GUEST ARTICLE – 3 Steps to Training an Offensive Amiibo

Wow, what a week last week was! I was so busy I didn’t get to put up anything I wanted to. This week, you’ll get two posts – tonight’s guest article and my review of Steins;Gate tomorrow!

Now, I’ve always been a fan of Amiibos and the concept of “training” them. Hell, I’ve won a few money matches with my Kirby Amiibo, HUPBOYZ. This guy, Glenn Cravens, is a tournament Amiibo trainer, which I think is pretty cool. Unlike my style of keeping an Amiibo itemless, he attends events where utilizing different combinations of items and skills is the way to win. If you’re interested in something like this (I know I’ll definitely be doing it with at least one Amiibo!), you should check out his stuff! There’ll be some links at the end of the article.

This is an article he wrote about training an offensive Amiibo. Enjoy!

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There are so many ways an Amiibo can be built and trained to dominate the competition. Some people like a balanced attack, while others prefer a defensive style or offensive style. I have tried several different Amiibo builds, including ones that are completely focused on offense. I use these Amiibos as sparring partners to get my main Amiibos ready for tournaments.

Recently, I had one of these offensive Amiibos play a few friendlies against other trainers’ Amiibos, and they dominated the competition. Perhaps this offensive Amiibo could be just as good if put in a tournament. Today, I want to share with you the five-step process I used to create one of these offensive juggernauts so you can build a similar Amiibo and take down fellow friends’ Amiibos.

First, I want to present to you my Charizard Amiibo. He is perhaps the most offensive-focused Amiibo I have and the greatest sparring partner for my main tournament Amiibos. Here are his stats:

  • 200 points Attack
  • 120 points Defense
  • -200 points Speed
  • Critical Hit
  • Double Improved Trade-Off Ability (60%)

I’m sharing with you how Charizard is built so you can get a quick idea of how I set him up to be heavily offensive. I’ll reference him a few times in this post. With that, let’s get to building your Amiibo.

It doesn’t matter whether your Amiibo is already at Level 50. Because Amiibos continue to learn even after Level 50, it should be able to take the lessons you are teaching it and apply it to future matches. For this lesson, I’m going to be teaching as if your Amiibo is already at Level 50.

Step 1: Visualization

The first thing I tell every trainer is to envision how their Amiibo will act under the build they are creating. So before we start, envision how your Amiibo will play in games as a heavily offensive character. It is going to do a lot of smash attacks and go for big damage early and often. It’s all about taking its power and using it to destroy everyone in its path. Spend a couple of moments envisioning your Amiibo in action destroying the competition.

Step 2: Creation

Now that you have an idea of how it will play, the next thing is to get to building said Amiibo. You’re going to enter into the Amiibo settings, where you can customize it with equipment upgrades and bonuses.

Since we’re going for power, I’ve saved you some time in trying to figure out what is best. First off, let’s start with the point distribution. You can feed your Amiibo equipment upgrades and bonuses to buff its Attack, Defense and Speed concentrations. For power purposes, there are three combinations you can go with. I’ll explain the reasoning behind all three.

  • 120 Attack, 0 Defense, 0 Speed: This is a typical offensive build. Since you’re allowed a maximum of 120 cumulative points without going into the negative on any concentration, it makes sense to slam it all toward Attack.
  • 200 Attack, 0 Defense, -80 Speed: You can go into the negative on one concentration in order to overload another concentration. That’s what this combination is all about. You’re giving the Attack concentration the most points possible to make its moves as strong as it can be. However, we’re taking away from the Speed concentration, which is OK because your Amiibo will still have some mobility. It should be able to recover if knocked off of the stage.
  • 200 Attack, 120 Defense, -200 Speed: With this combination, we’re maxing out the stats. Your Amiibo will be all power and will have a chance to withstand some attacks, but it will have no mobility, and if it is knocked off of the stage, there’s little chance it returns.

