My two best amiibo are Link and Lucas. But despite that, the character I’ve put the most time and effort into was my Young Link amiibo. You’d think that would mean I’d get good results with him, right? Well, the only thing I’ve gained from training Young Link is an extensive understanding of the many flaws that fill up his artificial intelligence.
Young Link’s amiibo figure was printed for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, so it’s likely that many of you either have this one or the Majora’s Mask version. Both had a pretty short shelf lifespan, though, so not everybody was able to get their hands on a Young Link amiibo. If you’ve trained one before, you might have been disappointed with how the Figure Player turned out. At one point, Young Link was even a contender for worst FP in the game! But wait — Young Link is a solid character in the competitive metagame (humans versus humans). How can a fighter that good be so bad they contend for bottom one? In this post, we’re going to talk about why his kit translates so poorly and why this character struggles in the amiibo metagame.
The other two Link FPs (Link and Toon Link) rely on a balance of their Boomerangs and sword moves to keep opponents at bay. This creates a pressure-based playstyle that forces the enemy to either use a smash attack or jump (where they can be pressured even more easily). This strategy works for Link and Toon Link — not only are their smash attacks deadly, but their aerials are strong and can KO even off of a stray hit. Unfortunately, Young Link doesn’t have this blessing, which puts him in a very strange position as far as training goes. His normal playstyle (in human-versus-human play) doesn’t work here, because FPs aren’t capable of playing that way (which we’ll discuss more in just a bit). Young Link suffers from a bunch of other flaws, too, which make him quite a messy fighter to train. Let’s start by discussing the problems with his actual moveset first.
The majority of successful Young Link amiibo completely avoid their projectiles, which probably sounds absurd to anybody who hasn’t trained one before. Normally, projectiles make or break Young Link’s playstyle. Without them, he’d be an incomplete character filled with glaring issues, right? That’s correct. Young Link’s AI can’t use its projectiles effectively, which does indeed leave him flawed. Bombs and Boomerangs have at least seen some usage, but Fire Arrows are unanimously agreed to be subpar. This is because the AI tries to fully charge them even though they’re more useful uncharged. Additionally, it tries to fire arrows at opponents who are already in the air, which doesn’t do much good. To make matters worse, if Young Link’s FP successfully connects one of its Fire Arrows, it’ll be more likely to use them in the next match. And so on and so forth until Young Link is spamming Fire Arrows. So neutral special isn’t just subpar, it straight-up damages this character’s playstyle.
Fire Arrows aren’t Young Link’s only projectile, though. I mentioned before that Bomb and Boomerang have some merit, and that’s partially true. Bomb is probably the most impressive of his three projectiles in terms of how the AI uses it. As with the other Links, Young Link is prone to damaging himself with the explosion more often than he actually hits the opponent. Not to mention the AI tends to spam them if left unchecked! If a patch was released that updated Young Link’s AI to use Bombs less often (and to actually hit enemies with them), then an optimal Young Link amiibo might incorporate Bombs into its strategy. We can’t count on that, though. Moving right along, Boomerang is a bit less impressive but more consistent, and when it is used it’s used in the same way the other Links would. Young Link still has an issue with aiming the Boomerang at aerial opponents and using it too often, so it’s typically avoided anyway.
So Young Link’s projectiles are a bust, but the rest of his kit isn’t bad! At least, not bad in theory. His smash attacks are decent; his Kokiri Sword is rather small, however, though his normal attacks are fast. The AI even knows a few basic combos, including down tilt to forward or up air. The issue here is that the AI doesn’t know enough combos. Young Link is designed to combo, and his entire kit is stronger than the sum of its parts. Other fighters like Joker, Peach, and even Mario have hard-coded combo routines that seem directly inspired by their top players. Young Link did not receive the same treatment! And even if he did, a lot of his combos require projectiles, which currently aren’t worth teaching him. Unfortunately, Young Link isn’t the only character whose playstyle is completely ruined by his AI. Though, as long as a fighter has good KO power, a good recovery, and solid edgeguarding tools, they have a shot to be a good Figure Player. Well… Young Link has none of these traits.
