Dark Samus (SSBU)
Dark Samus (ダークサムス, Dark Samus) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. She was announced as a newcomer during the August 8th, 2018 Super Smash Bros. Direct alongside Simon, Richter, Chrom, and King K. Rool. Dark Samus is Samus' Echo Fighter, and is therefore classified as Fighter #04ε.
The sound effects used for Samus in Super Smash Bros. 4 were repurposed for Dark Samus in Ultimate.
How to unlock
Complete one of the following:
Like Samus, Dark Samus is a heavyweight. She is a floaty character with slightly below average walking and dashing speeds, average air speed, above average air acceleration, high jump height and slow falling speed. These attributes grant her an easier time chasing aerial opponents and forcing air dodges, yet also cause her to be juggled rather easily. When combined with her few reliable landing options and slow falling speed, opponents will also have more time to punish Dark Samus as she attempts to return to the stage.
Similarly to Samus, Dark Samus' moveset consists of playing defensively, 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 when fully charged, due to its speed and power. Missile is mostly used for spacing, due to both its Homing and Super variants being extremely inefficient at KOing, while Bomb grants 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, Dark Samus has a strong air game. The changes to air dodges have benefitted her overall, as they notably improve her ability to edgeguard (especially with moves such as forward aerial or her renowned Charge Shot), while she isn't hindered as much due to her fast air speed, the ability to stall mid-air using her Bombs, and her Grapple Beam tether recovery's long range. All of Dark Samus' aerials have no more than 20 frames of landing lag, and her back aerial is one of her best moves courtesy of its power, damage output, speed and range. 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. When coupled with her high jumps, Dark Samus' air game is also potent while she is off-stage, as she can 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.
Dark Samus' grab game is also useful: her Grapple Beam has impressive range, doubles as a tether recovery, and has very little landing lag when used as a grab aerial. 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. Up throw is Dark Samus' strongest throw and is a fairly reliable KO option, especially on platforms. Although forward throw and back throw have decent damage outputs, their only utility is creating space and setting up edgeguards, and both are mediocre at best in doing so.
However, Dark Samus shares similar flaws to Samus. Dark Samus' ground game is mediocre overall as her smash attacks are punishable, with only her forward smash being a fairly reliable KOing option due to its quick start-up lag. Her neutral attack is very mediocre, which is noticeably exemplified in its inability to connect at high percentages and thus limits Dark Samus' anti-pressuring ability. Due to this and her average dashing speed, most Dark Samus players will often find themselves in the air, where her strengths lie.
Dark Samus also has issues with her recovery. Her grab aerial has very long range, her jumps are among the highest in the game, Screw Attack is fast and hard to punish, and Bomb jumping provides infinite horizontal recovery, but they are all offset by Screw Attack's only average distance, Bomb's high ending lag in the air and Dark Samus' only average air speed and reliance on her grab aerial to grab ledges from a distance. Altogether, this results in her recovery being slightly slow, linear and predictable.
Overall, Dark Samus is a character that performs 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, Dark Samus' optimal playstyle is highly unorthodox; as she falls short in regard to zoning-exclusive or melee-exclusive offense, success with Dark Samus requires careful, calculated use of her various tools to keep momentum in her favor. As such, she is a character that is hard to master, but greatly rewards patient and calculated play.
As with certain other Echo Fighters, Dark Samus is nearly identical gameplay-wise to Samus, with largely aesthetic differences. However, she has many basic animations that are different from Samus: a more standard roll which does not involve using her Morph Ball, Phazon-based attacks appearing as neon blue, electrical explosions instead of orange, flaming explosions, and more organic looking models for her Homing Missile, Super Missile and Bomb.
However, Dark Samus' small advantages over Samus (such as her slightly faster roll) are considered to be less situational than Samus' small advantages over Dark Samus (such as the ability to detonate enemy bombs with her flame properties, larger shield size, or a smaller hurtbox after rolling). The gameplay differences between the two are so marginal that it is ultimately up to the player's preference over which character to choose from.
