Samus (サムス, Samus) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. Her return to the series was confirmed in the E3 2013 trailers on June 11th, 2013, while she was also among the first wave of amiibo figures that are compatible with SSB4. However, unlike in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Samus is no longer capable of transitioning into Zero Suit Samus, with the latter now becoming a standalone character.
Samus is currently ranked 51st out of 56 on the tier list, placing her at the top of the J tier and resulting in her remaining a bottom-tier character as in Brawl, where she was ranked 32nd out of 38. Samus has a rather strong camping game thanks to her projectiles and Grapple Beam, a good air game that allows for powerful and highly damaging combos when she finds or sets up an opening, and multiple moves that can set up said combos, such as her dash attack, up tilt, down aerial, down throw and Grapple Beam. Her Charge Shot poses a constant threat to opponents, functioning as a fearsome KOing option and a strong punishing option in many situations due to its high damage output and excellent knockback.
However, Samus is reliant on defensive spacing to keep opponents at bay; her moves are generally less effective at point-blank range, with the exception of her down tilt. Even at mid-range, Samus is prone to trading hits with opponents. Combined with her floatiness and average mobility, this can make it difficult for her to escape from juggling and other problematic situations, although she can easily return to the ledge through use of her Bomb and Grapple Beam, where she has multiple get-up options.
While Samus has noticeably improved since Brawl, largely due to game updates, most of her fellow veterans have also improved at varying degrees. This has stagnated her possible ascent to a higher tier placement and resulted in her overall representation being poor. Nevertheless, she has a slightly more significant playerbase than other bottom-tier characters, with hers even being more prominent than some bottom-tiers that are ranked higher than her, with professionals such as ESAM, Jonny Westside and ChoZox bringing her some degree of competitive success. Additionally, Samus' current tier ranking is largely debatable due to her buffs from update 1.1.5 noticeably improving her, while her current ranking is only based on the 1.1.3 metagame.
Samus is unique among the other heavyweights in the game. While she is tied with Bowser Jr. as the sixth heaviest in the game, she is a floaty character with slow falling speed and average air and ground speeds. While this gives her an easier time chasing down aerial opponents and forcing air dodges, it also causes her to be juggled easier, leaving her with few reliable landing options as her slow fall speed gives the opponent more time to punish her as she attempts to return to the stage. In addition, many of her moves artificially extend her hurtboxes, leading to trades, an opponent grabbing her invisible hurtboxes and in some cases getting punished after landing a move despite her being visually out of range of the opponents counterattack. Furthermore, some of the hitboxes on her moves, most notably up smash, forward smash and up aerial, have the issue of failing to connect properly or even whiffing outright.
Samus' moveset is defensively-oriented, as she uses her projectiles to space, rack up damage from a distance and pressure shields. Charge Shot is her most consistent KOing option out of her special moves, courtesy of its increased speed and power. Missile is mostly used for spacing, due to neither its Homing or Super variants possessing KO potential, while Bomb gives Samus various mix-ups and can aid her recovery. However, Missile and Bomb also possess valuable utility, in that they can guarantee a shield break when used in conjunction with a sufficiently charged Charge Shot or a sweetspotted back aerial. Lastly, Screw Attack is a decent out of shield option, a KOing option near the upper blast line and a viable combo finisher from aerial combo strings.
In addition, Samus has a strong air game. Her back aerial is one of her best moves courtesy of its power, damage output and speed. Her down aerial can be a powerful meteor smash, forward aerial is a good pressuring tool due to its long duration, and up aerial is an excellent combo option. Lastly, her neutral aerial is a viable KOing option as of update 1.1.5. When coupled with her high jumps, Samus' air game is also potent while she is off-stage, as she can to recover from nearly anywhere on the stage, stay in position for longer periods of time due to her floatiness, or bait the opponent by stalling in the air and punishing edge-guard attempts.
