Donkey Kong has certainly had quite the history when it comes to amiibo training! In the beginning of the Super Smash Bros. 4 metagame, everybody hated DK. His AI just wouldn’t learn and it was very difficult to get it to cooperate. And then he ended up finding a niche towards the end of Smash 4’s lifespan! Which goes to show that “bad” Figure Players might not be so bad after all. And – spoiler alert – things are looking much better for Donkey Kong in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
Thanks to Riparo for contributing Donkey Kong’s training information! Feel free to check out their YouTube channel by following this link.
Donkey Kong’s got a few traits that automatically put him a step ahead of the game. First, he’s a heavyweight fighter. Heavyweights are really good against other Figure Players. That’s part of the reason why Bowser and Incineroar rule the metagame (when not banned, that is). Second, Donkey Kong boasts natural super armor on many of his moves, including on his side and up specials. Ultimate’s AI doesn’t know how to deal with super armor, as they can’t detect when an opponent has it. Which makes Headbutt and Spinning Kong solid options in a pinch! DK’s also got a solid grab game and high launch power to boot.
Unfortunately, though, Donkey Kong isn’t quite as viable as his fellow heavyweights. He’s good, but he isn’t fantastic. His strongest moves – namely his smash attacks – have quite a bit of lag to them, especially in terms of startup. And DK’s recovery is pretty weak, even in comparison to Bowser and Incineroar. This means he can’t risk going off-stage to make use of his many meteor smashes because he himself is left vulnerable to being gimped. Figure Players aren’t as careful as they should be off-stage, so the fact that Donkey Kong has to relegate himself to on-stage only is a real shame.
Despite his flaws, though, Donkey Kong is a solid contender. He does struggle against high-tier characters – particularly against Ness – but he performs well against most fighters ranked equal or lower. If you’re looking to learn more about Donkey Kong and his history as a Figure Player (across both games), be sure to check out our wiki page on him! Whereas this post is a guide, wiki pages are more of a chronicle.
Not all trainers use Spirits, and if that sounds like you, you can skip this section! Remember to come back here if you do decide to equip Spirits. Just keep in mind that once you do, you can’t get them off without resetting your Figure Player (or via Powersaves shenanigans). As usual, we recommend giving an amiibo Spirits at Level 1. If that’s not possible, no worries; just be prepared to play a few brush-up games afterwards.
Donkey Kong’s a heavyweight, so he benefits greatly from Super Armor and Armor Knight. You can’t use both of them on the same set, though; Super Armor takes up all three effect slots and Armor Knight takes up two (but that extra slot can be filled with Trade-Off Ability ↑). Autoheal and Great Autoheal are okay too, but are still outclassed by Super Armor and Armor Knight.
If you’re an avid site reader, first, congratulations: you’re one of over ten! And second, you probably know that most of the bonuses we just discussed are banned in tournaments. So here are some other options: Physical Attack ↑, Hyper Smash Attacks, Move Speed ↑, Toss & Meteor, and Additional Midair Jump. Lightweight is a riskier bonus that increases Donkey Kong’s movement and jump speed while reducing his weight by 0.9x; Easier Dodging is another uncommon option that will actually increase the distance of his air dodge. Which will make recovery a bit easier! For stats, the good old 2100 / 2100 spread works here too.
As is standard, you’re best off mirror matching your Donkey Kong amiibo until it reaches about Level 30. Then you can switch its Learning off and have it fight a CPU player. And then, when it’s Level 50, you can turn its Learning back on and make any necessary adjustments! An amiibo changes a lot after each match, so you’ll be able to iron out any bad habits later.
At low percentages, there’s a few moves you should be using to build up damage. Grab your FP, use a cargo up throw, and then attack it with as many up airs as possible. Keep it in the air for as long as you can! You can also mix in up tilts and up smashes to maximize your amiibo’s aerial punish game. You can also sprinkle in just a little bit of Headbutt. It’s got super armor, launch power, and strength against shields, but it doesn’t have speed. So don’t use that one too often!
Moving on to the KOs department, you can use forward tilt at the edge, forward smash anywhere on stage, or the aforementioned up smash to finish off a juggling combo. Donkey Kong’s forward smash, despite its slow speed, is a bit more effective than you might think. The AI occasionally runs right into it or drops its guard too early. It’s also ridiculously strong, which definitely helps.
As we touched on earlier for a moment, you shouldn’t go off-stage when training Donkey Kong. Yes, he has a forward air, a down air, and two special moves that send enemies plummeting, but they’re too risky. Spinning Kong barely covers any distance, which makes DK ever vulnerable to being gimped. Instead, just wait at the ledge. You can attack with a grounded Spinning Kong, or even a fully charged Giant Punch! On the subject of Giant Punch, though, the AI doesn’t use it very well. It will charge it, but it often fails to actually use it. So keep that in mind if you do try to teach it to Giant Punch (which isn’t required to train a great Donkey Kong, by the way)!
Thank you so much for reading, as always! Donkey Kong’s training is a bit more involved than other characters (some of which you only need to use one move against), so it might be a bit tough to train him exactly the way you want. If you have any questions during training, though, feel free to join our Discord server and ask! Thanks again to Riparo for contributing DK’s guide information, and be sure to check out their YouTube channel here. Until next time!
If you would like to read more amiibo training guides, please follow this link.