The Beginner’s Guide to Training the Isabelle Amiibo in Smash Ultimate

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by Plantasia – Guest Contributor

Hello, my name is Plantasia. You may be thinking, “Wait, I’m not supposed to be in the Piranha Plant page! Why am I here?” Don’t worry, I’m here to teach you how to train the Isabelle amiibo – what to incorporate and what to avoid. In PAL season 4 qualifiers, my Isabelle beat many top tiers and was the highest mid-tier in the bracket. She got all the way to winners final (but then had to fight a Piranha Plant… how ironic).

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Doc note: This is a very unconventional training guide. Isabelle is a generally underlabbed character, so you may find it helpful to modify these recommendations for a more conventional training regimen.

AI Issues

Isabelle has one major AI problem – fishing rod. Isabelle can and will use fishing rod to attack, but if the initial throw happens to miss, Isabelle can just… stand there…. waiting… The reason is most likely because she is waiting for the opponent to stand in between her and the hook so she can grab them. The problem with that is the opponent can most likely land a strong attack if they are on the opposite side of Isabelle and out of the rod’s reach. Even then, the opponent may land an attack before Isabelle reels them in.

Also, a side note with fishing rod, Isabelle doesn’t seem able to use it offstage to throw the opponent directly into the blast zone. What a shame! She can also use it offstage and fall REALLY close to the blast zone, but I have yet to see her actually die from it. It is risky. In arenas, Isabelle will act… strange. She will generally use fishing rod more and aerials less.

Overall Playstyle

Below are Isabelle’s moves and why or why they shouldn’t be prioritized during training. If you are wanting to experiment with these moves, this list is a great place to start!


Isabelle has fantastic aerials!

Her Up Air and Down Air are strong, she can use projectile forward and Back Air to edge guard and kill at moderately high percents, and she has a decent get-off-me Neutral Air. These moves are must-uses and are your main attack strategies.

Focus on all but Neutral Air. While it is effective, Isabelle’s other aerials are significantly better to use as they kill and have better range (still use it every once in a while, though).

Smash Attacks

Isabelle’s smash attacks should also not be understated.

Forward Smash is decently strong and with little lag makes it mostly safe.

Down Smash is fast, launches at a low angle, and catches rolls, but isn’t too strong.

Up Smash is an effective anti-air but can be hard to land as it doesn’t have a wide hitbox and is in front of Isabelle.

Forward Smash is your go-to smash attack, but Down Smash is also good to use. Up Smash is too risky and inconsistent but can be useful in moderation.


Isabelle’s tilts add a vital bit to her overall playstyle (more on that later) and should always be used, but some more than others.

Forward Tilt is quick and has range. It can clank with other attacks, including sword smash attacks. This is your go-to get-off-me attack on stage but shouldn’t be used too much.

Down Tilt is strong and hits in front, but Forward Tilt is a better option. It’s simply stronger and faster, so use it infrequently.

Up Tilt is the most important tilt to use. It is the best anti-air move to use on the ground due to the disjoint and range it covers, it clanks with long reach moves like DK’s Forward and Up Tilts and can even hit most opponents in front or behind Isabelle. The main reason to use this attack, however, is because it combos perfectly into itself over and over again and ends with a strong Up Air. It’s Isabelle’s easiest way to launch opponents into the air and allows her to use aerial attacks quicker and kill sooner.

Overall, use Forward Tilt in moderation, use a lot of Up Tilt, and avoid Down Tilt.

Dash Attack and Jab

Dash attack is a really effective projectile. It launches at an opportunistic angle and can be properly spaced to keep Isabelle safe. It also is a great way to rack up damage, so it should be used.

Isabelle’s Jab is very mediocre as its only follow ups are Up Tilt or Grab. The problem with Jab is that Up Tilt and Grab have better range and Jab can reduce Isabelle’s usage of her other attacks. It’s up to you if you want to use Jab as I have seen some Isabelles use it well, but it seems more of a hassle than it’s worth.


Isabelle’s grabs are useful for set ups.

Forward Throw and Back Throw get the opponent off stage, Down Throw leads directly into Forward Air and Neutral Air, and Up Throw sends the opponent well into the air for Isabelle to follow-up with Up Air, Down Air, Forward Air, or Back Air.

Use Isabelle’s grabs well, but don’t overuse them as they can leave Isabelle vulnerable and decrease her tilt usage.


Okay, simply put, avoid using Neutral Special and Down Special. Neutral Special is built in and Isabelle automatically knows how to use it properly against projectiles. Using it during training will cause her to just spam it even if there is no projectile, so do not use it. Down Special should be avoided for a different reason. Down Special places a lloyd into the ground, and if the opponent steps on it or Isabelle presses Down-B again it launches into the air. The problem is she can’t use Down Special like humans, as it was designed to predict player movement and wall off areas. She will just use it randomly on stage, and even if it does land, it will kill later than Up Air would. Down Special puts Isabelle into an animation where the opponent can land a free hit. Avoid Down Special, it’s not worth it.

