The best characters in Super Smash Bros. 4 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate have attacks that abuse the poor perception of AI opponents. In the competitive amiibo scene, perception is reality — and some characters had moves so strong they were entirely banned from tournaments. Today, we’re going to take a look at all of these attacks (across both games) and what you can (or can’t) do to counter them.
Super Smash Bros. 4
Let’s start with a great example: Marth and Lucina’s Dancing Blade attack. It’s a four-hit combo that can be aimed upward or downward; while it doesn’t launch its foe very far (it cannot KO until high percentages), it does inflict high damage. Smash 4’s AI is defensive, and so it often tries to perfect shield incoming attacks. Unfortunately, it only blocks the first hit of Dancing Blade, after which it will fall into the attack’s remaining strikes. Countering Dancing Blade isn’t easy — literally — the move is really fast, and its low knockback means that a successful counter won’t turn the tide of battle. Marth and Lucina were top-tier for a reason: Dancing Blade was mostly incontestable.
Here’s a bit of an outdated instance: the entirety of Little Mac. The character was completely banned for the longest time, but was eventually allowed with strict equipment restrictions. When Little Mac wasn’t restrained with these caveats, however, he was absurdly strong: just one forward smash was capable of shattering a full shield. As I mentioned earlier, the AI in Smash 4 was heavily defensive. The Figure Player would try to shield Little Mac’s forward smash, but it would shatter and leave them vulnerable to a fully charged forward smash.
These are just a few examples of moves Smash 4 AI never (or rarely) saw coming. Other instances include Bowser’s Flying Slam and (to a lesser extent) Ganondorf’s Flame Choke. I could write a whole post on this alone, but let’s move on to a more relevant title…
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first: Incineroar. Incineroar was banned from tournaments due to its side special, Alolan Whip. The AI tends to struggle with command grabs, but Alolan Whip was over the top. It inflicts incredibly high damage and knockback, and matches quickly became a contest of how many Alolan Whips Incineroar could land. Incineroar was banned with good reason: its Alolan Whip was too strong. But if you find yourself against one, try to camp it out. Mii Gunner and Ridley FPs can give Incineroar FPs some trouble, so try using those too.
We’ll move away from characters for a moment and talk about some concepts instead. The first one, as we kind of just mentioned, is attacks that move the opponent. Incineroar’s Alolan Whip, Ridley’s Space Pirate Rush, and Ganondorf’s Wizard’s Foot are a few examples. The AI either doesn’t see the hitbox coming or can’t react in time, and is often hit even when it seems to have a chance to dodge. They also have trouble with projectiles (for example, from Mii Gunner and Ness).
The question on your mind, then, might be “why can’t FPs detect certain kinds of attacks?”. And the answer is “we have no idea”. Luckily, there are ways to deal with projectiles, as every character that relies on them has a key weakness that can be easily exploited: Mii Gunner struggles in close combat and Ness dies off-stage if anybody tries to gimp him. When training your amiibo, don’t get frustrated if it gets hit by a sixth Alolan Whip in a row. There are some things hard-coded into an amiibo’s AI, and its reaction to these types of moves is one of them! If you have any questions, feel free to join our Discord server and we’ll be happy to (try and) provide you with answers!