Today, we’re going to take an in-depth look at Ness and his place in the Exion amiibo metagame. Ness was one of twelve fighters introduced in the original Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64. Since then, he’s terrorized opponents by shouting “PK Fire” over and over again. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on who you ask), Ness’s Figure Player perfectly embodies the spirit of an Elite Smash player, making him a strong contender in competitive tournaments!
I started training amiibo figures when they were first released in 2014, and I’ve been going at it ever since. As many involved members of the community know, Ness is my most successful Figure Player, having won well over fifteen tournaments across both Super Smash Bros. 4 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. In other words, Ness is my flagship character, so I would consider myself more than qualified to write about him (if such a thing is even possible).
As a Figure Player, Ness runs hot and cold (but mostly hot). A well-trained Ness amiibo is an absolute menace on-stage, playing an obnoxious keep-away game with its PK Fire before moving in for a grab or a smash attack. Off-stage is something of a different story, though; Ness’s recovery is incredibly exploitable and the FP’s AI uses PK Thunder to return to the stage even if a double jump would have done the trick.
If you’d like to learn more about Ness, you’re in luck, because we have a lot of resources available to you. First is Ness’s wiki page, which chronicles his performance in both games and provides an overview of his strengths and weaknesses. I’ve also written a long-form essay on Ness with emphasis on his flaws and how to work around (or exploit) them.
Stats & Spirit Effects
For this section, I am going to assume your Ness amiibo is at Level 1. If you are going to equip it with Spirits, I would recommend you do so now. When a Spirit is used on a Figure Player, its personality and move priorities are changed, so it’s best to do this now so that your training overwrites these modifications. In terms of Spirits you could give to Ness, here are a few options!
From an objective point of view, Armor Knight and Trade-Off Speed ↑ is Ness’s strongest Spirit setup. Armor Knight increases its user’s Attack stat by 1.15x and their Defense stat by 1.8x, making them almost impossible to throw off-stage. Trade-Off Speed ↑ increases its user’s speed by 1.4x, nullifying (and even improving on) Armor Knight’s only drawback. Do note, however, that Armor Knight is generally banned from competitive play.
If you are looking to participate in a Spirits tournament that does follow our ban list (Super Armor, Slow Super Armor, Armor Knight, Great Autoheal, and Autoheal), try using Side Special ↑, Up Special ↑, and PSI Attack ↑. These bonuses further enhance the power of Ness’s strongest moves, allowing him to deal more damage and KO at earlier percentages.
Regarding stat distributions, don’t give them too much thought. As long as your Ness has balanced Attack and Defense stats, you’ll be good to go. Personally, I’d recommend running an even 2100 / 2100, but if getting that perfect spread is too much trouble, it’s no big deal. A few points off won’t make much of a difference.
As with all fighters, Ness is best trained via mirror matches. In other words, you should be playing as Ness. Turn the FP’s Learn button on and make sure it doesn’t face off against other CPUs while its Learning is switched on. If you notice your FP recovering incorrectly or exhibiting otherwise problematic behavior, don’t worry about it until Level 50. Keep in mind that Ness’s recovery tendencies cannot be changed in any way, shape, or form; they are hard-coded into the character’s AI.
In short, there are three moves you’ll want to use with Ness: PK Fire, PK Thunder, and back throw. In contrast to public opinion, though, Ness needs more than these three moves to win games. Let’s start with the obvious ones: PK Fire is, of course, Ness’s strongest neutral option. Ultimate’s AI doesn’t mash out of the flames, leading them to take massive damage. Ness should spam PK Fire against opponents within range to build up damage and prepare for a KO. PK Thunder is Ness’s second strongest move, and it’s used to chase enemies from a distance or follow them off-stage. If the foe isn’t up close and isn’t within range of PK Fire, you should be chasing them with PK Thunder. You’re going to be sick of hearing “PK Fire” and “PK Thunder” by the time your training is done, but that’s just how it is.
If the enemy gets up close, Ness can grab them, and from there, he has a variety of options available to him. Down throw links into two forward aerials, racking up solid damage. Up throw gets the opponent into the air, allowing Ness to chase them down with PK Thunder. Forward throw is generally the least useful of Ness’s throws, but can still be used every once in a while to rack up additional damage. Then you have back throw, one of Ness’s most potent kill moves. It goes without saying that you should go for back throws whenever possible. Speaking of kill moves, up smash is another good one, as it can catch botched rolls and punish poor landings. Be sure to use it often during training.
Ness has a solid air kit, but I would recommend staying grounded and focusing on PK Fire and PK Thunder. If Ness is knocked into the air (or has to drop from a platform), his back and up aerials are surprisingly powerful and can help create distance or even get a KO. When Ness is juggling an enemy with PK Thunder, he can also move in with said up aerial to kill off the top.
Now that we’ve discussed moves to use, let’s go over moves you should not use. First, and most importantly, Ness needs to be on-stage at all times. Do not go off-stage to “disrespect”, “style”, or edgeguard. Ness’s AI always fires its PK Thunder in the same predictable trajectory, making it easy to interrupt (especially by human players). When Ness’s opponent is recovering, he should be chasing them with PK Thunder while staying safe on the edge of the stage. You might want to use PK Flash to edgeguard instead, but I would advise against that. Ness’s AI has lost the ability to charge the move at all (it was able to use it just fine in Smash 4), and often tries it uncharged at inappropriate times. I also find down tilt to be rather useless on Ness, as the AI does not down tilt (and CPUs as a whole cannot learn to jab lock).
So, all in all, here’s what you should be using: PK Fire and PK Thunder as neutral options, up smash and back throw as kill options, and back and up aerials while airborne. Forward smash is a decent (albeit risky) option, but I would recommend using it just a little bit in case the AI can space its tipper. One final note here: don’t charge your smash attacks at all. Ness’s AI can’t learn to hold its down smash at the ledge; if you try teaching it this, it’ll overcharge all of its smash attacks and leave itself vulnerable.
Ness’s optimal playstyle might sound lame (and believe me, it does), but that’s what the amiibo metagame is all about: being lame! It makes sense, then, that Ness fits right in and has established himself as a top-tier character. I covered this earlier, but I will reiterate: Ness’s wiki page covers his strengths and weaknesses, my in-depth analysis covers his flaws and matchups, and our Discord server can answer any other question you might have. Thanks so much for reading! Happy training, and until next time!
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