The Joker amiibo: How will he perform in tournaments?

by Doc

Joker hasn’t been announced for an amiibo… but we won’t let facts and reasoning stop us! How’s Joker gonna do?

It’s a few months old, but I’ve also made a video on this topic. My stance has changed a bit since then, although most of my original points are still pretty reasonable.

The AI

There is never any way to know for sure how an amiibo is going to play until the AI is patched into the game. No Fighters Pass amibo has had their AI patched in as of 7.0.1. At this point, our best bet is to go off of what we know about amiibo AI in general.

There’s a few things to keep in mind:

  • Amiibo can’t combo (although amiibo that were programmed specifically for Ultimate sometimes have combos built-in)
  • Amiibo often don’t know to shield projectiles, but also don’t know how to use them sometimes
  • Amiibo don’t use counters or moves that can be charged and then released with a second input
  • Amiibo will sometimes excessively repeat a particular move, and that behavior will often crush their entire potential
  • Amiibo don’t recognize “status changes”, like Cloud’s Limit Break. While Arsene may be an exception, it’s unlikely that the Joker amiibo could be taught to play differently with Arsene.

Given this information, a few things seem reasonable to conclude. First, Joker is a combo-based character. He’s pretty lacking on single-hit KO moves, with the only notable one being his back air. Fortunately, amiibo are pixel-perfect and frame-perfect, so we don’t have to worry about his attacks missing, just that they KO.

A Joker amiibo could be somewhat effective with their Side Special spam, and use it to build up damage from a distance. While it wouldn’t function as well as Ness’ PK Fire, Arsene’s version of Eigaon would be particularly helpful for damage-racking.

I’m skeptical that the amiibo would be able to use Gun properly. It seems most reasonable to predict that the amiibo would only use it incorrectly and jump around with Gun, even when it’s ineffective. The same goes for using Grappling Hook to gimp opponents. If the amiibo were to successfully gimp someone with Grappling Hook, it would probably be while trying to get to the ledge, and not an intentional gimp. It may be possible that the amiibo could use it onstage, but that doesn’t seem like it would be effective.

The character

Joker’s lack of single-hit KO moves takes a lot of wind out of his sails as far as amiibo goes. Generally, the amiibo scene’s higher levels are determined by who has the best KO power, which is why you see amiibo like Bowser and King Dedede at the top of the tier list. Anyone who trains a Joker will have to take maximum advantage of whatever KO power he can muster, and that means focusing on the moves that are good both with and without Arsene.

Assuming Joker can hit most of the time, I’d figure that Back air and Forward smash would be the KO moves for Joker, especially when Arsene is out. A healthy dose of up air juggling would be advisable for Joker as well – hell, it works for Sheik, why not Joker?

It’s worthwhile to note, and we’ll elaborate on this in the next section, but Joker might benefit more from a risky gimping-focused playstyle based on his Neutral air. Gimping could compensate for his lack of KO power.

The issues

Joker is ridiculously light, and his focus on combos doesn’t help. He’ll die quickly, and not be able to do much about it unless he strikes first. While the metagame has recently evolved to get more traction out of lightweight combo-based amiibo, heavyweights are still the hardest opponents for any amiibo. They’re a hard rule.

His periodic Arsene boosts will be the source of nearly all his KO power, which means that he has to take a certain amount of damage just to be able to take a stock. If the amiibo boosts don’t increase the Rebellion Gauge more than normal gameplay, and Joker can’t use Rebel’s Guard like most amiibo, then he may have to come down nearly an entire stock just to take a stock. If this is the case, then Joker might need to focus more on gimping Bowser Jr.-style than on onstage trickery. That’s a much more risky playstyle, and will end up being dependent on his AI.

The advantages

When Arsene is out, Joker has enough KO power to be a B or B+ tier amiibo. If Arsene were out permanently, I could see him placing that high in a fairly accurate tier list.

Joker is ludicrously fast and has several multihits, which help him overcome parries. His dash attack might sometimes be useful as a surprise unparryable KO, but only at high percents.

Joker’s gimping ability is through the roof, and so is his recovery.

Joker’s ability to rack up damage with Side Special may prove to be his biggest asset, especially against large and tall heavyweights who will get hit by it much more often. It even outranges PK Fire, and could poke a hole in the firm hold that Ness currently maintains on the scene.

The placement prediction

There’s several amiibo tier lists going around, so it’s difficult to determine after-the-fact how accurate this prediction will be. Of course, we’re ignoring any built-in amiibo behaviors that may come packaged with the AI (as is the case with many post-Smash 4 amiibo AIs), as those are unpredictable and completely up to the intoxication levels of the Nintendo programmers. My prediction for the Joker amiibo, in a reasonable and fairly objective tier list, is…

C tier, no higher. And that’s if we manage to really figure out his AI.

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