Character Guide: Donkey Kong

Table of Contents

  • Section 1: Guide Introduction
  • Section 2: Amiibo Overview / Pros & Cons
  • Section 3: Recommended Equipment
  • Section 4: Leveling up your Amiibo
  • Section 5: Post Level-50 Training
  • Section 6: Conclusion & Credits


File:DK Direct.png

Welcome to Amiibo Dojo’s Donkey Kong training guide!

This king of the jungle is superstrong, a little scatterbrained, and absolutely nuts about bananas. His adventures usually start with people stealing his hoard of them. As his physique suggests, this Kong is a powerhouse, but he’s got speed to match too! His famous red necktie is adorned with his initials, DK.

Donkey Kong is the perfect example of a “diamond in the rough” character. Many amiibo trainers, myself included, initally cast Donkey Kong aside after failing to find potential in him. However, the few trainers who kept trying found a game-changing tidbit of information: his cargo throw completely ignores the effects of Improved escapability, one of the most common amiibo bonus effects. Donkey Kong now stands as a viable fighter, proving that each and every amiibo has its own niche, no matter how hopeless it may seem at first. Let’s get this guide started by outlining DK’s in-game abilities – his strengths, weaknesses, and tendencies, so that you know what to look for during training!

Please note: Although all of the information in this guide is 100% accurate, it may be revised in the future if there are further game updates to Super Smash Bros.


Amiibo Overview

donkeykongprocon.PNGDonkey Kong’s greatest strength is his grab game: his cargo throw ignores the effects of Improved escapability, allowing him to rack up incredible damage with repeated throws. His back throw even possesses KO potential, which classifies it as a kill throw! DK also has a good set of smash attacks – they’re a bit on the slow side and have some blind spots, but are quite powerful and get the job done. His special moves and recovery are above average as well; Headbutt and Hand Slap in particular have immense shield-breaking capabilities that can help set up for a kill. Finally, Donkey Kong is very resilient thanks to his heavy weight, and can last a long time on the battlefield.

The main gripe with Donkey Kong is his AI. Aside from its slight overuse of jab and forward aerial, many amiibo trainers simply don’t know how to make it work, since it develops its own unique playstyle. This deters people from training the character, which is an unfortunate waste of potential. Donkey Kong’s attacks are also quite slow, making them punishable if missed.

The Consensus

We all thought Donkey Kong was a lost cause at first, but after a second look, we realized he wasn’t so bad after all. I think this is the case with a lot of underused / “low-tier” characters: we just haven’t found their niche yet. You’ll have to dive deep into the amiibo training realm to make this Kong super strong, but with time, the endless potential found within him will start to reveal itself.


Donkey Kong – Recommended Stats & Bonuses

Now that I’ve given you a general outline of Donkey Kong’s strengths and weaknesses, it’s time to begin the training process by setting him up with equipment! When feeding your amiibo, it’s important that you know what you’re doing – if you carelessly slap random stats and bonuses onto your amiibo, it’s not going to work very well. That being said, feeding an amiibo can be kind of complicated to someone who hasn’t done it before – that’s why this section is dedicated to telling you how to properly equip your amiibo. Here’s my recommended setup for Donkey Kong:

Point Distribution: +50 Attack / +50 Defense / +20 Speed

This is a rather unique stat spread that works especially well with Donkey Kong. With 50 points invested into both attack and defense, your amiibo will be able to hit hard and take hits. The extra 20 points go into speed, since DK’s mobility isn’t exactly stellar.

Bonus Combination:

  • Critical-hit capability
  • Improved escapability
  • Lifesteal

This is a modified version of the Rock-Paper-Scissors build, forgoing Explosive perfect shield in favor of Lifesteal. As mentioned before, Donkey Kong can rack up insane amounts of damage by repeatedly throwing his opponent around, and Lifesteal offers a 50% chance of restoring his health just by attacking! Improved escapability rounds out the set, ensuring that your amiibo escapes from grabs very quickly. This is invaluable against fighters with powerful throws, such as Ness and Toon Link.

If you would like to see some other bonus combinations that work well with Donkey Kong, check out this post, which goes over several equipment setups you can use on your amiibo.

Donkey Kong – Recommended Custom Moves

Donkey Kong boasts one of the best custom move sets of any character in the game.  Even so, not all of them are good trade-offs: a select few of his custom moves are flat-out inferior to their originals. To a new trainer (or one unfamiliar with the character), it can be tough to decide which versions to use, so I’m going to list each special move, and which choice will work best for your amiibo.

