The Great Enlightenment of Amiibo

We’re on Day 3 of the 8.0.0 Smash Ultimate patch, and everyone’s enjoying Min Min and Spring Stadium. The Smash players who are still quarantined are having a great time exploring the potential of this weirdly limited and simultaneously unlimited character. But there’s far more going on under the hood than any normal player realizes.

As I wrote in A (small) recap of what amiibo meta shifts went down in 8.0.0, amiibo AI has been improved. There’s still a lot of research going on as to what exactly has been changed, but we’ve learned a few revelations so far that will absolutely change amiibo forever.

Amiibo can combo. Well…

I explained in a video on the Amiibo Doctor Youtube channel that amiibo have two types of combos: coincidental, and built-in. If you’re not familiar with the science of how amiibo determine which moves to use and what occasionally creates a combo, go watch that video.

Nearly every instance of a combo is coincidental, but the most useful ones are built-in. For many amiibo, their placement on the amiibo tier list hinges on having a built-in combo. Greninja was considered completely unusable until his Dash attack – Forward air combo was discovered. Pichu only ever wins sets because of his Up tilt and Up air combos. King K Rool originally released with a built-in Down throw to Forward smash combo, but the timing of Down throw was changed. The built-in combo never received an update, so now King K Rool will use Forward smash long after his opponents have escaped the Down throw.

With the 8.0 update, this is now a widespread occurrence. Previously most built-in combos were just Up tilt or Up air chains, and the amiibo even has a byte set aside for repeating Up tilts. While this is still the case, we’ve seen many amiibo suddenly gain entirely new combos, and have entirely new aggressive attack patterns. These are the most obvious that we’ve discovered thus far:

  1. Captain Falcon
  2. Falco
  3. Bayonetta

More amiibo are being examined and labbed out to see if they were impacted by the AI changes, but this is already an incredibly interesting list. Captain Falcon was previously a nonfunctional character, and his moveset was altered to fix some issues. His new aggressiveness and various character buffs could very easily push him up the tier list as time goes on.

Falco is considered to be almost S tier in the Japanese metagame, so we knew he had untapped potential anyway. The Falco CPU is noticeably more aggressive, and now uses Down tilt – Forward air combos. He uses his Blaster at a distance, and occasionally Falco Illusion to recover or attack. The amiibo appears to be in a similar boat.

Bayonetta is the queen of this list. Within a few hours of the update’s release, clips began to emerge of Bayonetta amiibo performing the holy grail of amiibo competition – the ladder combo. No other amiibo has ever been able to perform a combo as long as the ladder combo, let alone with the consistency that this amiibo could perform. Bayonetta has long been considered the worst amiibo in the scene – the ability to suddenly combo could remove her from the absolute bottom spot she’s traditionally held.

The ramifications

If most amiibo AI has been rewritten to include one or more built-in combos, then this effectively resets much of what we know about amiibo training. Amiibo training guides would have to be denoted as having been pre-8.0, because the information in them may be no longer relevant. After all, if you teach someone to use an attack to build up damage but that attack is now the starting point of a built-in combo, then the guide will unintentionally teach readers to start that combo.

In addition, many previously fleshed-out amiibo would have to start from the beginning in terms of AI research and understanding. All progress that we’ve made on Captain Falcon, Falco and Bayonetta is now completely irrelevant – they’re basically new amiibo now. If other amiibo are found that have been rewritten, then they must be started over as well.

What do we now?

We must start labbing out all of the amiibo that received moveset buffs – you’ll notice each of the three amiibo listed above received major character buffs or reworks. There’s about two dozen of them, so we should be most meticulous with these and document anything abnormal that we see.

Once those are researched, it’s time to start working on the amiibo that have moves that can bury opponents. Preliminary research indicates that amiibo respond differently to buried opponents, so a change like this could bring tremendous benefit to Inkling and ROB, for example.

Having completed that, let’s just run through the rest of the list and see if anything’s different about our amiibo. The Great Enlightenment of Amiibo is upon us, and we need to get rolling on our research. This has shaken up everything we knew about amiibo, and we need to get a head count of which amiibo are the same and which aren’t.

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