In Classic Mode, you select your character, number of lives, and difficulty level, and battle your way through a series of 12 battles. Your opponents, allies, and the stage will be randomly chosen; however, each match is based on a different game series, so the characters and stage will be chosen from that series.
- Stage 1: The Legend of Zelda universe (traditional universe)
- Stage 2: Donkey Kong or Yoshi universe (Mario sub universe characters)
- Stage 3: Pokémon universe (traditional universe)
- Stage 4: Mother or Fire Emblem universe (Japan only RPG's)
- Bonus Stage 1: Target Smash!! (same Target Smash!! level as the difficulty chosen)
- Stage 5: Kirby universe (traditional universe)
- Stage 6: Metroid or Pikmin universe (planet explorers)
- Stage 7: Star Fox or F-Zero universe (spaceship flyers)
- Stage 8: Mario universe (traditional universe)
- Stage 9: Game and Watch, Kid Icarus, Ice Climber, or R.O.B universe (obscure retro characters)
- Stage 10: WarioWare, Metal Gear, or Sonic universe (third party characters or portrayed that way in universe)
- Bonus Stage 2: Target Smash!! (one Target Smash!! level higher; or Level 5 again if done on Intense)
- Stage 11: Free for All Battle (three random characters)
- Stage 12: Final Battle (Master Hand and depending with the situation Crazy Hand)
Note that if the Pokémon Trainer, Zelda/Sheik, or Samus/Zero Suit Samus are who you'll fight against, the single character/transformation will be said by the announcer (i.e., instead of "Pokémon Trainer", it'll be either "Squirtle", "Ivysaur", or "Charizard").
Types of Matches
Any one of these matches may have special conditions applied; these are also randomly chosen. In addition to the normal 1-on-1 matches, there will be:
- Team matches: You have a CPU-controlled ally and two opponents. Usually, the charcter of your ally is related to the theme of the stage. For example, in a Mario stage, you may have Mario or Luigi as an ally, or maybe Bowser or Peach.
- Giant matches: Your opponent is gigantic. You might have one or two CPU-controlled allies. There is the possibility that this will happen twice during your run through the mode. It's best to have Yoshi giant on the 2nd round, as to the fact that you can KO him with ease and extremely fast (around 7-9 seconds fast) if you're playing on any difficulty. All characters except for Link, Zelda/Sheik, Ganondorf, Toon Link, Donkey Kong, and Diddy Kong are eligible.
- Metal matches: Your opponent is metallic, as if they'd picked up a metal box. Metal opponents are resistant to launching and flinching, but are pretty much doomed if you can trap them under the stage. For best results, have a light character as metal. Pit is better to have as metal, since he can go down faster than any other light character and the fact that he won't have the chance to use his Up-Special in time.
- Multi-Man matches: You fight 10 duplicates of the same character. Each duplicate only takes a few hits to knock offscreen, though. On the other hand, if you are playing on Very Hard or higher, they would have to take about as much as they would if there was one. Best to have any light character on the harder levels, excluding Pit.
For the first 10 stages, no two battles are going to appear consecutively.
There are two bonus stages of Target Smash between matches. Board the Platforms (from Super Smash Bros.) and Race to the Finish (from both the original game and Super Smash Bros. Melee) were both removed in Brawl to make room for the second Target Smash bonus stage. The first corresponds to the chosen difficulty level. The second corresponds to the next highest difficulty level.
- Easy: Level 1, Level 2
- Normal: Level 2, Level 3
- Hard: Level 3, Level 4
- Very Hard:Level 4, Level 5
- Intense: Level 5, Level 5
Level 11 is a free-for-all with three random opponents on Final Destination.
Finally, Level 12 pits you against Master Hand on Final Destination. If you're playing on Hard mode or higher, and if you reach this level in 9 minutes or less without any continues, Crazy Hand shows up too. Be warned that you fight both of the hands at the same time.
- To do the most damage to either hand, attack them from behind and with powerful, fully loaded Smash Attacks. If you do this, the hands will go down pretty fast.
When you finish Classic Mode, you get your character's trophy. Mind you, if you play as Zelda/Sheik, Samus/Zero Suit Samus, or Pokémon Trainer, you only get the trophy for the specific character that landed the final blow on Master Hand or Crazy Hand, whichever comes last. For example, if you want to get the Zero Suit Samus trophy, use Samus' Final Smash (the "Zero Laser") beforehand.
- Beat it on Easy difficulty to get the Running Chibi-Robo sticker.
- Beat it on Normal difficulty to get the Icicle Mountain (Melee version) song.
- Beat it on Hard difficulty to get the Credits (Super Smash Bros. version) song, (also a challenger named Ganondorf will approach and be unlocked if beaten; also appears on Very Hard and Intense difficulty)
- Beat it on Very Hard difficulty to get the Striker Mario trophy.
- Beat on Intense difficulty to get the Crazy Hand trophy.
- Get trophies for any 20 characters to get the Master Hand trophy.
- Beat classic with all 35 characters (not including the trophies) to get the Paper Mario trophy.
- Get all of the trophies for every character (including switched-in characters) to get the Creeping Chrysanthemum trophy. (NOTE: This includes Samus, Zero Suit Samus, Zelda, Sheik, and all three of Pokemon Trainer's Pokemon. These characters are all separate trophies.)