Grabs and throws
Like Samus, Dark Samus has received a mix of buffs, nerfs and glitch fixes, but was buffed overall via game updates. Update 2.0.0 fixed Homing Missile's inconsistency at following Pokémon Trainer's Pokémon any time they were switched via Pokémon Change after the Missile was fired. Missile's range was also increased while Bomb's ending lag was decreased. However, update 3.0.0 decreased Charge Shot's shield damage output as part of a near-universal nerf to projectiles. As a result, its utility for shield break combos was worsened significantly, with the same applying to Samus' version. Following this, update 3.1.0 improved the consistency of up smash's linking hits.
However, Dark Samus received her most noteworthy buffs in update 7.0.0. Like Samus, her shield was enlarged as part of a near-universal buff; unlike Samus, however, Dark Samus' right arm now gains brief intangibility upon activating and deactivating her shield. Up smash, down smash and up throw each gained considerable increases to their knockback, which noticeably improved their KO potentials. On a similar note, early dash attack deals 3% more damage: this makes it functionally identical to the clean hit, and thus improved dash attack's consistency as a situational, yet viable KO option. Aerial Grapple Beam gained slight increases to its damage output and active frames, which improved its spacing prowess. Lastly, update 9.0.2 fixed a glitch introduced in update 9.0.0 that made Screw Attack unable to propel Dark Samus as high as it used to.
Overall, Dark Samus fares better than she did at the launch of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.
For a gallery of Dark Samus' hitboxes, see here.
Note: All numbers are listed as base damage, without the 1v1 multiplier.
In competitive play
Initial impressions of Samus in Ultimate were negative: players pointed out how she lost the combo potential of her dash attack, one of her most useful tools in Smash 4, along with her general lack of mechanical changes compared to fellow veterans such as Link. Her unsafe jab, seemingly unchanged from Smash 4 and once again acknowledged in in-game tips, became a common point of mockery. This viewpoint, however, quickly changed as the metagame progressed. Players cited her improved projectile game and KO potential, as well as her terrifying shield-break potential with Charge Shot as one of her primary strengths. While patches have nerfed the latter, Samus retained most of her previous strengths and benefited from the nerfs to some of her most difficult matchups such as Wolf, Olimar and Pichu. Furthermore, both Samus and her echo fighter Dark Samus, who is preferred by some players due to her marginally better hitboxes and roll, continued to see success in tournament: players such as Joker and quiK have placed highly at several national tournaments, including 17th at The Big House 9 for the former and 2nd at Syndicate 2019 for the latter. As a result, most players agree that the Samuses are at least a high mid-tier character; with some professionals ranking the character higher, especially following their buffs in version 7.0.0.
Most historically significant players
Classic Mode: The Great Poison Given Form
Dark Samus' route features her fighting against protagonists while she is allied with fighters who, at some point in their respective home series, were corrupted in some way. The exemptions to this are Rounds 4 and 6: the former Round features Ivysaur as a partner due to its partial Poison typing instead of outright corruption, and the latter Round is a free-for-all against Samus and Ridley. Dark Samus having teammates is a reference her ability to corrupt beings via Phazon, while the name of her route is also a direct reference to Phazon being referred to as the "Great Poison" in Chozo Lore.
Role in World of Light
Dark Samus is absent from the World of Light opening cutscene, though she was vaporized and placed under Galeem's imprisonment alongside the rest of the playable fighters (excluding Kirby) when Galeem unleashed his beams of light.
Dark Samus was one of the many fighters that fell under Dharkon's control upon Galeem's first defeat, and is found in The Final Battle as one of the last fighters under his command. She is one of the few obligatory unlocks, and defeating her leads to a fight with Crazy Hand and the subsequent reveal of Palutena's location.
Dark Samus's fighter spirit can be obtained by completing Classic Mode. It is also available periodically for purchase in the shop for 300 Gold, but only after Dark Samus has been unlocked. Unlocking Dark Samus in World of Light allows the player to preview the first spirit below in the Spirit List under the name "???". As a fighter spirit, it cannot be used in Spirit Battles and is purely aesthetic. Her fighter spirit has an alternate version that replaces it with her artwork in Ultimate.
In Spirit battles
As the main opponent
As a minion
Fighter Showcase Video