The First Smash Sister

Samus’ evolution in Nintendo’s own fighting franchise.

By Francisco Naranjo. Posted 09/05/2010 11:40 2 Comments     ShareThis

After Super Metroid for SNES, Samus took a huge break until Metroid Fusion was released in 2002. Her only playable appearances during this time were in Super Smash Bros. and Super Smash Bros. Melee, Nintendo’s successful fighting game franchise. Samus has appeared in all 3 games Super Smash Bros. games, and while she has remained relatively true to her debut in the series, there have been some really drastic changes from game to game. Let’s take a closer look at Samus’ appearance in the Super Smash Bros. series.

Super Smash Bros. (1999)

Released back in 1999, and known in Japan as Nintendo All-Star! Dairantou Smash Brothers, the series started as a very unconventional fighting game for Nintendo 64, starring some of Nintendo’s best known characters. One of them was Samus Aran, being also the first female character in the cast (excluding Jigglypuff, who also debuted in this game, if you consider it female). She had the weird combination of being both quite heavy and floaty, and had one of the best projectiles in the game; the Charge Shot. If fully charged, it was one of her more viable KO moves.

She was also one of the tallest characters in the game, and while she had pretty decent range in her attacks, a very fast dashing speed, good horizontal recovery thanks to her morph ball bombs and one of the best spikes (an attack that sends the opponent downward), she’s considered the worst character in the game. She has no good match-ups at all, being heavily countered by characters like Fox and Pikachu. She’s also the character with the least combo potential in the game, which was quite a disadvantage in a very combo-focused game like Super Smash Bros. due to the huge amount of “hitstun” (the stunning of a character when hit by an attack).

Still, considering the first Super Smash Bros. game was relatively balanced because of the small roster, she’s actually not completely useless and can be especially dangerous with correct spacing and good use of her long range game. Also, she’s one of the most fun characters to use in non-competitive matches.

Super Smash Bros. Melee (2001)

Samus got a huge upgrade from Super Smash Bros. to Super Smash Bros. Melee. Along with the new game’s physics, Samus ended up one of the best characters in the game (currently considered the 9th best). Her move set is much more versatile now, has one of the best neutral air attacks in the game because of its very long duration, has way more KO power, became one of the best users of crouch-cancel (canceling a move’s knock-back by crouching) and gained her now trademark Missile, a very useful, spam-able and powerful projectile.

Her bombs were also much more useful, allowing her to travel a long distance during her horizontal recovery. Combined with her improved Screw Attack, she had arguably the best recovery in the game.

Super Smash Bros. Melee had several new “advanced techniques”, like “wavedashing” (canceling a jump by air dodging diagonally against the floor, resulting in a very safe way to move). Samus had a great wavedash, and even had her own technique called “Super Wavedash”, allowing her to go a very long distance with the help of her bombs. She still struggles against several characters (again, Fox, since his reflector completely negates Samus’ projectile game), but she was one tough character to face against.

Super Smash Bros. Brawl (2008)

For some reason, Masahiro Sakurai (designer of the series) thought it was a good idea to nerf Samus into oblivion. It’s true that she was too good in Melee, but still, she’s now considered the 5th worst character in Brawl. She’s not her Super Smash Bros. self, but has a brand new set of weaknesses that prevent her from being a more viable character. Her killing power and projectile game were absurdly nerfed, to the point that she’s now a character that consistently struggles to get KOs. Her missiles are slower and a lot weaker, making them no longer a good KO option for Samus anymore. Her front Smash, one of her best attacks in Melee, got downgraded so much that it doesn’t guarantee a KO even if her opponent has high damage percentage.

On the bright side, her down tilt is now one of her strongest attacks, and her grapple beam has a lot of horizontal range, making it a great move to poke opponents at long range. Samus may have been downgraded from her Melee self, but once she removes her Power Suit, Zero Suit Samus comes to life.

Zero Suit Samus is (in contrast with her usual self) a very quick character, with a very unique projectile that stuns the opponent for a brief period of time, and the best tether recovery in the game (using her plasma whip). She’s not exactly a very powerful character, but saving her KO moves for specific situations deals with this problem. She’s one of the best jugglers in the games due to her unique air moveset and is great at spacing, thanks to her long range whip attacks. She’s currently considered the 15th best character in the game, which kind of makes up for the fact that regular Samus got severely toned down.


Samus has changed a lot since her first appearance in Super Smash Bros., but she has always been a really fun character to use. Do you like playing as Samus in the Super Smash Bros. games? Which version of Samus is your favorite?

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