It is difficult to tell whether the developers of the Super Smash Bros. series truly want it to be seen as a competitive fighting game first and foremost. However, it is much easier to come to the conclusion that the developers never intended a metagame to form around amiibo training, because several elements within its community have been broken to the point of justifying a ban or restriction. Chronicled here is a list of every metagame element that has either been banned at some point or strongly considered for one.
In Super Smash Bros. 4
The Smash 4 amiibo metagame was home to many broken elements that were banned over time — a complete timeline of these bans can be found on its metagame history page. With equipment allowed, Little Mac FPs could maximize their Attack stat to shatter an opponent’s full shield. From there, he could charge up a forward smash and score a one-hit KO (especially with Critical-hit capability equipped). The only counterplay that existed was characters with command grabs – namely Bowser – but even this countermeasure rarely worked out. Little Mac was banned from competitive tournaments in 2016, but was later allowed back as long as he had zero points in Attack and no attack-boosting bonus effects.
The Critical-hit capability and Explosive perfect shield bonus effects were banned from tournaments in 2017. In the case of critical hits, matches became too dependent on luck. While this did create some interesting upsets in tournament brackets, it was deemed uncompetitive and removed afterward. Explosive perfect shield centralized the metagame around standing and shielding — the rather boring nature of matches including this bonus effect discouraged new viewers from participating, so it was banned to help keep things more interesting and to force trainers to use more varied bonus setups.
Upon his release in July 2017, Cloud was almost banned for the same reason that Little Mac originally was. However, similarly to Little Mac, it was decided that Cloud would be permitted in tournaments under two restrictions: no more than 60 points in Attack and only one attack-boosting bonus. Though these character-specific restrictions were easy enough for longtime amiibo trainers to understand, they were a bit complicated to explain to brand-new trainers. As you’ll soon see, bans in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate are much less complex so as not to confuse new players.
In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
One of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s strangest bits of history was during its first two weeks. At launch, the developers accidentally applied the effects of both Spirits and the amiibo Buff to Olimar’s Pikmin two times over. This meant that his Pikmin’s attack power was unintentionally high, and a single smash attack from one of them could deal over 70% or KO an opponent outright. This quirk was later patched, and the ban on Olimar was lifted.
There were no other bans in this game until 2019, when Bowser was officially banned from competitive tournaments. At the time, there were no fighters who could get past his built-in super armor, which led to his dominance in tourney matches. By 2021, however, the metagame had shifted to heavily favor perfect shielding; this fact and the arrival of fighters like Byleth and Min Min significantly decreased his viability, and he was soon unbanned.
At the time of writing, the only character who is universally banned from tournaments (and has been since their figurine’s initial release) is Incineroar. This is because of its side special, Alolan Whip — a powerful, long-ranged command grab. Figure Players almost never move out of the way in time as if they can’t see the move coming, and Incineroar’s AI always hits the high-damage version when it needs to. There is absolutely zero counterplay available to this strategy, and a well-trained Incineroar will always win tournaments where it is allowed. In the Raid Boss Open tournament hosted by YouTuber Choctopus, the eight finalists were all Incineroar. The tournament was streamed to thousands of Smash players who had never trained competitive amiibo before, and their first exposure to it was watching two Incineroars spam and clank their side specials over and over again. Needless to say, it did not go over well.
Several Spirits have also been banned from tournaments. In 2019, Exion created a list called the “big five” — five Spirit effects that proved too powerful or centralizing. This list, which is still upheld to this day, includes Super Armor, Slow Super Armor, Armor Knight, Autoheal, and Great Autoheal. A few other Spirits, including Instadrop and Critical Healing & Metal, have been considered for a potential ban, but no such ruling has ever been made official. For more information on the big five and why each one was individually banned, check their corresponding wiki entries. Please note that our character guides assume that the reader is following our ban list.
In 2019, Mii Gunner was considered for a ban because it could be trained to camp with Gunner Missile, one of its side specials. Opposing Figure Players could dodge a single missile, but struggled when faced with more than one missile heading their way at once. Rather than banning Mii Gunner, however, the community simply decided to ban Autoheal and Great Autoheal, which were being used alongside the camping strategy. In the present day, an optimal Mii Gunner amiibo relies more on its forward smash (which cannot be reflected) than its side special, which goes to show how much the metagame has changed over the years.
In early 2020, Ness was considered for a ban. Contrary to popular belief, it actually was not due to PK Fire; it was because of PK Thunder. With this move, Ness could nearly infinitely juggle any opponent and KO them off the top blast zone. At first, this was considered broken, but significant counterplay was soon discovered in the form of Ridley, Lucas, and other fighters with reflectors. As such, no official ruling was made, though Ness remains a high-tier character to this day.
In late 2020, Exion successfully spoofed the Terry amiibo ahead of its release. By the time his figurine officially launched, the character was winning numerous tournaments thanks to Power Wave spam, his Super Special Moves, and his AI’s incredible hard-coded combos. In a similar (but more extreme) vein as Ness, no official Terry ban was ever put into place. He remains a top-tier character and is a contender for best in the game (second to Incineroar).
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