Here we go. Ken’s amiibo figure was first released on April 11, 2019. At the time of writing, it’s October 2020. There’s a reason it’s taken so long for us to push out a Ken guide: his Figure Player is bad. If you’re looking to train a powerful Ken amiibo that can use cool combos and overwhelm opponents, get that out of your head as soon as possible. We’re going to try and do that, but Ken has one of the most notoriously uncooperative AIs in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Without further ado, let’s pull out all the stops to train a decent Ken amiibo!
Thanks to TraumatizedBaconbits for contributing Ken’s training information! Be sure to check out Amiibots — a 24/7 amiibo battle stream!
Ken has a ton of promising strengths that make him a potent opponent. Funny joke, right? While that line is true in competitive play (humans versus humans), it is not true at all in the context of amiibo training. Ken’s tough. He’s hard to work with. He often self-destructs. There’s no sugar-coating it: if you’re training Ken, you’re setting yourself up to struggle. There’s no rhyme or reason to why he loses; sometimes he runs right into an attack, sometimes he uses an up special and KOs himself, and sometimes he starts a combo without finishing it.
Now, despite that overwhelmingly negative outlook, Ken is not the worst character in the game. Somehow, he’s had a very, very limited number of dedicated trainers who have actually put up impressive results! The reason we’re wording this section so negatively is because Ken’s AI is uncooperative. How uncooperative, you ask? Well, it has a lot of combos hard-coded into its AI… that just don’t work. For example, it’ll try to use jab 1 into jab 2 into Shoryuken. Sometimes it works, and other times Ken’s AI decides to not use Shoryuken. Sometimes it uses down tilt into two side specials, even though neither side special hits. Sometimes it’ll try down tilt into a Shoryuken, but then use its Shoryuken in the wrong direction. And if Ken is near the ledge when it tries this “combo”, it’s going to fall off and self-destruct.
Ken’s training involves patience. A lot of patience. Unfortunately, trainers don’t really have much freedom in how they train Ken; the “optimal” training strategy is really specific and should be followed as closely as possible. But first, let’s start by talking about something a bit simpler: Ken’s best Spirit setups!
Ken greatly appreciates Super Armor. Too many of his deaths come from his poor recovery, so staying on-stage with the help of super armor is a blessing! Armor Knight works too, and can be paired with Move Speed ↑ or Trade-Off Ability ↑. We do suggest Armor Knight on just about every one of our character guides, but for Ken to succeed, you’ve got to give him the best Spirits possible.
That being said, Super Armor and Armor Knight are often banned from tournaments, so we’ll have to settle for the next best thing in that case. If you don’t care about entering tournaments, you can use Super Armor or Armor Knight anyway! Physical Attack ↑, Move Speed ↑, Air Attack ↑, Hyper Smash Attacks, and Floaty Jumps are all solid choices you could go with, otherwise.
For stats, no need to get too picky. A balanced setup (2100 / 2100) works good on every character, and Ken is no exception. You could lean a bit heavier into attack to help Ken take stocks earlier; chances are he’s going to die a lame death anyway (via self-destruct or a poor decision), so might as well!
Here we go (reprise). For this section, you should mirror match your Ken amiibo all the way to Level 50 on Ω-form stages. Now, I’m sure that a good amount of Ken amiibo owners don’t actually know how to play Ken, so this is going to seem intimidating. If you need to, feel free to jump into training mode as Ken and practice our training strategy against a CPU (or against your amiibo, but be advised that you can’t save their progress in training mode). In addition to covering single-hit moves, we’re going to be talking about combos Ken’s AI can and should learn. If you find any of this confusing and need more help, feel free to join our Discord server and ask! Now then, here’s everything you need to know.
- Forward smash: This is Ken’s best and simplest option. It’s a single-hit attack with decent damage and knockback. Use it at close range, but start using it a bit more when your FP is within kill percentages.
- Up tilt: A tapped up tilt can combo into another tilt and then a Shoryuken. This is a combo Ken’s AI can actually pull off, so we want it to make use of it as often as possible. Now, this is a hard-coded combo, so if you just use a bunch of tapped up tilts, Ken’s AI should eventually figure out the full combo and start using it. But just to be safe, try your best to execute the full combo: up tilt to forward tilt to inputted Shoryuken. It’s important to note that any forward tilt works here, as Ken’s AI will choose what kind of forward tilt it uses on its own — independent from what you try to teach it.
- Up aerial: Stay on the ground and use forward smashes and up tilts when possible. But every once in a while, you can use an up aerial against your FP while it’s trying to land. Ken’s AI sometimes cancels its up air into a Shoryuken. This is another hard-coded combo, so as long as you use up air, your Ken should pick up on the full combo eventually.
- Back aerial: No combos needed with this one. Just use back airs out of a short hop infrequently. As a side note, don’t go off-stage with Ken. His side and up specials can work together to recover, but it’s too risky.
- Up smash: Use this to punish your FP when it’s trying to land. KOs at later percentages too, and doesn’t require any complicated combos!
Those are your five highest-priority moves. There’s a few other moves to talk about here, but they’re of lower priority. Use forward smash, up tilt combos, up air cancels, and back airs more often. Here’s the rest of the moves, though.
- Forward tilt: It’s OK when used by itself, but the AI sometimes uses a tapped forward tilt without following it up with anything. We’d prefer Ken to use moves he will follow up on, which is why we prioritize up tilt over forward tilt. Just to be clear, forward tilt is fine when used in the up tilt combo. By itself, it’s less viable.
- Down smash: It’s a decent option. Not very strong, but good speed. The AI can cancel it into another move, but it usually picks a suboptimal follow-up. Use down smash at the ledge on occasion.
- Neutral aerial: It works fine, but the AI tries to cancel it into special moves, which can sometimes result in an otherwise avoidable self-destruct. If you’re going to use neutral aerial, use it very sparingly.
- Down aerial: Exact same situation as neutral air. See above!
- Forward aerial: You definitely don’t want Ken using too many aerials, but using a forward air once in a while should be okay!
There’s quite a few moves to avoid with Ken. First, no jabs! As mentioned earlier, Ken sometimes uses jab 1 into jab 2 into Shoryuken, but the AI often either stops after jab 2 or uses Shoryuken in the wrong direction. Avoid using down tilt, too, as the AI tries to combo it into two side specials, which almost never hit the opponent. The AI will continue with its second side special even if the first one never landed, which is… it’s kind of sad. We’re trying to prevent the Ken AI from using its non-functional hard-coded combos, and these two strings really don’t function very well!
Ken’s training is much more involved than your average FP. There’s so many intricacies to discover and learn about, so if you’re still a little confused, the offer to join our Discord community is still open! We’re willing to help you train up a strong Ken if the training strategy is a tad puzzling. Thanks again to TraumatizedBaconbits for contributing the entirety of Ken’s training information! They somehow managed to put together the strongest Ken amiibo, which is a very impressive feat! Thanks so much for reading, and happy training!
If you would like to read more amiibo training guides, please follow this link.