If your Amiibo has multiple jumps, I recommend 200/120/-200 because of the built-in advantage of returning to the stage should it get knocked off from there. That’s why I went with that combination for Charizard, given he has multiple recovery options in addition to his jumps.

Next, let’s focus on the bonuses we want to give our Amiibo. There are plenty that are geared toward offense, some better than others. I’ve come up with three specific combinations you should give your Amiibo if you’re focused on offense.

  • Critical Hit, Double Improved Trade-Off Attack (30%): Since Critical Hit is going to be in every combination I mention, let me break it down for a moment. With Critical Hit, any attack your Amiibo does has a 1-in-5 chance of doing extra damage. A single-digit percentage hit suddenly becomes 35 to 40 percent. A regular smash attack can turn into a one-hit KO. That’s how lethal Critical Hit can be. If you’re thinking offense, this is why you must have Critical Hit equipped as one of the three bonuses. With Improved Trade-Off Attack, your Amiibo starts off at 30 percent damage, but every hit does 1.15 times the damage. You can stack this bonus, which means starting off at a higher percentage but doing more damage. With this combination, your Amiibo is doing stronger attacks than normal, and there’s a chance it will get an additional attack boost.
  • Critical Hit, Double Improved Trade-Off Ability (60%): With Improved Trade-Off Ability, your Amiibo starts at 60 percent damage. However, the Amiibo slowly gains strength, defense and speed the longer it stays alive in the current stock. With two of these added, the Amiibo starts at 90 percent damage, but it gains twice as much strength, defense and speed. That’s why I have this equipped on my Charizard. Although Charizard is at minus-200 speed, it is regaining his mobility, and if he stays alive for a long time, the negative effect is gone. Oh, by the way, it’s also gaining attack power as well to go along with his already boosted attack.
  • Critical Hit, Double Improved Attack/Speed at 0 Percent: With the 0 percent bonus, an Amiibo gains a boost as long as it stays at 0 percent. Equipping two of these bonuses is huge, because one or two hits can result in a KO. However, the downside of the bonus is that even being at 1 percent means the bonus is gone. You can swap out one of the Improved Attack/Speed at 0 Percent bonuses for Auto-Heal, but you’re better off taking the risk of going for the early KO. If you can’t go with one of the previous two bonus combinations because you don’t have the bonuses available, consider this one.

Step 3: Training

Now that you’ve equipped your Amiibo, it’s time to train it to be the offensive juggernaut it should be. The training comes down to two lessons – grabbing and smash attacks.

If you went with one of the first two bonus combinations, your Amiibo will be at a percentage disadvantage as mentioned. Its mentality, even before you train it, will be to catch up in percentage to its opponent, which is probably starting off at 0 percent. The quickest way for your Amiibo to get there is by performing smash attacks, which your Amiibo will do constantly because it will feel it needs to pull even as soon as it can.

With this first game, we’re going to teach it to harness the power of its smash attack instead of just going for it randomly. Enter into a game against your Amiibo and play in a timed match, preferably five minutes. You can choose any character, although I prefer to use the Amiibo’s character. You’re going to play on an Omega-style stage or Final Destination.

When the game begins, walk up to your Amiibo and try to forward smash it. Even if you miss in this one attempt, make sure you do it. If you hit it, follow up with another forward smash. At some point, your Amiibo will predict it and attack you in some form.

When your Amiibo gets you, that’s when it’s time to change up. After recovering from whatever hit your Amiibo did, you’re going to wait for the Amiibo to attack again. When it does, roll dodge or spot dodge to get out of the way. If you get the dodge, then follow up with a smash attack. If your Amiibo dodges, then it will likely follow up with an attack of its own, which you’ll try to dodge, etc. This is the process you’re going to do for the full five minutes.

If you’re wondering about the outcome of the game, don’t. Winning and losing should not matter when you’re training your Amiibo. The ultimate goal is to teach it what you want it to learn, and in this game, we’re teaching it to rely on its forward smash.

