amiibo Wiki: Ness

In a way, Ness is kind of like the poster child of competitive amiibo training. For as long as his amiibo figure has existed, he’s either been one of the best fighters in the metagame or one of the most discussed. We’ve got tons of resources available for those of you looking to train a Ness amiibo of your own — his Super Smash Bros. 4 training guide, his Super Smash Bros. Ultimate training guide, and a long-form essay about his metagame position and matchups. Take your pick!

Super Smash Bros. 4

Super Smash Bros. 4’s first amiibo figures were released in November 2014. As a result, you might think that the Smash 4 metagame started around this time, but that’s actually not the case — it took almost a year for there to be any kind of interest. Ness’ amiibo figure was released as a GameStop exclusive in May 2015, so by the time his Figure Player was made available, tournaments weren’t going strong just yet. They never really did, to be honest — in Smash 4, there were no more than five tours per month and only a handful of dedicated trainers were present for each one. Point is, despite being released several months after the first wave of amiibo figures, Ness made waves in early tournaments — and most (if not all) of these waves were caused by Cloud and his Ness amiibo, Super NES.

What quickly became apparent to Smash 4 competitors were Ness’ potent grab options. In this game, his AI was capable of linking a down throw into a forward air. Sure, this was a solid damage-racker, but what really concerned trainers was his nuclear-powered back throw. Smash 4’s amiibo Buff boosted the strength and knockback of their attacks by 1.5x, meaning that Ness could finish off a slightly weakened opponent both easily and consistently. At this rate, Ness was going to cement himself as the most powerful fighter available — but trainers adapted, and this never came to fruition. You see, Smash 4 tournaments allowed and encouraged trainers to equip their FPs with stats and bonus effects, and it just so happened that one of these effects made Ness’ back throw essentially non-functional: Improved escapability. With this, the user would escape from grabs before being thrown unless their damage percentage exceeded about 200%. As you might expect, the surge in FPs running Improved escapability caused Ness’ viability to tank.

After Critical-hit capability and Explosive perfect shield (two heavily-centralizing bonus effects) were banned, Marth and Lucina became the two best characters in competitive tournaments. Smash 4’s AI reacted poorly to multi-hit attacks, and would always drop its shield when faced with a move with several strikes. This was the case for Marth and Lucina’s side specials, Dancing Blade, and Ness unfortunately had little answer for this maneuver. Each of his attacks was either too slow or too short-ranged to be able to contend, which resulted in a mostly poor matchup against these two fighters. By the end of the metagame, though, Bowser was actually considered Ness’ worst matchup — he could use Flying Slam to outspeed any of his close-ranged options and then finish him off with a strong smash attack.

Despite his poor top-level matchups, Ness boasted a variety of unique strengths that ensured his spot in the tier list’s higher rankings. Up smash, PK Fire, and PK Thunder 2 were among his most important tools; the former two are rather self-explanatory. In the case of PK Thunder 2, Ness’ AI was actually hard-coded to launch itself at opponents as a grounded attack. Believe it or not, this worked incredibly well because FPs in this game were often blind to its hitbox properties. It was rather risky against fighters with counter moves, who would be able to one-hit KO Ness if they were to successfully counter his electrical rocket. Still, between these three tools (plus a sprinkle of jab, forward tilt, and down smash), Ness was able to hold his own well enough in late Smash 4 tournaments. He wasn’t the strongest contender around, but he was certainly up there among some of the best.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Ness went on to make even more waves in the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate metagame. When this game first released, trainers initially thought his FP had been nerfed. Indeed, Ness faces a variety of new issues in this metagame — perhaps most notably is that FPs can now reliably edgeguard off-stage, meaning that Ness’ recovery is more vulnerable than ever. Furthermore, the developers failed to update his AI’s recovery pattern from the previous title — which means that Ness still wastes his double jump to aim at the ledge with PK Thunder even if the double jump would have been enough to make it back on its own. This wasn’t a big deal in Smash 4, as no FPs ever left the stage to try to prevent him from recovering. It’s quite the opposite in Ultimate, however, and so Ness is often gimped at extremely low percentages by fighters like Ridley or Zelda.

Regarding those waves we mentioned earlier, then: while Ness is now extremely vulnerable off-stage, his on-stage game is as powerful as it’s ever been. Up smash, PK Fire, and PK Thunder have all been buffed; interestingly, his AI now does not purposefully launch itself with PK Thunder and will instead chase its opponents with the electrical projectile. This works just as well as before – if not even better – because FPs in this game often have no answer to being juggled by it. This means that Ness can rack on ludicrous amounts of damage by chaining PK Fires before finishing off an opponent with a back throw or PK Thunder juggle. This, then, is how Ness made waves — trainers found this strategy frustrating, which led to calls for his ban from competitive tournaments in early 2020. However, this never happened, and at the time of writing Ness is not even considered top-tier in the Spiritless metagame.

Ness has several more tricks up his figurative sleeve in Ultimate compared to in Smash 4. One such trick is his deadly up air, which boasts two unique functions: to KO opponents at high percentages (if all of its hits connect) or to initiate dragdown combos (if the AI decides to fastfall and lands while using the move). These dragdown combos most often link into a grab, which helps Ness put on additional damage and even score KOs at high percentages with a dragdown up air into a back throw. He’s also able to employ his back air as a powerful landing option, and he can use his up throw to more easily initiate PK Thunder juggling. Strangely enough, Ness’ AI is no longer capable of properly using PK Flash; instead of charging the move to completion, it always uses it uncharged and at inappropriate times. As such, trainers are advised to avoid PK Flash (and down tilt, which serves no benefit) at all costs.

In terms of matchups, Ness is in the same position in Ultimate as he was in Smash 4. That is to say, he matches well against most fighters ranked lower than him on the tier list, but performs poorly against characters closer to or higher than his ranking level. His tough matchups include Snake, Isabelle, Incineroar, Ridley, Pit, and King K. Rool. His worst matchups are Lucas and – ironically – himself. Ness’ optimized game plan includes heavy usage of PK Fire and PK Thunder, and opposing Lucas FPs are able to use PSI Magnet to heal large amounts of damage by absorbing these projectiles. Ness can’t consistently win against other characters without using PK Fire and PK Thunder, which means he essentially has to take the loss against Lucas to be able to contend against the rest of the cast. Similarly, other Ness FPs can absorb PK Fire and PK Thunder instead, so the FP that is trained to use PSI Magnet most often may end up winning that match.

Overall, Ness is a highly relevant contender in Ultimate’s competitive scene. His damage-racking and juggling abilities are nearly unrivaled, but he’s completely helpless and easy to KO as soon as he leaves the stage. He tends to run hot and cold, then; his tournament performance is highly dependent on matchups, and even in matchups he wins there’s still a chance that he self-destructs at 0%. Ness is perhaps the epitome of “high-risk, high-reward”, but that risk factor is sometimes too great for matches with high-stakes. While some trainers still stick to Ness, most others rely on fighters with similarly strong damage-racking abilities who also have decent recoveries. These include fighters like Link, King K. Rool, and Mii Gunner, who all tend to outperform Ness in tournaments.

If you’re looking for additional training resources, look no further! We’ve got much more content available on Ness to help you raise a powerful FP. Remember to join our Discord community if you have any further questions!

Training Guide (SSB4)Training Guide (SSBU)Long-Form Essay

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