Samus' grab game is also somewhat useful, as her Grapple Beam has impressive range, doubles as a tether recovery (with its range as such having been increased since Brawl) and is a capable spacing tool when used as a grab aerial. However, it still possesses considerable ending lag despite it having been reduced since Brawl and updates 1.0.8 and 1.1.5. Down throw is very useful for starting combos that deal respectable damage and can be used with her neutral, forward and up aerials at varying percentages. Many of her combos can rack up more than 30% and when using platforms to her advantage, or string together multiple times and then be finished with Screw Attack, leading to a KO or dealing 40%-50% at the very least. Lastly, her pummel is tied with Lucas' as the second fastest in the game, although it is also the weakest one in the game.
However, Samus' ground game is mediocre overall. All of her smash attacks are punishable, with only her forward smash being a fairly reliable KOing option due to its quick start-up. Her neutral attack is very mediocre, which is noticeably exemplified in its inability to connect at high percentages and thus limits Samus' anti-pressuring ability. Her tilts can combo, KO, and have decent range, but suffer from her unique hurtbox issue. Due to this and her mediocre dashing speed, most Samus players will often find themselves in the air, where her strengths lie.
In terms of customs, Samus benefits from a few. Apex Screw Attack has slightly more start-up and the recovery it provides is slightly worse, but it does more damage and massive knockback to the point of KOing most middleweights at 75% from the stage and as low as 50% near the upper blast line. Screw Rush, while making her vertical recovery worse, grants more horizontal distance and KOs earlier then Screw Attack depending where on the stage and deals more damage, making it more useful for racking up percent. Relentless Missile, while traveling slower, has more accurate tracking as a homing missile while dealing less damage. The Super Missile deals more damage and slightly more knockback. Turbo Missile travels more distance and is considerably faster than both Missile and Relentless Missile, at the cost of dealing less damage in general. Dense Charge Shot is dependent on the match-up and the person's playstyle. As one of the strongest projectiles in the game, it takes a bit longer to charge, and has much less speed and range. However, it gives Samus multiple set-ups due to the length of time the Charge Shot stays in the air and with the increased damage, can force shield breaks much easier and KO much easier. Slip Bomb, while dealing less damage, has the useful property of tripping grounded opponents and meteor smashing airborne opponents, making it useful as a set up for a grab or a punish and a edge-guarding option to spike the opponent. Mega Bomb can be used to stall opponents, since Samus can stay next to the bomb itself, waiting until the Bomb explodes, allowing Samus to either retreat, launch Missiles, charge her charge shot or make the opponent approach. Melee Charge Shot has a shorter charge time than both Charge Shot and Dense Charge shot, while also having considerably more hitstun and shieldstun with the inclusion of extra pushback after its use, making it extremely safe if shielded or even whiffed.
Overall, Samus is a character that works best when using her projectiles and grab aerial for spacing in order to set up combos and either finish off pressured opponents off-stage or KO them outright with Charge Shot. Unlike the majority of veterans, Samus' optimal playstyle is highly unorthodox; as she falls short in regards to either zoning-exclusive offense or melee-exclusive offense, success with Samus requires careful, calculated use of her various tools to keep momentum in her favor, much like in her home series. As such, she is like Shulk in that she is a character that is hard to master, but greatly rewards a patient and calculated playstyle.
Changes from Brawl
Samus has received a mix of buffs and nerfs in the transition from Brawl to SSB4, but has been buffed overall due to her buffs being more abundant and helpful. Samus has gained several new KOing options, the most notable of which is her staple move, Charge Shot, which has drastically increased speed and knockback. The other noteworthy options include her forward smash, up smash, neutral aerial, forward aerial and Screw Attack. Forward smash now has a powerful sweetspot in the form of a fiery blast at the tip of her Arm Cannon. Neutral aerial, forward aerial, up smash and Screw Attack have each have had their knockback improved, most notably on neutral aerial (and only to the final hit in Screw Attack's case). Additionally, forward aerial, up smash and Screw Attack's multiple hits now connect better to further ensure that opponents cannot escape the final hits. Samus' dash attack is also capable of KOing due to strengthened sweetspot growth, although it is not as viable in doing so as the aforementioned moves.
