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 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’ 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 ↑ (applied either once or twice), Trade-Off Ability ↑, and Air Defense ↑. Don’t equip Ness with any Support skills that increase his movement speed — they’ll cause him to self-destruct.
- 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’ 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 ↑, PSI Attack ↑ (yes, two of them), and Landing Lag ↓ instead. You could also try out Great Autoheal!
Generally speaking, an FP’s stats aren’t as important as its bonus effects. In Ness’ case, try to keep his spread balanced (2100 / 2100). Alternatively, you could lean more heavily into attack power (2500 / 1700) to strengthen Ness’ 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’ 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’ most important moves:
- At close range, mix in some forward tilts, grabs, and a sprinkle of jabs. At low percentages, use an up throw so that you can set up for an up air or PK Thunder juggle; at high percentages, simply use a back throw to KO!
- From a distance, approach with PK Fire or a dash attack. Once your FP is caught in the pillar of flames, run over to it and follow up with a forward tilt, up smash, or grab — whichever suits your fancy. Dash attack launches enemies upward, so it can start a juggling combo as well!
- Up smash and up tilt are Ness’ best anti-airs — especially the latter. Up tilt is fast and surprisingly powerful, and can then set up for PK Thunder and up air juggling. Once your FP is airborne, attack it with a fifty-fifty split of both PK Thunder (chase the FP with the projectile) and up air. At later levels, Ness’ AI will learn to use its up air to perform dragdown combos!
- When your FP is launched off-stage, walk over to the ledge and chase it down with PK Thunder, and when the FP gets closer to the stage you can switch to down smash. If you find yourself in the air and above your FP at any point, you can use a back air or up air to secure a safe landing.
There are two moves you should never use (or get hit by): down tilt and PK Flash. The AI can’t use either of these attacks properly / uses them at inappropriate times, which makes them subpar options that should be avoided at all costs. 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 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 still 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, an up smash, or a tipped forward smash.
- Ness’ 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’ 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’ 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’ 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’ 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 startup guide to learn how. 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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