The Banjo & Kazooie amiibo: how will they perform in tournaments?

The Banjo amiibo hasn’t been announced or released. This is a speculative piece based on very educated guesses.

I’ve made a speculation video covering the DLC amiibo several months back. While I figure my opinions have shifted a bit from the original video, it’s still worth a watch!

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. In addition, amiibo item usage is hardcoded and can’t be changed.
  • Amiibo will sometimes excessively repeat a particular move, and that behavior will often crush their entire potential. This usually can’t be fixed, just avoided.
  • Amiibo are frame-perfect and pixel-perfect, especially when it comes to recoveries.

At first glance I’m not concretely certain on Banjo’s potential in amiibo. The CPU Tier List says that he’s very high tier, the 4th best CPU in the game. We also know that amiibo AI is based off the CPU, and there’s a lot of correlation between the two tier lists. However, I have a bit of difficulty making such an assumption for his amiibo, especially when there’s many more amiibo-centric areas where the AI can fail regardless of training.

Because amiibo are frame-perfect and pixel-perfect, I don’t expect recovery to be a major issue for Banjo. The AI will most likely be custom-made to make sure he uses his unusual recovery and third jump correctly, which happens sometimes with newcomer or returning veteran amiibo. He’s still gimpable, but that’s not his fault.

I am concerned about Banjo’s use of his Rear Egg. Snake’s grenades often mess with the amiibo AI and are one of the riskiest ways to train a Snake. Rear Egg has similar properties, so while it may prove useful I’m not sure the AI will be able to properly handle it.

Despite everything else, there’s really one question that must be answered about Banjo: can he use Wonderwing? It’s his best move, and it’ll prove lethal in amiibo, but only if the AI uses it properly. It’ll be thoroughly inoptimal if the amiibo uses it five times, and then goes for a sixth only to get KOed.

Oh, and one last thing: stall-then-fall moves like Banjo’s Down air always get spammed by the amiibo. They’re not good and I think people who train Banjo to use it will end up losing in the long run.

The character

Just based on character, I don’t expect Banjo to be S or S+ tier. While he’s got KO power in his Forward aerial and Wonderwing, and distributed through his smash attacks, it’s not a very coherent moveset. Bowser’s KO moves can combo into each other at low percents, especially Up tilt. So can Incineroar, to some degree. Banjo, not so much.

That’s not to say he can’t be an S or S+ tier – he’s got the profile of one, it’s just that there’s too many questions about what will be useful and what won’t.

Banjo’s recovery will be fine, but easily gimpable unless he can use Wonderwing. I don’t expect it’ll play a major part in his eventual performance, be it positive or negative.

Wonderwing itself is really the clincher for Banjo. If he can use Wonderwing and opponent amiibo don’t see it coming (which is often the case for attacks that move the user, such as stall-then-falls or Bowser’s Forward smash), then we have a case of another Alolan Whip on our hands. Wonderwing is almost unstoppable once it gets going, and given the prevalence of horizontal fighting over vertical fighting in the amiibo meta, it’ll likely be the tip at the end of Banjo’s spear.

Banjo doesn’t really have an air game to speak of, as far as I can tell. He’ll kill you with Forward air, but otherwise that’s about it. Stall-then-fall moves are generally useless and often end up spammed, so I can tell you right off the bat to avoid that move.

The issues

Banjo is a wacky character that doesn’t really have anything infinitely spammable like Incineroar, and doesn’t bleed KO power like Bowser. His KO power is spread unevenly throughout the character and only rears its head in a few moves, which is good and makes him more versatile, but it’d be better to have it more evenly spread. His AI might end up super screwy or have one or two bad habits that can’t be untrained.

The advantages

Banjo has kill power, and it’s good kill power too. Forward air, Wonderwing and Forward smash will likely be his absolute best options in most circumstances, with the rest of his moveset being used for more niche purposes like gimping or poking through platforms.

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 not concerned with the possibility 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 Banjo amiibo, in a reasonable and fairly objective tier list, is…

A tier. Banjo seems like he’ll be prone to having one or two things really wrong with his AI, but in a tier list where Bowser and Incineroar are listed as S+ tier amiibo, Banjo will most likely be A tier in comparison.

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