Young Link’s smash attacks are pretty abysmal by amiibo standards. Forward smash hardly even works — the AI was recently plagued with a new glitch that prevents it from using forward smash’s second strike. That’s where all of forward smash’s kill power is, and the AI can’t even use it anymore! You might be wondering if you can just kill with down smash instead, but it only hits grounded opponents. It’s also slower, weaker, and easier to punish after the first hit. Up smash is the only acceptable smash attack here. Luckily, Young Link’s tilts pick up some of the slack. Starting with the worst one, down tilt combos into other aerials, but the AI can get spammy with it. Up tilt isn’t as laggy as up smash, but it isn’t as strong either. Forward tilt, however, is a really good move to use. It’s not too strong center-stage, but it kills at the edge quite early. Not early enough to put Young Link on an even playing field, though.
Young Link’s last hope is his aerials, and sadly, they just aren’t very good in this metagame. Down air would be the primary choice for its kill power, but its usage is situational and the move is too laggy to be relied on. And of course, Young Link’s AI can get spammy with it. That’s been a recurring theme so far. His up and back airs are both alright for their intended purposes, but Young Link can’t use his back air for combos the way Joker can use his forward air (intentionally landing the first hit during a fast fall to follow up with a strong move). Fortunately, his neutral and forward airs are just fine, with both being important parts of Young Link’s moveset.
AI Flaws & Quirks
As you probably gathered from the last section, there are a lot of moves that Young Link’s AI spams too often. All of his projectiles and down air are the main offenders, and it’s difficult to train that habit out of him. Why he is so prone to spamming could have any number of explanations, ranging from hard-coded usage amounts to the AI thinking it’s always going to hit. Who knows?
The other main issue Young Link has is that he doesn’t use his projectiles correctly at all. Both Fire Arrow and Boomerang will be thrown out when the opponent isn’t anywhere near their hit range, especially if the opponent is above Young Link (or advancing towards him in the air). He also fully charges his arrows the majority of the time, which is problematic because they are best used uncharged. Even with this bug fixed he still wouldn’t use them properly, but he would at least begin to have a shot at being a projectile character.
Young Link also has a disappointingly low amount of combos hard-coded into his AI. Joker’s amiibo was recently added to the game and came pre-packaged with dragdown up air combos, fast-fall first hit forward air combos, and many others that seem like they could be inspired by top players like MKLeo. Young Link has almost no combos, despite his entire character being centered around them! It would be nice to see combos from players such as Toast or Colinies make their appearance in the AI. Instead, all we’ve got are a few down tilt and down throw combos.
Young Link’s final and most devastating flaw is his recovery. Every character’s AI has an issue with tether recoveries; they will attempt them to use them too high up, too far down, or just too far away from the ledge in general. For every character except Young Link, this is just inconvenient, as their jump or up special can get them back to the ledge safely. However, Young Link’s fall speed is so high and his up special distance so poor that he is guaranteed to self-destruct from this flaw, even if he misses the tether well above the ledge. Pair this with his lackluster, vulnerable recovery, his high fall speed, and his light weight, and Young Link barely ever survives when going off-stage. Even when he’s winning, it’s entirely realistic for Young Link to self-destruct or be gimped a few times in a row and lose games in a matter of seconds.
Our final section sadly won’t be any less grim than the above ones. Almost every single character has an advantage against Young Link, especially with the recent nerf to his AI. Strangely, in the past, Young Link was seen to have a strangely solid matchup against Bowser, though that’s no longer the case now. Bowser’s AI has only improved over time, whereas Young Link’s has only gotten worse.
I can’t really name one archetype that does better or worse against Young Link — everyone just seems to have an upper hand. Sword characters abuse his short range, grappler characters punish his bad out of shield options and high fall speed, edgeguarding characters obliterate him as soon as he goes off-stage, and heavyweights shrug off every single move he makes and typically kill him in two or three hits.
Young Link was previously placed in the bottom 20 on our tier list, and this number has probably significantly dropped, as lots of the characters beneath him received buffs or advancements to their training metagames. With his recent flaws, the character is probably bottom ten, and possibly even lower. Without a severe overhaul of his AI, Young Link will probably never gain much more relevance. That’s such a shame!
But if this post has only made you more determined to train a Young Link amiibo, we have a variety of additional resources you could check out. There’s our Young Link amiibo training guide, our general amiibo training guide, and our Young Link wiki entry. And if you have any further questions, you’re welcome to join our Discord server and ask! Thanks so much for reading — until next time!
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