Video Games

When Training Amiibo in Super Smash Bros., Ignore the “Level-Up Method”

Super Smash Bros Wii U

While I was training my own army of amiibo figures, I’ve done quite a bit of research into the various types of methodology other people have applied to their own similar endeavors. I’ve found a few guides to help me along the way, but most of the knowledge I have comes from extensive amounts of experimentation.

One of the recurring themes I’ve found in training guides is what I refer to as the “Level-Up Method,” a method I think you should actively avoid because it doesn’t work.

In this method (which you can find detailed this reddit post and this guide on Tech Aeris), you implement various types of training to correspond with your amiibo’s current level. For example, you’ll spend the first 10 levels training vs. the CPU, the next 10-20 in mirror matches, and so on.

I have two major problems with this: First, your amiibo’s level number is almost certainly meaningless, and second, amiibo don’t learn the way humans do.

Super Smash Bros. Amiibo Menu

To my first point, I’ll say that I’m almost 100% convinced that your level number is completely arbitrary. I think Nintendo implemented it to give players a visual cue that shows them something is happening with the amiibo. This is more “here’s a number to show you that your amiibo is actually improving” and less “here are tiny stat bonuses that stack after each level milestone and eventually add up to a major improvement in the long term.” (You do get stat bonuses, but those are acquired by “feeding” your amiibo, not by leveling it up.)

Training an amiibo is a long haul, and a majority of that haul shows no quantifiable improvement. Sure, you’ll absolutely notice your amiibo picking up habits, but it’s impossible to assign a static number to that type of advancement since it will vary so wildly from player to player. So instead, you have a number that you can see growing to reinforce your own vague suspicion that yes, your amiibo is improving.

It’s been said that amiibo continue to learn long after they hit level cap, and my personal experience seems to confirm this. This suggests further that the level number doesn’t really mean anything — anything you should be concerned with, anyway — so ignore it.

Amiibo - Captain Falcon and Star Fox

To my second point, amiibo learn in a very complex and nuanced way. Where a human might be discouraged by a steep learning curve, amiibo characters thrive best when they’ve first been put through serious punishment.

The “Level-Up Method” typically involves pitting your amiibo against CPU opponents in the early phase of training to help it “learn the basics.” But training an amiibo is nothing like teaching math, where you would want, say, a firm grasp of basic addition before tackling algebra, and a basic grasp of algebra before heading into geometry, and so on. No, your amiibo learns by being forced to adapt to difficult situations. CPU players don’t provide enough of a challenge that you can be guaranteed good amiibo habits in this early phase of training. Your amiibo isn’t learning basics that it will build upon in the future; it’s learning to play at a lower skill level than you should expect from it. It will “learn the basics” whether you use a CPU opponent or a much more difficult human one.

I’ve already explained my own methodology in a pretty extensive tutorial, but basically, the best way to train an amiibo is to set it up against the most difficult and most varied adversity you possibly can. Pit your amiibo against other amiibo characters or human players exclusively. Pit your amiibo against every character in the game, and force it to play on every stage in the game. If you notice particular weaknesses that your amiibo has, exploit the crap out of that weakness until your amiibo learns to counter those types of attacks.

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Most importantly, have fun. The best approach to leveling up an amiibo is to train against it. You’ll see yourself improving as your amiibo improves. You’ll enhance your amiibo by finding its weaknesses and exploiting them until it learns to defend itself, and it will force you to improve your own skill level in order to keep up. You’ll create an ever-evolving meta-game that keeps Super Smash Bros. feeling fresh almost endlessly, even if you’re playing it alone.

Plus, it keeps all the math out of it.

Josh Wirtanen owns this place and has opinions about pretty much everything. Follow him on Twitter: @joshuajwirtanen.