There is a inherent darkness in Nintendo's games that surfaced into view at some unknown origin point, a secret ongoing thread (to call it a "plot" might be giving it too much credit) that prods into serveral different games, mainly in the Super Smash Bros. series. It culminates in the epic Subspace Emissary story in Brawl- but to say it has ended would be a fools errand.

Let's get into this right up front- Kirby Squeak Squad has a really interesting reuse of the Master Hand graphic originally from Amazing Mirror. Called Uja, this is a dark energy retool of the sprite that also happens to transform into a blade.

Starting to kind of see some connections with titles were 8 years apart, hm? The craziest part is that Uja isn't just some weird word- it's Romanji for a Japanese onomatopoeia called "uja uja". It's the noise wasps or bees make in a swarm. Swarm also happens to be the name of the black particles around Master Core- this is a weird thing to make into a trait for a character, especially a guest star!

But this isn't even the first time the Super Smash Bros. series used this idea of black, dark particles that can seemingly shift appearance at whim. In the Subspace Emmissary, things called Shadow Bugs appear and they are the substance that creates the enemies as well as possess characters. They engulf it like a swarm, transforming it into whatever seems to be in their best interest at the time.

These in turn, are all generated from Mr. Game and Watch, as revealed later in the story. Mr. Game and Watch is a particularly odd character in the grand scheme of things, becuase he's actually more of a representation of a idea (the characters in the old Game and Watch games) than an actual character. A literal composite character in a sense- of characters that are barely characters at all. It's impossible to really say what that main ideas Sakurai really had for Subspace Emissary really were as they were co-written with Kazushige Nojima of Final Fantasy fame. However, it's impossible to dismiss the idea that Sakurai really had deeper intentions by linking him to a character like Mr. Game and Watch, as for all intents and purposes, it is a Smash original character meant to represent a more abstract concept in the company's history. Which perhaps is why he represents this primoridal dark force?

It's also really impossible to ignore how Kid Icarus is represented in Brawl. The entire franchise got a overhaul to represent the kind of changes they would have had if it was an active franchise, which in turn was actually used as the foundation of Uprising, Sakurai's follow-up from Beawl. Not only does Dark Pit get a small sneaky cameo in Brawl, but when the series returned, Kid Icarus got a huge boost in representation as well as it's own version of codec calls that reveal small new bits of lore after Uprising. Sakurai is remarkably consistent with his characterizations of any given character when they appear in Smash, especially facets of them that were created by him. This includes small irritating quirks that fans have gotten annoyed with in the past, such as the more animalistic noises characters like Donkey Kong, Bowser, and King Dedede get.

With this in mind, let's go back to Master Hand.

Master Hand is typically seen as a child's hand by the fandom, merely playing with his toys. While this is somewhat supported by the beginning of the first game, later games stray a bit away from this depiction. Melee also supports this theory with their description…

Melee Description: The Master Hand awaits anyone who survives the long difficult road to the Final Destination. This symbolic link between the real world and the imaginary battlefields of Super Smash Bros. Melee is quite a handful in battle, and just because he wears a white glove doesn't mean he fights clean. Get ready to get flicked, swatted, punched, and poked like crazy!

Brawl Description: A being tied to the link between this world, where trophies fight, and the world beyond. The meaning of his existence is unknown, as are his goals, but he seems to have obtained (and kept hidden) a power that borders on absolute. He also seems to feel a certain joy in challenging chosen warriors who've claimed many victories. He waits even now in Final Destination.

SSB4 Description: The mysterious Master Hand is the source of creation in the Smash Bros. universe. He appears in Final Destination when all other rivals are defeated. He fights with a diverse move set and only grows stronger if you make him angry. If you know when to fight and when to dodge, you'll take him down!

So... um, what's this buisness about absolute power in Brawl? He obtained and is "hiding" this power? He goes from a symbol to a being tied between the link of this "fictional" world where trophies fight and "the world beyond", while Melee outright says what that world beyond is. Super Smash Bros. 4 outright elevates him to a deity.
In Brawl, his meaning has become lost, and it stays lost too.
One could interpret the odd line about his obtained absolute power as him being set up as a fake villain in Subspace Emissary, but the wording has always intrigued me, especially because he doesn't do anything particularly different in the game than his past appearance in Melee. It's only in 4 where things get really shaken up- with the introduction of the Master Core.

Let's go to Master Core for a second. I neglected to mention a connection in Subspace to the Swarm that makes up Master Core, and it's this enemy right here called a Shaydas.