After you’re done with the five-minute game, you’re going to play another five-minute game. In this game, our goal is to grab and throw the Amiibo. This is a tougher task because your Amiibo will attack you with the smash attacks you tried to teach it in the previous game. Like you did in the previous game, you can wait until the Amiibo attacks, spot dodge or roll dodge out of the way and then get the grab. You can also stand several body lengths away from the Amiibo and then do a dash grab.

Again, you’re not going to worry about the outcome of the game. Your goal in the second game should be to grab and throw the Amiibo as much as you can.

When you’re done with the two games, you have the option of going through the two games again or moving to the next step. It doesn’t hurt to give your Amiibos as much practice as you can, so feel free to go back and do the lessons a couple more times.

In the final step, we’re going to have our Amiibo go up against another opponent. It is preferred that the other opponent is an Amiibo. If you use a CPU character, be aware that it will take some of the lessons learned from what the CPU does. You can also have a friend or family member go up against it.

You’re going to have your Amiibo play under tournament settings: 2 out of 3 games, 2 stock, 6 minutes, Omega-style stage or Final Destination. You’re going to watch to see how your Amiibo does in action against its opponent. It should be going for power in some situations and grabs in other situations.

When the match is done, you’ve completed the guide! However, Amiibo training is nonstop, and to keep your Amiibo in top shape, you need to train it consistently. I suggest going back into training against your Amiibo and then putting it in more matches against other Amiibos. The more your Amiibo plays, the more experience it will have, which will make it stronger.

Happy training, and I hope to see your heavy hitter at a future tournament!

Glenn Cravens is the host of the Amiibo Trainer Podcast, which runs Monday through Friday on iTunes, Stitcher and Soundcloud. For a free training guide, head to amiibotrainer.com/amiibo15.

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Just Sayin’

REVIEW: Super Smash Bros. Wii U

I apologize for having not put up any posts in the past month. I’ve been working hard to prepare for interviews and so much of the time I’d spend writing these posts was dedicated to such preparations. Now that Christmas is around the corner I do find myself with a little bit of time to write, so let’s jump right in to my review of the recently released Super Smash Bros. Wii U!

Now, this version is incredibly similar to Super Smash Bros. 3DS, which I also reviewed, so my opinion of the game is very similar, but there are a few subtle and not-so-subtle differences that the game has with its hand held counterpart, so that’s what I’ll be addressing with this review.
Graphics
 
I think this is an obvious improvement, but Super Smash Bros. Wii U looks great! From the stage designs to the characters and animations, everything looks great in HD. The game is very pretty.
 
Smash Tour
 
Replacing Super Smash Bros. 3DS‘ Smash Run is Smash Tour, a Mario Party-esque mode where players collect fighters by traveling across a game board and then competing in mini games. A good addition, but I really wish they had put in an updated Smash Run where all 4 players could interact with each other.
 
8-Player Smash
 
This is by far the best addition. 8 players is chaotic and incredible. I could play this for hours.  My personal favorite is how you can really mix up the teams: 2v2v2v2, 3v5, 4v4, 3v3 – there’s a lot of combinations, and it’s really fun. If you were on the fence about getting Super Smash Bros Wii U, this alone is a reason to purchase it, grab 7 friends, and go at it.
Amiibos
 
Amiibos are a figurine that you can use to interact with certain games. Super Smash Bros Wii U is the first one to utilize it, and what it does is create a CPU character (that you get to name) of the figurine that can play with you. What’s unique about an Amiibo CPU is that it learns and grows based on what it plays. It starts at Level 1, and levels up as you play with it (max level is 50). The cool thing is that it responds to the way you play and has the capacity to become more intelligent than a stock level 9 CPU. It’s a really cool feature that I’m definitely going to be making use of.
 
