The Beginner’s Guide to Training the Pokemon Trainer amiibo in Smash Ultimate

by Doc – Owner, Founder, Trainer of Trainers

Welcome to Amiibo Doctor! In addition to training this amiibo, we also have the most cutting-edge guides for nearly every amiibo in the competitive amiibo scene’s many Discord servers. You should also reference our Raid Boss amiibo guides, and if you’re having trouble winning in competitive amiibo, check the official amiibo tier list! Happy training!

Hi, I’m Amiibo Doctor. You may recognize me from such sites as amiibodoctor.com, but nobody really visits that one.

My Pokemon Trainer experiments with “Agent #006” were the first successful attempts at a “Flare Blitz” Pokemon Trainer amiibo back in the summer of 2019, and every successful Pokemon Trainer since then has borrowed significantly from my original strategy. There’s been very large improvements to the strategy since then, and of course all credit for those improvements should go to the innovators who made them. I’ve researched a few of my own improvements as well, and trained a Pokemon Trainer amiibo that is climbing the ranks of the Pokemon Trainer amiibo on Amiibots.

Long story short – daddy’s home, and he’s bringing a shiny new Pokemon Trainer just for you.

If you want to see how I’ve trained my Pokemon Trainer amiibo, I’ve recorded the training session in its entirety with live commentary over it.

Doc Note: Less than a month after writing this, my Pokemon Trainer amiibo has one tournament victory under its belt, and is shaping up to be the #2 Pokemon Trainer in the world less than a month after its introduction to Amiibots.

AI Issues

Pokemon Trainer doesn’t have any notable AI problems, but you should understand the incredibly unique structure of the amiibo AI before training it.

The term “Pokemon Trainer amiibo” refers to four amiibo figures:

  • Pokemon Trainer
  • Charizard
  • Ivysaur
  • Squirtle

In Smash Ultimate, the “Pokemon Trainer” character is comprised of Charizard, Ivysaur and Squirtle characters. Each amiibo figure scans in as the “Pokemon Trainer” option, but starts with the character on the amiibo. For example, my Charizard amiibo scans as “Pokemon Trainer”, and he will always start with the Charizard character in the trio. The Pokemon Trainer figure allows you to choose the starting Pokemon from the menu on the battle screen, which is a functionality the other amiibo don’t possess. Aside from the starting difference, these four amiibo figures function identically.

Nintendo did not allow for an abnormally-large amiibo chip and decided to cram all three characters into one chip, so each of the three characters interprets the exact same set of behavior data instead of having their own. As a result, if you train one character to use a move, the other characters will use their version of that move input as well. In other words, if you train Ivysaur to use Razor Leaf, Charizard will use Flare Blitz more often because both moves are their Side Special inputs. Much like Pyra and Mythra, it’s effectively an in-game brain transplant.

The Gen 9 Kanto remake: “Pokemon: Ivysaur’s fuckin’ pissed version”

You should take note, however, that having the same training data is not having the same interpretive algorithm. Squirtle and Charizard has Down Throw to Forward Air combos, but Ivysaur has Down Throw to Neutral Air instead. If you train Down Throw, Squirtle and Charizard will follow it with Forward Air but Ivysaur will follow it with Neutral Air.

Charizard has built-in Down Air spikes at the ledge, but Ivysaur has to be taught specifically to do them. Squirtle has a few combos using his aerials, but Ivysaur and Charizard don’t have as many. You’re dealing with three different amiibo AIs using the same basic data. What you teach one character, all three will learn, but may use that data differently.

There’s also a recovery-specific fact to be aware of. Ivysaur will always switch to Charizard when he’s knocked too far offstage to tether back, so Ivysaur will be out less often on average than his teammates.

Overall Playstyle

Like a real Pokemon team, each of your characters plays a specific and unique role. Charizard is your tank. He has the best recovery, best KO options and will anchor your team. If you win a match, it’ll usually be because Charizard steamrolled the opponent. Ivysaur is your damage-builder. His multihit moves and Razor Leaf will add percent to the opponent, but getting an early KO with him is rare. Squirtle is your Metronome. He’s very light and dies at 50, but is sometimes invincible thanks to Withdraw and can net unpredictable KOs with his very vertical Up Smash and unusually competent combos. You can’t predict how Squirtle will perform until he’s done.