Neutral special (Giant Punch): Storm Punch

  • In addition to the default Giant Punch, there’s also Lightning Punch and Storm Punch. The former takes less time to charge, but deals less damage and lacks super armor at full wind-ups. The latter also deals less damage, but produces a powerful gust of wind that pushes foes away. Of the three, your best option is Storm Punch. Donkey Kong isn’t very accurate with his neutral special, and, as such, shouldn’t be using it at all during matches. If he accidentally uses the move at some point, it’ll at least push enemies away so they can’t move in to attack.

Side special (Headbutt): Stubborn Headbutt

  • There are two custom versions of this move: Jumping Headbutt and Stubborn Headbutt. The former, hence its name, adds a jump prior to the headbutt, but its bury effect is shorter. The latter, however, adds super armor, increased damage output, and is even capable of breaking a full shield. Your best choice is Stubborn Headbutt, the second custom move version. Thanks to its super armor and incredible shield-breaking prowess, it can potentially turn the tide of battle in Donkey Kong’s favor.

Up special (Spinning Kong:) Spinning Kong

  • Along with the default Spinning Kong, we also have Chopper Kong and Kong Cyclone. The first one, Chopper Kong, deals no damage, and grants almost no horizontal distance, but has increased vertical recovery. Kong Cyclone pulls opponents in before launching them, and even has super armor. Your best bet here is the default Spinning Kong. Most smash attacks (which are the most used moves in the amiibo metagame) will launch victims at a horizontal angle, meaning that your amiibo will need to be able to proficiently recover horizontally.

Down special (Hand Slap): Hot Slap

  • In addition to Hand Slap, the default version of the move, there’s also Focused Slap and Hot Slap. The former has increased hitstun and knockback, but decreased range. The latter, Hot Slap, creates flaming pillars instead of earth-shaking vibrations. Its horizontal reach is limited, but can hit airborne enemies and deals more damage than usual. The best option here is Hot Slap, as it is the fastest and most powerful version of this move.

If you find that you are missing a piece of equipment or custom move that you want to use on your amiibo, do not fear! I have a free equipment farming guide that you can check out by clicking here.

Feeding Your Amiibo

Now that you know all of your options, it’s time to start feeding your amiibo equipment! Please be aware that, for this part, I’m assuming that you’re going with my recommendations for stats and bonuses. Once you’re ready to begin, open the game, navigate to Games & More, and then to the amiibo section. Scan in your Donkey Kong amiibo, and you’ll see a status screen that details his stats and bonus effects.

There are a few things I want to mention before we continue. First, don’t worry about your amiibo’s current level. If it has already been trained, don’t reset it just to use this guide. Like an old dog can learn new tricks, an amiibo is more than capable of adapting to newly added or changed equipment. It doesn’t matter what level your amiibo is at – the feeding method I’m about to explain will work just fine.

Step 1: Equipping Bonus Effects

The first thing we’re going to do is give your amiibo its three bonus effects. Click the “Feed Equipment” option from the menu, and sort your equipment stash alphabetically. You’re going to be searching for three specific “prefixes” on your equipment pieces: “Critical Hitter”, “Escape Artist”, and “Vampire”. You can look at the image above for a visual example. If you realize you don’t have one of these bonuses, leave one of the slots blank, and you can feed your Donkey Kong the missing bonus later (if you want, you can always check out the equipment farming guide).

Step 2: Rounding Out Stat Values

For many people, this is the most difficult step: rounding out your amiibo’s points. The goal is to give your amiibo 50 points attack, 50 points defense, and 20 points speed. Don’t worry if you end up with, say, 52 points attack, 49 points defense, and 19 points speed. We’re aiming for a ballpark range here.

If you don’t know this already, each piece of equipment has a different color: orange, blue, or green. Orange pieces will increase an amiibo’s attack power, but decrease its defense. Blue pieces will increase its defense, but lower its speed. A green piece will increase its speed, but lower its strength.

Step 3: When Your Amiibo Gets Full

At some point as you feed your amiibo, it’ll become full and won’t be able to eat any more equipment. Normally, you’d have to battle your amiibo to continue the feeding process, but luckily, there’s an exploit of sorts that was brought to light by Amiibo Trainer. If you take your full amiibo into a 1-stock match and immediately run off the stage and KO yourself when the game begins, you’ll be able to feed it again once the match ends. Now, as you may know, an amiibo can’t learn to KO itself – and since that’s the only thing you’re doing in this kind of match, your amiibo learns nothing. It has no effect on its tendencies, no matter how many times you repeat it.

Why is this trick relevant, you ask? Well, when your amiibo does become full (it’ll happen eventually), you probably won’t yet be done adjusting its points. If you were to play a legitimate match with your amiibo at this point, it would start to adapt to its new spread, only for it to be changed again the next round. That’s why we KO ourselves – the match will have ended too quickly for your amiibo to adapt. Oh, and it saves time, so there’s that too.

