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. Her return to the series was announced during a Super Smash Bros. Direct on April 8th, 2014, which coincided with the 10th anniversary of the European release of Metroid: Zero Mission. Like Sheik, Zero Suit Samus is now a standalone character, which means that she cannot activate or deactivate her Power Suit under any circumstances. Alésia Glidewell reprises her role as Zero Suit Samus' voice actor, albeit via recycled voice clips from Super Smash Bros. Brawl.
Zero Suit Samus is currently ranked 11th out of 58 on the tier list. This places her in the A tier, and results in her being the second lowest ranking top-tier character. In addition, it is a slight improvement from her high-tier placement in Brawl, where she was ranked 9th out of 38. Zero Suit Samus possesses a dominant air game: her neutral and back aerials are safe and reliable set-up and KOing options, respectively, whereas her up aerial is an incredibly effective juggling option that also boasts KO potential.
Zero Suit Samus' punishment potential is also one of the greatest among the cast, courtesy of her fast and nimble mobility, a paralyzing projectile in Paralyzer, and a potent combo game that can quickly rack up damage or even KO outright. In addition, she possesses a long-distanced and varied recovery, thanks to having two tether recoveries, a third jump in Flip Jump and her new up special, Boost Kick.
Although she has outstanding strengths, Zero Suit Samus nevertheless has some noticeable weaknesses. Her ground game is unimpressive compared to her air game, which is most evident with her grab game: her grabs' long ranges are offset by their extreme amounts of start-up and ending lag, while her forward, back and up throws have very minimal utility outside of dealing damage.
By extension, many of Zero Suit Samus' hitboxes are positioned high above the ground, which can make it very difficult for her to fight against small characters. Even though Zero Suit Samus' air game is excellent, none of her aerials are effective combo breakers, which is further compounded by her susceptibility to combos. Altogether, these traits give Zero Suit Samus a weak neutral game.
Regardless of her flaws, Zero Suit Samus is widely considered to be a very viable character in competitive play, as shown by Nairo and Marss winning numerous national and regional tournaments, respectively.
Zero Suit Samus is a tall lightweight who boasts overall excellent mobility, thanks to several of her attributes being among the top 10 of their respective categories. Her walking speed is tied with Sheik's for the fifth fastest, her dashing speed is the fifth fastest, her air speed is tied with the default Mii Brawler's for the sixth fastest, her traction is tied with Little Mac and Wario's for the third highest, her air acceleration is tied with Lucas and Bayonetta's for the eighth fastest, and her jump is the third highest. Unlike most lightweights, Zero Suit Samus has very quick falling speed, high gravity and, like in her home series, is able to crawl and wall jump.
Zero Suit Samus' greatest asset is her superb air game. In addition to her excellent aerial attributes, her short hop is tied with Bayonetta's for the second highest in the game, which collectively supplement her useful aerial attacks. Neutral aerial has long range, low landing lag and launches at 55°, all of which make it very useful for follow-ups. Forward aerial is quick and fairly powerful, making it useful as part of a combo 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 very low base knockback, very high knockback scaling, and launches opponents vertically, all of which make it excellent at juggling and capable of KOing. Down aerial is able to meteor smash and possesses a strong landing hitbox, though it is dangerous to use off-stage due to being a stall-then-fall. Unlike in Brawl, she now has a grab aerial, which can be used for spacing, set-ups, or as a tether recovery.
Zero Suit Samus' special moves also possess considerable versatility. Paralyzer is quick, has decent range and paralyzes 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. Boost Kick is decent for recovery, but thanks to it hitting on frame 4 and boasting impressive power, it is actually one of Zero Suit Samus' most viable KOing options, especially from out of shield. Lastly, Flip Jump functions like a third jump, but also grants intangibility at its start and allows her to move unpredictably. As such, it can enable her to avoid attacks or mix up her recovery, the latter of which is supplemented by its ability to automatically wall jump upon making contact with a wall. Like Boost Kick, it also boasts impressive offensive potential: its inputted kick is strong enough to KO easily and can meteor smash aerial opponents, whereas its footstool stomp is now capable of both burying grounded opponents and meteor smashing aerial ones.
Lastly, Zero Suit Samus possesses a few invaluable KO set-ups aside from Paralyzer. Down smash is one of the few smash attacks of its kind that only hits in one direction, but it is very quick and paralyzes an opponent like Paralyzer, 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 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% while near the upper blast line. The latter's loop hits also have 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 an edge. Due to its speed, neutral attack's first hit can also function as a surprisingly effective set-up into Boost Kick at medium to high percentages. Altogether, these traits make Zero Suit Samus' punishment potential one of the most potent in the game.
