Neat things my Amiibo can do

Posted: January 12, 2015 in Uncategorized

I recently bought a Yoshi Amiibo for Super Smash Bros for Wii U. It’s a figurine with a chip inside of it that can be used to store a somewhat customizable computer character. I didn’t really expect much but it looked like a fun little toy. A Nintendo PR person had claimed that the toys would learn based on your play style, such that if you never played with items your Amiibo wouldn’t either. I suspected that it was mostly PR speak, and that the Yoshi would simply upgrade from a preset level 1 AI to a preset level 50 AI. It turns out there is some truth to it.

By the time my Yoshi reached level 50 it was winning most party matches. It particularly favored the egg throw technique. I used to play as Yoshi on the N64 so I decided to go one on one against it, Final Destination, no items. I narrowly beat it, but on subsequent matches I was unable to repeat the trick. It appeared my Yoshi was learning.

My personal play style involves a lot of aerial attacks. I noticed the Yoshi had become very skilled at throwing eggs, and was effectively countering my ability to approach him from the sky (especially since I was lousy at doing aerial dodges on the Wii U controller). I was only really able to get many hits in by remaining on the ground.

By switching to Jigglypuff and luring him off the edge of the stage I was able to teach him how to edge guard. At first he was hesitant to jump off the stage, but eventually he began chasing me and using his down A or down spike moves. He didn’t connect too often, but he learned to perform the attack and make it back to the stage with decent consistency. At any rate he was better at spiking off stage than I was. He also seemed to have perfected the art of protecting his landings by throwing eggs at the edge of the stage.

Since I was playing Jigglypuff anyways I tried training on some of her moves. Yoshi was definitely able to learn character-specific moves. When I used the lullaby he would flash his shield on and off to protect himself while minimizing the drain of the shield’s charge. He quickly learned to dodge when I activated Jigglypuff’s over-B punch, although this would sometimes leave him vulnerable to her Rest attack. Although I believe he was adapting I was still able to connect these two attacks with enough effort. Amusingly he never seemed to realize I was completely vulnerable while sleeping.

Next I tried training him with mines only. He almost immediately realized that he should jump over instead of walking on mines, but had difficulty avoiding them altogether. Extensive mine training left him still unable to avoid rolling, dodging or jumping into mines.    He was easily lured into mines and it appeared that this training was useful only for making myself feel better about my inability to beat him in a fair fight.

All of this time spent on Final Destination seemed to have confused him when he arrived at Hyrule Temple. His egg throws were not nearly as effective with impenetrable walls, and he kept erratically leaving the fight to seek out some seemingly arbitrary location on the battlefield. The level 9 computers sought each other out, but he was content wandering about the stage, resulting in a victory with around 30 out of 99 lives left.

It seemed to me that Yoshi’s technique in close quarters combat was rather weak so I started pitching him against heavy hitters on small stages.   Eventually he wound up on Final Destination in a 99 stock against Ganondorf.  He clearly learned to read Ganondorf’s moves and could duck or dodge out of range with ease.  He won, but didn’t dominate.

After the match I rechallenged him as Yoshi.   It was clear that such a long time fighting only Ganondorf had affected his ability to combat other opponents, and he’d probably gotten a little too familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the opposing AI.   It wasn’t clear what he was trying to do, but it wasn’t very effective.   Fighting Ganondorf had probably forced him into a more counter-based technique, and he wasn’t able to read my moves as easily.    I beat him with 2 of 5 lives remaining – unheard of.

After putting him in a quick melee against other computers, I tried fighting him again.  He seemed back to his old egg-throwing self.  He was even able to snatch me out of the air with his tongue while I was mid ground-pound.  Unfortunately he seemed to have largely forgotten his Jigglypuff training.  It seems the AI is quite adept at learning to master a specific combat niche but has limited memory and will gradually overwrite older training as it enters a new environment.

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