In Super Smash Bros. 4, simply uttering the name “Bayonetta” would send players running — unless you were in the competitive amiibo scene. She was a solid mid-tier in that game; not particularly dominating, but by no means bad. In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, however, she’s taken a turn for the worst. She’s dropped all the way down to the very bottom of our tier list’s lowest rankings, and to this day has only gotten one or two tournament wins ever. I’ve had faith in her ever since I joined the amiibo community, and I have put more time and effort into raising her FP than any of my others. Today, I’m going to detail my experience with the Bayonetta amiibo and explain why she is (unfortunately) one of the worst contenders in competitive Smash Ultimate tournaments.
Bayonetta’s main problem as a competitive Figure Player is her unique archetype as a combo character. There are plenty of fighters in Smash Ultimate who are designed for long combos, but Bayonetta takes this to the extreme. Nearly every one of her moves is either a combo starter or a combo extender, so her kill moves are made slow and unimpressive in order to ensure balance. That being said, if you’ve been in the competitive amiibo community for any length of time, you’ve probably heard the phrase “amiibo can’t combo” at least once. This is partially what makes Bayonetta so weak: she cannot properly utilize her strengths and the moves she has left over are wholly unimpressive.
One of Bayonetta’s most notorious moves is her side special, Heel Slide. This is one of the few moves that her AI doesn’t really mess up too bad (though to be fair, there isn’t exactly much to mess up in the first place). Her AI is capable of performing simple combos out of this move, which do decent damage but often end up failing halfway through. In order to successfully make use of Bayonetta’s strengths, the FP needs to be able to adjust the timing of the attacks it uses based on the opponent’s weight, size, DI, and damage percentage; unfortunately, this game’s CPUs cannot account for any of these things. On top of this, she often cannot tell when it is appropriate to be going for combos versus going for KOs (and vice versa). She’ll end up going for combo starters when her enemy has taken upwards of 200% damage, which is made much worse because the amiibo Buff knocks her opponents out of combo percents sooner. She struggles to secure KOs out of combos; her best move for that as a player would normally be forward air, but as I’ll talk about later, she cannot use this move properly at all and so she will typically never KO an enemy in a flashy way. Bayonetta’s moveset and archetype simply don’t work for an FP who’s playing to win.
While most of Bayonetta’s tools are rather suboptimal for FPs, she does have a few useful tricks up her figurative sleeves. Her dash attack is notably strong; while it is vulnerable to being blocked or parried, the large distance it covers alongside the kill power it boasts can’t be taken lightly. I would argue overall that Bayonetta’s grabs aren’t very useful, but forward throw at the edge can set up for gimps or even KO at high percentages. Even if it doesn’t KO, she can use Bullet Climax to harass her opponents off-stage and rack on damage with a respectable chance of gimping them. Her recent buffs as of patch 12.0.0 are much appreciated, and while they are somewhat small, they play an important hand in helping the character reach new heights (even though she will likely never leave low tier).
AI Flaws & Quirks
Oh boy, here we go. There’s a reason that Bayonetta has been bottom-tier for Ultimate’s whole lifespan: her AI is very crudely programmed and is riddled with problems. Likely her most infamous flaw is that her FP often does not recover properly, and tries to double jump and use a single Witch Twist to make it back to the ledge instead of using two. This AI flaw was present in Super Smash Bros. 4 as well, but opposing amiibo did not edgeguard, so it didn’t hold her back as much as it does now. If you intend to train a proficient Bayonetta FP, be wary of neutral air and the dive (downward) version of After Burner Kick. When left unchecked, the AI has a tendency to overuse its neutral air, often taking unnecessary punishments as a result. While her downward After Burner Kick is somewhat hard-coded (as far as I can tell), if she’s taught to use it she will try to use it instead of the normal version of After Burner Kick during a combo — which often does not work. Even if she does pull off a combo, she is near incapable of using her best options to finish it. Her forward air is usually designated as a combo finisher, but her AI will begin a fastfall after the first hit connects, meaning that the second and third hits will never connect and both her and her opponent will just pitifully fall to the ground. Because of this, she will almost never secure a KO with a combo, and will have to rely on her other moves to take her opponent’s stock.
Bayonetta’s other moves also have their fair share of problems. Her up smash would be one of her best moves, but when the AI tries to catch landings with the move, it will try to position itself directly beneath the opponent, even though up smash hits in the front. As a result, Bayonetta often misses up smash entirely and may even get punished for trying it. Many players fear her powerful down smash at the ledge, but the move isn’t quite as strong on-stage. If you teach a Bayonetta FP to use its down smash on-stage, it will often forgo its forward and up smashes (which are mostly superior) in favor of down smash (which is faster but has less knockback in comparison). Fortunately, there is still hope for Bayonetta; at the time of writing, Ultimate is still being updated and these sometimes include AI changes. Remember, we made a post about the Ice Climbers’ problems in 2018, and a patch was eventually released that improved almost every issue we mentioned. If you (like me) want to someday have a competent Bayonetta FP, there is still hope — maybe.
Bayonetta’s matchup spread admittedly leaves a lot to be desired, as one may expect. That being said, for a bottom-tier character it’s not that bad! Bayonetta has some unique strengths that can lead her to victory in some surprising cases.
The biggest advantage Bayonetta’s got is the impressive range on her smash attacks. This range slightly improves her matchups against fighters whose own range is shorter than hers. These include characters like Peach, Inkling, the Ice Climbers, and sometimes R.O.B.. In fact, here is a full matchup chart I have put together based on the matches I have seen Bayonetta FPs play. It’s by no means fully accurate, but it’s something interesting to look at anyway:
Unfortunately, even the best Bayonetta FPs have only a slight chance of consistently beating any given opponent. Her biggest weaknesses are fast characters, characters who outrange her, and characters who can gimp her. Any fighter who has a move that comes out faster than her forward smash is very difficult for Bayonetta to beat, as even if they attack at the same time she will take damage first. Most characters have access to a tilt or smash attack that is faster than Bayonetta’s forward smash, and at that point there’s not much she can do to contend up close.
I’ve mentioned that range is arguably Bayonetta’s only strong suit, so when she’s faced with a foe who has even more range than her, she has almost no chance of winning. This includes projectile users such as Link and King K. Rool, fast-moving attacks that can close the gap very quickly such as Captain Falcon and Mii Swordfighter, and characters who just have long-range attacks such as Mii Gunner and Shulk.
Recovery is Bayonetta’s biggest AI flaw in my opinion, and in this game, other FPs are comfortable going off-stage to edgeguard. Bayonetta finds herself dying at very early percentages even without being edgeguarded, so any fighter who can attack her with an aerial move or projectile poses a threat. In particular, Lucas’s PK Thunder and Little Mac’s down smash are death sentences for the poor Umbra Witch.
It would not be unreasonable to say that Bayonetta struggles in competitive tournaments. It would also not be unreasonable to argue that she is the single worst FP in the metagame right now. But despite everything that’s working against her, she still has potential! If you really want to create a strong Bayonetta amiibo, don’t lose hope. It’s a difficult process, and she won’t be very cooperative, but is doable — especially with Spirits. If you would like to know specifically how to go about training a Bayonetta amiibo, you can find our guide here! If you have any other questions or want to know more about amiibo as a whole, feel free to join our Discord community!
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