No Figure Player in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate has scaled the tier list quite like the Ice Climbers have. When their amiibo figure was first released in February 2019, the partner climbers were considered one of the worst fighters in the game. Their AI was primitive and would often self-destruct over, and over, and over again. Thankfully, the game’s developers heard our desperate pleas and enhanced the Ice Climbers’ AI via a game update. If you’d like to learn more about their metagame history, you can do so over at their wiki page. Otherwise, let’s jump right into today’s training!
There aren’t too many competitive tournaments out there that allow Spirits, but we’ve got a section here anyway just in case you’re looking to enter one. If you’re new to amiibo training, we recommend you read our in-depth guide on how Spirits work in this game before you continue. If you’d prefer not to give your FP a Spirit team, no worries — feel free to skip this section!
Keep in mind that Spirit effects only apply to the leading climber, but Spirit stats apply to both. Knowing this, the Ice Climbers’ strongest setup is Armor Knight and Trade-Off Ability ↑. With this setup, the leading climber will hit harder and take less damage at the cost of slightly reduced movement speed. This speed penalty will make it easier for the partner to catch up when separated.
Unfortunately, Armor Knight is banned from most tournaments. There are other options available, though! You could use Weapon Attack ↑, Toss & Meteor, and Hyper Smash Attacks as your setup instead. If you’re training a Raid Boss, you could use the same build, but with Landing Lag ↓ over Hyper Smash Attacks. For stats, your best bet is to keep them balanced. Make sure your FP’s Spirit-type is Neutral!
As always, you’re going to want to mirror match your Ice Climbers until it reaches Level 50. In terms of movement, the Ice Climbers can employ both walking and running, though walking is a slightly stronger option (since it gives the Ice Climbers faster access to shielding and spot dodging). Off-stage play should be avoided at all costs; simply using Ice Shot repeatedly at the edge will yield far greater results. Here’s a full list of moves to use against your FP during mirror matches, in descending order of priority:
- Forward smash: Arguably the Ice’ Climbers strongest tool against AI opponents. It deals lots of damage and can kill fairly early, especially when used close to the edge of the stage. Place heavy emphasis on forward smashes!
- Up tilt: When your FP is in the air, catch its landing with an up tilt and then juggle it with repeated up airs.
- Up aerial: On that note, feel free to use full-hop up airs if your FP is launched that high. Up air can kill at high percentages, too!
- Dash attack: A fast-moving hammer attack. A solid burst option, and it can be used to combo into an up air!
- Ice Shot: When your FP is launched off-stage, walk up to the ledge and shoot repeated Ice Shots at it. Ice Shot should also be used on-stage from a distance. The projectile moves along the ground, which forces the opponent to block or jump over it. Ice Shot is a really important move, so be sure to attack with it often!
- Up smash: It’s basically forward smash, but aimed at the sky. It deals less damage than forward smash, but is great for catching landings!
- Forward tilt: A great “get-off-me” move. The Ice Climbers tend to catch rolls with this move, and they do that rather well. Forward tilt also launches its victims at a horizontal angle. When used at the edge, that angle might make recovery difficult for characters like Little Mac or Dr. Mario.
- Down smash: This move covers both sides as long as both climbers are present. It can intercept an opponent’s roll, too! Down smash launches opponents upwards, so it can be used to start more up air juggling strings.
- Down tilt: It’s quite similar to forward tilt, but it launches enemies at a lower angle, which makes recovery even more difficult for opponents who are hit by this move at the edge.
- Blizzard: It’s rather slow, but boasts incredible shield-shattering power. Despite its low speed, Blizzard is a low-risk, high-reward move. Use it somewhat often during training!
- Back aerial: This move can be used every so often after an up tilt, but up airs are generally better damage-rackers.
- Neutral aerial: Only use this move to secure a landing. Don’t use it out of a short hop, either! The Ice Climbers’ AI can get a bit spammy with its neutral aerial, so keep your usage of this move low.
- Forward aerial: It’s super risky, especially off-stage (so don’t go off-stage to use this move). Use forward air as an infrequent landing option.
