Zero Suit Samus (SSB4)
Zero Suit Samus (ゼロスーツサムス, Zero Suit Samus) is a playable character in Super Smash Bros. 4. She was confirmed in the Super Smash Bros. Direct on April 8th, 2014, exactly a decade after Metroid: Zero Mission was released in Europe. Like Sheik, Zero Suit Samus is now a standalone character, which means that she cannot activate or deactivate her her Power Suit under any circumstances. Zero Suit Samus is once again voiced by Alésia Glidewell, albeit via recycled voice clips from Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Zero Suit Samus is currently ranked 8th out of 58 on the tier list, placing her in the A tier. This is a noticeable improvement from her placement in Brawl, where she was ranked 9th out of 38. Zero Suit Samus possesses a dominant air game, with two very safe aerials in her neutral and back aerials, while her up aerial is incredibly effective for juggling. Zero Suit Samus also has what is arguably the best punishment game, courtesy of her fast and nimble mobility, a paralyzing projectile in Paralyzer, and a potent combo game that can lead to either KOs or large amounts of damage in quick fashion. In addition, Zero Suit Samus possesses a long-distanced and varied recovery, courtesy of having two tether recoveries, a third jump in Flip Jump and her new up special, Boost Kick.
While she has outstanding positives, Zero Suit Samus also has some negatives. Her grab game is very poor; while her grabs have very good range and her down throw is a reliable aerial combo starter, her grabs are all extremely slow and thus punishable if whiffed. Her ground game is also somewhat poor compared to her amazing air game, while her off-stage presence is minimal despite her great aerial mobility and varied recovery. Zero Suit Samus has a weak neutral game, requiring players to utilize great mix-ups along with spacing in order to efficiently rack up damage, score KOs, and avoid punishment.
Regardless of her flaws, Zero Suit Samus is widely considered to be an outstanding character, to the point that she was viewed as a top 3 character in the early SSB4 metagame until she was nerfed in updates 1.1.4 and 1.1.5. This reputation is thanks to her playerbase, particularly Nairo, consistently achieving high tournament results.
Like in Metroid: Zero Mission, Zero Suit Samus follows a hit-and-run playstyle, which is reflected in her outstanding mobility: her walking, dashing and air speeds are each among the top 10 within their respective categories, she has fast air acceleration, the third highest jumps, and the ability to both crawl and wall jump. However, her tall frame and fast falling speed make her easy to combo, while her high gravity and her status as a lightweight also make her susceptible to vertical knockback.
Zero Suit Samus' greatest asset is her excellent air game. Neutral aerial has long range, low landing lag and launches at an angle that easily allows for follow-ups. Forward aerial is quick and decently powerful, making it a useful combo move at low percentages and a dependable off-stage KOing option. Back aerial has long range and high power, making it her most reliable aerial KOing option. Up aerial is very quick, has low base knockback, high knockback growth, and launches opponents vertically, making it an excellent all-purpose move. Down aerial is a meteor smash with a strong landing hitbox, though it is dangerous to use off-stage due to being a stall-then-fall. Lastly, Zero Suit Samus has a grab aerial, which she can use for spacing or as a tether recovery.
Her special moves also possess considerable versatility and give her good camping abilities. Paralyzer is quick, has decent range and the ability to paralyze the opponent, granting it excellent follow-up potential. Plasma Whip has long range and, like her grab aerial, can be used for spacing or as a tether recovery. It is also one of Zero Suit Samus' primary means of recovery, as it grants a decent amount of vertical distance and very long horizontal distance. Boost Kick is very quick due to coming out on frame 4 and is a decent recovery move, yet boasts impressive power, making it one of Zero Suit Samus' most viable KOing options, especially from out of shield. Lastly, Flip Jump allows her to move unpredictably, avoid attacks or mix up her recovery due to granting a lot of momentum, the ability to wall jump, and intangibility at its start. Additionally, its optional kick is very strong, being one of the strongest meteor smashes in the game, while also being capable of burying opponents and leaving them open to attacks, most notably Boost Kick.
Finally, Zero Suit Samus possesses numerous and reliable KO set-ups. Down smash is one of a few smash attacks of its kind that it does not hit behind Zero Suit Samus, but just like the Paralyzer, it is very quick and can paralyze the opponent, allowing her to follow it up with a forward smash, back aerial, a grab, Boost Kick or Flip Jump, with the last KOing at very low percentages. In addition, down throw itself has guaranteed follow-ups at any percentage below 160%. Depending on the opponent's DI, it can combo into forward aerial or up aerial, and sometimes back aerial and Boost Kick. This throw is also notorious for its ability to score very early KOs. Without proper DI, a series of up aerials leading into a Boost Kick can KO the majority of the cast at 50% near the upper blast line. The latter's loop hits also deal high base knockback and can KO if its last hit does not land due to SDI, even with perfect DI. Even with proper DI, this combo can also KO earlier if the opponent is near close to the edge of the stage. Combined with all the above, Zero Suit Samus has one of, if not the most, potent punishment games.
