As many seasoned trainers know all too well, Ness is one of the strongest fighters in competitive amiibo matches, and this is thanks to his excellent special moves. Using PK Fire and PK Thunder, he boasts a near-unrivaled damage output. Once his opponent is weakened, he can then move in and KO them with an up smash or back throw. Ultimate’s AI doesn’t know how to react to being juggled by PK Thunder, so it often gives up and lets itself get hit (and eventually KO’d). This works really well for Ness, who has accrued incredible tournament placements as a result. If you’d like to learn more about Ness’s strengths, weaknesses, and matchups, be sure to check his 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.
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 total stat changes: 1.33x attack power, 2.0x defense, and 0.9x movement speed. A slight reduction in movement speed, then, but it’s well worth the trade-off.
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. If you plan on going the Raid Boss route, you could use Super Armor to help protect Ness while he tries to recover. Alternatively, you could use PSI Attack ↑, Move Speed ↑, and Landing Lag ↓ instead. For stats, you should keep them balanced between attack and defense; though you can opt to run more attack investment to aid 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 hit 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 (or shooting PK Fire, depending on their position) works out much better, so do that instead. Here are all the moves to use during training:
- PK Thunder: One of Ness’s most important moves. Simply put, if you’re not near your FP, you should be chasing it with PK Thunder’s projectile. When the FP is launched upwards, continuously juggle it with consecutive PK Thunders until it either lands on the ground or is KO’d.
- PK Fire: When both you and your FP are on the ground and close to each other, shoot PK Fire. Once the FP is trapped, attack it with a few more PK Fires and then walk or run in and hit with an up smash. You could try chaining PK Fire into a grab, but the opponent will sometimes be positioned too high for Ness’s grab to be able to connect.
- Up smash: This is Ness’s best smash attack. Use it when your FP is close to you or right above you. Remember, don’t charge smash attacks when you use them — Ness’ AI can’t learn to charge its smash attacks at the edge for gimps.
- Grab & throws: At low-to-mid percentages, use an up throw to get your FP in the air. Then juggle it a whole bunch with PK Thunder, and mix in an up air if you like. At high percentages, simply grab your FP and use a back throw — even if you’re not facing the ledge.
- Up aerial: Every so often, you can use a full-hop up air to finish off a PK Thunder juggle. Up air boasts incredible KO power, especially when fresh, so be sure to work at least a few of them into your training routine.
- Back aerial: Your main landing option. It’s extremely powerful when sweetspotted, and can help Ness out of a pinch.
Additionally, you can mix in a little bit of forward tilt and down smash. There are three moves to avoid: down tilt, down air (both on-stage and off) and PK Flash. The AI can’t use any of these attacks properly, which makes them subpar options. 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 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: This move obliterates both human and AI opponents alike, and can be very difficult to deal with (even more so if you use your amiibo online). When you hit your FP with PK Fire, attack it with a few more and then move in and attack with an up smash or aerial.
- Grab & throws: Ness’s AI can learn to combo a down throw into several forward airs. It can also use down throw into back air at higher percentages. Ness’s back throw is also quite devastating and serves as one of his strongest kill moves. Make sure you grab your amiibo a lot during training and focus on down throw and back throw when you do.
- Up smash: It functions as a powerful anti-air and even works well after a parry. It’s good at catching rolls, too! When using up smash, never charge it, even at the ledge. Ness’s AI can’t learn to charge its smash attacks at the edge. Instead, it’ll just overcharge all of its smash attacks and leave itself open to attack. Uncharged smashes only — even if you break your FP’s shield!
- Up aerial: It’s deceptively powerful and great for juggling. At higher levels and past Level 50, Ness’s AI can use this move for dragdown combos (most often into a grab). Fortunately, you don’t have to use dragdown combos yourself to teach your FP to use them. Just use a lot of up airs, and the AI will learn dragdowns on its own.
- Back aerial: A super-strong finisher that Ness should use whenever possible. Remember that the AI can use down throw into back air at high levels, too! As long as the FP knows to use back air and grabs, it’ll figure out this combo on its own.
- Forward aerial: An amazing offensive tool. It can be used while rising or falling to great effect. Forward air is really versatile, so be sure to use a good amount of them during training.
- Neutral aerial: It’s fast, strong, and has a surprisingly large hitbox. Use it as a landing option. It’s also strong when used out of a short hop!
- Neutral attack: A quick attack that can disrupt an opponent’s approach. Use this one as a get-off-me move when your FP gets too close.
- Forward tilt: It’s faster than Ness’s smash attacks and is still quite strong, especially at the edge. Add forward tilt into the mix sometimes too!
- PSI Magnet: It provides a decent interrupting hitbox, and can also absorb energy-based projectiles. This restores Ness’s health, which can be demoralizing for a human opponent!
During training, you may notice your Ness amiibo recover strangely. Indeed, it tends to waste its double jump and aim at the ledge with PK Thunder, and this behavior is unfortunately hard-coded. This means you can’t change the habit through training at all, which is a bummer. In terms of moves to avoid, stay away from PK Flash, charging smash attacks, and going off-stage. You’ll want to avoid chasing your FP with PK Thunder as well; if the FP adopts this habit, human opponents will be able to adjust their game plan and react accordingly. Ultimate’s AI is incapable of such quick adaptation, which is why PK Thunder works in competitive tournaments but not in the Raid Boss format.
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 highest ranks, having established himself as a top 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, where we’ll be happy to help you out in any way we can. For those who want to enter a tournament, 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! Until next time — happy training!
If you would like to read more amiibo training guides, please follow this link.