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 twin climbers were considered one of the worst fighters available. 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 an 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 many tournaments out there that allow Spirits, but we’ve included a section here anyway just in case you’re looking to enter one (or in case you’re looking to decorate your Raid Boss with some intimidating Spirit effects). If you are a new amiibo trainer, we recommend you read our in-depth Spirits guide before continuing. After you’re done, you can come back to this page and browse our list of Ice Climbers-specific setups, which can be found below:
- Banned bonuses: The Ice Climbers are one of the few fighters that don’t particularly benefit from banned Spirit effects. Most Spirits only apply to the leading climber; this means that both Super Armor and Armor Knight have the potential to split up the two partners. The Ice Climbers’ AI doesn’t actually know its partner exists, so it can’t even capitalize on the desyncs that these bonuses may create. If you really want to use a banned Spirit effect, go with Great Autoheal or Armor Knight paired with Trade-Off Ability ↑.
- Tournament-legal bonuses: Weapon Attack ↑ boosts the strength of hammer-based moves, while Toss & Meteor can help support an Ice Climbers FP that relies on juggling with up airs (alternatively, you can use a second Weapon Attack ↑ bonus instead). Air Defense ↑, Trade-Off Ability ↑, and Trade-Off Defense ↑ work here too; in the case of the trade-off Spirits, the partner climber receives the stat buffs but not the damage penalty. This makes them great options!
- Raid Boss bonuses: Normally, we’d suggest Move Speed ↑ in this section — however, that would cause the Ice Climbers to split up since the speed buff isn’t given to the partner. Instead, pick any three of the Spirit effects mentioned above! You can work in Landing Lag ↓ or Shield Damage ↑ if you like, too.
Regarding stat distribution, the Ice Climbers function just fine with a balanced build (2100 / 2100). This might be a bit confusing, so let’s clear it up one last time: Spirit stats apply to both Popo and Nana, but some Spirit effects do not apply to Nana. As a result, you’ll want to avoid using gimmicky bonus effects — specifically Critical Healing & Metal, which makes recovery nearly impossible for the duo when it activates. As one final note here, make sure your FP’s Spirit-type is Neutral before you begin its training!
In terms of movement, the Ice Climbers should employ more walking than running. Off-stage play is to be avoided at all costs; simply using Ice Shot at the ledge will yield far greater results. It’s important to note that Popo is the fighter being trained here — Nana runs on a separate AI and can’t be trained in the same way. Here’s what an optimal Ice Climbers FP’s moveset looks like:
- Forward smash is arguably is the Ice Climbers’ strongest tool against AI opponents. It deals lots of damage and KOs fairly early, especially when used close to the edge of the stage. Down smash can be rotated in every so often as well.
- Up tilt, up air, and up smash are perfect for long and heavily-damaging juggling strings. Generally speaking, you’re best off catching landings with up tilt, then racking on damage with up air, and then KOing with up smash.
- Dash attack is a fast-moving hammer bash. It’s a solid burst option, and it can be used at low percentages to combo into an up air chain!
- Ice Shot is kind of like a slightly worse version of Terry’s Power Wave. When your FP is far away or off-stage, harass it with repeated Ice Shot projectiles. Most competitive FPs are trained to remain grounded, so Ice Shot spam can be a real problem for them (and a real strength for the Ice Climbers)!
- Forward tilt and down tilt function well as get-off-me moves. Both of them launch opponents at horizontal angles; if a fighter like Dr. Mario or Little Mac is hit by forward tilt at the edge, they’ll find it very difficult to recover thanks to that horizontal launch angle.
- Squall Hammer and Blizzard are rather slow, but boast interesting utility when used infrequently. When using Squall Hammer, don’t mash the special-move button. The FP will learn to do the same, and it’ll often try Squall Hammer near the ledge and spin right off-stage and to its death.
- Neutral air can be used to secure a safe landing. Forward air and back air can be used too, albeit very sparingly (and in the case of forward air, above-stage only).
There are two moves you should never use when training the Ice Climbers. First is down air; it’s rather weak, and if the bone-chilling duo uses 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 haven’t trained a competitive amiibo 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 out 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 do any of this — in fact, it’s completely unaware that the partner climber exists, and thus can’t work together with it on purpose. Since you’re raising a Raid Boss, you’re welcome to disregard the previous section’s suggestion of walking over running. Feel free to dash and jump as often as you want! Here’s a full list of moves that every Ice Climbers Raid Boss should know:
- Forward tilt is arguably the Ice Climbers’ most important move (at least as a Raid Boss). It’s fairly quick and launches opponents at an awkward angle, especially if the partner’s attack also connects. Be sure to focus on close-ranged forward tilts.
- Up tilt is 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 — it all depends on its enemy’s damage level. Once your FP has been launched upward, smack it with as many up airs in a row as you possibly can.
- Blizzard absolutely destroys shields, and thus should be used infrequently as a mix-up. If you equipped the Shield Damage ↑ Spirit effect, this move becomes even stronger against defensive opponents.
- Neutral air is a much-needed landing option, and should only be used in that exact instance. Forward air and especially back air should see some use as well.
- Squall Hammer is a great pressuring tool, but there’s an extremely important fact you’ll need to keep in mind: never mash the special-move button to gain height. The FP will pick up on this and use Squall Hammer at the ledge to fling itself off-stage and to its death! Use this move sparingly.
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 to come close enough to get the full distance from its up special — this results in a self-destruct at any percent. Don’t attack your FP with down air or Belay — both leave the Ice Climbers vulnerable if missed.
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 over on our Discord server. If you’d like to enter your Ice Climbers amiibo into a tournament, we have a tour preparation guide that will help you do just that! If you like what you read today, we’d appreciate it if you checked out our Patreon page or donation box. Thanks so much for reading! Until next time — happy training!
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