- Squall Hammer: A decent move, but you should only use it occasionally, and then follow it up with an up air. Do not mash while using Squall Hammer, as the FP will then learn to, which will cause it to gain vertical height even when used on the ground. This tendency, in turn, makes the Ice Climbers’ AI prone to self-destructing when using Squall Hammer by the edge.
There are two moves you should never use when training the Ice Climbers. First up is down air. It’s rather weak, and if the Ice Climbers use it too close to the ground, they’ll suffer a large landing lag penalty. The other move to avoid is the Ice Climbers’ up special, Belay. Only use it to recover, and never as an attack! As a final note, if you’re new to competitive amiibo training and want to learn more about it, be sure to read our introduction guide tailored to new trainers!
Raid Boss Training
If you’re new to amiibo training and are starting with the Ice Climbers, you might feel a bit intimidated. Perhaps you’ve seen some of the crazy combos top players can pull off using Popo and Nana in tandem with each other. Unfortunately, the FP can’t learn this – believe it or not, it’s unaware that the partner climber even exists – so they can’t learn to desync or perform complicated combos. In fact, the most complex combo they can learn is probably down throw into up air. Yikes. It’s not all bad, though, as the AI’s relative simplicity makes it easier to raise the Ice Climbers amiibo to its highest potential. As usual, you should mirror match your FP until it reaches Level 50. Since you’re training a Raid Boss, you can disregard the previous section’s advice of walking over running — feel free to dash and jump as often as you want! Here are all of the moves you should be using during training:
- Forward tilt: This is arguably the Ice Climbers’ most important attack as a Raid Boss. Forward tilt is relatively quick and launches opponents at an awkward angle, especially if the partner’s attack also connects. This angle can make it hard for certain characters to recover, so be sure to focus on forward tilt as a primary neutral option.
- Up tilt: One of the Ice Climbers’ main damage builders. It hits multiple times, and the AI can learn to follow up with an up air, up smash, or another up tilt, depending on its enemy’s damage level.
- Up aerial: A fast (and surprisingly powerful) hammer swing. It can be used after an up tilt or as a general anti-air option. It can kill rather easily at high percentages. Use lots of up airs and juggle your FP to rack on damage fast!
- Blizzard: You should teach your Ice Climbers to use their down special every so often (infrequently). This move destroys opponents’ shields, which can then open up an opportunity for a shield break. If you’d like, you can even use a Shield Damage ↑ Spirit effect to increase Blizzard’s shield-shattering capabilities.
- Neutral aerial: This move is a much-needed landing option. Don’t use it for anything other than securing a landing, though.
- Forward aerial: Deals lots of damage, is safe on shield, and can even break shields. It can also be used to spike high recoveries. It’s best used out of a short hop right above the edge, as going off-stage is risky. If you really want to, you can go off-stage to use a forward air, but don’t go too far out.
- Squall Hammer: It’s a great pressuring tool, but when using this move, never mash the special-move button to gain height. The FP will start mashing its side specials at the ledge, and it’ll fall right off and self-destruct! Use this move sparingly.
- Back aerial: Another strong move and a very threatening landing option. It shouldn’t be prioritized over forward tilt and up tilt, but should still be somewhere in your FP’s arsenal.
As mentioned earlier, you should make a point to stay on-stage as often as possible. If the leading climber is launched away, it might not wait for its partner before using its up special, which results in a self-destruct. Forward airs are risky, but if you’re comfortable with taking that risk, that’s fine. Otherwise, there are just two moves to specifically avoid: down air and Belay. The former doesn’t deal much damage and leaves the Ice Climbers vulnerable if missed, and the latter should only be used to recover and not to attack.
The Ice Climbers have enjoyed one of the largest AI buffs competitive amiibo training has ever seen. Even so, they’ve still got weaknesses, but they have significantly improved over time. And that’s all thanks to our community – spending time training the characters, writing about their flaws, representing them in tournaments – that all added up to a fantastic patch that made these characters viable! If you have any further questions after reading this guide, you’re welcome to ask them on our Discord server. If you’d like to enter your Ice Climbers amiibo into a tournament, we have a Powersaves guide and a mobile backup guide, and both can help you do just that! If you like what you read today, we also appreciate donations to help keep the site up and running. Thanks so much for reading! Until next time — happy training!
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