Completing the Feeding Process

Once your amiibo is all set with its points, bonuses, and custom moves, you’ll be ready to begin your training (or continue it, if your amiibo is already Level 50!) If you run into a problem of some sort that you can’t resolve, I can help you out! Don’t be shy: you can send an email to anytime explaining your issue, and I’ll give you personal advice to correct it. Emailing me is free, and I don’t get annoyed by repeated messages, so you don’t need to worry about that.


Note: If your Donkey Kong amiibo is already Level 50, and you want to further improve his abilities, please skip to Section 5. If your amiibo is not yet Level 50, keep reading this section!

Raising your Amiibo to Level 50

Raising an amiibo to Level 50 is simple in concept, but in practice, it takes a lot of time and perseverance. You will be mirror matching your amiibo until its level maxes out. A “mirror match”, also known as a “ditto”, is when you play as the character that is your amiibo – in this case, you’ll be playing as Donkey Kong. I recommend playing timed matches (3 to 5 minutes will do) on Ω-form stages only.

I want to be as specific as possible in this section so that you know exactly what steps to take here – to help you out, I’ve put together a big list of tips you can use to maximize your amiibo’s potential.

Amiibo Training Tips (Defensive)

As I said before, you should be mirror matching your amiibo all the way to Level 50. I’ve talked about defense a lot in this guide, but you might not know how to properly play defensively. This list of tips will help you – as long as you’re faithful to them, your amiibo will start off strong. 

  • Do not jump or use aerials. I say this very often, but it utterly confuses some people. Many amiibo trainers have aerial attacks incorporated into their playstyles, and can’t understand why they shouldn’t be used. Simply put, in a metagame where shields can do damage, aerials are too big a risk to take. As many tournaments have shown, amiibo who rely on air attacks leave themselves vulnerable, which leads to their demise. If you disagree, and need further convincing, head over to this post.
  • Play defensively. Like I said, a Level 50 amiibo can react within 1/60th of a second (which is one frame). Why throw out attacks when you can just shield instead? In fact, if you followed my equipment recommendation and gave your amiibo Explosive perfect shield, all it needs to do is use its shield. If you can, try to perfect shield your amiibo’s attacks (equip yourself with Easy perfect shield and/or use slow motion settings if necessary) and immediately counterattack with forward smash after the block. This is an important concept that often decides which amiibo emerges victorious.Want more information on why defense is the most effective playstyle? Click here.
  • Don’t make any attempt to combo. At the end of the day, amiibo are beefed up CPU characters. As trainers, we can teach our amiibo a general philosophy to play by – we can’t necessarily teach them to string certain moves together. Additionally, amiibo will not use combos that aren’t coded into their AI (for example, Ness is programmed to use down throw to forward aerial), so even if you do successfully land sweet 10-move combos, your amiibo likely will not learn to do the same. You’re better off focusing on attacking with powerful moves instead of linking several weak attacks.

Amiibo Training Tips (Character-Specific)

In addition to the aforementioned defensive tips, you should be playing be the following ones as well. They’re all about moves, habits, and tendencies that work best for Donkey Kong, and are specific to him as a character.

  • Rely on grabs to rack up damage. During training, it’s important that you abuse your grab to its fullest potential. Keep in mind, Donkey Kong’s AI is very specific with its throw routines – it will almost always use its cargo throw (even in situations where a different throw would be optimal). If its opponent hasn’t taken much damage, it will use cargo up throw. On an injured foe, it will instead use cargo down throw at the edge. You should try your best to mimic these behaviors – when using them, be sure to transition from the cargo throw to either an up or down throw as fast as you possibly can.
  • Use smash attacks to deliver the finishing blow. After your amiibo has taken a lot of damage from being thrown around repeatedly, go in for the kill with Donkey Kong’s strong forward smash.
  • KO your amiibo with back throw at the edge. Your Donkey Kong will only use his (non-cargo) back throw in a very specific situation – he needs to be at the edge, facing away from it. If you ever find yourself in this position, be sure to toss your amiibo away with back throw!
  • Do not use Giant Punch at all. Donkey Kong isn’t very good at charging and using the move – even if you gave him a custom move version, you’re better off ignoring this attack entirely. On the subject of avoiding certain moves, it’s probably a good idea to ignore Hand Slap as well.
  • Use Stubborn Headbutt to break shields. Don’t use this move too often, but every once in a while, make an attempt to break your amiibo’s shield with it. This will be more effective once your Donkey Kong is at or around Level 40.

