by Doc, Owner, Founder, Bubble-Popper
It’s now a common occurrence to see a Smash Bros Youtuber post a video or livestream involving amiibo training. Named “Raid Boss” amiibo by Alpharad, these streamers have a pretty simple formula: train the amiibo, give it spirits, refer to it as the “strongest”, “best” “invincible” amiibo or a similar clickbaity title to tickle the Youtube algorithm, and host a livestream in which their fans can fight the Raid Boss amiibo. In turn, the streamers will cut up the footage of their fans being beaten, and push out videos further hyping up their amiibo.
This trend has proven to be so effective that there’s now 7-8 large Smash Bros Youtube channels that all have basically-identical content revolving around Raid Boss amiibo. Fans who don’t know much about amiibo believe that X Youtuber has the best amiibo in the world (typically Hard DK, for some reason), and that anyone who disagrees is just ignorant, including and especially the competitive amiibo scene.
So today I’m going to pop that bubble and demonstrate why these battles are irrelevant to determining how good an amiibo actually is.
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1. Amiibo are frame-perfect opponents
By nature, amiibo operate on single frames – the frame an opponent moves into a perceived potential hitbox, the amiibo will roll the RNG dice on whether to use that move or not. This is already an unfair advantage: when fighting amiibo opponents offline most optimal strategies involve either overwhelming them with attacks so they don’t have frames to respond, or simply staying out of their range until you can have a hitbox on them before they do. A prime example of the second strategy is Captain Falcon‘s Falcon Kick. Falcon Kick moves Falcon along with the hitbox of the move, so by the time the amiibo opponent realizes they could land a hit on Captain Falcon, the hitbox is already too close to avoid.
2. Arenas are laggy
Big surprise there. While amiibo vs. amiibo combat doesn’t appear to be very affected by lag (I suspect Nintendo uses special netcode for them), human vs. amiibo arenas are actually even more unfair than a human vs. human arena. If the host is the one using the amiibo, then the amiibo has an even larger frame advantage over the opponent, because the amiibo only has to calculate what’s going on on the host’s Switch. Even in wired connections, amiibo have an advantage in arenas over human opponents.
3. You gave the amiibo Spirits, idiot
Imagine for a second that Rocky Balboa just took steroids and is looking for opponents to box. He comes across an elementary school playground, and, seeing suitable opponents, begins boxing Little Timmy. Little Timmy’s mother would, of course, decry this as horribly unfair and unnecessarily violent, because Rocky Balboa is a trained fighter on steroids, and Little Timmy was kicked out of karate for biting.
That’s what you’re doing with Raid Boss amiibo – you give amiibo (who already have innate combat training thanks to pre-programmed combos) steroids, and then let them loose on people who have never fought amiibo before and don’t also have Spirits. It’s structurally wildly unfair for Raid Boss amiibo to fight anything but other opponents with Spirits.
Ultimately, while Raid Boss battles are fun, they’re also unfair, and a streamer who makes fun of the people who lose to one probably isn’t a streamer worth watching.