Cause and Effect: Up Smash

Do you remember the old article I wrote called “why do amiibo spam their up smash”? Well, this is the sequel to that. The original post was more of a rant than an informational post, so I’m here to fix that. The up smash is a problematic move for me. At some point, every amiibo I’ve ever trained has spammed it. It’s been a source of great frustration for me, to the point where now I never use my up smash whether I’m playing against an amiibo or not. In this post, I’ll be talking about what causes it and how it can be solved.

Everything started with Villager. I was so excited to get him – I loved Animal Crossing and to finally be able to have physical merchandise of it sounded great. Naturally, I wanted my Villager to be a great amiibo. I put so much time and effort into Villager, and he did turn out great, though he was using his up smash (the fireworks) to kill me quite often. Eventually, this evolved into more than just a kill move – before I knew it, all he would do was his up smash. His reaction to anything I would do, was an up smash. If I ran up to him? Up smash. If I was above him? Up smash. Basically, he’d use it whenever he could, and this was the most severe spamming problem I’ve ever had with any amiibo.

I eventually reset my Villager and cast him aside. To this day, I haven’t yet trained him again, but I do plan to eventually. I was getting a lot of new amiibo that I wanted to train. Villager’s up smash spamming made me fear the up smash. I’d quit the game if I ever got hit by it because I just didn’t want the amiibos spamming it. I stopped using the up smash completely. I’d never use it in any situation. Yet still, some amiibo used it.

I reached out to Glenn from AmiiboTrainer.com and he gave me a decent explanation of what he thought the problem was. He told me that he hadn’t had this problem to the degree that I had, but speculated it was because of omega stages. He went on to say that from the center of an omega stage, the closest blast line was the top blast line, and that it made sense that an amiibo would use its up smash, because it’s just trying to send me over the closest blast line. If you don’t know, there are four blast lines. One to the left of the stage, one to the right, one above it, and one below it. If a character ever passes through one of these lines, they’ll lose a stock. To me, what Glenn said made sense because I trained Villager only on omega stages. So I made a custom stage that was very close to the bottom blast line, and made sure its edges were close to the left and right blast lines. I also played on either side of the stage, never the center. Yet my amiibo would still spam the move, so this wasn’t it.

Recently, my Ness has been having some problems. At some point, every amiibo regresses, and that’s the state my Ness is in at the time of writing. He’s losing to amiibo I’ve put hundreds of hours less into training. I’ve trained Ness for 10 minutes on every single stage, and 10 stocks with every single character. Theoretically, if I’m good at Smash, that amiibo should be invincible, but that’s not the case. He’s in a position where his playstyle is very reactive, and he simply waits for opponents to attack before he does anything. He avoids offense for the most part and sticks to defense. As a result, I reached out to Glenn again and this time, he gave me an explanation that I think makes perfect sense. He hasn’t had any articles on his site about this, so I figured I’d tell you guys. As a result, I take no credit for any of what’s to come.

He told me about the “Penalty Box”. In his words, “the penalty box is an imaginary square that surrounds an amiibo. If an opponent enters the box via an aerial attack or jump-in, they’re vulnerable to an easy counter attack.” And you know what that counter-attack is for most of my amiibo? The up smash. This explained so much, because while Ness’ up smash (which he used whenever he blocked one of my attacks) has a low damage output and leaves him open to attack, the yoyo produced by the up smash covers all the area above him, which is why he got so good at hitting me with it.

I play very aerially no matter which character I am. I like to train my amiibo to rely on their aerials, especially Ness. Glenn trains his amiibo to stay grounded, which makes sense because his most prominent amiibo are Bowser and Ganondorf, who, by nature, remain on the ground. He also told me that the penalty box is why grounded amiibo will often beat aerial amiibo, because they can simply up smash and punish aerial amiibo with ease. It’s also worth noting that he feeds his amiibo and takes them to tournaments while I don’t feed my amiibo. That leads me to my next point.

Is there a difference in how the amiibo AI plays if it’s fed equipment or not? I mean, I know there is, considering equipped amiibo will learn to take advantage of their bonus effects, but what I mean is how they play. I trained a Mario amiibo a while back with equipment and to be honest, I didn’t like it. I didn’t feel in control of his playstyle. He was very powerful and he defeated me consistently, but I didn’t feel like I could change him for the best. He did rely on his ground moves more than his aerials, though, and that’s why I wonder if there’s really a difference between how they play or not.

With Ness, though, I think it’s truly a good idea for him to be trained aerially. Ness has an advantage over other amiibo in that his neutral aerial goes through up smashes. Except for a select few, like, ironically, Villager’s. As a result, my Ness easily beats out grounded amiibo I’ve trained like Bowser who use this “penalty box” to deal out up smashes. My opinion is now that the penalty box is something every amiibo will develop knowledge of at some point, and it’ll take advantage of it at some time or another. However, I do think there’s a point where it’s too much. My Ness, like I said, used his up smash whenever he shielded my attacks. This led to something…odd, because I could simply walk  up to him and use my back aerial, which he’d perfect shield, and then sure enough, he would use his up smash afterwards, allowing me to kill him. I could bait him into using his up smash whenever I wanted to and this wasn’t something I thought was good.

My final word on this is that up smashes are good, but only when used in moderation. I think the penalty box is now the main reason to use an up smash (but there are other options – for example, I think Bowser’s best out of shield option is his Up B when used on the ground). Thanks to Glenn for helping out with the up smash problems. If you have a few moments, you should check out his site, which has podcasts on amiibo training. Like I said, he feeds his amiibo equipment, so you may even find that his tips work better for you, since he has a few short character pages that go into detail on what kind of equipment works best for them. Anyway, thanks for reading this article. I’ll be releasing some more amiibo guides over the next few days, so stay tuned!

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