Video Games

The Importance of a Well-Trained Amiibo in Super Smash Bros.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

I’ve become hopelessly addicted to Nintendo’s amiibo figurines — at the time of this writing, I’ve collected a dozen, and I’m looking to pick up some more next week — so perhaps I’m merely writing this as a defense of the horribly expensive new habit I’ve acquired. Still, I need to get something off my chest:

Amiibo will greatly enhance Super Smash Bros. for absolutely anyone who learns how to use them effectively.

I’ve come across several reviews that spoke dismissively of the amiibo functionality inside of Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U. Many reviewers seem to be of the mindset that having an amiibo is neat, but it doesn’t do enough to justify the price tag.

For example, Sam Machkovech over at Ars Technica wrote, “The only thing we really like about Amiibos in Smash Bros., at this point, is that they unlock trophies and items when they fight.” Britton Peele of The Dallas Morning News claimed: “And the thing is, their implementation in video games (one of the main reasons they even exist in the first place) hasn’t actually been very exciting so far. In fact, it’s been disappointing.” The famous (or infamous?) Francis states in his unboxing video, “It’s a completely unnecessary toy. Like, it’s not going to give you any competitive edge in Smash…”

I want to point out how wrong all of these people are.

Sure, in the beginning, an amiibo seems like it’s merely a neat little toy. When I cracked my first one open, I was off the same mindset as the reviewers I’ve quoted above. Your amiibo just stands there next to you while you play Smash, and you can train it up to level 50 in the game. However, once you get way deep into amiibo training, you’ll start to realize how useful a well-trained amiibo is when you’re trying to hone your Smash game. In fact, I’d say it’s almost essential.

Amiibo - Diddy Kong and Donkey Kong

Your amiibo “learns” as it fights. If you tend to spam a certain move over and over, your amiibo will eventually learn to counter it and render that strategy ineffective. This means you have to come up with something your amiibo hasn’t seen yet, which forces you to grow outside of whatever rut you’ve dug for yourself.

Amiibo are smart, unpredictable little bastards, and they continue to improve as you play against them. If you make mistakes, your amiibo will punish you for them. Amiibo will learn to render your bad habits ineffective much faster than the average human player will, which means that in order to continue to beat them, you’ll have to try new techniques, which will force you to improve at a much faster rate than you would otherwise.

Super Smash Bros.

I think the biggest problem people are having with amiibo functionality is that the training they’re giving them is simply not good, or that they’re giving up once the amiibo hits level 50 despite the fact that amiibos continue to learn long past level cap — indefinitely, as far as I can tell.

So let me put it this way: Your amiibo will become more valuable to you the more you use it. I have amiibo figures I’ve invested 7 or 8 hours into, and those things can now beat me almost every round I play against them. As a result, I’m a better Smash player than I’ve ever been. I’m finding myself using shield way more effectively now. I’m countering attacks more regularly than I ever have before. I’m playing a much stronger defensive game. I’m even learning how to dodge many of the Final Smashes that at one point would have led to an easy kill when played against me.

So yes, Francis, amiibo will give you a competitive edge if you know how to use them properly. Once you’ve invested some time (or hell, just let a few amiibo fight against each other for hours at a time) these quaint little toys will kick your ass until you’ve honed all the rough edges off your playstyle.

That seems pretty valuable to serious Smash players, if you ask me.

Of course, you also have the option to just order a pizza, sip a beer, and watch them fight each other, which is far more entertaining than it sounds.

Either way, I encourage you to not dismiss these little guys before you’ve learned the ins and outs. And if you’re having trouble, I’ve written a pretty detailed guide to help you make the most of your own amiibo.

Josh Wirtanen owns this place and has opinions about pretty much everything. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuajwirtanen.