Ken’s amiibo figure was first released on April 11, 2019, and since then he’s been in contention for the title of “worst character in the game”. In recent times, his viability has increased, but only by a little bit — by all accounts, he’s still difficult to train (and almost impossible to win a tournament with). If you’d like to learn more about Ken’s metagame history, feel free to check out his corresponding wiki page. Otherwise, let’s jump right into today’s training!
Special thanks to TraumatizedBaconbits for contributing Ken’s training information!
Ken isn’t much stronger in the Spirits metagame. Even with a full Spirit team, his artificial intelligence is still plagued with hard-coded quirks and non-functional combos — plus his recovery potential is still rather poor. If you’re new to amiibo training and would like to learn more about Spirits, please take a look at our full Spirits guide! Without further ado, then, here are all of Ken’s best setups:
- Banned bonuses: Ken’s kind of a sad Figure Player, so he greatly appreciates the three-slot Super Armor Support skill. Too many of his deaths come from his poor recovery, so that extra bit of knockback resistance goes a long way. As with every fighter, Ken also pairs well with Armor Knight plus Trade-Off Ability ↑.
- Tournament-legal bonuses: Lots of other options available too! There’s Physical Attack ↑ (which can be applied either once or twice), Toss & Meteor, Air Defense ↑, Floaty Jumps, Critical-Health Stats ↑, Trade-Off Ability ↑, and Shield Damage ↑. They’re all good picks, so go ahead and select your favorites!
- Raid Boss bonuses: As you’ll soon find out, Ken is an absolutely pathetic Raid Boss. As a result, something like Move Speed ↑ would make his ventures against human opponents slightly easier. You could then stack on Physical Attack ↑ and Shield Damage ↑. Or you could just use Great Autoheal!
An FP’s stat points aren’t too important. For the most part, as long as your FP has a maxed-out spread, it’s good to go. In other words, it’s the bonus effects that matter most — not necessarily the stats. We usually recommend a balanced spread (2100 / 2100), and that’s the case here, too. One last note for this section: make sure your FP’s Spirit type is Neutral before you begin its training routine!
If you own a Ken amiibo but don’t really know how to play as Ken — don’t worry. His optimal training is rather easy, at least when compared to how top-level Smash Bros. players handle the character. To start, you’ll want to keep dashing, running, taunting, and charging your smash attacks to an absolute minimum. You’ll also want to stay on-stage at all times, as Ken’s recovery is too unreliable to warrant edgeguarding. Here’s a list of each move to teach to your FP:
- Forward smash and down smash will be your two main moves. Of these, you should give higher priority to forward smash. At later levels, you may notice that your FP combos its down smash into Hadoken — this works just fine and comes highly recommended.
- When your FP jumps above you (or is launched upward), you can use a mixture of tapped up tilt and up smash and then a little bit of Shoryuken and up air. Tapped up tilt will eventually activate one of Ken’s hard-coded combos, that being up tilt to forward tilt to input Shoryuken. You don’t have to go out of your way to teach this combo to your FP, by the way! It’ll learn it automatically through leveling up.
- And then when you’re launched upward, you can use a forward air or back air to clear a safe landing. We’d normally recommend neutral air, but Ken’s AI likes comboing it into a side special — in which it sometimes spins too far off-stage to be able to recover back.
As we mentioned earlier, Ken is the king of non-functional hard-coded combos. This means that he’s got several move strings programmed into his AI that just don’t work, and the aforementioned neutral air into side special is one such combo. His other non-functional combos stem from his jab and down tilt; in the case of jab, he often uses Shoryuken in the wrong direction afterward, and in the case of down tilt he always uses two side specials. As a result, you should do your best to avoid attacking or being hit by any jabs or down tilts.
Raid Boss Training
Ken – alongside R.O.B. – is one of the worst Raid Bosses you could possibly train. We went over this in the previous section, but to quickly recap: his AI is plagued with a bunch of hard-coded combos that never hit, which means you have to avoid using a large portion of his moveset (including jab, down tilt, neutral air, and down air). This means Ken doesn’t have many options left, and the ones he does have aren’t that great. Still, if you’d like to give raising a Raid Boss Ken a shot, here’s a list of the moves you should teach it to use:
- Grabs, forward tilts, tapped up tilts, and Hadoken projectiles are your best neutral options. When using grabs, you can use a down throw or up throw to combo into up air. It’s not much, but we’ll take what we can get.
- Tapped up tilts are your best anti-air option, but a bit of up smash can be mixed in as well. It’s decently strong, so it can also help you get KOs at high percentages! Keep jumping to a minimum, but feel free to make an exception for up air juggling and then use forward air and back air to land.
- After blocking one of your FP’s hits, you can use Shoryuken out of shield. Grabs also work here too, but Shoryuken is likely your best bet. You can also use a small number of Shoryukens as general anti-airs, if you like.
- All three smash attacks are necessary, too. We talked about up smash already, but forward smash and down smash should be thrown into the mix as well. Down smash combos into Hadoken, which is something your FP will learn at later levels.
And just in case it isn’t clear, you should stay away from jab, down tilt, neutral air, and down air. If you’re reading this guide and are totally confused, then it might be a good idea for you to read our general training guide first. It talks about several key components that would be helpful for new trainers! Then you can come back here and read this section again and then it’ll probably make a lot more sense.
It’s true that Ken’s optimal training is rather simple, and yet raising an objectively strong Ken amiibo remains nearly impossible thanks to his poor recovery and flawed AI. It’s a shame, really — in human-versus-human matches, Ken’s a force to be reckoned with, but that’s just not the case when he’s controlled by artificial intelligence. While you’re here, please check out our Discord community, Patreon page, and donation box! Until next time — happy training!
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