Samus Aran (サムス, Samus) is a starter character in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Returning as a veteran from the previous game, Samus, similarly to Link, reprises her role as a short-ranged fighter with numerous ranged options. In addition, she received some powerful buffs, causing her to improve from a bottom-tiered character in Super Smash Bros. to a high-mid tiered character in Melee.
Samus is ranked 10th on the current tier list, placing her in high-mid tier, a significant improvement from her 8th (out of 12) position in Super Smash Bros. and her best placement in the series. This is mainly due to her numerous and effective projectiles, which adds to her KOing power and her approach on the ground. She also has a good air game, complimented with a powerful back aerial. Samus' recovery is among the best in the game; her bomb jumps, ability to wall jump, grappling beam, and heavy weight all contribute to making her among the toughest characters to KO horizontally. She also possesses techniques exclusive to her, such as the Super Wavedash and Extended Grapple, that aid her approach on opponents. However, she is floaty, allowing her to be easily juggled and KO'd vertically. She is also highly susceptible to combos in general, due to being floaty, heavy, and tall in stature. Her primary combo starter, her grab, is also very laggy if it misses, though it can be extended in the NTSC version. Regardless, Samus has a large amount of advantageous matchups, two of which are close to un-loseable (against Roy and Pichu).
Samus is a unique character. Although a tall heavyweight, she is unusually floaty, uncharacteristic of characters in her weight class. Her slow falling speed (the second slowest in the game, tied with Zelda) allows her recovery to travel more distance and gives her better potential combo game. However, it also makes her more susceptible to vertical KOs, even with her high weight, and it also gives her a poor SHFFL.
Arguably Samus's most valuable asset is her high range. While lacking a disjointed hitbox, Samus has a variety of long-reaching attacks and long-ranged projectiles that can assist with her ground-based approach. Charge Shot can quickly become one of her most powerful attacks, while her Missiles can act as both an approach option when non-tapped and as a powerful finisher when tapped. Samus's average traction and low falling speed also grant her a long wavedash that can mesh well with her long-ranged smash attacks, as well as her modestly-ranged tilts; assuming the player has particularly good timing, Samus also has access to the longest wavedash in the game, the Super Wavedash, which can also potentially surprise enemies due to its speed. While laggy, Samus is also owner of the longest grab in the game, and a technique unique to the NTSC release of the game can allow her to extend its reach by three, in addition to allowing it to home in on enemies.
Samus's recovery is also among the longest and most flexible in all the game. While Screw Attack grants relatively little horizontal and vertical distance, its multiple hitboxes can potentially frustrate edgeguarders, especially due to its final blow. Samus, however, owns arguably more options for her recovery than any other character in the game. Her average air speed and low falling speed aid her approach toward ledges, while her natural ability to wall-jump can aid her recovery on stages with walls underneath the ledge, such as Fountain of Dreams or Dream Land. Samus's down special, her bombs, can allow her to bomb-jump onto the stage without the loss of jumps, and her grab air can allow her to enter "safe zones" underneath the stage, as well as acting another long recovery technique. Owing to these variety of options, edgeguarding against Samus can be extremely difficult, especially for characters with poor recoveries. For Samus herself, this long recovery also grants her a powerful edgeguarding game of her own, aided by her fast and powerful neutral and back aerial attacks.
Despite having a good approach on the ground, Samus's aerial approach suffers due to her strange variety of attributes. Her below average falling speed and high jumps give her a poor SHFFL, despite the presence of low ending lag for her aerials when L-canceled. Her low falling speed also can prevent her from quickly pursuing enemies that have been knocked into the ground; as such, Samus can have particular difficulty in comboing fast-fallers, even with her variety of throws. Tying into this, Samus's grab is extremely laggy and can easily be punished if she fails to grab an opponent with it;
Samus also has a very poor defensive game; Samus's shield cannot easily cover her body and thus invites shield stabbing. While boasting an average sidestep dodge, Samus's rolling dodge is among the worst in the game, due to its low speed. While Screw Attack can potentially act as a decent out of shield option, Samus's other options are slow and laggy, such as her up smash and grab.
Changes from Super Smash Bros.
Samus has been significantly buffed from Smash 64 to Melee, as she was considered among, if not the worst character in Smash 64 due to a poor approach and lack of combos. She is often considered the most buffed character from Smash 64 to Melee along with Jigglypuff, due to increased power, attack speed, range, combo ability, and recovery, and by going from a low tier to a semi-viable tournament contender.
For a gallery of Samus's hitboxes, see here.
In Competitive play
Samus has a strong matchup spread. She is soft countered by seven characters, has six even matchups, soft counters six characters, counters three, and hard counters three. Her projectiles combined with her excellent horizontal endurance allows her to win against the Ice Climbers and go even against Fox and Falco. This is evident with characters that struggle to approach safely and consistently combo with her, such as Luigi and Young Link.
However, Samus has difficulty against characters who possess faster mobility and can manage to combo her, such as Sheik and Marth. Sheik can bypass her floatiness and win neutral more times with her Needles, with Samus’s low falling speed being a hindrance in trying to escape disadvantage. Marth’s faster speed allows him to close in more easily and break through her camping playstyle, forcing her to play more evasively in order to avoid getting comboed.
Any number following the Smasher name indicates placement on the Summer 2019 MPGR, which recognizes the official top 50 players in the world in Super Smash Bros. Melee from February 1st, 2019 to July 7th, 2019.
Tier placement and history
Samus’s large number of buffs from her transition from Smash Bros 64 to Melee was immediately noticed by players, and was reflected by her high rankings in initial tier lists, hovering around 6th and 9th. This was largely due to her improved projectile game, combo game, and improved recovery. Although with a much smaller player base than most high-tier mains, her representation and performances from dedicated mains such as HugS saw her remain in the higher tiers for many years. Unfortunately, innovations in other characters's metagames have been discovered, and professionals have adapted to Samus's defensive fighting style that rendered her defensive playstyle less effective. This has resulted Samus dropping in placements through recent Melee tier lists. In the current metagame, Plup rarely uses her in high-level tournaments, and Duck has recently dropped her in favor of Sheik. She currently sits at 10th place as a high-mid tier alongside Pikachu. As it stands, while her zoning game remains effective against the meta, her declining presence in tournaments and increasing competitive prospects towards other top-tiers has made her fare worse against the rest of the cast compared to the early metagame.
In Classic Mode, Samus can appear as an ordinary opponent, as an ally or opponent in the team battles, alongside either Captain Falcon or Fox, as a giant opponent, or as a metal opponent. When alone she appears either on Brinstar or Brinstar Depths, while when on a team with Captain Falcon she appears on Big Blue.
Samus is once again fought on the Brinstar stage, after Samus is beaten, the planet will start to explode and the player must evacuate to Samus's ship before the planet explodes, if not they will lose a life.
Samus and her allies are fought on Brinstar.
Samus is featured in the following event matches:
In addition to the normal trophy about Samus as a character, there are two trophies about her as a fighter, unlocked by completing both Adventure and All-Star modes respectively with Samus on any difficulty: