Paper Mario Talks — How To Break Combat (64): Status

In Paper Mario, there are six kinds of status that the player can inflict on an enemy (Dizzy, Stop, Paralyze, Sleep, Shrink, Attack Down). Let’s take a look at them and how to inflict them!

Attack Down – Reduces an enemy’s attack by 3 for 4 turns. [Chill Out]
Dizzy – Opponent cannot move for x turns (varies by enemy). [Dizzy Dial, Dizzy Shell, Dizzy Stomp]
Paralyze – Opponent cannot move for x turns (varies by enemy). [Power Shock, Mega Shock]
Shrink – Opponent’s damage is halved for x turns. [Shrink Stomp]
Sleep – Opponent cannot move for x turns (varies by enemy). [Sleepy Sheep, Sleep Stomp, Lullaby]
Stop – Opponent cannot move for x turns (varies by enemy). [Stop Watch, Time Out]

For your information, the range of status where it lasts for x turns can vary from 1 – 4 turns.

Of these six, four of them do the exact same thing – hinder an enemy from moving. Without any differences (attacking a sleeping opponent does not wake them up, for instance), these statuses all cripple opponents in the same way, making combat in 64 very simple – find an enemy’s weakness to an immobilizing status and exploit it.

While I enjoy using status, and I consider knowing when and where to utilize status as a key element in strategy in Paper Mario and Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, the monotony of what status do in 64 makes combat really easy. Furthermore, because so many status do the same thing, you can effectively lock an enemy into status and prevent them from ever attacking if they’re weak to two different kinds or very weak to one. Compare this to TTYD, where Dizzy no longer immobilizes enemies, Paralyze doesn’t exist, and enemies can wake from Sleep after being attacked; there’s much more variety, and you can’t really prevent enemies from attacking.

Now, while status is pretty broken in 64, the ability to inflict the same condition with so many different status does have its few benefits, but that mostly applies to challenge running. If you’re trying to inflict status to start setting up with, say, Super Jump Charge, you can cycle between an item/badge and Dizzy Shell or Power Shock to try and get a status inflicted sooner. It’s a cool concept, but that’s really all I find cool about the monotony of status in 64. This specific brand of status monotony is also why really hardcore challenges can be beaten in 64.

Let’s take a small turn and focus on the other two status, Shrink and Attack Down, which both reduce damage Mario takes. As you saw in my previous post, Chill Out’s Attack Down status is ridiculous. For 4 turns, an enemy has -3 ATK. That’s a big deal for the Tank Mario build and for just longevity in general. It cripples enemies in a different way. Sure, they can attack, but doing no damage is the same as not attacking at all (except for the ones that inflict status on Mario, but let’s not talk about those…). To supplement Tank Mario even more is Shrink, which halves an enemy’s damage. Halves. That’s Last Stand without having Last Stand active! With Last Stand and Shrink active, you’d be hard-pressed to find something that can damage Mario besides Final Bowser.

Speaking of… I find Bowser really interesting. Up until Bowser, every enemy in the game is stuck with their fate when inflicted with status. Bowser can remove status from himself (including Attack Down!!) with the Star Rod buff, and is the only enemy capable of removing status on Mario and his Partners. The entire game, you’re used to being able to do pretty much whatever you want, and then Bowser turns that on its head. It’s probably why I find him such a fun and interesting boss, and also why he really ramps up the difficulty curve when it comes to challenge running. But, we can talk about Bowser another time.

Anyway, the bottom line is…status is broken in 64. Even superbosses in Paper Mario: Pro Mode can’t prevent you from status-locking them. And while it’s cool to do that and be rewarded for using different status, I wish there had been more variety because just selecting a different item to do the same thing to an enemy can get a little stale.

Just Sayin’

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Choosing a Main in Super Smash Bros.

Thanksgiving is around the corner. That means you’ll be joining together with family and friends, and you know the relatives around your age are gonna want to play some Super Smash Bros.! So get ready to bust out your main and lay down some heat!

