As seasoned trainers know all too well, Ness is one of the stronger fighters in competitive amiibo matches, and this is thanks in part to his excellent special moves. Using PK Fire and PK Thunder, he boasts a near-unrivaled damage output, and once his opponent is weakened, he can move in and KO them with an up smash, up air, or back throw. Ultimate’s AI doesn’t properly react to being juggled by PK Thunder, so it often gives up and lets itself get hit (and eventually KO’d). This works out great for Ness, who has accrued solid tournament placements as a result. If you’d like to learn more about his strengths, weaknesses, and matchups, be sure to check his corresponding wiki page — otherwise, let’s jump right into today’s training!
It’s important to note that most competitive tournaments don’t allow Spirits, but in case you find a tour that does allow them, there are a variety of setups you could use with Ness. Before we continue, though, if you don’t have a complete understanding of Spirits, you should read through our full-fledged Spirits guide first. In the meantime, here’s a complete list of bonus effects you could run on Ness:
- Banned bonuses: If you’re entering a tournament that doesn’t follow our official ban list, Ness’s best setup is Armor Knight and Trade-Off Ability ↑. This build provides its user with the following stat buffs: 1.33x attack power, 2.0x defense, and 0.9x movement speed. A slight reduction in mobility, then, but it’s well worth the trade-off.
- Tournament-legal bonuses: If the competition you’re trying to enter does follow our ban list, you should use PSI Attack ↑, Side Special ↑, and Up Special ↑ to increase the power of Ness’s most useful attacks (PK Fire and PK Thunder). Physical Attack ↑, Hyper Smash Attacks, and Air Defense ↑ are perfectly viable as well!
- Raid Boss bonuses: The three-slot Super Armor Spirit effect is often banned from competitive tournaments, but it’s allowed on most Raid Bosses! As we’ll soon discuss, Ness’s AI is hard-coded to waste its double jump so that it can aim itself at the ledge with PK Thunder. This leaves the FP vulnerable to edgeguarding, so the Super Armor bonus will help protect it as it tries to recover back. If you’d prefer not to use Super Armor, you could use PSI Attack ↑, Move Speed ↑, and Landing Lag ↓ instead.
Generally speaking, an FP’s stats aren’t as important as its bonus effects. In Ness’s case, try to keep his spread balanced (2100 / 2100). Alternatively, you could lean more heavily into attack power (2500 / 1700) to strengthen Ness’s PK Fire chains and PK Thunder juggling. As always, make sure your FP’s Spirit-type is Neutral so that it doesn’t have to face opponents with a Spirit-type advantage.
In terms of movement, you should employ a mix of walking and running. Ness loves to juggle his enemies with PK Thunder, but sometimes he has to quickly move around the stage for his projectile to be able to successfully snipe its target. As a rule of thumb, you should walk whenever you’re close to your FP, but start running when it’s far away and you need to catch up. Off-stage play should be avoided at all costs, as Ness’s AI will waste its double jump and leave itself vulnerable to gimps. Standing at the ledge and chasing the enemy with PK Thunder works out much better, so do that instead. Here are all of Ness’s most important moves:
- PK Thunder is absolutely Ness’s most important move, as it facilitates highly damaging juggling loops as well as KOs at higher percentages. Simply put, if you’re not near your FP, you should be chasing it with PK Thunder’s projectile. Specifically, when your FP is above you, you should use a balance of both PK Thunder and full-hop up airs to juggle and eventually KO it. Up air can also be used to land, as the AI can use a dragdown up air to combo into a grab.
- PK Fire is Ness’s primary horizontal damage-racker. When your FP is grounded and at mid-range, shoot at it with PK Fire. You can then follow up with another PK Fire or take the opportunity to chase it with PK Thunder. Your best option, however, is to run forward and smack the FP with a tipped forward smash. Side note: don’t use PK Fire while airborne!
- Up smash is generally Ness’s most useful smash attack. Use it when your FP is close to you or right above you. Remember, don’t charge your smash attacks while using them — Ness’s AI can’t learn to charge its smashes at the edge for gimps.