Trophy Description: An odd enemy with two heads. Its legs might suggest that it's a beast of some sort, but in actuality, a Shaydas is formed by swarms of Shadow Bugs. Maybe that's why recklessly attacking it will do no good--you must strike its pink core to defeat it. Just watch out for the giant blades that it brings to the party. Mind the blades, and pick your attacks wisely!
"Swarms of shadow bugs"?
Like the resemblence is uncanny, right?

Tropy Description: This sinister being will appear from Master Hand. A bunch of black objects, called "Swarm", will gather and mimic a variety of shapes, changing its attack pattern with each new form. After taking enough damage, it will reveal even more forms. Defeat the Swarm's forms to reveal its true core.
Like not only that, but it releases off-waves just like Tabuu.

I think we finally know where that "obtained power" came from- Tabuu.

Tabuu is an odd character and not one that has really sensical motivations on the face of it. Like it's kind of obtuse to what his actual motives or origin is. Even from trophy descriptions, they kind of seem to invite more questions and answer nothing.

Tabuu trophy: The ruler of Subspace and master of operations. Tabuu controls Master Hand with chains of light to excise this world and build up his great maze. He used Shadow Bugs to form Subspace and manipulates the servants of Master Hand to his heart's content. Born in a vastly foreign realm, he also possesses great leadership powers. Tabuu...No name is more suitable.

Tabuu {Wings): Tabuu with wings extended. The dreadful energy surges cast from these wings instantly turn all fighters back into trophies. Knowing this, King Dedede assembles all able-bodied troops and sets a timed device on each of them. This device is a brooch that, after the designated time runs out, revives all fighters wiped out by Tabuu.

Tabuu is the ruler of another dimension that is "vastly foreign, who invaded the World of Trophies and seemed to have a maze in mind given he was absorbing various areas as his own. Shadow Bugs are implied to not be his own creation as he crafted Subspace and those who serve under Master Hand, aka the fighters brought to life by Master Hand. Additionally, he doesn't seem like he was born in Subspace- because why would it say "vastly foreign" realm when we know the name of it? Why did he want to build up a "great maze"?

The World of Trophies looks a bit different from any other universe seen in Smash previously, but let's just say it's all taking place in a world that Master Hand himself created and not necessarily built from Nintendo worlds. The reason Subspace Emissary often goes for a very generic style to it's stages is entirely purposeful- they are meant to represent enviroments that are more archetypes and conceptual than anything else, in order to best merge the conceptual ideas of the characters in Smash. The Classic mode map from SSB4 (3DS) featured an original background too- perhaps the World of Trophies is where the Smashers are brought from their respective universe to fight and Master Hand constructs stages based off their universes. A more traditional stadium styled arena is seen in both Brawl and Classic Mode in the Wii U edition of SSB4, as well as in the opening of Melee. The idea of generic battlegrounds has been around for a while- and it represents Smash as more of a foundation for the idea of these characters fighting more than them existing in their own universes.

These versions of characters are perhaps pulled from the idea of those characters and animated and given life, or perhaps they really are some version of those characters before. Either way, there's a lot of oddities in the representations of these characters that call on more of them being "ideas" of these characters, often composisted from one or more appearances to best represent them in the game. The Smash version of a character is not the version that appears in later games, although it's not totally against the spirit for these representations to influence the ones that appear in their games proper.

Back to Tabuu. Since he couldn't create anything like the World of Trophies himself, he perhaps decided that it fascinated him enough to steal it from Master Hand. Taking Master Hand under his control and creating the Great Maze, he forced the smashers to go through it, to see his version of their world, hoping to perhaps make them see his version of their world. It's not meant to be a "maze"- he has a vasty foreign way of thinking that comes off like a maze. The final fight is a rejection of that idea, perhaps, because it represents complete and total control over their conceptual reality in a way that doesn't make sense to the residing fighters.

It's really hard to say for sure. Perhaps defeated by the loss, Tabuu gives up and lets them go back to way things were before… but the Island of the Ancients was unable to be brought back due to their technology working a little harder than intended.


We are getting into headcanon mode- and ultimately, I feel like the story wasn't really meant to be told in a traditional sense. Sakurai knows how to tell a story- if he wanted to tell one, he just would have. He's also not someone that just puts together bland, generic work and I feel like Subspace was very purposeful in it's presentation. It's a story about the characters, but not necessarily about the characters. They all act true to themselves and some even undergo little character arcs like Lucas. However, it's something you'll have to assign your own reading to- and mine probably is wrong! Tt depends on knowledge that wouldn't even be known for quite some time afterwards regarding Master Core and is entirely conjecture.

