November 21st doesn’t just mark the launch of Super Smash Bros. for Wii U, but also the launch of the Amiibos. Smash Bros. for Wii U also just happens to have the most interesting use of the Amiibo thus far, allowing you to transfer an adaptable AI into the game to fight against. Mario Amiibo in hand, I decided to put the Amiibo through the wringer and see just what exactly it’s capable of doing.
The thing that most piqued my interest about the Amiibos was how they’re supposed to “learn” from you. Wanting to test that out, I decided to play some matches on Final Destination with a very low amount of items. My actions were deliberate: I’d only do simple A button combos, fully charged up-smashes, and roll dodges. Maybe the occasional taunt, too. I basically wanted to see if the Amiibo would noticeably pick up on any of those actions.
At level 1, the Amiibo is about as intelligent as you’d expect. While it tries to move around and occasionally throw out an attack, it’s basically a punching bag. Very quickly after I started beating up on it, though, it began to level up. Leveling up seems to be fairly random, but more likely when you do something that the Amiibo would qualify as “new” like hitting it with a new attack or item. After a few matches, I began to notice some quirks in my Amiibo’s behavior.
Curiously, the Amiibo would often punch the air in what appeared to be an attempt to do the simple A button combo. It’s hard to tell if the AI was just really bad at that level, but a possible explanation is that it happened because the character I chose to spar against the Amiibo with was Mega Man. His basic A button combo simply shoots pellets, which can hit from a slight distance, similar to the distance my Amiibo would go into a punching flurry. I also noticed that the Amiibo had slowly become counter-happy using Mario’s cape move, which is especially good at reflecting Mega Man’s projectile-based attacks.
Probably the most noticeable behavior switch comes from the Amiibo’s interaction with items. When I first started, my Amiibo would completely ignore them in favor of more complex tactics like randomly punching the air. Once I had begun using a few Assist Trophies, the Amiibo then reconsidered its strategy. What started as an innocent experiment soon became an addiction. The Amiibo indiscriminately grabbed basically every item it could get its hands on, to the point where it seemed to develop a radar-vision and could detect items that were out of the camera’s view.
Around Level 27 or so, I was beginning to notice a disturbing trend: my Amiibo was starting to beat me. It was now always going straight for the items, always knew when to attack, and its cape counters always seemed on point. I was curious to see just how much my Amiibo had improved, so I pitted it against a couple of level 9 difficulty AIs. There were no survivors.
Initially, I thought of the Amiibo as a sparring buddy, but soon realized it could be more useful as a powerful ally. I’ve since done multiple team battles with the Amiibo, both with the AI and other human beings, and he very rarely lets me down. As far as one-on-one battles with it go, it’s a pretty tough match. If items are on I tend to not stand a chance, but with them off it’s a manageable but difficult fight. At this point it’s hard to tell what specifically the Amiibo “learned” from me, but its general improvement in skill is extremely noticeable.
So that brings us to the ultimate question here: is Amiibo something worth investing in for its use with Super Smash Bros. for Wii U? Probably not, but I was surprised by how into it I got. Watching my Amiibo grow from a helpless baby into reliable teammate was a strangely satisfying experience, even if its use is fairly limited. If you’re going to get an Amiibo anyways, either for the collector’s value or its interactions with other Nintendo games, I’d say the Amiibo’s Smash Bros. integration is certainly something worth checking out.
Food for Thought:
1. My favorite thing about Amiibos is just that it feels like it’s been a long time coming. The Super Smash Bros. series has always had that thematic element of figures coming to life since the very first game, so it’s really interesting to see that actually manifest in reality.
2. I tried really, really hard to teach my Amiibo how to taunt. I would taunt whenever I killed it, whenever I killed someone else, sometimes I would even just taunt in the middle of a match for the heck of it. Maybe the Amiibo is just built-in with better manners than me, but I could never get it to become smarmy scumbag I wanted it to be.
3. Outside of matches, you can feed your Amiibo equipment you don’t want, which increases stats and can give it bonus effects when you’re playing in Custom mode. Personally I find the idea of keeping Mario as a pet and feeding him to be kind of creepy, but I guess it works.