- Grabs are vital to Ness’s success in competitive tournaments. At high percentages, KO your FP with a back throw. If you grab your FP but it’s not in kill range, use an up throw instead and then start a PK Thunder juggle.
- Down smash is rather strong at the ledge. When using this move, walk up to the ledge, face away from it, and then attack with down smash’s backward hitbox. Ideally, you want to use PK Thunder when your FP is far off-stage and then switch to down smash when it gets close to the ledge. It can also be used as a neutral option on occasion.
- Forward tilt and full three-hit neutral attacks are recommended at point-blank range, as in this case PK Fire and PK Thunder will be too slow. Forward tilt, in particular, is surprisingly strong. It can even KO enemies at high percentages, especially from the ledge!
There are three moves you should never use (or get hit by): down tilt, down air, and PK Flash. The AI can’t use any of these attacks properly / uses them at inappropriate times, which makes them subpar options that should be avoided during training. As one final reminder, don’t charge smash attacks and don’t go off-stage. If you’re new to competitive amiibo training and want to read more about it, check out our general training guide! Continue using the moves above to mirror match your Ness amiibo until its level maxes out, and you’ll be good to go.
Raid Boss Training
As with all fighters, Ness is best trained via mirror matches. In other words, you should be playing as Ness! Make sure your FP’s learning is on, and whatever you do, don’t let it fight another CPU-controlled character with its learning on. You want to be in direct control of your amiibo’s training, so only switch its learn button on when you’re ready to fight it yourself. As you fight your FP, stay on-stage at all times. Here are all the attacks you should be using:
- PK Fire obliterates both human and AI opponents alike, and is especially difficult to deal with if players are fighting your Raid Boss in a Battle Arena. When you hit your FP with PK Fire, run up to it and attack with another PK Fire or a tipped forward smash.
- Ness’s grabs are even more important on a Raid Boss. His AI can learn to combo a down throw into two forward airs or a reversed back air — in fact, it’ll automatically learn these combos by the time it reaches Level 43 (yes, that level specifically). At higher percentages, you can use a back throw to KO your FP!
- Forward tilt is faster than Ness’s smash attacks and is still quite strong, especially when used at the edge. Use this move up close.
- Up smash functions as a powerful anti-air and works well after a parry. It’s good at catching rolls, too! When using this move, never charge it — not even at the ledge.
- Up air is deceptively powerful and great for juggling. At higher levels, Ness’s AI can use this move for dragdown combos (most often into a grab). Fortunately, you don’t have to go out of your way to teach your FP to use dragdowns — this knowledge is hard-coded in its AI.
- Back air is a super-strong finisher that Ness should use whenever possible (but not off-stage). Forward air is a versatile tool that can be used while rising or falling to great effect, and neutral air is a solid landing option.
During training sessions with your FP, you may notice it recovering strangely. Indeed, Ness’s AI is hard-coded to waste its double jump and aim at the ledge with PK Thunder. Unfortunately, this habit cannot be changed through any amount of training, so that’s why we have to keep Ness on-stage at all times. You’ll want to avoid using down tilt, PK Flash, charged smash-attacks, off-stage aerials, and PK Thunder juggling. As we discussed in the previous section, Ultimate’s AI can’t properly react to being juggled by PK Thunder, but human players can simply air dodge out of the way and move in for a punish.
Thank you so much for reading! Ness’s optimal playstyle might sound lame – and to be honest, it is – but being lame is what competitive amiibo training is all about! It makes sense, then, that Ness fits right into our tier list’s higher ranks, having established himself as a powerful contender. If you still have questions after reading this guide (or if you skipped to the end and would prefer to just have a conversation instead), feel free to join our Discord server, and we’ll be happy to help you out in any way we can. For those who want to enter tournaments, check out our Powersaves guide or mobile backup guide (depending on which device you have available). If you like reading our content, we appreciate any and all donations to help keep the site running! We also have a Patreon account, if you’re interested. Until next time — happy training!
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