Among the most controversial subjects in the amiibo metagame right now are the Critical-hit capability and Explosive perfect shield bonus effects. In fact, they’ve always been controversial. They’re by far and away the best amiibo bonus effects in the entire game, and tournament results reflect that – characters that come out on top almost always have them equipped. So then, there’s a question to be had, then. Should we keep these bonus effects? Or get rid of them entirely?
If you’re new to the amiibo metagame, you probably aren’t quite sure exactly what the two bonuses I’m talking about do. So let’s go over those real quick…
The first of the two problematic bonuses is Critical-hit capability. Hence its name, this bonus effect gives its user a chance to land critical hits on its opponents. Every time an amiibo with the bonus attacks, it has a 20% chance of dealing critical damage – which is approximately three times as much damage as usual. The bonus often comes under fire because matches will often come down to which amiibo gets a critical hit first, which leaves things too much up to chance and not skill.
The second and arguably most controversial is Explosive perfect shield. It’s by far the best bonus effect in the game, with Critical hits coming to a close second place. If you don’t know already, amiibo are extremely proficient defenders. They’re capable of perfect shielding attacks faster than any human can. Explosive perfect shield activates whenever its user perfect shields an attack – it causes 15% damage and a good bit of knockback, and it stacks with Critical hits (with these two bonuses combined, one Explosive perfect shield can deal up to 45% damage – crazy!). And since amiibo block so well, this bonus definitely becomes the deciding factor in certain matchups.
Why should Critical hits and Explosive perfect shield be banned?
Many experienced trainers believe that Critical hits and Explosive perfect shield should be banned. In the case of Critical hits, as mentioned before, they leave too much up to luck – that 20% chance of landing a critical hit can determine which fighter wins the match. Not to mention, this bonus makes already-powerful characters like Little Mac, Bowser, and Ganondorf even stronger, while doing little to allow lesser-used characters like Villager and Yoshi the chance to gain an advantage.
As far as Explosive perfect shield goes, it’s quite the opposite – there’s no luck involved at all. Whenever your amiibo blocks (which is going to be very often), a damaging explosion will happen. All your amiibo needs to do to win is block. Does it take skill for an amiibo to simply shield attacks? I’d argue yes, but you can go either way. And if your amiibo has both Critical hits and Explosive perfect shield, forget it – you don’t even need to teach your amiibo to do anything but block. Just like with Critical hits, Explosive perfect shield makes already-powerful characters even more threatening, while lesser-used characters such as Pac-Man and Meta Knight somehow don’t like to block as often, and thus don’t get much of an advantage by equipping this bonus.
Without these two bonuses, the amiibo game becomes all about skill and skill alone. The remaining viable bonuses (Auto-heal capability, Lifesteal, Improved escapability, and the Trade-Off bonuses, to name a few) aren’t nearly as powerful, and make for a more balanced metagame.
Why should Critical hits and Explosive perfect shield stick around?
So, all in all, are Critical hits and Explosive perfect shield broken? Yeah, definitely. But removing them from the metagame proposes some tough questions that we don’t currently have an answer to. When Critical hits and Explosive perfect shield were still allowed in tournaments (they’re banned from most tourneys now), they were often the “centerpiece” of amiibo’s playstyles. Amiibo were trained to rely on them, and things were a lot simpler. If you weren’t sure what bonus effects to run on your amiibo, all you had to do was slap Critical hits, Explosive perfect shield, and Improved escapability onto your amiibo and you’d be good to go. Now, there’s not really a “standard” setup anymore. You have to choose from less powerful bonuses, and things are left more up to skill. That presents an issue, though: the smartest / most effective characters are S-Ranked characters, such as Ness and Rosalina, who are still just as strong without their Critical hits or exploding shields. In fact, now that lesser-used characters don’t have Critical hits or Explosive shields to fall back on, they could even be considered worse now in comparison to top-ranked fighters. So if every character can use Critical hits and Explosive perfect shield, are they still broken? And if certain bonuses become too centralizing, do we ban those too? If so, then what’s the point of allowing equipment at all? If we truly want a metagame that comes down to each amiibo’s skill, should we just ban all equipment? Or will that exacerbate the problem by putting amiibo with poor AI (such as Sonic and Meta Knight) at a disadvantage? These are all tough questions to answer. Like I said, yes, Critical hits and Explosive perfect shield are certainly ban-worthy, but removing them brings up questions pertaining to the ethics of removing problematic parts of a metagame.
So what do you think? Should Critical hits and Explosive perfect shield be banned? I’ve got a nice poll here that you can vote on to lend your opinion to the community. There are no wrong answers, at this point, I’m just curious. If you want to vote on the poll, click here. Thank you!