Master Hand is a powerful individual, but at the end of the day they are only so powerful. Master Hand struck up a deal with Tabuu to have the power to create the World of Trophies- prior, in Melee's Adventure Mode had you actually traveling through the "worlds" of these characters and Master Hand was not at the end of that mode. With this power, Master Hand was able to create a world for the ideal versions of these characters to exist in- and it's clear with Giga Bowser's continued presence in the series that this does actually mean some sort of an "ideal", as that character only exists because Sakurai wanted to make Bowser scary as he saw him in the original Super Mario Bros.

Master Hand however, was put under the control of Tabuu as a consquence of this deal, and he used Master Hand to manipulate the villains of Subspace into working for his goals, which were to plant Subspace Bombs and create his own ideal world that was the creation of the Great Maze. After being freed from Tabuu's control, Master Hand was weakened a fair bit and let the Smashers (and Sonic) defeat Tabuu while he harnessed the residual power Tabuu had given him.


It would would be a shame to overlook the Brawl Dojo in regards to what Sakurai wanted us to take away from the Subspace Emissary. It really would. I recommend reading through the entry yourself, as long as it's still up.

The Mysteries of Subspace post in question, for those who actually want to read it themselves.

So let's get into this: first off, what it explains regarding Tabuu:

First, Tabuu, the embodiment of Subspace appears. He wants to cut the world our main characters live in to pieces and drag it into his world. He hides himself in Subspace, watching our world vigilantly. Tabuu himself cannot leave Subspace. That’s why he has to prepare an army and a leader for the offensive into the other world.

A lot of my speculation still holds up. It gives a little bit of the reason of why he creates the Great Maze and calls him the embodiement of Subspace, but again the wording is hazy as to whether he really originates from there. Since Master Hand represents our reality and Nintendo simultaneously, it may be why Tabuu found Master Hand appealing to get what he desires.

Master Hand is the master of our world. Tabuu studied Master Hand and the fighters, and this knowledge leads him to use Master Hand for his plans here.
Chains of light bend Master Hand to the will of Tabuu, who uses Master Hand to enlist the likes of Ganondorf, Bowser, and Wario. He gives each of these minions a Dark Cannon and tells them to hunt down any talented fighters that might stand in the way of the Subspace Army.
Master Hand is now more a part of the Subspace world than he is a part of our own.

That last line is so interesting, isn't it? It lines up with the trophy descriptions straying away from Master Hand being the hand of a child, all the sudden, huh? As if the symbolic link he represented actually is now tethered between the world of trophies, a general idea of gaming, and Subspace, which is an abstract realm of foreign methodology that can only visualize itself as a maze! That is then further represented by his transformation into Master Core!

Tabuu takes notice of the peculiar qualities of Mr. Game & Watch’s body mass. He uses these particularities to create a nearly infinite number of shadow bugs, which he then uses to create the Subspace Army.
However, since Mr. Game & Watch does not have any concept of good and evil, he is unaware of the effects caused when he is used in this way.

This doesn't really say anything in particular if Shadow Bugs are a concept that entirely comes from Mr. Game and Watch or if his particular qualities are just good for generating them, but it is interesting to note that the character that most resembles a concept of a character than an actual character is the one character in this story that gets this treatment. It could have been easily Mario, but instead it's the character that exists primarily only as a composite than anything else! Tabuu also has his eye on Meta Knight’s ship, the Halberd, as a means of transportation for the Subspace Army. Using the Subspace Army, he launches a violent attack on Meta Knight and takes the ship for his own. During the attack, King Dedede engages Meta Knight, unknowingly making it impossible for Meta Knight to repel the Subspace Army’s attack.

So I haven't gotten to loop this back around yet to Uja in Kirby yet, but this is where I'm doing it. Uja isn't just a foreshadowing bit for Master Core- it's the means of which Tabuu actually even learned about the Halberd. It's an extremely weird piece to the story in Subspace because nobody else really brings in their giant weapons or ships. There are Mario items in the game, sure, but like most things are an actual character, but not the Halberd. Since Master Hand kind of represents Nintendo as well as real life, is it too much of a stretch to suggest that Uja is an aspect split off from Master Hand's new power from Tabuu, commandeered by Tabuu to scope out Kirby's world? And this in turn leads to the strange greater awareness of the plot of Subspace by Meta Knight and King Dedede?

We're finally at the end (kind of) of my long-drawn out speculation of this weird round-about with Master Hand, Kirby, and Tabuu, but I intend to continue expanding on some of the weird pseudo-lore in Nintendo games with this page. There's... a lot of weirder stuff in the Mario RPGs I intend to get into soon. In any case, I hope you enjoyed.
04-19-2022: started page, went over the core facets of this dark