If you started reading this guide with a Level 1 amiibo, it will take some time for it to reach Level 50. If your amiibo started anywhere in between, it shouldn’t take too long depending on how much it was trained prior to this guide. As long as you play by these tips, you will be creating a strong foundation for your amiibo to build on. Keep in mind that you can refer back to this list at any time.

When your Donkey Kong amiibo does reach Level 50, don’t think your training is done. In fact, it will have just begun. When you are finished leveling up your amiibo, we will move onto the most important section in the guide – honing your Level 50 amiibo’s skills and turning it into a true champion!


Post-Level 50 Training

Your Donkey Kong amiibo should now be Level 50, meaning your journey has officially just begun! You see, you can’t take a fresh Level 50 amiibo, enter it into a tournament, and expect it to do well – just like a real player, your amiibo needs additional practice and match experience in order to truly become strong. Here are some tips, tricks, and training methods you can use to further enhance your amiibo’s abilities:

Your Amiibo’s Match Experience

One of the most important things your amiibo needs to succeed is match experience. It needs to know how to handle certain characters, attacks, and mechanics – some examples are Little Mac’s effortless shield breakers, Bowser’s infamous Flying Slam attack, and Lucario’s aura skill. If you have other amiibo, train them up with my guides and have them all fight each other in 1v1 matches. You will want to expose your amiibo to as many other amiibo as you can.

I also have a detailed and in-depth article on your amiibo’s match experience. It talks about the characters you need to prepare for, and the skills your amiibo can learn to overcome any fighter. Follow this link if you are interested in reading more!

Defensive Practice

It’s also important for your amiibo to play defense, and my defensive training session outline will help it do just that. It only takes a few minutes, and can be used multiple times in a row to great effect.

As your amiibo plays matches against other amiibo, its defensive capability will wear down over time. To keep your amiibo “fresh” and at its best, repeat the defensive training session as needed.

Amiibo Trainer’s Guides

Along with the Amiibo Dojo, Amiibo Trainer is one of the main amiibo training sites. They have some very helpful training guides (and a long-running podcast, too) that I recommend you use in conjunction with the ones I have here.

First is the Amiibo 15, a 15-minute training session that hundreds of amiibo trainers around the globe have used. Its concept and goal are similar to my defensive training session that I mentioned earlier, and is another great option for quickly improving your amiibo.

And then we have Amiibo Trainer’s monthly guide series. Each month, a new training guide is released that talks about a specific bonus combination you can use on your amiibo, and training sessions that will maximize your amiibo’s use of its three bonus effects. I use these guides as a supplement to my own methods, and I think you should, too.

Going Forward

The road to amiibo superstardom is long and hard, and it isn’t as simple as this guide might suggest. At some point, your amiibo might develop a bad habit. Or maybe you’ll become stumped on what to do next. It doesn’t matter what problem you run into – I’m here to help. If you have any questions regarding amiibo training or the site, you can send an email to If you don’t like sending emails, you can also fill out the Amiibo Dojo contact form or shoot me a message on Reddit or Twitter.


File:SSB4-Wii U Congratulations Classic Donkey Kong.png


Thanks so much for sticking with me to the end! Like the vast starscape of outer space, amiibo training is endless – there’s always a way forward, even if you can’t see it. You’re never truly “done” training. Again, if you run into any roadblocks along the way, I’m here to help you. You can easily ask me a question by filling out the contact form, sending an email to, or getting in touch on Reddit or Twitter.

If your desire to read amiibo training guides and articles hasn’t been entirely fulfilled, there are some more posts I think you might like. The official amiibo tier list ranks every amiibo’s overall capabilities, and you might learn something new if you take a look at it. The FAQ and the Amiibo Dojo forums are other good resources that are worth checking out. Alternatively, you can head to my master list of guides for even more amiibo training methods!


I trained my Donkey Kong amiibo extensively in order to prepare for this guide, and I did the initial writeup as well – but I had some help from a few others! Big shout-outs to Keeth and Trainer Blue, two trainers who found potential in Donkey Kong long after I tossed him to the curb.



5 thoughts on “Character Guide: Donkey Kong”

  1. I feel as if I have concocted a method in which Donkey Kong will use his forward air a lot less than what I’ve seen is normal. Normal being that DK’s entire AI is just, un-fair (haha) to him. I do not have a replay of how the very method is performed, but I do have a replay of a match between my DK and a lackluster Bowser after the method was used for about, an hour. (This is on 3DS, so if you’re interested in viewing, an FC exchange would be needed.) Plus, this method is POST Level 50, and without equipment put on him. I’ve wanted Donkey Kong to be good for so long, and so far things just haven’t turned out well for the great ape.