Stages
The stages in the Wii U version are better than the 3DS version (except for the Paper Mario stage in the 3DS version – that stage is my favorite stage of all time); The giant 8-player stages are great (especially The Great Cave Offensive – what a great stage!), the version exclusives like the Star Fox Assault stage, the new Legend of Zelda stage, the new Super Mario Bros. Wii U stage – they’re all really welcome additions and they’re all great-looking. I think the only really bad part about the new stages is that a lot of them are in the same vein as Delfino was in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. A lot of them have a “hub” stage that transitions to various parts of the level. They look cool, but having multiple stages like that is kind of stale.
Event Matches
 
I don’t have a lot to say about this – I’m just happy that they’re included. Speaking of, the Master Order and Crazy Order modes are also really cool.
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All in all, Super Smash Bros. Wii U takes what made its 3DS counterpart so great, added some new modes, and made it look prettier. Oh, and you can use Game Cube controllers, so that’s a plus. If you were on the fence about buying either the Wii U or 3DS version, get the Wii U version, if only for 8 player Smash.
Rating: 8/10
 
Just Sayin’

REVIEW: Super Smash Bros. 3DS

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted! I’ve been meaning to write this review but I was having so much fun with the game that I forgot to write it!

So, the new Super Smash Bros. game is out. While most of my friends in the competitive area of Smash aren’t exactly enjoying it, I am enjoying it a lot. Now that I have the full game let’s go into what I’m excited about and what I’m looking forward to with the Wii U version.
The Good:
 
Smash Run
 
I have to start here. Smash Run is probably my favorite mode of Super Smash Bros. I’ve ever played. Collecting power ups and duking it out in quite a few different varieties of mini games (including racing, climbing, and various versions of Smash) is awesome. I loved Kirby Air Ride’s City Trial (which is basically what Smash Run is), and so I instantly took a shine to this mode. I think the only problem is you can’t interact with the other players besides a bomb you can throw into their screen.
All-Star Mode
 
The new All-Star mode is really cool. Instead of grouping characters together by game, they’re grouped by time period. This makes some really interesting variety of characters and stages while fighting. The mode is a little on the easy side for me, but I really enjoy it nonetheless.
Music + Graphics
 
Super Smash Bros. 3DS (and the Wii U version) has the best music in a Smash game to-date. Really digging the remixes, and the game looks fantastic. I think the only problem here is you can’t change the music like you could in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, but that’s a minor detail I can look over.
Teams
 
So you can now be whatever color you want in team battles. That’s the best. Now you have team outlines, which is way cooler and way better. Seriously, forced colors was never something I enjoyed about teams. I’m glad they changed that.
Stages + Items
 
These are, hands down, my favorite stages in the franchise. The Paper Mario stage is definitely my favorite. All the new stages offer something really cool, and I LOVE the new old-school Mute City stage! To add to the craziness of the stages, the new items are a blast. The Galalga Boss that sucks you up, Cuckoos, and the new Pokemon and assist trophies really make for a hectic item experience. It’s fun!
Characters
 
The new characters rock. I love them all. In fact, Villager is my main! I actually don’t mind Dr. Mario, Lucina, and Dark Pit, either. While I will never play Dark Pit, I really enjoy Lucina and would rather pick her over Marth, so I’m glad she’s in the game. Also Dr. Mario is a boss and actually has different moves so I wouldn’t consider him a straight-up clone.
Custom Moves
 
Are probably the best part of this game. I am loving some of the custom moves the characters have! They give the characters some much-needed flavor or just help their kit in general. For example, Luigi has an ice ball – how cool is that?!
The Bad:
 
Controls
 
I’m actually very used to the controls, but as a competitive player (who doesn’t really play Super Smash Bros.), I really miss the c-stick. Being able to do a falling Up Air is something I have taken for granted, and while I can still do it, it takes a lot of precise manipulation of the joystick, and to be frank, the 3DS’s joystick isn’t incredible. I wouldn’t say the controls are awful, but there’s definitely something left to be desired here.
Classic Mode
 