A “main” is something that anyone in a competitive fighting game can toss around – it’s the character you use the most; the character that you’re trying to win with; the character you have the most fun with. It doesn’t just encompass competitive play – even casual players have a “main” character that they’ll use amongst friends and challengers.

Picking your main is an important part of Super Smash Bros. This is the character you’ll be putting in most of your time practicing and playing with. It’s the character you’ll do research on, learn match-ups for, and try to win with.

So, how do you pick one? There are a lot of characters and a lot of different styles of play. I’m going to break this down, because finding a main happens even in casual play, and I’d like to address those players in this post as well.

The first thing I want to cover applies to every level, but especially competitive players, and that’s style.

I won’t go over this in too much detail (but I highly recommend you go look some of this stuff up or ask me personally to break it down further), but when I say “style” I’m referring to the style the character brings out. I’m sure you’ve heard the terms, “Aggressive Falco”, or “Defensive Mario”. Aggressive and Defensive are both styles of play. Let me give you a list of the common ones and a small definition of them:

Aggressive/Offensive: Focuses on applying pressure to win. Often will throw out many attacks.

Defensive/Campy: Focuses on defense and punishing. Tends to attack much less and throws out projectiles if able instead of running at the opponent.

Bait and Punish: Utilizes pressure and defense to fool opponent and punish them hard. Also likes to use frame traps to force 50/50 situations (you guess wrong you get punished, you guess right you’re safe).

Now, a player is not strictly one of these styles. I would say a player combines a blend of these styles but leans towards one more than the others.

So what does this have to do with picking a character?

Well, characters have certain styles that fit them better. Take the character I use: Kirby. Kirby doesn’t excel very well in the offensive department – he has slow ground and air speed and so doesn’t have the luxury of moving in and out quickly and just throwing out attacks. Kirby’s best played with a Bait and Punish style. He lures characters in and then punishes hard. If you lean more towards an Offensive style, Kirby might not feel right for you.

When you’re picking a character, you want to find one that fits ‘you’, the player. If you don’t feel comfortable playing a certain way, but that character begs to be played that way, I suggest you look for another character, or learn to play that style better. I actually lean heavily towards Offensive, but due to my experience I’m able to turn Kirby into a character that can be played my way. That takes a very long time – long after you’ve improved.

Okay, let’s dive a little deeper into the levels of play and how they should think about main selection.

Casual

If you’re playing at a more casual level, I highly recommend that your main be who you have the most fun with. Or, if you’ve got character loyalty, go ahead and continue being loyal. At this level of play, characters are pretty balanced. No one really understands the ways to abuse a character’s strong points and exploit their weak points.

Why would someone casual have a main? C’mon, Smash is still a competition, and people like to win. Even if you’re casual, there’s gonna be kids who want to challenge you. You gotta have a character to lay the smack down with. It’s definitely not as important, but identifying yourself with a character definitely helps you bond with other players (“Oh, you play Fox? Cool! I play Ike.”). That conversation happens a lot in any level of play.

Style is important, but really, your style isn’t as refined here, so you can get away with playing basically everyone.

Casual-Competitive

This is for the players who are casual but might be interested in joining the competitive scene or are just naturally competitive and play much more than their casual counterpart, or are players who are part of the competitive scene but don’t have a burning desire to improve (AKA ME).

At this point your style has been refined. You probably can recognize how you play and are able to pinpoint which characters suit your style. If you’re not worried about how you place or if you want to develop a character that’s not top tier, go ahead. If they suit your style, go for it!

The bottom line for this level and the other level is that you shouldn’t sweat who your main is. Pick who you like and who you have fun with! Try and further a character’s meta along. Who knows? That character might become the next top tier fad.

