The rumors you heard in 2001 are true: You can play as Master Hand.
Since its release in 2001, Super Smash Bros. Melee has had the same static, classic roster of 26 iconic Nintendo characters. If you’re a Melee fan, you likely know the list by heart. Little did we know, however, that the roster really includes an extra iconic member of the Nintendo family: none other than Master Hand himself.
Master Hand, for the uninitiated, serves as the main Smash Bros. nemesis. While there’s certainly no consistent storyline among all five main games, Master Hand has been there from the beginning: He is the final boss in the 1P Game in the original Smash Bros., as well as Classic Mode in Melee, Brawl, Smash Bros. 4, as well as parts of Ultimate. He also plays a big part in both The Subspace Emissary storyline in Brawl and World of Light in Ultimate.
In fact, Master Hand is the first character ever shown in a Smash Bros. game—when you boot up the original on the N64 (or your emulator of choice) the opening cinematic shows Master Hand placing a Yoshi doll and a Samus doll on a desk, setting the scene, then counting down before snapping his fingers to officially begin a battle.
While Master Hand has always played a role in the Smash Bros. series, he was never a character you could fight with. No matter how many battles you fought, no matter how many game modes you defeated, Master Hand was never one of the unlockable characters presented as a reward. That said, there was a rumor floating around that Master Hand was indeed a hidden character you could play as: Sure, it could’ve been a myth, the same way Mew wasn’t really hidden underneath the truck in Vermillion City. But, as it turns out, Master Hand is no such myth. There really is a way to play as the character in Melee.
This tip first landed on my radar thanks to the TikTok account Moonshine Gaming. In their TikTok on the subject, they show off exactly how to play as Master Hand in Melee. Here’s what you need to do:
You’ll need two controllers—one plugged into Player 1 and one plugged into Player 3. Next, go to VS. Mode > Melee, choose any character for Player 1, then place the cursor over the Back button in the top right. For Player 3, don’t choose a character: Select the blank P3 section, then hover the cursor over the “Name Entry” option. Finally, press the A button on both controllers simultaneously: If you’re able to select a level, you’re in. Pick a stage, and Master Hand will appear as Player 3’s character.
Unfortunately, controls here are limited. You can’t move Master Hand around too much, but you can utilize his entire move set via the D-Pad and various GameCube buttons. The best part, though, is Master Hand cannot die, meaning any match you use him for is essentially a win. As such, you won’t be playing as Master Hand at any Smash tournaments, but you could spring the character on an unsuspecting friend. At first, they’ll probably marvel at learning something new about Melee, before that marvel turns to fury upon their inevitable defeat.