Your Starter

As I said above, if you have one of the three individual figures, you can’t change which Pokemon you start the match with. That’s a bummer. If you can decide what you start with, you should start with Ivysaur. Ivysaur doesn’t have as much to offer as Charizard or Squirtle, but opening with Razor Leaf projectile spam makes for a very advantageous start. Razor Leaf goes a significant distance, is easily spammable, and has perfect synergy with teaching Squirtle’s Withdraw and Charizard’s Flare Blitz because they’re all spamworthy and Side Specials. Once Ivysaur switches or dies, Charizard is up next. Charizard can take advantage of the free damage built with Razor Leaf and score an early KO. I’ve seen some matches where Ivysaur simply started the match with Razor Leaf spam, switched to Charizard while the opponent was at 50-70%, and Charizard finished him off without taking even 20% damage between the two.

Your starter Pokemon also isn’t that important: the amiibo will automatically switch when it dies, and it has a switching routine that isn’t changed by training. Its Down Special usage probability is always set to the same value, so it’s only a decision that affects the first 15-30 seconds of the match. It’s out of your control after that.

Regardless of who you start with, your amiibo needs to center its playstyle around two moves: Side Special and Up Smash. Side Special is, by far, the most important move in the kit of all three characters.

  • Squirtle’s Withdraw keeps Squirtle in a semi-invincible state to prevent an early death, builds damage on opponents, is mostly safe on shield and can KO at higher percents. Since Squirtle is the lightest character of the three and is a bit of a glass cannon, we’ll keep him safe with Withdraw and still put out damage.
  • Ivysaur’s Razor Leaf is a weak projectile, but it builds damage fast on grounded opponents, and punishes campers significantly. Pokemon Trainer overall doesn’t have much for projectiles (only Squirtle’s useless Water Gun, Ivysaur’s Razor Leaf and Bullet Seed, and Charizard’s Flamethrower), and is only effective at arm’s length, so capitalizing on Razor Leaf’s potential by using it at the start is your best option. Be sure Ivysaur knows to spam the hey out of Razor Leaf.
  • Charizard’s Flare Blitz will carry your entire team, and might be a contender with Alolan Whip for the best move in the game. It goes across most of the stage, can KO in three successful hits, and has two hitboxes so it’ll eat shields fairly well. The only way to stop Flare Blitz is two successful parries, and most amiibo don’t have that kind of parrying behavior.

You’ll know that you’ve done a good job with Side Special when your Ivysaur can throw it up to five times in a row fairly often, and that your amiibo is hardly ever using Side Special above the stage. This is mostly a problem with Flare Blitz, because Pokemon Trainer can SD if he uses Flare Blitz incorrectly. If you find that it is using Side Special above the stage, go a few matches where you moonwalk and use Side Special, and don’t jump. That typically fixes it.

Your other most-frequent move should be your Up Smash. Pokemon Trainer should use Up Smash as anti-air, but it’s also useful to Up Smash when the opponent is within hit range. I teach Up Smash using Squirtle, because he’ll rely on it more than the others, and its two hits make it easier to teach.

  • Up Smash for Squirtle is his best KO move, although he’ll be using Withdraw more. Squirtle is really fast compared to his teammates. A Squirtle that stays grounded, gets underneath an aerial opponent and uses Up Smash will be a Squirtle that doesn’t hold back his team.
  • Ivysaur has a pretty odd Up Smash, being one large explosion. It’s very easy to parry, but opponents who don’t parry and get caught in his explosion are going to have a hard time. Ivysaur’s Up Smash is the least useful of the three, but if it lands it’ll net a deserved KO.
  • Charizard really likes his Up Smash, and you’ll have to be careful that he doesn’t prefer it over Flare Blitz. Charizard’s Up Smash, like the other ones, is a great anti-air and is probably the best of the three. He likes to use it when he’s next to the opponent, so be very careful not to use Up Smash when you’re standing too close to your amiibo.

