I. Samus/Dark Samus
As you probably already know, Samus Aran is the main protagonist of the Metroid series. She’s an intergalactic bounty hunter who saved the galaxy many times. The Space Pirates raided her home planet when she was four, and everyone, including her parents, was killed. Being the only survivor, she was adopted by an ancient and wise race of bird-looking aliens, the Chozo, who infused her with their DNA to help her surpass the limits of her body. They also offered her the famous Power Suit, which can be upgraded from many sources of technology. Later, she took down the entire army of the Space Pirates, including their leaders Ridley and Mother Brain, all by herself. In the Super Smash Bros. series, she uses various power-ups from the original games, such as the Screw Attack, the Super Missile, and even the Grapple Beam, and she wears the most iconic version of her suit, the Varia Suit, which protects her from extreme temperatures. Some of her alternative colors refer to other suit upgrades she had in the past such as the Fusion Suit, the Gravity Suit and Light Suit.
Dark Samus is the main antagonist of the Metroid Prime series. She was originally a Metroid from the planet Tallon IV which mutated due to exposure to extremely high concentration of Phazon, eventually becoming the Metroid Prime. When Samus defeated the Metroid Prime, it took and absorbed her Phazon Suit and part of her DNA from her before disappearing and coming back to life as her Phazon doppelgänger, Dark Samus. Being part-Metroid, part-Samus, and 100% Phazon, she’s an extremely dangerous and virtually invincible entity who was able to bring Samus to the verge of death. She’s capable of controlling the minds of people and creatures corrupted by Phazon, which includes the Space Pirates and their commander, Ridley. Dark Samus was originally a very unpredictable, unstable and feral being, but she grew more and more intelligent as she absorbed humongous quantities of Phazon energy, eventually becoming able to lead an entire army of Space Pirates to attack the Galactic Federation headquarters on Norion. Fortunately, this attack failed thanks to Samus, who almost died of Phazon corruption. After many battles against her, Samus finally defeats Dark Samus for good on planet Phaaze, the origin of all Phazon in the universe, which was destroyed in the process.
B. Differences between them
Samus and Dark Samus don’t have many major differences aside from the fact that Dark Samus has completely different animations for most of her moves, which makes her feel like she’s a totally different character!
The most notable differences in their gameplay are :
– Samus deals fire damage with her Forward Aerial, Down Tilt, Forward and Up Smash Attack, while Dark Samus has Phazon-like effects on her attacks, which deal electric damage.
– Samus has a smaller hurtbox when she’s somersaulting, making it easier for her to dodge attacks in the air than Dark Samus.
– The hitbox of their Up Smash Attack. Dark Samus hits slightly lower than Samus with this move, allowing her to hit smaller opponents on the ground. (note that Samus and Dark Samus’s Up Smash Attack was fixed in patch 3.1.0 and is nearly impossible to escape anymore. Its launch power was also reduced if the opponent isn’t hit by the four explosions as of patch 4.0.0. In addition, Up Smash Attack’s knockback scaling was significantly improved, causing it to kill in earlier percents).
– The hitbox of their Forward Smash Attack. Dark Samus has a bit less range than Samus on this move, and also has more ending lag.
– Dark Samus has more ending lag on her Down Tilt.
– Dark Samus’s rolls are slightly faster than regular Samus’s, but she doesn’t enter the Morph Ball, which make her hurtbox much bigger than Samus at the end of her roll. This makes her more vulnerable and easier to punish.
– Dark Samus’s neutral special, Charge Shot, is fired slightly lower than Samus’s, allowing her to hit certain opponents hanging on the ledge of a stage. It also makes it easier for them to jump over the shot. Her shooting animation is also less obvious than Samus.
– Samus’s Missiles travel a slightly longer distance than Dark Samus’s, which also look more organic.
– Dark Samus has a more Phazon-looking version of Samus’s Final Smash, which is fittingly called Phazon Laser. However, as she doesn’t have Speed Boosters in her back, she can’t hit opponents behind her as easily as Samus with it.
– Neutral Special: Charge Shot
Samus/Dark Samus charges her beam, making her unable to move. However, she can cancel it by jumping, shielding, rolling or spot dodging. She is also able to charge and shoot it in the air, and can shoot it earlier by pressing B again. It deals a lot of damage when it’s fully charged, but the uncharged version can be used to combo into her grab for example.
