Ness’s amiibo figure was first released as a GameStop exclusive on May 29, 2015, and is compatible with both Super Smash Bros. 4 and Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Ness is considered high-tier in Super Smash Bros. 4 and top-tier in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. Exion has several available resources regarding Ness’s amiibo. Its Super Smash Bros. 4 training guide can be found here; its Super Smash Bros. Ultimate competitive guide can be found here, and its Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Raid Boss guide can be found here. A long-form essay on Ness’s amiibo and its metagame progression in Ultimate is also available right here.
Super Smash Bros. 4
In the final revision of Exion’s Super Smash Bros. 4 tier list, Ness found himself ranked as an A-tier character, placing him among the strongest Figure Players in the game. Despite the release of amiibo alongside Super Smash Bros. for Wii U in 2014, an official amiibo metagame was not officially formed until late 2015. During the first few Smash 4 online tournaments – which allowed equipment – Ness dominated matches and won several championship titles. His claim to fame was his powerful back throw, which could be strengthened with attack investment and bonus effects such as Critical-hit capability. After winning a few tournaments, trainers began running the Improved escapability bonus on their FPs. Smash 4’s AI always pummeled before throwing – this was a hard-coded behavior – and so FPs with Improved escapability equipped could break out of grabs before being thrown. This meant that Ness was incapable of using his back throw against opponents with Improved escapability, as they’d break out too quickly. This, in turn, slightly decreased his viability. Even without his powerful finisher, Ness could still hold his own. Up smash, PK Fire, and PK Thunder 2 were among his most important tools. Ness’s AI was hard-coded to launch itself with PK Thunder as a grounded attack, and Smash 4’s AI would almost always run into it and either take damage or be KO’d. Between up smash, PK Fire, PK Thunder 2, and a few other more situational moves (including jab, forward tilt, and down smash), Ness was able to retain a spot in the A tier throughout the metagame’s lifespan. He is thought to be even stronger in a vanilla metagame – primarily due to the lack of Improved escapability to block access to his back throw – but almost every tournament allowed equipment, and so vanilla competitions (which would disallow equipment) were virtually nonexistent.
In addition to losing access to his strong grab game thanks to Improved escapability’s omnipresence, Ness also suffered from a variety of poor matchups. Marth and Lucina – the best characters in competitive tournaments by the end of Smash 4 – were able to use Dancing Blade to outspeed and outprioritize everything in Ness’s kit, allowing them to quickly rack up damage and move in for a KO with forward smash. Bowser was almost certainly Ness’s worst matchup; in fact, a well-trained Bowser is almost guaranteed to beat him. This is because Bowser’s side special, Flying Slam, is a fast command grab; Smash 4’s AI was incapable of reacting to these, as they were hard-coded to stand close to their opponent. Flying Slam was also faster than Ness’s up smash, PK Fire, and PK Thunder, and repeated use of the move would essentially render him helpless to fight back. Smash 4’s AI did not go off-stage, so for the most part, Ness was safe to recover with PK Thunder. Unfortunately, it would waste its double jump, aiming it away from the ledge to shoot for an edge grab with PK Thunder 2. This left him vulnerable to fighters who could throw projectiles off-stage to intercept PK Thunder; these include characters like Link (Arrows) and King Dedede (Gordos). It’s also important to note that Ness’s most impactful finisher, PK Thunder 2, can be used against him. Fighters with powerful counters were able to activate them with perfect timing and, given the presence of equipment and attack increases, would be able to strike back and KO Ness instantly.
In spite of his numerous flaws, Ness was one of the most successful and influential characters in Smash 4; though perhaps not quite to the level of Marth, Lucina, and Bowser. He has accrued excellent tournament results and representation; most of these results come from Cloud and Super NES, but Supernova, FarmingSim, and DONkLE were successful with Ness as well. If you would like to learn how to train a Ness amiibo in Super Smash Bros. 4, you can access our full training guide here.
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate
When Super Smash Bros. Ultimate was first released, Ness’s FP was initially believed to have been nerfed. In this game, Ness’s AI no longer fires itself with PK Thunder as a grounded attack (except as a last resort when the projectile fails to successfully hit an opponent), which removes one of his previously viable kill moves. Furthermore, Ness is hindered by Ultimate’s updated AI, which can now be trained to aggressively attack off-stage. To add to this trouble, Ness’s recovery patterns remain unchanged from Smash 4; the AI will still waste its double jump to aim at the ledge with PK Thunder even if its double jump alone would have sufficed. Ness has also gained several new bad matchups; Ridley FPs trained to use Plasma Breath at the edge are capable of gimping Ness’s recovery at any percent, for example. Snake, Isabelle, Dr. Mario, Incineroar, King K. Rool, Pit, Dark Pit, and especially Bowser are known to be poor matchups for Ness as well. Snake can toss explosives that overwhelm Ness (not to mention the AI doesn’t always use PSI Magnet to absorb projectiles), Isabelle can harass him off-stage with Fishing Rod and potentially pocket his projectiles, and Pit and Dark Pit – as well as other fighters comfortable off stage – can intercept Ness’s recovery. Incineroar, King K. Rool, and Bowser can brute force their way through PK Fire and PK Thunder to rack up damage and KO.
Despite his newfound weaknesses, though, Ness has in fact been buffed for his Super Smash Bros. Ultimate incarnation. Generally speaking, his AI is much more cooperative, and more often uses PK Fire continuously to rack up ludicrous amounts of damage in a short period of time. Ness’s AI now uses its PK Thunder projectile to chase enemies and KO them off the top blast line. AI opponents are unable to consistently avoid being damaged by PK Thunder, which often results in minute-long PK Thunder juggles that result in Ness’s opponent being KO’d. Ness can also use his up smash, back air, and up air attacks to great effect; the AI can even perform dragdown combos that lead into grabs. Additionally, the Improved Escape bonus has been nerfed (and slightly renamed) from Smash 4; it is now considered non-viable because Ness is able to back throw opponents even if they are equipped with the bonus. In summary, Ness is much more vulnerable off-stage and has additional counters, but is so strong on-stage that some tournament operators even choose to ban him from their tours. That being said, Ness is not currently banned in the official Exion ruleset. As a final note, if Ness is off-stage and begins using PK Thunder, but he is pushed away by a windbox (or by bouncing off of a stage’s wall with PK Thunder), the AI will continue to aim its PK Thunder for the position Ness was in before he was moved. This means the FP will miss its recovery and fall to its death. Fortunately, this situation rarely occurs in competitive matches.
Overall, Ness is somehow even more successful in Ultimate than he was in 4. Once again, a large portion of Ness’s results come from Cloud and Super NES, but several more trainers – including Kangoni, Spike, and PrinZ, among others – have been able to win numerous tournaments as well. If you would like to learn how to train a competitive-focused Ness amiibo in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, feel free to refer to our corresponding training guide. If you would prefer to raise a casual Ness amiibo aimed at defeating human opponents, you can check our Raid Boss-focused training guide instead.
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