by Doc – Owner, Founder, Amiibo Elevator
“Those who can’t do, teach” – Your Elementary School Gym teacher who couldn’t run a mile without dying but insisted that you do anyway
I’ve been training amiibo since the Smash 4 days, and have never been a “top” trainer to my knowledge. It doesn’t bother me, either: I have law school, an internship, a personal life, and a website and Youtube channel to run. Amiibo training isn’t a big deal to me compared to everything else I’ve got going on, and I get more enjoyment out of providing and recruiting resources for others to improve their amiibo anyway.
Because of that, I’ve never put in more than about half an hour into training a good amiibo. Sometimes it worked: I trained the OG Mega Man who is still a paragon of outside-the-box amiibo training to this day, and several of my other experiments heavily advanced their characters as well. I thought it was pretty neat, being able to train something so great in such a short period of time.
Sometimes it didn’t work. At some point I looked back and realized that I hadn’t made major improvements to a character since (roughly) the summer of 2020. That was partially because I had mostly stopped training amiibo, but also because the other amiibo trainers had simply upped their game past my level, and I never improved. I never bothered to get better because it wasn’t all that important to me, and I didn’t want to spend the dozens of hours that some trainers put into their amiibo to get them right. I believe in excellence, but that’s just fanaticism.
Recently, things got shaken up. I hosted an amiibo tournament in the Amiibo Patients Discord server, and there was a specific entrant in that tournament that really broke my old-fashioned conventional wisdom of amiibo training in favor of a different approach on things. I had two conflicting opinions on succeeding in the amiibo meta: First, that training good amiibo consisted of simply spending several hours on one amiibo, methodically repeating the same behaviors over and over to get an amiibo that used a very narrow portion of its moveset. For most of amiibo history, that was the case, and it still is for some amiibo.
My other, contradictory belief was that experimenting with amiibo was the only way to train a “good” amiibo. After all, if the typical amiibo of X character is B tier, and everyone who trains an “optimal” amiibo of X character ends up with an amiibo that fights as well as a B tier, nobody’s actually trained a “good” amiibo. They’ve just followed in the footsteps of whoever pioneered that strat, and haven’t done anything good at all. (That’s why I title the amiibo training guides as “Beginner’s Guides”: there’s no correct way to train an amiibo, just foundations that you can start from if you so choose.)
During that amiibo tournament, DaveK’s Simon Belmont busted the first belief and validated the second. See, the traditional Simon amiibo is mostly a Forward Tilt spammer, with a few minor variations to soften some hard matchups. He was already a meta-breaker who didn’t get enough visibility from amiibo trainers, and he performs very well against heavies. DaveK’s new Simon Belmont did the exact opposite: its playstyle was completely chaotic and off-the-wall, and it used every part of its moveset in various ways. It was a complete picture of what a Simon amiibo could play like.
At the same time, Hictor the Dragon was starting to share some of his experiments with me. Hictor makes it a habit to ignore amiibo training guides and instead tries crazy “corner case” experiments with amiibo, doing things like frame-perfect parrying, inventing the Moonwalk Method, Jab Lock Method and so on. Hictor doesn’t give a rip about the so-called expertise of prior amiibo trainers: he screws around with the amiibo he wants to screw around with, and the resulting amiibo almost always uncovers some previously-unknown facet of the amiibo’s AI. In fact, at the time of this writing Hictor’s Link is the #1 Vanilla Link in the Amiibots system:
I eventually performed a cranial-rectal separation on myself and decided that I had been approaching amiibo wrong. I had been doing the bare minimum needed to get an amiibo to level 50 and calling it good. I should’ve been trying some of the crazy new crap that people like DaveK and Hictor were coming up with, and borrowing some of the methods that other trainers had been using as well. Instead of taking the easy road already laid out in the guides, I should be experimenting and trying new things.
To that end, I started training everything in Moonwalk Method, and using the Parrying loadout, Slow Smash and other small adjustments to see what happens to the amiibo. I still don’t spend much time training amiibo, only about an hour per train, but that hour is more than twice as effective as a half-hour would be. I’ve trained a knock-your-socks-off Bayonetta since then, and it’s looking like my Moonwalk Pokemon Trainer (who is the subject of an upcoming training guide) is going to be in the top echelons of Pokemon Trainer amiibo for a very long time. Not bad for my first Pokemon Trainer amiibo in ~3 years.
Moonwalk hasn’t worked on absolutely everything I’ve tried, mind you: I have a Wario and Pit who are nothing but disappointments, and a cousin who lets everyone down too. I’m fine with that. I just have to try something else with them and see what happens.
If you’re in the old-fashioned mindset, or simply haven’t trained in a while, read up a bit on the research being done in the Amiibo Patients Discord. You don’t have to grind to make a great amiibo: you just have to try something new. Reference the amiibo training guides on this site to see what’s worked before and add your own spice to it. Use different training methods and game settings to see what will succeed and what won’t.
Just have fun digging in, man.