The only special move to consider using is Side Special. Side Special is a great attack as it is a grab from a range and can be used to send the opponent in a bad location or kill at moderately high percents. The problem (as I stated above) is if Isabelle doesn’t land Side Special, she may just stand there. This isn’t always the case, but it isn’t avoidable when using the move. Side Special is best used sparingly to reap its benefits and minimize the chance of the freeze occurring.

Quick note about Isabelle’s Up Special – it’s a great recovery. It goes far and the balloons have a hitbox. The hit box can REALLY screw up some characters’ recoveries such as the Ice Climbers (sorry Peridot). It can be gimped unlike any other recovery (except Villager’s, of course) and a swift attack at the right angle can send Isabelle right into the blast zone. The benefit of this unusual recovery, however, is the amiibo AI doesn’t understand that attacking the balloons is how you gimp Isabelle. Instead, the opponent will just attack normally, hitting both balloons and Isabelle.

With Isabelle’s moves out of the way, let’s move on to her most optimal strategy: aerial combat.

Beginners (The Aerial Menace)

You want to maximize Isabelle’s air attacks, so you want to have a jumpy character. Not only jumping, mind you, as your ground attacks lead into her great aerials, but above average jumping for an amiibo. This concept is different from other aerial characters like Rosalina, because almost all of Isabelle’s aerials are fantastic in most situations and don’t require too much set up to get going. Moves like Down Air leaves some opponents simply unable to attack your landing.

Edge guarding is far more important. Isabelle has unbelievable gimping capabilities with Down Air, Forward Air, and Back Air, so she should be going in to attack every time the opponent is offstage. Do not edge guard from the stage as it seems to take away from off stage attacks. With such a great recovery, Isabelle can afford to go deep to spike or gimp the opponent. I suggest training your Isabelle to parry really well, as out of parry she can use Up Tilt or Up Smash and Forward Tilt or Forward Smash. She also uses Down Tilt if you teach her… but don’t.

Advanced (The Sweep and Beet)

The Sweep and Beat is another valid strategy where you primarily use Up Tilt on stage. You mostly sacrifice the use of Dash attack and use Up Smash. The reason for this strategy is mostly due to how the AI uses Up Tilt. Isabelle will follow up with Up Air once Up Tilt can no longer connect or when the opponent is launched high enough into the air. There is a chance, however, depending on the opponent’s weight that she would follow up with an Up Smash. You want to train Isabelle so that her Up Smash value is high enough where she has a reasonable chance of using it out of Up Tilt, but not to use it much else. This strategy is a trickier one to train and is riskier depending on the matchup.

The Sweep and Beat is more advanced due to the fact that you need to be very careful about how you use Up Smash, and allowing Isabelle to prioritize it over Up Tilt is REALLY bad.

How to Train the Isabelle Amiibo in Smash Ultimate

Doc note: Like I said, this is a really unconventional guide and you may find it more effective to use more conventional methods.

The suggested training method isn’t to train Isabelle to level 50 yourself. The reason is due to the specific weights you want to get to, and when you get past level 25 it can be hard to avoid moves you don’t want Isabelle to overuse.

First, train Isabelle from level 1 – 10 using all of her grounded moves on Final Destination, and to edge guard almost every time she is offstage. You need that value really high. If you are using the advanced technique, these levels are where you use Up Tilt above all else except aerials.

From level 10-20, I suggest you get a custom stage where you have strong vertical wind, and you move the stage on a track behind a horizontal wind barrier. This method allows two things: first, it is unlike Ladder Method; it won’t teach ledge guarding (where the amiibo defends the ledge by attacking from the stage instead of edge guarding) and second, the amiibo won’t attack after about 30 seconds because they will only be trying to recover. This position allows you to land free aerials and increase the aerial value without fear of a counterattack. 

          (Portal is optional)

From level 20-25, play how you want your amiibo to play. Use all of Isabelle’s tilts, smash attacks, and most importantly her aerials. Once that is done and if you aren’t quite satisfied, go to level 30 with that style. After that, turn Learn off and level your amiibo to level 50 in any way that you like. If after you hit level 50 and your Isabelle isn’t what you intended, turn Learn back on and bring her to the custom stage and train her for about 10 minutes. If after that she isn’t closer to what you had planned, restart.

Why It Works

Isabelle excels against opponents without wide hitboxes due to her ridiculous aerial game. She also dominates opponents who struggle with recovery. A decent selection of the cast struggles with recovery, even top tiers like Shulk, as most optimal amiibo are very grounded.

Now this isn’t a part of the normal guides, but I think having this will help new players understand if their Isabelle amiibo is ready, or if it’s being tested against the wrong characters. What do I mean by this? What I mean is sometimes your amiibo is actually really good, but you compare it to the wrong character, and you get the wrong idea. So, I want to mention what to look out for while testing your Isabelle amiibo to get a better understanding of her strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities.

