The Super Smash Bros. Ultimate amiibo metagame officially began alongside the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate and its first wave of new amiibo figures (Ridley, Inkling, and Wolf) on December 7, 2018. Though overall rather similar to the Smash 4 metagame, this one generally incorporates more aerials and places a higher focus on attacks that hit more than once. Every fighter is now capable of leaving the stage to edgeguard; while this is only safe for a select few characters, the ones who are able to employ it enjoy a noticeable boost in viability.
Prior to the release of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, a copy of the game leaked online. Experienced amiibo trainers immediately noticed the way a Ganondorf CPU played – and it was much more aggressive than Figure Players in Smash 4. From the very beginning, trainers had the perception that FPs were much more human-like in Ultimate than they were previously. As a result, many of the first competitive amiibo were trained to dash, taunt, and edgeguard – all things that FPs in Smash 4 couldn’t do on a consistent basis.
The first-ever Super Smash Bros. Ultimate amiibo tournament was hosted a few days after the game’s release. The tour results cemented Link’s status as a top-tier fighter, but notably included two Isabelle FPs in the top four. Of significance was that both of these FPs were trained with learning off, which was a clear sign that the metagame was nowhere near solved. This tournament sparked a newfound interest in amiibo training that has (for the most part) persisted to this day. More and more tours began to appear on the Exion Discord server, and trainers made progress in their experimentation with several characters. By the time a week had passed since Ultimate’s release, it was common knowledge that fighters like Yoshi, Olimar, and Mii Gunner had significantly improved from the previous title.
On the subject of Olimar, he suffered from a unique glitch that involved the magnification of Spirit buffs. They were mistakenly applied several times over to each of his Pikmin, which caused each of Olimar’s aerials and smash attacks to deal well over 60% per hit. As a result, he was temporarily banned from competitive play until the glitch was patched shortly after. At the beginning of the Smash Ultimate metagame, FPs were relatively unrefined. Trainers were too aggressive and had not yet realized that FPs need to land hits on their opponent in order to become aggressive. This meant that many early FPs were overly defensive, often spamming rolls and air dodging. This was an early source of frustration among players.
In January 2019, several important strides were made. MiDe, one of the top amiibo trainers at the time, trained a Lucina amiibo named Musket. Its play style was simple: spam forward smash and a second, faster move (most often forward tilt or down tilt). Perhaps even more importantly, however, was that this play style avoided running altogether. This eventually became commonplace for FPs; they cannot perfect shield incoming attacks as well if they are dashing, so they are trained to walk instead (which significantly increases their defensive capabilities). From this point onward, trainers began employing this strategy with more characters. In the present day, the “Musket Method” (teaching an FP to walk and rely on its forward smash) is optimal for fighters like Shulk, Pac-Man, Mii Gunner, and more.
Another revelation came about thanks to Joe, a Captain Falcon amiibo trained by Blank. It was first trained in April 2019, and was taught to use Falcon Kick as sort of a joke. As it turned out, Falcon Kick was a powerful moving hitbox that FPs often failed to properly counter. As a result, fighters with moving hitboxes saw a surge in tournament viability. Mii Swordfighter’s Power Thrust, Jigglypuff’s Rollout, and Charizard’s Flare Blitz are key examples; each of these fighters received a boost in representation thanks to their new strategies. So, to review the metagame progress at this point: walking was enforced, FPs were trained to rely on just a few moves, and fighters with moving hitboxes were slightly favored.
By the end of 2019, one specific fighter became problematic in tournaments: Bowser. His powerful attacks and built-in heavy armor were too much for most FPs to handle, and he was quickly banned from tours by the Exion tiering council. As a result of Bowser’s ban, it became common knowledge that FPs were incapable of detecting whether or not their opponent had super armor active. This meant that they would often try to challenge incoming attacks with super armor and then take damage anyway. Incineroar’s amiibo was released this year, and it was almost immediately banned thanks to its powerful side special, Alolan Whip. This is the only character ban that has universally held up to this day, and you can read more about it here.
In early 2020, the ongoing pandemic resulted in more free time for amiibo trainers. As a result, 2020 was the most popular year yet for amiibo training, even when factoring in Smash 4’s metagame. This year, the individual game plans for each character were researched, and by the end of the year experienced trainers generally had a good idea of how to train each fighter. One significant development was the rise of defensive options – primarily perfect shields, which near-invalidate certain opponents when used correctly.
Compared to human players, Figure Players generally have a much quicker reaction time (when walking), which lets them perfect shield a large percentage of incoming attacks with ease. However, there is one fatal flaw; FPs almost always drop their shield after the first strike of a multi-hit, causing them to take damage and knockback anyway. For example, FPs will perfectly block Zelda’s down tilt, since it only strikes once. However, they may improperly defend against her forward smash, which hits multiple times. This AI flaw originated in Smash 4 and was not fixed for Ultimate.
As a result of this development, fighters with powerful multi-hit attacks became slightly favored in tournaments. This is part of why Zelda, Link, and Mii Gunner are considered top-tier: they each possess at least one smash attack with multiple hits. At around this time, Bowser was also officially unbanned from the metagame; the rise of perfect-shields and the arrival of characters like Terry and Min Min placed a noticeable burden on his tournament success. Most of Bowser’s moves are a single hit, so they are easily parried in spite of their huge power. Terry was actually considered to be banned at one point, though no official ruling ever came through since tournament hosts were welcome to ban whichever characters they pleased from their own self-hosted competitions.
In the present day, the way a Figure Player should act has been heavily optimized over time. Generally speaking, a strong FP walks when close to opponents, and only dashes to catch up with an enemy who has been launched a long distance away. Most characters with powerful multi-hit attacks and moving hitboxes enjoy a slight increase in viability. Perfect shielding is often mandatory to properly counter popular tournament entries like Bowser and Ganondorf, and it is best to keep dodge rolls and air dodging to a minimum during training.
Of course, it is difficult to sum up the entirety of the metagame’s history in just one post. Each character has their own history of development and optimization, and you can read more on their corresponding wiki page or character guide. For more information on what traits strong Figure Players have in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, read this post. Lastly, to keep up to date with the amiibo metagame, you can join its main Discord community via this link.
If you would like to return to the amiibo Wiki, please follow this link.