Unending desire: Ganondorf and his deep, dark sword.

Ganondorf_SSBM.jpg
This is the ideal male body. You may not like it, but this is what peak performance looks like.

Every amiibo that I’ve played wtih so far has been pretty drastically altered from their Smash 4 mindset. Mario is now an up-air whore to the point that I’m considering making an exception for the “amiibo can’t combo rule”, Villager is less… awful, and Link by default is very different thanks to his new moveset. Ganondorf, however, seems to be almost the same amiibo as his Smash 4 iteration, but with minor improvements.

For some background, I am a Ganondorf main. Ganondorf is my homeboy and I have about 1.9 million GSP as Ganondorf in Quickplay (to be fair, I have only played a few dozen Quickplay matches). I’ve played him since Melee and understand the character better than any other in the Smash roster. He’s also my go-to pick for Smash tournaments, regardless of the game. I generally do well.

At first glance, Ganondorf seems to be a very different amiibo than his previous iteration. He’s more teachable because of the AI changes in Ultimate, he moves faster and his new smash attacks seem to really put an edge on the blade that was Smash 4 Ganondorf. In addition, he’s now viable in the air thanks to improved aerials, he has more useful jumps and above all else, he has a much better dash attack. Despite all the improvements, he’s still largely the same amiibo as his Smash 4 iteration. Only about 30% of him has really changed so much that your training methods will have to also shift.

Let’s go down my notes, point by point and I’ll explain what I mean by each one.

Ganondorf uses his up tilt for KOs successfully most of the time.

It’s pretty straightforward, and was one of the first things I noticed when I was training Ganondorf. I jokingly used his up tilt against my amiibo, and immediately after that match, he would net at least one KO with it per match against other amiibo. Against normal players it wouldn’t be a viable move because of its massive startup lag, but against amiibo it actually lands fairly often. It also seems to have a much larger hitbox, which only aids its viability.

He sometimes tries to go for a Ganoncide when he doesn’t need to

Ganondorf has problems recovering, plain and simple. It’s a hallmark of his character, but the AI makes it even worse. For some reason, his AI registers a Ganoncide (grabbing an opponent with his side special for a mutual death) as a legitimate gimp, and will rarely try to use it on an opponent. Typically this happens when it won’t kill him, but sometimes… well, it doesn’t end well. Don’t use Ganon’s side special while in the air, lest the AI decide to use it as a gimping tool.

He lands his forward smash VERY well. Teaching him to rely on that was a good choice.

Ganon’s new forward smash covers a lot of area. It comes out about as quickly as it did in Smash 4, but has exponentially more KO potential than anything from his Smash 4 moveset. It has very large grounded range, hits opponents in the air and nullifies any projectiles it may come across. It can also KO most opponents from the center of Final Destination in the mid-60 percents. His AI picked it up pretty quickly, and for a while it was one of the few moves he used often.

The nice thing about most of Ganondorf’s moveset is that he doesn’t need to hit with anything very often. You can land five or six hits on him with a weaker character and it’ll only rack up damage, but he can do all of that with one aerial. He’s not going to see widespread competitive play in the foreseeable future, but the Ganon Cannon is still a good character for amiibo play. (I’m still not sure about his AI).

His side B to down tilt combo stuck with him, but he doesn’t use it often.

When I started teaching Ganondorf, I initially decided that he was going to learn two pieces of information. First, I had him learn to use his side special on the ground, followed by his down tilt. Similar to Smash 4, this is an easy combo that is inescapable unless the victim techs to the left or right, and that’s a small window. Amiibo can do it, but only after having been introduced to both the side special and to tech rolls. The down tilt can also KO at high percents, or if the opponent is at a low percent he can follow up with a forward smash.

I keep making the same mistake with amiibo, and I’ve really got to knock it off. I jump too much. My playstyle revolves around air-to-ground transitioning, especially as Ganondorf. It confuses the opponent and allows for me to put the battle on my terms. However, I still haven’t figured out exactly how to tell when Ganondorf has learned from my aerial attacks, so I use them more often than I should. Ganondorf jumps around too much, which keeps him from using his side special to down tilt combo as often as he should. Regardless, I recommend teaching him to use it. It’s quite helpful.

He’s a lot less reliant on his short hop up air than he was in Smash 4.

One issue with Smash 4’s amiibo AI was the tendency problem. Amiibo would sometimes have built-in tendencies that didn’t make sense more often than not, and that ended up having more of an effect on the metagame than anything else in the long run. Occasionally it would work out: Ganondorf’s tendency was to use his up air, and that actually suited him quite well. Due to the AI rework in Ultimate, that tendency was removed and now he’s a lot smarter. These days I prefer to teach him to use his short hop to forward air, but you might consider not teaching it to him at all: if you can avoid the jumps, avoid them.

He’s learned how to cover options from me. Could other amiibo learn to cover options too?

Amiibo are aware of their entire moveset from the moment they’re formatted for Ultimate, due to the fact the game does the actual thinking, and the amiibo just stores the information. Thanks to his new option-covering smash attacks, and his faster aerial attacks Ganondorf can now put an opponent into a very difficult corner. The amiibo learned to do that from me while I was teaching him, although it didn’t translate as well in amiibo-versus-amiibo battles.

That seems to really be the snag here. I didn’t have this problem in Smash 4, but in Ultimate amiibo seem to play differently against humans and amiibo. When I pit him against an Isabelle amiibo, he plays differently than when he plays against me as Isabelle. I’m going to have to test this more. What if amiibo are programmed to play differently against humans and opponents?

Anyway, when you train your Ganondorf keep all these things in mind. I honestly can’t say if he will be as good in Ultimate as he was in Smash 4: it’s too early to tell. Amiibo that I thought were smart now seem to be dumber than a bag of rocks. Further experimentation is required.

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