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 37th out of 55 on the tier list (tied with Robin), placing her at the bottom of D tier and middle of mid tier. This is a noticeable improvement over her bottom-tier placement in Brawl, where she was ranked 32nd out of 38. Samus possesses numerous projectiles in the form of her Charge Shot, Missile and Bomb, all of which grant her strong zoning potential alongside her Grapple Beam. Charge Shot also functions as a fearsome KOing option and a strong punishing option in many situations due to its high damage output and excellent knockback, while her Bomb and Grapple Beam can aid her recovery. Samus also possesses a good air game that allows for powerful and highly damaging combos when she finds or sets up an opening, which is further supplemented by set-ups in the form of her dash attack, up tilt, down aerial, down throw and Grapple Beam.
However, Samus' moveset forces her to be reliant on defensive spacing to keep opponents at bay. Except for her down tilt, all of her moves are generally less effective at point-blank range, while they also render her prone to trading hits with opponents even at mid-range. When combined with her floatiness and average mobility, these traits can make it difficult for Samus to escape from juggling and other problematic situations.
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 resulted in her overall representation being poor (which is compounded by her very high learning curve), although she has attained a dedicated playerbase nevertheless. Thanks to the likes of professionals such as IcyMist, ESAM, KayJay, Afro Smash and Jonny Westside, Samus' results have continuously improved over time, most notably with IcyMist's 9th place finish at Royal Flush, Afro Smash's strong results in the United Kingdom, KayJay's 13th place finish at Smashdown World and ESAM's 1st place at Combo Breaker 2017. As a result, Samus' placement has notably risen with each iteration of the tier list, and many players label her as a solid character with the potential to rise even further.
Samus is unique among her fellow heavyweights. While she is tied with Bowser Jr. as the sixth heaviest character in the game, she is a floaty character with slightly below average walking and dashing speeds, average air speed 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 Samus 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 opponent's 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 defensive, 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 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. Combined with rage, it can KO very early.
In addition, Samus has a strong air game. All of 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 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 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 and has very little landing lag. 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 Lucario's as the fastest in the game, although it is also the least damaging one.
However, Samus is not flawless. While her grab range is among the longest in the game as with other tether grabs, the ending lag on all of Samus' grabs makes her very easy to punish if whiffed, and none of her throws can reliably KO on their own. 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 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 average dashing speed, most Samus players will often find themselves in the air, where her strengths lie.
Samus also has slight issues with 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 Samus' only average air speed and reliance on her grab aerial to grab ledges from a distance. Altogether, this results in her recovery being linear and predictable.
In regard to custom moves, Samus benefits from a few. Apex Screw Attack has slightly more start-up lag and the recovery it provides is slightly worse, but it deals more damage and outstanding 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, deals more damage and KOs earlier then Screw Attack depending where it is used on-stage, making it more useful for damage racking. Relentless Missile, while traveling slower, has more accurate tracking as a homing missile while dealing less damage. Turbo Missile travels more distance and is considerably faster than both Missile and Relentless Missile, but at the cost of dealing less damage overall.
Dense Charge Shot is dependent on the matchup and the player'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 an edge-guarding option to spike the opponent. Mega Bomb can be used to stall opponents, since Samus can stay next to the Mega Bomb itself while waiting until it explodes, allowing Samus to either retreat, launch Missiles, charge her Charge Shot, or force an 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 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, Samus' optimal playstyle is highly unorthodox; as she falls short in regard to zoning-exclusive 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 patient and calculated play.
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 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 last 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 their respective last hits. Samus' dash attack is also capable of KOing due to its sweetspot having increased knockback 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 slightly 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 IcyMist, ESAM, and Afro Smash 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 fare 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 hits can connect together better than before, while her grabs' ending lag was reduced, making them slightly safer. Update 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 landing lag decreased.
In terms 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 out of shield, 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, requires 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 its damage racking, KO potential, and shield safety. Although they are still unimpressive, her down smash and grabs had their ending lag decreased, making all of them safer and making her down smash a quick anti-pressure option.
Bomb was 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, falling speed, and air speed were increased, which improve 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.
Tier placement and history
Samus was initially considered to have improved from Brawl, due to the improvements to her KO potential, a trait she previously lacked in tournament play. However, it soon became clear the buffs to other bottom-tier characters (such as Captain Falcon, Link and Mario) had made them significantly better than her. When combined with glaring blind spots on her hitboxes, extended hurtboxes, and struggling much more often than not when attempting to score a KO despite the buffs to her power, Samus would later go on to be considered one of the worst characters in the game. Despite the buffs gained in game updates, notably update 1.1.1, her poorly regarded status remained intact, with only a handful of dedicated mains, such as IcyMist, KayJay, Afro Smash and Jonny Westside, making impacts on tournaments. As such, she was ranked 51st on the first 4BR tier list, confirming her status as a bottom-tier character.
It was not until update 1.1.5 when Samus gained her most efficient buffs, which allowed her moveset to flow significantly better than before and thus improve her offense and eliminate the majority of her blindspots. These buffs allowed Samus to start achieving significantly better placements at tournaments, and allowed her to now benefit from the nerfs to Diddy Kong, Sheik, Bayonetta, and her Zero Suited self, some of which are her most difficult matchups. These traits saw Samus ranked 45th on the second tier list and placed in the low tier before she eventually rose to 41st on the third tier list, at the top of the low tier. Her more bountiful results have resulted her in becoming a more stable character as a result, and has seen her rise to the 37th placing on the fourth and current tier list, sharing the spot with Robin and now becoming a mid-tier character. As such, she is considered a far more viable character after game updates, and significantly better than how she was in Brawl.
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