Is still kind of boring.
Online + For Glory
 
Okay, so every For Glory mode stage is basically Final Destination with the stages usual blast zones. Some of the have walls that go down to the blast zone. This is fine, but I really wish some of the stages (I’m looking at you, Paper Mario stage and Rainbow Road) had their original design in For Glory mode, just minus the hazards. It’d make some of the levels way more varied and interesting without it just being flat. This ties into online.
You see, Final Destination is a horribly balanced stage. It gives characters with projectiles a clear-cut advantage (unless you’re Little Mac), and that’s hardly fair to slow characters. I think Battlefield is the most balanced stage, but I’m digressing. It seems that the cast is balanced around Final Destination, and that’s…not great. Granted, I think the game is incredibly varied right now and a lot of characters have untapped potential, but it sucks that online every stage is basically Final Destination,  giving some characters inherent advantages. That’s not too bad if you’re really good, but I think a lot of players who want to become competitive aren’t going to enjoy their character suffering as they try to practice their character.
Also the lag can be dreadful sometimes. At least the game has decided to dish out “No Contest” where neither player receives a detriment or plus to their record if the game lags for too long. It can detect intentional DC’s though, which is awesome. Other than those few complaints, though, online is incredibly fun. I’ve played just about 100 1v1 games and a few 2v2 (both For Glory) and they’ve been really fun. I have yet to play the “For Fun” mode or 4 player For Glory, and I probably won’t for a long time. I enjoy 1v1 the most.
Equipment
 
I’m not really a big fan of equipment, and that’s because they only give out stat boosts. I’m okay with the changing stats of characters. It’s a cool concept and it’ll make your Amiibo CPU’s way more fun to watch. However, it’d be nice if there were some pieces of equipment that only gave effects, no stats. I’m a big supporter of custom moves for official tournaments with this game, and I would’ve loved to include equipment in there, but alas. Equipment will be no more than a side tournament option.
And that’s about it. I could rate this game on my usual criteria but there’s so much content in the game I won’t do that. With that said, my rating for this game is a solid 8/10. If you’re a fan of the Super Smash Bros. franchise, you will love this game, even if it’s on the 3DS. I wouldn’t wait for the Wii U. Having Smash on the go is incredible.
Just Sayin’

Thoughts on Smash 4 (3DS Demo version)

Last Friday, the Nintendo 3DS demo of Super Smash Bros. 3DS was released to the public. Luckily, I was able to obtain it earlier thanks to a special giveaway for Platinum members. Now that it’s been about a week since I’ve played it, I thought I’d write about my first impressions.

The Ledge System is GREAT

As someone who hates every ledge mechanic in the previous iterations of the series, I love how the ledges work in this game. You can’t grab the edge to stop someone else from grabbing it, and you can’t regain invincibility unless you touch the ground and then re-grab the ledge (I actually don’t know if you regain it after being attacked). I really like this system. It forces more off-stage play if you want early KO’s, otherwise you’re stuck fishing for KO’s on-stage.

Pivot Canceling

If you push the other direction while dashing, you do a little slide animation before starting to dash in the other direction. During that slide animation, you can cancel that into an Forward Smash, Up Smash, or Forward Tilt. Forward Tilt and Forward Smash are the most useful applications of this mechanic, and it’s a great way to space your opponent while ground. It gives characters like Mario and Pikachu some neat ways to keep space, especially with how fast their Forward Tilts are.

Combos are (kind of) real

Some characters have good combos (coughMariocough), others have a couple strings. However, combos do exist due to hit stun being longer and unable to be canceled like in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, despite how small they may be.

Air Dodging sucks (YES!!)

Air Dodging produces some serious landing lag when you hit the ground with it. +1 for offense.

It’s fast

Since Super Smash Bros. Brawl was quite slow, this game feels much faster. You feel like you have greater control over your character and you feel more rewarded for performing high-execution techniques quickly (not that there are many…). I think the speed is perfect. It felt much better than the Best Buy demo.

It looks good

This is, without a doubt, the best-looking Smash game I’ve ever played, even on the 3DS. It looks fluid, feels fluid, and the effects are awesome. The animations are also great.

Villager can pocket everything

And it’s godlike!

If you haven’t yet, download this demo and start playing! The game comes out in less than two weeks – better practice up!!

Just Sayin’.