To capitalize on these traits, your Pokemon Trainer amiibo will have to be mostly grounded, but not entirely. The end result will be a Pokemon Trainer that is usually on the ground, but is capable of following up attacks and throws with aerial attacks. Overall, you want a Pokemon Trainer that is well-rounded in its movement patterns, is capable of using its entire moveset, but prefers to use Side Special and Up Smash over everything else.

How to Train the Pokemon Trainer amiibo in Smash Ultimate

Please familiarize yourself with the basics of amiibo training before getting into this guide, as I’m assuming you’re already familiar with the recommendations in that guide. You may also find it useful to train Pokemon Trainer in Slow Smash and with Easy Perfect Shield spirits on so the parrying comes easier to you.

Training the Pokemon Trainer is pretty straightforward. You need to remember three things:

  1. Side Special and Up Smash
  2. Moonwalk a lot
  3. Parry everything, as often as humanly possible

You’ll be training your Pokemon Trainer in the normal ruleset from the amiibo guide linked above, with no extra frills beyond the optional Slow Smash and Easy Perfect Shield Spirits, and Heavy Smash if you’d prefer an amiibo that stays more grounded. When I trained my Pokemon Trainer, I tacked on all those things, and they turned out pretty well.

Side Special

When you’re training, your first priority should be teaching Side Special and moonwalking. Since I train in Best of 3 matches, I always spend the first match teaching Side Special, and moonwalking whenever I’m not actively using Side Special. Don’t worry about whether your amiibo has started actively moonwalking yet: in my experience, the final result may not moonwalk at all, but they’ll still space their attacks pretty well after they’ve leveled up significantly.

You’ll find that it’s easiest to teach Side Special by spamming Razor Leaf, so be sure to spend most of the first match as Ivysaur and spam Razor Leaf while camping out the opponent. Don’t be afraid to go a bit ham on the amiibo at the earliest levels when it comes to Side Special, as the moonwalking will balance out most of the “aggression shyness” that many amiibo get if they’re beaten too hard. Ideally, Ivysaur will end up using Razor Leaf around 4-8 times in a row.

If you get KOed by the amiibo, don’t be afraid to switch: Pokemon Trainer’s Down Special value is set in stone, so you can’t make it switch more or less often. You should still make sure that you’ve used Side Special on the other characters for the sake of being well-rounded, but Ivysaur’s Side Special is most important in early training. In my training, I didn’t bother to switch and just used Side Special on whatever character I was playing at the time, but you may find something else works better for you.

Typically by the second match, if the amiibo hasn’t picked up a little bit of Side Special I’ll stop worrying about teaching it with Ivysaur and start approaching with Flare Blitz and Withdraw from longer distances. The end goal isn’t a Pokemon Trainer that always approaches with Side Special, so our moonwalking and parrying will balance that out to keep it from approaching too often.

Up Smash

You’ll have an easy time teaching Up Smash to Pokemon Trainer. It’ll be such an easy time that you’ll actually have to worry about too much Up Smash after a few matches. I typically sprinkle a few in for the first match, but otherwise wait until the second one to start using Up Smash. He’ll pick it up regardless of when you teach it, but Pokemon Trainer will prefer it too much if you’re too excited to use it, so you might wait until the latter half of your second match to play it safe.

As you can see in the video that I linked above, my Pokemon Trainer had a tendency to use Up Smash without any nearby opponents at all, all the way up to level 49. If your amiibo is using attacks that won’t land and there’s no opponents nearby, your amiibo has a huge problem. Naturally, I was a bit worried about it.

However, once it leveled to 50, the Up Smash problem went away. We know that amiibo AI changes as it levels up, so it seems reasonable to conclude that the new AI solved the problem for me. Your amiibo might not be so lucky: if you have this problem with Up Smash, you’ll need to balance it out with a few remedial 3-stock matches in which you don’t use a single Up Smash, and instead rely on tilts and aerials to attack. Don’t let yourself get hit by Up Smash either, as that will reinforce Up Smash behavior.