If you want to win and really improve results-wise, however…

Competitive

Pick a current high – top tier character. You want to win and to improve. You want results. If you don’t, you’re Casual-Competitive, and that’s okay. But for those that want glory, pick a character that’s high on the tier list and that fits your style. Don’t try to mold a character – pick one that flows with the style you lean towards naturally – you’ll improve much faster when you’re not battling your main’s preferred style. And don’t try to change your own style yet – wait until you’ve got some experience. You want a character that lets you lean towards your own style, which means you can utilize their tools effectively.

Characters like Mario and Sheik are all great characters to pick because they mesh well with basically all three styles of play and allow you to lean towards any style and not feel like you’re battling the character.

If your character falls out of favor and is deemed less than high tier? Stick with it for at least a year (as I mentioned in my improvement post about character loyalty) and then consider changing. At that point you’ve got enough experience to make a solid decision yourself, provided you’ve been improving often and not hitting a plateau.

———

Your main is a part of you. Don’t take picking one lightly, but also don’t put too much thought into it. It is just a character in a game after all. I suggest, for every skill level, you play around with the characters available to you and feel each one out. Then you can make an informed decision about which one you want to pick.

And if you’re competitive: stick to the main you’ve chosen. That means put in the appropriate time to pick one and not regret it.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone – have fun Smashing with family and friends! 🙂

Just Sayin’

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!

——

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’

Improvement in Smash 4 II – A Different Way to Look at Match Ups

**If you’re unfamiliar with Smash, this probably isn’t the post for you unless you’re curious. In order to get a full understanding of this, you should be familiar with Smash’s game mechanics and lingo (EX: Forward Air = Fair), specifically the mechanics for Super Smash Bros. Wii U.

Repeat after me: “MUs aren’t just numbers”.

If you were to ask me, “Kappy, what prevents players from improving?”, I would say without hesitation that one of the top things are, “match ups” (or, as everyone refers to them in text format, MUs). MUs describe the likelihood of a character beating another character, strictly speaking. The way it usually goes: If two players of equal skill play, character X has a XX:YY MU with character Y. This is usually categorized in this way:

50:50 – Even
55:45 – Small Advantage
60:40 – Advantage
70:30 – Big Advantage
80:20 – Huge Advantage
90:10 – Gigantic Advantage
100:0 – Guaranteed Win

I think there’s something inherently flawed about discussing MUs like this. Let me be perfectly clear – numerically showing how character X does against character Y is fine; in fact, I agree with it. The problem is how it’s discussed and approached.

Let me craft a scenario for you. Say you go up against a player who places the same as you in your local scene. You two seem to always get the same place, but you two have never met in bracket. This time, it’s different. You’re going up against him, and he’s using a character that has a 100:0 MU against yours. You two sit down to play, two supposed evenly-matched players, and you emerge the victor.

I’ve seen this happen before.

What’s happening here? The biggest problem approaching MUs with numbers is that character takes over player. It should be flipped. Player trumps Character. It might be an uphill battle for your character, but it’s not so simple as, “Character X walls Y. It’s hard for them to get in.” No, it’s not so cut and dry. Even with an equal skill level, a player’s tendencies can change how the MU actually is in practice.

What if you spun it as, “I struggle against hyper-defense. I find it difficult to approach.” This not only spins the blame to give you something to practice, it gets rid of blaming your character or the MU for losing. A number doesn’t define who you’ll win and lose to, who you’ll struggle and not struggle against.

So what can you do to stop thinking this way? Combine Player and Character into a single unit.

Combining player and character gives way to two distinct ways to view a MU, and both are essential to improving: Play Style and Character Interactions. What are these?

Play Style refers to how a player makes decisions during a match. Do they apply pressure, grab a lot, camp, etc… This is usually categorized further for generality – aggressive, defensive, etc… I won’t get too into that, but Play Style also encompasses a player’s reactions, emotions, etc… their style changes as they play, and if they don’t – well, if you can counter play it without them adapting, then you’re going to win no matter the character.