Aside from her new KOing options, Samus benefits from the general changes between Brawl and SSB4. With the changes to hitstun canceling, Samus' combo game has been improved. Her attacks such as down throw and dash attack have been given better knockback angles, and she is able to combo attacks into each other far easier, with multiple combo starters and combo oriented moves, including dash attack, up tilt, forward aerial, up aerial and down aerial. Due to the overall higher fall speeds in the transition, Samus was given improvements to her falling speed, air speed, and gravity, which makes her aerial presence more threatening, giving her access to combos she never had before, and also allows her to land slighty easier than in Brawl. The changes to shields and shieldstun in update 1.1.1 also benefit her, as she can use her Charge Shot, Super Missile and Bomb in tandem with other moves to easily break shields.
However, Samus also received a few nerfs in other areas during the initial. Her forward smash now has sightly increased ending lag as well as a new sourspot that is rather weak and runs along the Arm Cannon, while her up smash now deals less damage overall, though its knockback was heavily compensated, however. Likely due to receiving more KOing options, some of Samus' more reliable finishers in Brawl, such as her down tilt and down smash, can no longer KO until very high percents. Missile is harder to camp with due her losing the ability to perform her Missile Cancel technique, though her projectiles overall are still powerful and useful in their own right. Additionally, a few of Samus' most damaging attacks deal slightly less damage (though they still deal high damage relative to the cast), while her aerials have slightly more landing lag (though this is a universal nerf among the cast).
Overall, Samus has been buffed overall from Brawl despite receiving a fair share of nerfs. She has been slightly re-balanced to be less reliant on projectiles, now wielding a slightly improved close-range game, with both her damage racking ability and combo game having been vastly improved. Most importantly, she has noticeably improved KOing potential, enabling her to score KOs much easier. While a few of her moves now require slightly more precision, such as her forward smash, neutral aerial and Missile, they compensate for this by being more rewarding. As such, she has a relatively high learning curve, but can be quite viable and versatile when mastered, similarly to Shulk. Dedicated players like ESAM have managed to bring her some degree of tournament success and continue to develop her metagame.
Samus has been heavily buffed via game updates. She received plenty of significant buffs during game updates, along with two minor nerfs that were either negligible or even fixed outright in later updates, causing her to fair much better after the updates.
In terms of direct changes, Samus started receiving relevant minor buffs in update 1.0.8. Said update saw her up smash buffed so that its hit can connect together slightly better than before, while her grabs' ending lag was reduced, making them slightly safer. 1.1.1 bought about more minor buffs; Screw Attack was changed to help its hits connect together better. Her neutral and forward aerials were also slightly buffed, with neutral aerial having its hitbox sizes and timings improved, while forward aerial had its damage output increased and its landing lag decreased. In term of indirect changes, the changes to shield mechanics brought about by updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1 are a mixed bag for Samus. The new mechanics gave Samus a number of new Charge Shot combos that allow her to break shields, of which she previously only had one such combo. However, these same changes also make most of her close-ranged attacks more difficult to land, while the only other moves that have been improved are her down tilt, her forward smash's sweetspot, up smash, and forward aerial, which are already difficult to land (or in up smash's case, the opponent to be above on a platform).
However, update 1.1.5 has granted Samus arguably her most noteworthy buffs. Dash attack now has a hitbox that deals 7% at the beginning of the dash, which prevents it from whiffing and makes its hitbox timing virtually identical to Brawl. Forward tilt has been vastly improved; after being nerfed overall in update 1.0.6, all of its hitboxes now deal 2% more damage, its sourspot deals more knockback (thus making it safer and more rewarding upon landing) and its tech-chase combos have effectively been restored after they had been severely weakened to the point of necessitating its sweetspot for said combos to be performed. Like her forward tilt, her neutral aerial's hitboxes all deal 2% more damage, which naturally increases its knockback and improves both its damage racking and KO potentials. Although they are still unimpressive, her down smash and all of her grabs had their ending lag decreased, making them safer as well as making her down smash a quick anti-pressure option. Bombs were also changed slightly, as Samus now gets more momentum out of one in the air. Lastly, Samus' attributes were also changed for the better. Her gravity and both her falling and air speeds were increased, which improves her already great survivability and allows her to land more effectively than before, which has been made even easier thanks to the aforementioned Bomb buff. As a result, Samus has been significantly buffed overall as of update 1.1.5, having become considerably better than she was in Brawl and even better than she was during SSB4's initial release.
In competitive play
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