The Smash 64 scene has always been of curiosity to me: it has a very limited number of players with one obvious best (Isai) and is incredibly old. It’s the oldest Smash game, actually, and also has the smallest roster. (Melee, the next smallest roster, more than doubles 64’s roster.)
Given these two factors, and remembering my post Making a Meta, you would think that the Smash 64 metagame would be largely completed, right? After all, if Time X People = Labor then the 64 metagame should be pretty much done. We ought to have a definitive answer as to, given two players of the same ability, which character will win.
The only other variable given those conditions are stages, and there’s not many stages in 64 that are tournament legal. National events only allow for Dream Land; non-national events also include Kongo Jungle and Peach’s Castle sometimes. (Battlefield and Final Destination are only accessible through unstable cheats, and are glitchy.) So there’s not a lot of variables at play that need to be controlled for.
It seems reasonable, then, that 64’s metagame is done. We know all the variables at play and there’s not many of them, the 64 tier list hasn’t been changed in four years, and we have an obviously best player (Isai).
Despite all this, sometimes things happen that defy the conventional understanding of Smash 64. Upsets occur, high tiers lose to lower tiers (that they don’t have bad matchups against) and occasionally a new player will rise through the ranks and do something unseen with a lower character.
In other words, Smash 64 is a “solved” meta with a “solved” tier list and matchup theories, but still has upsets and lower tier characters being used. Upsets are the result of the players performing better or worse than normal.
Well, that kinda sounds like what the amiibo scene might one day look like, doesn’t it? After several years and lots of data, new training methods and probably a bit of editing, we eventually “solve” out the tier list and matchups. Upsets still occur because the amiibo perform better or worse than normal, thanks to amiibo RNG. Low tier characters are used in the hopes that they’ll outperform their normal selves and end up with a high placement in the tournament. Some trainers/players do better with a character than others. Rules get solidified and become second nature, like the recent Bowser ban.There’s actually quite a few similarities, when you consider the idea!
So what does all this mean? Nothing, really. All this comparison gives us for now is a rough idea of what the meta might look like one day, if we ever solve the tier list for Smash Ultimate’s vanilla amiibo and get a good idea of the matchups. That won’t happen for years, if ever, but when it does, I bet it’ll be cool.