Good Matchups for Isabelle

  • Poor recovery characters: With Isabelle’s fantastic recovery and aerials, Shulk and Mario struggle.
  • Extremely grounded characters: Isabelle’s disjointed Up Smash and Down Smash give these characters untrained in aerial combat a hard time, even some aerial-trained Donkey Kongs and even some Ridleys.
  • Poor reach characters: Without good reach, opponents like Pikachu and Luigi can’t challenge some of Isabelle’s moves, with Pikachu’s Forward Smash being an exception.

Matchups To Look Out for as Isabelle

  • Sword characters or similar: With a few exceptions, characters like King Dee Dee Dee and Hero negate most of Isabelle’s attacks by outranging her and forcing Isabelle to attack more on the ground, causing some very dodgy situations.
  • Heavy characters: Some characters are too heavy for Isabelle to deal with, like King Dee Dee Dee and King K. Rool that just shrug off some of her attacks.
  • Really hard-hitting characters: Some characters like Donkey Kong and Dr. Mario hit Isabelle too hard and kill her due to her weight. In the case of Dr. Mario, however, he has a lot of bad weaknesses so it tends to be less of a wash over Isabelle and more even or in your favor.
  • Characters that can punish landings well: What I do not mean by this is characters who stop landings, like normal Up Tilt spam; I mean characters like Mario that are able to allow the opponent to land but punish the end lag of landing with a well-timed Grab or Forward Smash. These characters are a much more niche counter to Isabelle and are a dime in a dozen.

The most problematic characters mix and match the above weaknesses but can be a favorable matchup if Isabelle exploits their biggest weaknesses (examples below).

Example 1: Donkey Kong has poor recovery and Isabelle’s aerial game makes it hard for DK to sometimes get in. But his reach on the ground, heavy weight, and powerful attacks still favor DK or even the matchup.

Example 2: Shulk has a long, disjointed reach and has a decent aerial game, but his recovery is much too exploitable. These characteristics strangely make this matchup favorable for Isabelle if she edge guards, but a really bad one if she doesn’t.

Example 3: Dr. Mario, while his reach and recovery are poor, plays such a strong aerial game, hits really hard, punishes landings, and varies his recovery enough with his Down Special, Isabelle either washes over Dr. Mario, or Dr. Mario washes over her.

Stage Selection

There are also stages to consider when training the Isabelle amiibo. As an aerial fighter, Isabelle favors platforms due to her aerial game, but in some cases less platforms are better. Keep in mind that most tournaments don’t allow counter picking stages, but tournaments like SUAL have a randomized selection of stages and Wumbo allows counter picking characters and stages.

  • Final Destination: By far Isabelle’s worst stage to play on, as it’s the only stage with no platforms whatsoever. However, this is an ideal stage if you are facing a character with a better aerial game than Isabelle, as sometimes forcing more on-stage play will be to your advantage. It should go without saying, however, that if you are facing someone who loves to be on the ground, DON’T GO HERE.
  • Battlefield: This is the most common platform stage chosen, and good thing it isn’t too bad for Isabelle. With platforms, you can poke through and get nice hits with Up Air and Up Smash. There is a time and place for this stage, however, as sword fighters or characters with long reach can often turn the platforms from a blessing into a curse. So, I would switch to a stage with either less or more spaced-out platforms to make sure Isabelle can get away from characters who love to use platforms.
  • Other (Pokémon Stadium, Town and City, etc.): This is the goldilocks stage selection for Isabelles. It allows high control in the air, but not too many platforms for the opponent to use against you. Use this stage in favorable and unfavorable matchups, unless one of the other two stages are superior.

In order to make a proper stage choice, you need to know the opponent’s strengths and weaknesses.

Example 1: You have to face Zelda, and you know her Up Air, Forward Air, and Back Air are a huge problem, but other than that she likes to use Up Smash and Forward Smash. A stage in the Other category would be your best bet to win, because Isabelle can’t beat Zelda on the ground and too many platforms make Zelda’s Up Air too easy to land, so you need to go for something in the middle. It will still be a hard matchup, but it is most likely your best bet.

Example 2: You have to face a Shulk, and you know Shulk LOVES Forward Smash and Forward Air, but has a bad recovery. You need to avoid Final Destination at all costs, as that only plays into Shulk’s strengths. Either the Other stages or Battlefield are your choices. Even though Shulk attacks with Forward Air and sometimes Up Smash, you need to force an aerial game to get him off stage for quick and easy stocks.

Example 3: It’s an Isabelle ditto, and you know your opponent has their amiibo more trained for the air as they took training method 1 from this guide, but you chose option 2 and are more grounded. Final Destination is your best option. If you know the opposing Isabelle is better in the air, but you are better on the ground, forcing no platforms hurts you both, but the opponent will be hurting more.

There are many complexities that go into matchups, but I hope these examples provide a better roadmap for your Isabelle amiibo’s success.


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