few characters right off the bat.

The initial roster for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate includes Mario, Donkey Kong, Link, Samus, Yoshi, Kirby, Fox, and Pikachu. You can play Classic Mode with any of these characters, guaranteeing the chance of going up against a new character. In order, these are the first unlocks: Sonic, Bowser, King K. Rool, Inkling, Lucario, Ness, Captain Falcon, and Villager.

For context, all unlocks have been displayed in a handy image provided in the game’s subreddit, which you can ignore completely if you don’t want any unlocks to be spoiled for you. The way it works is after you get your first set of unlocked characters, you can continue playing with the same initial character, say Mario or Kirby, and you’ll be granted with a new character to fight against. This can be done several times, but you’ll end up having to switch characters sometime soon.

Super Smash Bro. Ultimate Mode Selection

2. Remember challengers can be replayed

Before we continue, there’s a key mechanic in the game that will save you any worries you might have about losing a challenger battle. These battles can be really hard sometimes, or just happen to appear randomly when you’re using a character you’re not too familiar with. In any case, once you’ve played for a few hours, the game will notify you about a new mode called Challenger’s Approach, which can be found in Games & More and is displayed as a gate on the bottom right.

All lost battles can be replayed in Challenger’s Approach, but keep in mind that they might take a while to reappear, especially if you lose again. If you’ve collected several challengers for a rematch, they will appear in order. Don’t forget to check back often!

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Incineroar

3. Look for a new challenger every 10 minutes

There are a number of circumstances that can trigger a fight, but this is limited to a certain time frame. In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, it’s only after ten minutes that you get a new chance to battle someone new.

Aside from Classic Mode and World of Light (more on that later) playing quick matches against either the CPU or a friend in local multiplayer, exiting World of Light, or even failing a Spirit Board match can trigger a new fight.

The element of surprise is certainly there but only if there is enough time for the chances to reset. We found a handful of ways to speed this up, some more honorable than others, which are the following:

Start a Smash battle and set the stock to one, beat your opponent, and you’ll get to fight against a challenger. You can also play a bit with time, making for shorter matches if you K.O. the adversary fast enough. And let’s just say that no one’s going to judge you if you do a quick 1v1 match against yourself using both joy-cons separately, so you don’t have to worry about the CPU making things harder, but that’s up to you.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Map

4. In World of Light, Spirits are your friends

Unlocking characters in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate through World of Light is a slow and challenging process. The map is huge and you have to get through several fights before you meet an unlockable character — and that’s without taking into account the several blockades that can only be passed with a certain trait or ability from a spirit. If you choose to unlock characters using this path, it’s going to take a while, but do keep in mind what we mentioned earlier: do a few battles and then exit to the main menu. There will likely be a challenger waiting for you.

There are a few things that can make this process easier, though. Choosing the right spirits for each battle (divided in a rock-paper-scissors system of sorts) can save you from several moments of frustration. Just remember that you can feed them with snacks (which are unlocked as loot after battles) in the main Spirits’ menu to level them up.

World of Light can be useful when you’re just starting out. The first battle is against Mario, but right after that, you’ll get the chance to fight Villager, Marth, or Sheik. You can only pick one, though, and the rest will be locked until you complete a dungeon or cross all the way from another path to reach them. If you are familiar with any of them, you can get yourself a main character in just a few battles.

5. When in doubt, pick Kirby

There might be a canonical reason why Kirby is the first character you’re able to use in World of Light, but it makes sense that this translates to other modes as well. In my experience, getting started in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate with Kirby really helped me last in battle. His basic attack while standing still can deal a large number of punches consecutively. If you manage to time it right, there’s a high chance of knocking your adversary off the map in no time.

But that’s not all. Kirby has great recovery thanks to being able to jump up to six times, which is perfect to save yourself from falling. You can combine this with a jump attack aimed at the ground (by default, this is done by pressing B and moving the stick down in mid-air), which will turn the fighter into a menacing block that can deal a huge amount of damage to anyone unfortunate enough to be underneath him. Lastly, remember that Kirby can consume a character and copy their ability, which can also give you some decent leverage.

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