Though Figure Players have been well-supported throughout the Super Smash Bros. series (starting with Super Smash Bros. 4), it has become clear that the developers never intended for a metagame to form around them. As a result, there are many aspects of competitive amiibo training that are widely considered to be overpowered or broken; these include characters, certain types of equipment, and specific Spirit effects. Several of these elements have been banned, but others are permitted — albeit under a set of particular restrictions.
Super Smash Bros. 4
Several characters and equipment items were banned in Super Smash Bros. 4. The Critical-hit capability and Explosive perfect shield bonus effects are entirely disallowed and cannot be used with any compromise. Little Mac and Cloud were once completely banned, but are now permitted with certain restrictions on their equipment setups:
- Little Mac cannot have any attack points, and cannot have any attack-boosting bonus effects.
- Cloud cannot have more than 60 attack points, and can only have one attack-boosting bonus effect.
With a maximized attack stat, Little Mac can use a forward smash to shatter a full shield in one hit. Smash 4’s defensive AI had no response to this “technique”, which soon cemented Little Mac’s status as the best character in the game. The entire cast – save for Bowser and Rosalina & Luma, who could only sometimes contend – was hard countered by Little Mac. He was banned from competitive play for several years but was later allowed under the conditions listed above. Cloud was banned for the same reason, though this was short-lived and the community quickly created a set of restrictions so that he could be allowed back.
Super Smash Bros. 4’s late-metagame ruleset (as outlined above) was the subject of criticism. In addition to completely banning two bonus effects, two commonly-owned FPs (Little Mac and Cloud) were forced to adhere to a rather complicated list of restrictions. These rules were confusing to new trainers and may have been one reason why the Smash 4 scene was inactive towards its end. As a result, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s ruleset is more cut-and-dry; this means there are more flat-out bans and almost no complex restrictions.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
One of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s strangest bits of history was during its first two weeks, in which Olimar was quickly banned from competitive amiibo tournaments. This was due to a glitch that applied the effects of Spirits and the amiibo Buff to his Pikmin two times over, which meant their attack power wound up being two times higher than what the developers had intended. This resulted in several of Olimar’s moves becoming one-hit KOs. This unintended behavior was later patched, and the ban on Olimar was soon lifted.
There were no other character bans in this game until 2019, in which Bowser was officially banned from competitive tournaments. At the time, there were no fighters who could consistently defeat him, which led to his dominance of tourney matches. In 2021, tournament operators began to re-allow Bowser FPs into their games, and the character was unofficially unbanned. This is primarily due to the introduction of additional counterplay; Mii Gunner, Incineroar, Byleth, and Hero – all notable high-tiers – gave Bowser immense trouble in tour brackets. Another contributing factor was that trainers began teaching their FPs to parry more often; most of Bowser’s attacks only hit once and the AI seems to have a natural aversion to Flying Slam. Nowadays, Bowser is more often permitted in competitive tours, though some trainers still choose to ban him. It is mostly left up to the tournament host’s preference.
At present, Incineroar and King K. Rool – especially the former – are commonly banned from tournament matches. In Incineroar’s case, its Alolan Whip move completely breaks AI opponents, and Incineroar’s own AI is capable of consistently landing the move’s strong version (by pressing the special-move button at the correct time). In the Raid Boss Open tournament – one of the largest online amiibo tours of all time, and one where Incineroar was not banned – the top eight were all Incineroars that spammed Alolan Whip and continuously clanged against one another. King K. Rool, on the other hand, is banned thanks to his powerful attacks and belly super armor. FPs in this game cannot tell if their opponent has super armor, so they will try to attack anyway but take damage instead.
Nowadays, trainers often host tier-restricted tournaments that only allow FPs that are ranked in a particular section of the tier list. The community already knows that top-tiers like Incineroar and King K. Rool are strong, but there is still potential to be found in characters with lower viability and representation. Tier-restricted tours help encourage trainers to raise fighters that aren’t represented much. As a result of this trend, previously-underrated fighters such as Wario, Ken, and Shulk (among many others) have received additional representation.
Several Spirits have also been banned from tournaments that allow them. These include Super Armor and Slow Super Armor, which were banned due to the disproportionate viability boosts they granted to heavyweight fighters (who were mostly already top-tier); Autoheal and Great Autoheal, which made matches last much longer and encouraged camping from Mii Gunner; and Armor Knight, which gave FPs an incredibly high defense boost. Competitive amiibo training is a much smaller scene than competitive Super Smash Bros. matches (human-versus-human), which means the scene has to try its best to retain viewers. This occasionally means banning elements of the game that make matches boring to watch. Super Armor, Slow Super Armor, Autoheal, Great Autoheal, and Armor Knight are collectively referred to as the “big five”. Instadrop and Critical Healing & Metal are sometimes banned from tournaments, but are not categorized under the label of the “big five”.
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