– Side Special: Missile/Super Missile
Samus/Dark Samus shoots a Missile or a Super Missile depending on the input. If you do it like a Smash Attack, she will shoot a Super Missile, which does much more damage and can launch opponents. If you do it like a Tilt Attack, she will shoot a regular Missile, which deals less damage and moves slower but will follow opponents for a short distance.
– Down Special: Morph Ball Bomb
Samus/Dark Samus turns into the famous Morph Ball, jumps a little bit and leaves a bomb under her. The bomb detonates after a few seconds, but it deals more damage and explodes on contact with an opponent. The Morph Ball isn’t affected by momentum so you can use it to slow down your fall and bait your enemy! Samus turns back into the Morph Ball and performs a short jump if she’s near the bomb when it explodes.
– Up Special: Screw Attack
Samus/Dark Samus jumps vertically in the air, dealing damage to any enemy she’s in contact with. The last hit launches enemies, but she can’t grab ledges behind her until the end of the animation, so be careful! It’s also a very good option out of shield because of its very low startup lag.
– Grab: Grapple Beam
Samus/Dark Samus’s Grapple Beam is an incredibly good tool. She can use it to grab enemies at a much longer distance than any other character in the game. She can also use it as a tether recovery to grab the ledge of a stage and stun opponents in the air, knocking them back in the process! However, its animation on the ground is quite slow and has a bit of ending lag, making it easy to punish you if you miss.
– Final Smash: Zero Laser/Phazon Laser
Samus/Dark Samus fires a giant horizontal laser, hitting everything in its way. It is better used from a distance to launch opponents out of the stage as it doesn’t have much launch power.
D. Combos and tips
Samus/Dark Samus is an excellent character but can prove hard to master. She has a variety of tools to help her dominate her opponent, but she still has some weakness such as a lack of good landing options coupled to a slow fall speed, or getting easily punished after missing a grab. Her learning curve is quite high but will reward the players who make the best use of her mind game potential.
One of the easiest combos is to grab an opponent, down throw, then jump and hit them with her Forward Aerial Attack. It’s very effective at lower percentages of damage, but she can also use her Up Aerial instead if the enemy is launched too high. She can also start it by stunning her enemy with an uncharged Charge Shot to prevent them from dodging her Grappling Beam. Also, her Up Throw knockback scaling was drastically improved in 7.0.0, making it a reliable kill move at higher percents.
You might want to try shooting a full Charge Shot as much as possible, but sometimes not shooting it inflicts a lot more pressure on your opponent. Someone playing as Wolf or Ness, for example, will try to reflect it back at you or absorb it, so keeping it until the right moment might give you a chance to hit them hard or force them to make a mistake! Shooting it before it’s completely charged can also surprise your opponent and lead into a grab combo or even a Smash or Dash Attack!
If you use your Grapple Beam while jumping, it won’t grab your enemy but will instead deal a little bit of damage and more importantly knock them back (the distance increases with their amount of damage. Damage and hitbox duration were increased in patch 7.0.0). You can use it to prevent them from coming back on the stage; it’s very effective on characters with weak horizontal recoveries.
When you use your Grapple Beam to grab a ledge, Samus/Dark Samus will be hanging with it until you press the jump or attack button. That can be used to bait opponents that try to edge guard you. However, you’re not invulnerable until you reach the ledge, making it easy to be meteor smashed. You can travel this distance very quickly if you press jump/attack right after grabbing the ledge.
Samus/Dark Samus’s Neutral Aerial Attack is an extremely fast and strong move, in spite of its short range and hitbox. You can kill most characters quite early with it if you hit them with the first frames of animation of this move. It’s also a very reliable move for edge guarding.
You can ledge trap by setting a Morph Ball Bomb on the edge of a stage and using your Up Tilt Attack right after your opponent detonates the bomb! You can also drop the bombs off the stage to deal damage to them while they try to reach the ledge.
Samus/Dark Samus’s jab is one of the worst in the entire game because the second hit comes too slowly after the first, allowing your opponent to shield between the two hits. You should avoid using the second hit if you ever want to use her jab, or you might get punished! Try using your grab or you Down Tilt Attack instead.