However, Zero Suit Samus has some noticeable weaknesses. As mentioned before, she is light, tall, and has fast falling speed, all of which make her susceptible to combos or being KO'd early. Overall, her grab game is very poor. While her pummel and down throw are very good at racking up damage, the same cannot be said about the rest of her throws. Her forward throw and back throw have no guaranteed follow-ups outside of a dash attack, while Flip Jump can only KO if the opponent reacts improperly. Despite their long ranges, her grabs are also the third laggiest, surpassed only by Pac-Man's grabs and her Power Suit's Grapple Beam, making them very punishable if they miss. All of the aforementioned drawbacks also make her very susceptible to momentum shifts, which in turn renders her neutral game as weak. The overwhelming majority of Zero Suit Samus' attacks have hitbox placements that are high from the ground, making it easy for short characters to avoid getting hit, especially while crouching. Despite Paralyzer's paralysis effect, it is rather short-ranged and does not stay out for very long. As a result, her approach against most defensive and zoning characters is limited to dodging their projectiles with her mobility, powershielding, and either coming in from above with an aerial or fast falling and then immediately grabbing.
Zero Suit Samus' custom moves are some of the most polarized in the game. New advantages are gained from using them, but each one has a noticeable disadvantage to go alongside them, to the point that some are inferior to her default specials due to their disadvantages outweighing their advantages. Blast Shot is faster and Electromagnetic Net lasts longer, but both sacrifice Paralyzer's immense utility. Plasma Dash and Whip Lash have better offensive potentials, but they are largely inconsistent, with the former also being less reliable at edge trumping and being more situational for recovering. Impact Kick is much stronger and Lateral Kick travels farther, but each has noticeable flaws: Impact Kick is much slower, which removes its status as a follow-up entirely and often makes it unable to connecting with itself, whereas Lateral Kick KOs much later, which hinders Zero Suit Samus' KO potential. Finally, Shooting Star Flip Kick and Low Flip have much less utility overall, with the former being difficult to hit with, while the latter is less reliable for both recovering and KOing.
Overall, Zero Suit Samus' potent air and punishment games make up for her weak neutral game. Despite her initial flaws and subsequent nerfs from game updates, she boasts a strong tournament presence thanks to her representation achieving very good results, with Nairo in particular being considered to be one of the best SSB4 players in the world among the competitive community.
Changes from Brawl
Despite being a high-tier character in Brawl, Zero Suit Samus has been heavily buffed in the transition to SSB4. She has received a few more KOing options, particularly her new forward smash and her new up special, Boost Kick, the latter of which is also a potent out of shield option. She also gained more follow-up options thanks to her faster down throw, as well as improved spacing and recovery options thanks to her new grab aerial. Lastly, she significantly benefits from the changes to histun canceling, which lets her combo opponents much more efficiently and reliably set-up many attacks and KOs.
However, Zero Suit Samus also received some nerfs. The most noticeable of these was to her Plasma Whip, which has lost its reliable KOing potential, while her aerial prowess is also slightly worse than in Brawl. Lastly, her down smash's stun time was decreased and thus slightly worsened its follow-up potential, while Paralyzer was slightly nerfed in update 1.0.4.
Zero Suit Samus has been nerfed in game updates. Update 1.0.4 standardized her air dodge's animation in order for it to match the rest of the cast's air dodges, which basically increased its landing lag, while Paralyzer had its ending lag increased. Update 1.1.4 affected her weight and her Boost Kick was nerfed, as it now KOs around 5% later. Her most substantial nerfs came about in update 1.1.5, which affected her damage racking potential by decreasing the damage outputs of her neutral aerial, up aerial and down throw, while all of her grabs had their active frames decreased.
Despite these direct nerfs, Zero Suit Samus received indirect buffs due to the changes to shield mechanics brought about in update 1.1.1, as these changes make her Paralyzer's electrical attacks, particularly her neutral aerial, safer on shield. Flip Jump's kick is also one of her few non-electrical moves to benefit from these changes. Regardless of the nerfs, Zero Suit Samus is still a strong and effective choice in competitive play.
In competitive play
Tier placement and history
Zero Suit Samus has been widely been viewed as a top-tier character ever since SSB4 was released. She became infamous for her highly rewarding grab combos that could lead into early KOs, varied methods of setting up KOs with her back and down throws, down smash, and Paralyzer, her ability to escape pressure with her aerial mobility and down special, and, as of update 1.1.1, the incredible safety of her electric attacks like her neutral aerial. However, she also has a few weaknesses, such as her laggy grab and lackluster ground game. Although players would often point out both her weaknesses and her representation only being above average for a perceived top-tier character, Zero Suit Samus' weaknesses were also perceived as negligible. Additionally, her top-tier status was supplemented by the efforts of dedicated professionals, most notably Marss, Nairo, Nick Riddle, Remzi and V115, who dominated their respective regions with her and whose tournament results had been sufficient enough to position her as the second best character in the game in the eyes of most players.
Nairo's efforts in particular have demonstrated the former points, being not only one of the best SSB4 players in the world, but also placing among the Top 8 consistently at major tournaments and winning MLG World Finals 2015 while using Zero Suit Samus, also notably becoming the first person to ever elimianate ZeRo, the undisputed best player in the world at the time, out of a tournament. Other notable placings included Nick Riddle placing 2nd at Paragon Orlando 2015 and 7th at CEO 2015, and Nairo and Marss placing at 5th and 7th at GENESIS 3, respectively. Because of these very strong tournament results, she would finally confirm her status by placing 2nd on the first tier list, being surpassed only by Sheik.
However, Zero Suit Samus received nerfs from game updates, with update 1.1.5 providing her most significant ones by exacerbating her grab game's lag issues and her immense strengths being toned down to an extent. These nerfs did affect her results, with some of her main players eventually becoming outperformed by other characters such as Cloud, and a small amount dropping her in favor of another character. As a result, Zero Suit Samus lost her Top 3 status and was ranked 8th in the second tier list. Although it is a moderate drop from her previous ranking, she remains a top-tier character.
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