Character Interaction refers to on paper interactions between characters. This is usually discovered through experimentation on the player’s part. Let me list what I think this consists of:

– Move Priority
– Kill %’s
– Punishment Options

Move Priority refers to the interaction between two character’s moves. A good example would be Kirby’s Dair vs Marth Up Tilt. Marth’s Up Tilt beats Kirby’s Dair, so it wins and Kirby will (most likely) get hit.

Kill %’s are just that. When does X move KO at Y percent on character Z?

Punishment Options refers to options your character has to punish character X in any given situation. Can you shield grab an Fsmash? A Ftilt? Can you punish a whiffed move with a Smash/Tilt/etc…?

When I approach a MU, I think about these things instead of the numbers. I think about what I’m going to need to do to overcome any adversity the MU presents me with. If my character struggles against projectiles, I need to find ways to counter the player’s style with those projectiles. Do I have a move that’ll just outright beat the projectile? Does the player panic when I get too close? When should I start looking for a KO? (Notice how this is basically Adaptability)

——

Obviously, some characters do beat others. It’s the way a game like this works. And in a game like this, some characters have a lot of “bad” MUs. And they will struggle, and you can clearly see how a character struggles. However, simplifying the MU to the point where you’re going in expecting it to be incredibly hard or maybe impossible is neglecting the fact that there’s a person controlling that avatar. You’re forgetting about human error, human psychology, even human physiological responses during a set. This is stuff that you need to think about when it comes to MUs, and it’s reflected in their play style.

If you wanna use numbers when sitting at home thinking about MUs, fine. Don’t let me stop you. But you best believe that you shouldn’t be oversimplifying MUs when you’re about to play someone. Treat them as complex as they should be – it’s a character controlled by a player, not the other way around. Remember that.

When you’re giving advice, don’t just use the character. That’s for tier list/character interactions/theorycrafting discussion specifically. Otherwise, think about the player, too. Don’t let players ask, “how does X do against Y?” Demand they be more specific. No two players play the same way – acknowledge that in how you ask for and give out advice.

Repeat after me: “MUs aren’t just numbers.”

Just Sayin’

Link to the Chicago Smash 4 Facebook group: Clicky

Check out my other posts on improving in Super Smash Bros. Wii U!

I – Fundamentals
III – Attitude
IV – Friendlies
V – Stages
VI – Preparing for a Tournament
VII – Training Regimens
VIII – Character Loyalty

Check out the BONUS series!

IX – The Plateau
X – Practice Methods I
XI – Practice Methods II
XII – Practice Methods III
XIII – At a Tournament
XIV – Practice Methods BONUS IV
XV – Game Flow

Smash 4 is hard to play

This past Saturday I entered a Super Smash Bros. Wii U (Smash 4) tournament. Being primarily a Project M player and being part of the competitive Smash scene in general, there’s a lot of hate against Smash 4 for its “easy” play in terms of technical ability.

But dammit Smash 4 is hard! I play Mario, one of the more aggressive characters in the game, and it’s painful sometimes how hard it is to get in on another good player. In Project M I can rush down someone with Meta Knight’s great pressure tools and feel relatively safe near someone’s shield. I don’t feel safe at all when I’m near someone’s shield in Smash 4, and it’s so stressful when you’re trying to space around it!

Really, I think it’s harder than the technical barrier Melee/Project M have for new players. Sure, you can pick up and play Smash 4 easily, but to be able to get in on someone good, especially a more defensive player/character? That’s not gonna happen for a while. At least in Melee you can Nair someone’s shield with Fox and be almost completely safe as long v as you L-Cancel and Shine. That kind of input skill can be committed to muscle memory and performed without even a second thought after like two weeks of practice. Obviously it gets a little harder during an intense, heart-pounding match, but I think that can apply to really any game that has even a tiny amount of technical skill involved.

Maybe it’s just harder for me to play Smash 4 than it is Project M. Maybe it’s just more stressful because during a combo in Melee/Project M you can relax yourself for a moment (at least, I do). I dunno. All I know is that Smash 4 is hard to play.

Just sayin’.