    Now, the method I have is a bit convoluted, and I came up with it on paper. Basically, I thought what discourages an amiibo from using certain moves. That tends to be when they get punished, and get more pain than gain out of using that move. I.E. Jigglypuff and Rest. I didn’t apply this move to only forward air, but rather the aerial attacks that’d lag and get DK punished (uncharged neutral B, side B, down B, neutral air, and down air) Also, the punishes had to be hard/deal decent damage, and the punisher would have to not get hit, basically.

    For this, I made a custom of Cloud, with 50+ attack, 20+ defense, and Easy Perfect Shield as an attribute. Why Cloud? Because as I’ve learned, his punish game is huge, and swift. With the extra attributes, this would mean that the chances of me getting nailed with an aerial were low, and the chance of DK being punished hard being high. This could potentially be done with a different character, but I recommend the Easy Perfect Shield and attack boost. I could see this being done with Shulk, as well, with the counter being a potential bonus. One last thing, is that I set his handicap at 60%, meaning he’d fly high enough to be unable to catch me by surprise with an aerial.

    Once I had the parameters set, I went into action to start beating on a clumsy DK. However, it didn’t go as I expected, which was punishing hard with smashes and Limit Break attacks. What actually happened was, a lot of juggling with up-tilt. With Stale Moves being a thing, this made the process a lot longer and more grueling. Basically, whenever he’d try to land on top of me with a laggy aerial strike, I’d up-tilt him, rinse and repeat a LOT. I barely used any super hard punishes, unless he landed beside me, then I’d use forward smash or Finishing Touch. Also, whenever he was attacking on the ground, I let him hit me with grounded attacks, hoping he’d prioritize them more. Another good thing to note is that I kept Limit Break on, for the added stat boosts, where the Speed boost helped me swipe him upward some more.

    This continued for about an hour, as I set the matches to 5 stock, and I went through about 4 matches. Seeing how the process itself is unforgiving, it’s no surprise it dragged for a while. However, I’m really dedicated.

    If you’re not interested in seeing the replay, here’s a short summary. The Bowser amiibo wasn’t good, so there’s no surprise DK won, but not by a huge margain. Rule was 3 stocks. Over the course of the battle, DK used forward air only four times, once whiffing, twice being punished huge, and the fourth time he used it was actually a smart forward air, as it was the end of a string. Notably, DK used his tilts a lot, along with ledge-hop back airs. Also notably, is that Bowser and DK both would get into staring contests, which with my amiibo is a rare occurrence. I wonder if the staring contests were in part to DK’s AI being told everything it believed in was a lie? He also didn’t opt for the other laggy aerial strikes (side B, neutral B, down-air, neutral air), either.

    In the end, from what I’ve seen, this method did make DK better. But, not loads better. I tested him against other amiibo (Marth, Diddy Kong, R.O.B., and Rosalina) and out of those four, he only beat Rosalina (Last stock last hit, basically. Also not trained too well.). Impressively, he brought Diddy, one of my top 4 in terms of success, down to his last stock, but did get 3-stocked by my Marth.

    In the end though, as a D-Rank implies, it was hard as hell to get DK to be competent, and it’s overall not worth it. However, I feel glad that I was able to get him to a level of competitiveness with my other amiibo. Save Marth, whose leagues ahead of every other amiibo I own. Blasted counters.


  2. I don’t know if you missed it or never got around to it yet, but even though you bumped DK up a rank his guide still says D-rank.

    Also, I meant to ask… What changed your view to get him up to C?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. DK just loves to jump!
    It’s not bad most of the time, but he gets combo’d so long occasionally!
    Jumping and edge guarding are his biggest problems. (I was new to the game and trained mine with Little Mac, who was my main at the time, and so he learned to stay near the edge because Little Mac has no freaking recovery)
    Please, He’s Speed/ Attack for the most part, with Auto-Heal, Improved Launch, and Improved Double-Jump (for recovery). If any of these can be replaced with things better suited to DK, I’d love to know

    I have a friend who’s about to get his hands on a Little Mac and Jigglypuff. I need to train, so I don’t get absolutely humiliated when we pit them against each other
    Thanks again btw 🙂


    1. He’s not anymore, the only thing not like the guide is his special moves (I haven;t unlocked all of them) and the way he was trained. He likes to use his Forward Aerial and Storm Punch a lot. Should I make a custom map that punishes him for jumping and do a timer match to block or counter his Storm Punch?


      1. Jab and smash him more often. Don’t jump for any reason and try to get kills off of him. You must defeat him, while grounded on the stage. Constant mirror matches will make him more powerful.


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