Movement Patterns

If you aren’t familiar with the Moonwalk Method, you should probably get familiar with it. I’ve updated the basic amiibo training guide to include a section on the Moonwalk Method, or you could reference the Amiibo Doctor Youtube channel’s recent videos.

Moonwalk Method is particularly useful for Pokemon Trainer because spacing is a large part of the amiibo’s strategy. Each of the three characters has to space their Side Specials differently, and it’s nigh impossible to train specific spacings into each of them. Moonwalk seems to solve this problem pretty well. Since Moonwalk specifically raises the feint values of the amiibo, and Pokemon Trainer’s Side Specials are all reliant on not being shielded or parried, the amiibo often develops a propensity to attack with a spacing that won’t easily be blocked. That’s pretty useful.

Miscellaneous/Up-Close Attacks

Mom always said that you can’t be good at only one thing in life, and that’s true for Pokemon Trainer amiibo as well. While a good Pokemon Trainer will hold his Side Special and Up Smashes near and dear to his heart, he’s going to need some other options up close.

Personally, I focus a lot on Down Throw when my amiibo is close enough to get a grab. Each of the amiibo have a built-in combo out of Down Throw with varying utility: Squirtle and Charizard have Down Throw to Forward Air, and Ivysaur has Neutral Air. While only Charizard’s is really useful for netting KOs, the other two can still build damage with their throw. Generally, if your Pokemon Trainer is more proficient at parrying, its Down Throw options get indirectly more useful because any counterattack by the opponent gets parried.

I also make it a point to use Forward Air more than any other aerial, since Squirtle has above-average edgeguarding abilities offstage and Charizard can make good use of it as well. The other aerials in the Pokemon Trainer moveset are only good on one character, but Forward Air is good on two of the three. You should at some point use all five aerials in the moveset, (especially Down Air for Charizard’s spikes) because a well-rounded Pokemon Trainer is the best Pokemon Trainer. Just be sure Forward Air is used most often.

If you’re really wanting to push yourself as a trainer, try Jab 1 follow-up attacks. If Pokemon Trainer can use these (I’ll admit: I’m not sure, and need to specifically train to test it), you’ll want to try Jab 1 into a tilt attack. Forward Tilt is probably your best option, but it’s useless on Squirtle, decent on Ivysaur and a lower-end KO option on Charizard, so you might poke around and see what else you can get away with. Jabs in general are something that you can experiment with quite a bit in amiibo, and Pokemon Trainer is no exception.

If you find that Jab 1 follow-ups either aren’t helpful or can’t be used consistently, Forward Tilt is still your best option for close-up engagement.

Parrying

You’ll have the easiest time teaching parrying by training in Slow Smash, with Easy Perfect Shield spirits active on a very low-level spirit. I use Level 1 Goomba spirits, as they have two slots and almost no stats at all.

It’s easiest to teach parrying by parrying Ivysaur’s Razor Leaf repeatedly. The timing for it is very loose with Easy Perfect Shield spirits, and if your Ivysaur is properly taught to spam Razor Leaf, he’ll end up giving you 4-8 consecutive chances to parry it. Take advantage of them: it doesn’t take much to teach proper parrying.

Why It Works

Pokemon Trainer has historically been an inconsistent pick because of his inability to properly space his Side Specials, often picking a fight when he’s too close to the opponent to safely win. By rounding out his move usage and movement patterns with the Moonwalk Method, we produce a Pokemon Trainer that not only spaces his Flare Blitzes and Withdraws properly, he minimizes the uselessness of Ivysaur by spamming Razor Leaf from a safe distance. This training guide keeps his worst aspects from being taken advantage of, while maximizing his most useful attacks.

And that’s Pokemon Trainer! I wish you the best of luck: he’s a really interesting amiibo, but very hard to pin down.

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