My Super Smash Bros Wii U/3DS demo consensus

E3 has come and gone, the Super Smash Bros. Invitational has passed, and I got to play both the 3DS and Wii U versions of  the new Super Smash Bros. game (which I will be labeling as “Smash 4“). Here’s my take:

NOTE: This game is not in its final stage. It is still in development! Mechanics can (and probably will) change.

What is it like?

It’s like Super Smash Bros. Brawl (Brawl). It felt less floaty and faster, but it definitely retained the Brawl feel. The music and the overall look is great. The move streaks are an awesome touch, and I’m loving some of the new characters. I only got to play as Kirby (my old Brawl main) and Villager, but I had fun playing both!

Also Smash Run is going to be the best mode of all time.

Game Mechanics:

The Good:

– A lot of people were complaining about aerial landing lag, but I didn’t see a lot of it. With both Villager and Kirby, landing on the ground with an aerial felt exactly like it did in Brawl. I was still able to link Kirby’s Back Air -> Forward Tilt, which requires little landing lag on the Back Air. Some characters have a lot of landing lag (See: Marth), but overall the game didn’t look like a total lag fest when landing with aerials. I have no idea why everyone’s complaining when it seems to be only a few characters.

– The hit lag, while more than Brawl, feels really satisfying when you hit. Grabbing someone also feels satisfying.

– Air dodging into the ground produces significant lag. This is great because it used to be an incredibly safe option in Brawl, and now it can be punished. Also they appear to be much shorter, which is great.

– The jab finishers are really cool. I hated all the rapid-jabs, so I’m glad they’re gone.

– Hit Stun can’t be canceled with an air dodge. Combos do exist!

– The new ledge mechanics to prevent sharking are cool. I’m actually on board with the whole “kick-off” mechanic, too.

The Bad: 

– No dash dancing. I think this is something Smash 4 needs so that the primary movement isn’t air-based.

– Throws are really odd. It’s very hard to follow up with them and it doesn’t really put the thrown opponent in a bad spot so it feels like they’re always the less superior choice. A few characters, however (MegaMan and Villager are the two that come to mind) have some follow ups out of throws.

– KO’ing takes a very long time. I saw people live up to 150% from Smash attacks.

– Auto sweet spot ledges with Up B.

And that’s really all I have to say about it. Overall, I’m really hopefully for Smash 4. I was worried I wasn’t going to like it, but after watching the Invitational and playing both versions myself, I can confidently say that I’m very excited for this game!

Just Sayin’

REVIEW: Mario Party Island Tour

I apologize for this being late, I was busy Friday and Saturday. Onto the review!

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I haven’t really played any of the recent Mario Party games. Mario Party DS I played a bit, but not too much. The newest installment into the series, Mario Party Island Tour, however, is shaping up to be a Mario Party I will play quite often.

Mario Party Island Tour, like Mario Party 9, completely offs the classic gather stars and circle a game board. Instead, they’re replaced with “race” boards, as I call them, where the first player to reach the finish line wins. However, unlike Mario party 9, where everyone rides that dumb vehicle together, it hearkens back to the classic style of moving, where everyone takes their own turn and uses dice…or cards on certain boards. Because of this style, there are no blue and red spaces that give out coins, instead having item spaces, move back spaces, and other various spaces that switch places with opponents, summon Bowser, etc… It’s actually pretty refreshing, and I find myself not missing the old style because, really, I can play the old ones on the virtual console.

So that’s all great, but what really makes this game awesome are the mini games, which are surprisingly great. I didn’t think the mini-games would be spectacular, but they’ve all been really fun and I haven’t been disappointed by one yet, and I’ve played through almost every board.

That’s really it. The music has some cool throwbacks to old games, and the graphics are pretty good (the Mario Galaxy board is awesome!), but there’s really nothing else to write about.

If you’re looking for a Mario Party experience not quite the classics, but refreshing and new with some awesome mini games, consider picking up Mario Party Island Tour. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Final Score: 7/10

Just Sayin’.