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 good 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, 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 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 Super Smash Bros. 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 fixing one of her main issues in Brawl combined with the game's mechanics greatly benefiting her overall. 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 improving one of her main weaknesses in the previous game. 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, back aerial, up 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 due to alterations to those moves along with the weakening of SDI to further ensure that opponents cannot escape their respective last hits.
Aside from her new KOing options, Samus benefits from the general changes between Brawl and SSB4. With the changes to hitstun canceling and DI, Samus' combo game has been improved. Some of her attacks (most notably her dash attack) have been altered to give them much greater followup potential, 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. Samus also greatly benefits from the introduction of rage as it not only further supplements her improved KO power but it also allows her to KO with her grounded Screw Attack at insanely early percents and her high weight and solid recovery allow her to build up rage. The changes to shields, shield damage and shieldstun also benefit her, as she can use her Charge Shot, Super Missile and Bomb in tandem with other moves to easily break shields.
Samus' falling speed and gravity have noticeably increased. This makes it much easier for Samus to land however, it also hinders her aerial output as she can no longer perform two aerials in a short hop and it makes her more susceptible to combos.
However, Samus also received a few nerfs. The most significant nerf being the fact that she is no longer connected to Zero Suit Samus. As such, she can no longer utilize her Zero Suit counterpart's far superior mobility and moveset to alleviate her own. As for Samus' more direct nerfs, some of Samus' moves her nerfed frame data with her landing lag in particular being significantly increased. While this is a common nerf across the cast, it harmed Samus more than most other returning veterans as Samus went from having the lowest average landing lag in the game to having fairly mediocre landing lag on her aerials with down aerial and forward aerial seeing the largest increase to their landing lag. This is especially an issue with forward aerial as it can no longer auto-cancel in a short hop. While her KO potential has improved, some of Samus' previous KO moves, such as her down tilt and down smash, have reduced KO potential. Missile is harder to camp with due it no longer auto-canceling on landing, though her projectiles overall are still powerful and useful in their own right. Additionally, Samus' overall damage output is lower (though it is higher relative to the cast) and despite her improved combo potential, some of her moves have reduced followup potential most notably her landing forward aerial and down aerial. One move which notably got nerfed however was her grab aerial. While it has increased tether range and it benefits from the changes to ledges, it has increased landing lag, deals less damage and has altered knockback hindering its spacing and followup potential.
Overall, Samus has been buffed overall from Brawl despite receiving a fair share of nerfs. She has been slightly re-balanced having a worse defensive game due to her higher landing lag, altered Missile and grab aerial but now wielding a slightly improved close-range game, with 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. The changes to the game's mechanics also greatly benefit her overall as they make her multi hit moves more reliable, give her access to her greater combo potential and they further supplement her already improved KO potential. 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.
In competitive play
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 Mario, Captain Falcon and Link, had made them significantly better than her. When combined with glaring blind spots on her hitboxes, extended hurtboxes, and continued struggle to KO, Samus would later 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, having a notable tournament impact. As such, she was ranked 51st on the first 4BR tier list, becoming 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, improving her offense and eliminating the majority of her blindspots. This resulted in her achieving significantly better placements at tournaments, and benefiting from nerfs given to characters with preferable matchups against her, such as Bayonetta, Diddy Kong, Sheik and Zero Suit Samus. These traits saw Samus ranked 45th on the second tier list and placed in the low tier, eventually rosing to 41st on the third tier list, at the top of the low tier. Her more bountiful results have resulted in her becoming a more stable character, and has seen her rise to 37th on the fourth and current tier list, now a mid-tier character, sharing the spot with Robin. As such, she is considered a far more viable character after game updates, and significantly better than how she was in Brawl, with some smashers, such as ESAM and Dabuz, claim that a higher placement in the tier list is needed, despite her relatively below-average representation.
In Event Matches