However, Zero Suit Samus has some noticeable weaknesses. She can be KO'd fairly early because of her status as a lightweight, but unlike the majority of her fellow lightweights, she is also burdened with a susceptibility to combos because of her tall frame, very quick falling speed, and high gravity. Aside from her pummel's speed and her down throw's excellent combo potential, the rest of Zero Suit Samus' grab game is poor. Her grabs' long ranges are offset by their overall lag: they are tied with Grapple Beam for the highest amount of start-up lag in the game, and their ending lag is the third highest in the game, surpassed only by Pac-Man's grabs and her Power Suit's Grapple Beam. Despite having respectable damage outputs, her forward, back and up throws have no guaranteed follow-ups; although back throw has some semblance of mix-up potential, its mix-ups are very situational and require hard reads.
The overwhelming majority of Zero Suit Samus' attacks have hitbox placements that are high above the ground, making it easy for short characters to avoid getting hit, especially while crouching. Despite Paralyzer's paralysis effect, its range is decent at best, and it 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. All of these drawbacks also make Zero Suit Samus susceptible to momentum shifts, which in turn gives her a weak neutral game.
Zero Suit Samus' custom moves are among 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 because of their disadvantages outweighing their advantages. Blast Shot is faster and Electromagnetic Net lasts longer, but both sacrifice Paralyzer's excellent utility. Plasma Dash has better offensive potential and Whip Lash has excellent set-up potential, but they both have distinct flaws: the former is less reliable at edge trumping and lacks recovery potential, whereas the latter requires precises spacing to be effective. 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. Lastly, Shooting Star Flip Kick and Low Flip have much less utility overall: the former is difficult to hit with, whereas the latter is less reliable for both recovering and KOing.
Overall, Zero Suit Samus' very potent air and punishment games allow her to reliably set-up combos and KOs like in Brawl, while her KO potential has improved thanks to her newfound KOing options. However, she must nevertheless be wary of characters with strong neutral games, due to the poor quality of her own neutral game. Despite retaining her initial flaws and receiving subsequent ones from game updates, Zero Suit Samus has nevertheless achieved very impressive tournament representation and results, as evident with players such as Nairo and Marss having won national and regional tournaments, respectively.
Changes from Brawl
Despite being a high-tier character in Brawl, Zero Suit Samus has been buffed in the transition to SSB4. Her KO potential has improved, most notably thanks to her new forward smash and her new up special, Boost Kick, the latter of which is especially potent from out of shield. Zero Suit Samus' combo game has also improved, thanks to her buffed down throw and the changes to hitstun canceling. Lastly, her spacing and recovery potential benefit from her new grab aerial.
However, Zero Suit Samus also received some nerfs. The most noticeable of these was to her Plasma Whip, which is much less reliable for KOing, while her aerial prowess has also slightly worsened. Lastly, her down smash's stun duration 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 via game updates. Update 1.0.4 standardized her air dodge's animation in order for it to match the rest of the cast's, which increased its landing lag, while up smash and Paralyzer had their start-up and ending lag increased, respectively. Update 1.1.4 decreased Boost Kick's knockback scaling, which results in it now KOing slightly 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 also received indirect buffs because of the changes to shield mechanics brought about by updates 1.1.0 and 1.1.1. These changes make her most damaging attacks and Paralyzer's electric attacks safer on shield. Overall, Zero Suit Samus' viability has remained largely intact in spite of her nerfs.
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: he is one of the best SSB4 players in the world, consistently achieves top 8 placings at major tournaments (most notably winning MLG World Finals 2015) and became the first person to eliminate ZeRo, the undisputed best player in the world at the time, from a tournament. Other notable placings included Nick Riddle placing 2nd at Paragon Orlando 2015 and 7th at CEO 2015, and Marss placing 7th at GENESIS 3. Thanks to these very strong tournament results, Zero Suit Samus was ranked 2nd on the first tier list.
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 somewhat toning down her immense strengths. These nerfs ultimately affected her results, with some of her main players eventually being outperformed by other characters, such as Cloud, which in turn saw her playerbase slightly shrink. Zero Suit Samus' downturn was reflected in her subsequent tier placements, as she lost her top 3 status by being ranked 8th on the second tier list, and then lost her top 10 status by being ranked 11th on the third and current tier list.
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