Training Amiibos

Before I begin, a quick shout-out to this thread, which is what I used to train my amiibos.

So, when the new Super Smash Bros. was announced, Nintendo also announced Amiibo, a figurine that could interact with games on the Wii U through an NFC touch point built-in on the game pad. In Super Smash Bros. Wii U, this scanning translated to a fighter that you could then fight with/against. I saw it as an opportunity to train these fighters and pit them against other amiibos because that sounded really fun to me (as a competitive Smash player it’s at the heart of what I find the most fun about training an amiibo).

So, I quickly bought a Kirby amiibo, named him H U P BOYZ, and got to work training him. I played with my brother in amiibo + player teams until he got to 50 (the max level for an amiibo), and then I realized that H U P BOYZ used Inhale too much (Neutral B move for those who don’t know). He also used a lot of grounded Rock (Down + B special) and Up Smash, but not too many aerials. He used some, but I wanted him to play like I did with Kirby.

So I started doing some research, and found a couple articles with some training tips. A few of them were very similar. CPU mirrors 1-10, you vs them mirrors 10-20, 20-30 playstyle chars, 30-50 your main + CPU mirrors to see how they’re progressing. It sounded pretty good, so I gave it a shot. I reset H U P BOYZ and started training him.

Spoiler alert – H U P BOYZ still sucked.

He still used too much Inhale and grounded Rock. he also spammed jab a lot this time. So I went back to researching when I came upon that thread I linked in the beginning of this post. It was pretty much eye-opening for me.

Let me break this down for you:

Amiibos basically have a hit % variable stored inside of it for every move in its arsenal (probably not including pummel, which is guaranteed out of a throw). From what I’m theorizing, whenever they hit with a move, the % for that move goes up. If they use a move and it whiffs, is blocked, or is outright beaten or punished, the % goes down. No one has truly found out everything about amiibos, but this sounds the most logical to me given that thread confirmed data tables. Anyway, amiibos will use moves with a higher hit % more often. However, they won’t use it all the time, just more than a normal level 9 CPU would. And this data table updates even after they’ve hit 50.

So what does this mean? Basically, the amiibos will use moves more based on what opponents they fight. That means that if you let a Kirby amiibo get off Inhale or Rock against you, it’ll think it’s better than against a player that never lets a Kirby amiibo get away with it. Amiibo do have slightly different styles, it’s just based off of hit %, and the placebo effect takes it from there because of that subtle difference between amiibos.

So, I did my second reset on H U P BOYZ and trained him from 1 – 50 against just me, except this time I literally air camped so that H U P BOYZ would be forced to take to the air and use aerials against me. Every time he tried to use Rock, or Hammer (Side + B special), or Inhale, I would punish him. And to top it off, I would literally let him hit me with aerials and tilts so that he thought they were better moves.

And it actually worked (a little).

See, amiibos still have that core AI ingrained in them. They’re going to do some stuff no matter what, but you can influence them. H U P BOYZ does the standard Power Shield and then a grab or smash attack, but sometimes he’ll throw out three Forward Airs in a row or use Up Tilt twice in a row or even do Up Tilt to Back Air instead of Up Tilt to Forward Air (which is a level 9 Kirby combo implemented into their base AI).

So that’s how I train amiibos. I let them hit me with the moves I want them to use and try to punish them for using moves I don’t want them to use. H U P BOYZ barely uses Hammer or Rock, although now that he’s fought other amiibos and CPU’s he uses Inhale a fair amount (although not nearly as much as the first two times), but overall, training him was a success.

I think this is the best way to train them right now. Let me go over how I do it in terms of levels.

Levels 1 – 20: Beat them down. Amiibo aren’t very smart here. Sure, they’ll throw out attacks, but it’s best to just beat them down so that they don’t throw out anything bad that’ll hit you. Even if you let them hit you, they won’t be borrowing from the data table too much because their base AI at this point is, well…dumb.

