In the context of amiibo training, Pac-Man is an interesting case. Way back in Super Smash Bros. 4, Pac-Man was considered one of the worst characters in the game. A group of dedicated trainers changed this, though, and now he’s a solid mid-tier contender! His metagame position is mostly the same in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, except he lacks that dedicated group of trainers he needs. He’s still got loads of potential, though, and that’s what we’re here to talk about today!
Pac-Man’s greatest strength (and his claim to fame in the Spirits metagame) is his excellent recovery. Occasional AI mishaps aside, his recovery is nearly infallible due to the AI’s inability to properly punish it. This makes Pac-Man a strange Figure Player; his kit isn’t quite suited to off-stage combat, but his reliable recovery leaves the option wide open. His next best trait is his long-ranged grab. Its lingering hitbox taunts opposing FPs into being caught by it, and from there, Pac-Man can launch them off-stage or rack up free damage.
Unfortunately, Pac-Man does suffer from a few glaring issues. His most notable problem is rather obvious; he is designed as a projectile trapper, but the AI cannot make use of this archetype. This renders many of his moves useless (or, in the case of Fire Hydrant, renders their uses odd or impractical). On the subject of Fire Hydrant, Pac-Man’s AI does not agree with its proper usage. Neither Pac-Man nor the enemy FP will recognize the hydrant’s existence once it lands (they are only programmed to see it as a projectile). As a result, you might find FPs try to walk through the hydrant to no avail.
Despite his flaws and unorthodox playstyle, Pac-Man has found a decent amount of success; though by all accounts, he remains underrepresented and underexplored. If you’d like to learn more about Pac-Man’s strengths and weaknesses, have a look at his wiki page, which includes all this and more.
All five of the strongest bonuses have been proven to work well with Pac-Man, though Super Armor (and, by extension, Slow Super Armor) are certainly the worst of the bunch. Pac-Man lacks the firepower to fully utilize Super Armor, while Slow Super Armor imposes too heavy a speed drawback. Autoheal and Great Autoheal are wonderful for Pac-Man; he can go a long time without taking any damage and can spend large portions of the game at 0%. As is the case for most fighters, Armor Knight works best, especially when paired with Trade-Off Ability ↑.
Big five aside, Pac-Man suffers from a limited pool of options. His viability was cut back when Armor Knight was banned, but that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s no hope for him. All of the Trade-Off bonuses are great on Pac-Man; he can recover from any distance and doesn’t need to worry much about the amount of damage he inflicts. Hyper Smash Attacks boosts his main finishers — which is helpful, because Pac-Man has problems KOing. Landing Lag ↓ lets Pac-Man more freely use aerials when landing, and Air Attack ↑ pairs well alongside it.
Pac-Man benefits most from a balanced setup (2100 / 2100), though his longevity can be increased with a fully defensive build instead (0 / 4200). His optimal stat spread really depends on the kind of fighter you want to raise, so there’s a lot of room to experiment.
Pac-Man is best trained via mirror matches until Level 50. As usual, I recommend playing on Ω-form stages with Stock or Timed rules. While leveling up your FP, make sure to teach it to rely on the following set of moves:
- Forward smash: It’s Pac-Man’s strongest on-stage kill move, and should be taught as such. The sourspot on this move can be a bit lackluster, but it is the best he’s got.
- Grab & throws: Grabs are risky with Pac-Man, but very much worth it. He can rack up lots of damage with repeated grabs or launch the opponent off-stage.
- Down aerial: Whether it’s for edgeguarding or landing, this attack is essential to Pac-Man’s success. Not too threatening above-stage, but boasts large kill potential off-stage and close to the blast zone.
- Neutral attack: Pac-Man doesn’t have many fast grounded options, so his neutral attack is an essential boxing tool. Teach this move early on or the AI will prioritize other ground moves (which we don’t want).
- Dash attack: Smash Ultimate’s AI doesn’t react well to moving hitboxes, and Pac-Man’s dash attack is one of them. It’s a great way to get opponents off-stage, or just to rack up damage.
- Forward aerial: A great short hop option. It can also be used to edgeguard.
The attacks listed above or Pac-Man’s most important, but there are a few others to consider (but on a smaller scale). Use the following attacks every so often, but don’t prioritize them over the ones we’ve already discussed.
- Up smash: Its small hitbox makes its usage risky, especially if Pac-Man relies on it too much. Up smash is a must-use on stages with platforms, though, so teach it sparingly.
- Neutral aerial: By all accounts, it’s a great move with a wide hitbox, but the AI often overprioritizes it when there are more appropriate options available. Teach it cautiously.
- Neutral special: Its only consistent use is edgeguarding. The AI rarely makes use of its different fruits, instead opting to throw the cherry. Pac-Man should be aggressive off-stage, but try edgeguarding the FP with the cherry every so often so it mixes the two options.
- Down special: A must-have in Pac-Man’s kit. It throws out a massive hitbox beneath him, hitting its opponents hard. As mentioned earlier, the hydrant doesn’t get along with the game’s AI very well; regardless, it can cover landings and deal a lot of damage in the process.
If a move you’re thinking of wasn’t discussed in this guide, its usage is not recommended, but isn’t advised against either. You’re free to train your amiibo however you want, and slight deviations from this list aren’t always a bad thing. This move list is just an outline of Pac-Man’s success, and should be treated as such.
Pac-Man is a little bit tough to train right, but he definitely has the tool he needs to make waves in tournament play. He is strongest in a Spirits environment (as the best characters in Spirits have powerful off-stage options), but he can work without them, too! If you have any additional questions that weren’t answered here, please feel free to join our Discord server and ask them. We’ll be more than happy to help you out! Thanks so much for reading, and until next time!
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