In the Super Smash Bros. series, each character has a number of palette swaps (also called color changes) - alternate costumes that they may wear, usually for the purpose of distinguishing themselves from other players who are using the same character. These different costumes usually alter only the character's color scheme in a true palette swap fashion, but some, namely Pikachu, Pichu, Jigglypuff, and Sonic, incorporate modeled accessories.
Color change selection
Players may choose their character's costume on the character selection screen, and, with the exception of team battles, two players may not pick the same color if they use the same character. In Brawl, choosing Random, will randomize the character as well as the character's costume.
Each character in every Super Smash Bros. game has a default color, and at least three alternate colors, making for a minimum total of four color choices. Three of these four colors are red, green and blue, one of which a character must wear when participating in a team battle, in order to represent the red, green or blue team. Some characters possess a default color that also represents a team color; for example, Mario's default color is red, so he wears his default costume when fighting on a red team.
In the original Super Smash Bros, Samus and Captain Falcon's blue costumes, and Captain Falcon, Mario, Kirby, and Donkey Kong's green costumes could not be selected during regular matches, and were only usable for the purpose of team battles.
In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, the restriction on costume choice was removed from team battles.
The appearance of alternate costumes varies from a simple change in hue (e.g. Yoshi, Mr. Game & Watch) to the incorporation of patterns, pictures and text (Snake, Ness, R.O.B), to the addition of accessories, sometimes animated, as is the case with Jigglypuff's waving green ribbon in Melee, Sonic wearing different color bands in Brawl, Pikachu's different hats (all four games), and many others.
Some characters have costumes that are derived from earlier or alternate renderings of themselves, such as Mario's "Jumpman" blue, Toon Link's "Classic Link" outfit, Brawl Samus' "Fusion Suit" blue, various commercial versions of R.O.B, and Squirtle and Ivysaur's "shiny Pokémon" green. Some costumes make references to other characters who may or may not appear in Smash games, such as Peach's "Daisy" palette swap, Mario and Luigi's "Wario" and "Waluigi" costumes, Link and Toon Link's "Dark Link" outfits, Lucas' "Claus" outfit, Jigglypuff's green hat in Brawl which resembles Kirby's Sleep hat, Bowser Dark Bowser outfit, Captain Falcon's Blood Falcon costume, and Fox McCloud's Wolf O'Donnell costume.
In Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U, some characters had alternate costumes that changed the character. Examples of this include Bowser Jr., who could become any of the Koopalings, and Olimar, who could change into Alph. Other characters would change their gender depending on the costume chosen, including Robin, Villager, and Wii Fit Trainer. Little Mac had alternate costumes that allowed him to be Wire Frame Mac.
A small number of costumes make references to other costumes from elsewhere in the Smash universe, such as Brawl Pikachu's blue "Pichu goggles", Melee Jigglypuff's blue "bow", and R.O.B's "R.O.B Launcher" green. Other costumes appear to be created primarily for the purpose of team battles, (Pichu's red, Diddy Kong's green), or for no particular reason (Ness' yellow, Bowser's black, Wolf's white).
Range of choices
Brawl includes a significantly larger number of alternate costumes than its predecessors, with the average number of color changes per character being roughly 4.7 in the original Super Smash Bros. and Melee, 6.0 in Brawl, and 8.0 in Wii U/3DS.
In Wii U/3DS, every character was given eight different alternate costumes, except for Little Mac, who had 16.
Additionally, the red, green and blue variations of both the biker costume and the overalls may be used in team battles, making Wario the only character with two color choices when on a team.