Levels 20 – 30: This is where I make them start learning. At this point they should be borrowing from level 4 or 5 AI, so they’ll be throwing out attacks, but they won’t be utilizing the hit % table a lot unless you let them hit you a ton in the earlier levels. You won’t see certain attacks because the 4 or 5 base AI just doesn’t choose it. If you see them throwing out any moves you’d like them to learn, let them hit you. This can be tricky with aerials and tilts (especially if you don’t want them using smash attacks); my advice is to jump around a LOT for aerials. Tilts are much harder and I have no safe way to get hit by them without being hit by a smash attack. It takes a lot of patience.

Also, don’t forget to beat them. They level up faster losing.

Levels 30 – 40: This is where most of the learning happens. At this point, they’re borrowing from level 6 or 7 AI and so will most likely be using every move. They’ll also be borrowing from the data table so you’ll find them using certain moves less and certain moves more. Just keep letting them hit you and maintain victory over them so that they level up faster. This is probably the longest phase for me because I take a lot of time making sure they learn what moves are better than others.

Levels 40-50: This is where the amiibos’ inherent buffs (yeah, they’re stronger than normal fighters even without equipment) start to become noticeable. You’ll also see a noticeable change in how they fight compared to level 8 and 9 CPU’s. If you’ve done your training correctly, you’ll notice them using moves you let them hit you with more often. That means it’s time for some crazy positive reinforcement. Let them hit you A LOT. Sure, you still need to win or else leveling them up takes longer, but make them extra close. Let them take you down to that last stock (if you’re using time, make sure you maintain a point lead).

This is a good time to pit them against any level 50 amiibos you have, also.

Level 50: You’ve done it. Your amiibo is now max level! A couple things to note here:

– While you’ve been training them, don’t fret if they use a move you’ve been punishing a lot or never let them hit you with. They are, in theory, at Level 10 if there was a Level 10 AI in the game, and so have hard-coded scripts that they simply can’t ignore.

– They will start rolling, spot-dodging, air dodging, and perfect shielding a LOT, and usually right when you use a move. They will punish you with a smash or grab after perfect shielding a LOT, even if you trained them to think smash attacks are bad. It’s part of their script. Don’t let it bother you.

– You should notice that they’re very rarely using moves you’ve punished them for using and using moves you let them hit you with more frequently. However, there will be no drastic change in their move selection unless you let them hit you with the same move over and over from 1 to 50. Then they’ll spam a move way more than a level 9 CPU would.

– Amiibo buffs are pretty apparent here. H U P BOYZ does over 20% with one Back Air. That’s as much as a normal smash attack with an aerial!

And that’s how I train my amiibos. So far I have 3 trained amiibos (H U P BOYZ the Kirby, a Mario that likes Up B, and a Pikachu that doesn’t use Thunder a lot). They’ve all been trained using this method and they’ve all shown good results, so I think this is a really solid training method. Give it a try next time you want to train an amiibo. I’ll end this with a few more notes:

– Because amiibos learn after 50, it’s impossible to stop them from landing a certain move. If you let them fight another amiibo, a CPU, or a person, they might land that move and increase the hit % of it. The nice thing is that that hit % has to contend with the other ones you’ve trained, meaning they’re not suddenly going to start spamming that move, but you will see them try and use it more. If you see them using a move too much, just play them and punish it whenever they do. My Pikachu spammed Thunder between levels 30-40 and I literally sat there for two games and punished Thunder. After those, he never spammed Thunder again because of how low I made the hit % after that and from levels 40-50. He still uses it, but he hasn’t used it twice in a row since.

– Amiibos only update their hit % after a match is completed. This is really important. If you don’t like how a match is going, just quit out of it. I can’t tell you how many times I had to do this because H U P BOYZ landed Inhale on me.

– Amiibos level up insanely fast on a different Wii U. Not really important, just thought I’d let you know. They also level up faster fighting CPU’s and other amiibos than they do against humans.

Have fun with your amiibos! I can’t wait to enter these guys in amiibo-only tournaments!

Just Sayin’