Sometimes you’ll want to stall a bit to be able to finish charging your Charge Shot, or simply try to harass your opponent. You can do this by using your Forward Tilt or your Down Smash Attack, both having good horizontal launching power. (Down Smash knockback scaling was significantly improved in patch 7.0.0, making it a much more reliable K.O. option).
II – Zero Suit Samus
The Zero Suit is the stealthy blue costume Samus wears under her armor. It appeared for the first time in Metroid: Zero Mission, and is present in every game afterward. Without her legendary Power Suit, Samus remains an incredibly powerful opponent due to her training and her part-Chozo DNA. She surpasses the peak human in any aspect! She possesses a Paralyzer gun which can also be used as a whip. Since Super Smash Bros. for Wii U/3DS, Zero Suit Samus has two alternative costumes based on her outfits in the “best endings” of Metroid Fusion and Zero Mission. She’s also equipped with Jet Boots, which have not appeared in the Metroid series yet.
– Neutral Special: Paralyzer
Samus fires a paralyzing shot horizontally. You can charge it to increase the duration of the stun and the distance traveled by the projectile.
– Side Special: Plasma Whip
Samus whips forward, dealing a lot of damage and launching any enemy hit by its tip. You can hold B to throw your enemy over Samus. You can also use it as a tether recovery to grab the ledge of a stage!
– Down Special: Flip Jump
Samus does a Flip Jump forward, burying her enemy in the ground if she lands on them. The distance of the jump can be angled to go further or the opposite by using the left stick. You can press B again during the jump to give a powerful kick instead of burying your enemy, but this move has much more ending lag if you do so. Flip Jump can also be used in the air to recover, or to hit your opponent with a meteor effect.
– Up Special: Boost Kick
Samus jumps vertically, giving a forward kick, bringing any close enemy with her and kicking them again at the end of her jump, launching her opponent. It can be slightly angled left or right.
– Grab: Plasma Whip
Zero Suit Samus can also grab her opponent from a distance thanks to her whip. Just as regular Samus and Dark Samus, she can also use it in the air to deal a bit of damage and knock back. It can also be used as a tether recovery, but has less range than the Side Special variant.
– Final Smash: Zero Laser
Samus jumps onto her ship and activates her Varia Suit, shooting a huge laser from the background of the stage with a second followup blast. This version is much more powerful than regular Samus’ version, and launches a lot further too with its last hit!
C. Combos and tips
Zero Suit Samus is an extremely fast character with powerful aerial attacks. She has a lot of mobility, especially because of her Flip Jump, which can be angled to jump shorter or higher distance depending on your stick input. Use this to your advantage to confuse your opponent! She’s very hard to deal with, if you have a hard time hitting your opponent, chances are they can’t hit you either due to your incredible mobility.
The more damage you deal to your opponent, the longer they remain buried if your Flip Jump lands on them. Use this duration to chain with a Boost Kick or an Up Smash Attack (both need to be done in front of the opponent to work) to deal a lot of damage and eventually kill them.
For her down smash attack, Samus shoots at the ground with her Paralyzer. With good timing, it can be used to prevent someone grabbing the edge of a stage, and you can then combo into your Forward Smash Attack (which can be slightly angled down or up with the left stick).
Samus’ Forward Aerial Attack is a very strong and fast move. This can be used to easily combo a character with low damage by short hopping and using this move a few times in a row! You can also juggle quite easily with her Up Aerial Attack and finish your combo with a Boost Kick to deal tons of damage. She’s very strong overall in the air, so use this to your advantage!
Samus’ jab is one of the fastest in the game, making it an extremely good option out of shield. Use it to your advantage to counter-attack after blocking your opponent’s move with your shield.
III – Ridley
Ridley is the commander of the Space Pirates and the arch nemesis of Samus Aran. He’s the one responsible for the raid of her home planet, K2-L, and the murder of her parents. He may look like nothing more than a mindless beast, but he is an extremely intelligent, sadistic and violent creature who leads the Space Pirates into battle. He’s an incredibly dangerous foe, able to regenerate his cells by eating corpses, which earned him the moniker “Cunning God of Death”. However, he battled Samus many times throughout the Metroid series and lost every time, being defeated for good in Super Metroid. He was able to come back many times, though cybernetic upgrades, Phazon when he got corrupted by Dark Samus, cloning and even by building a robotic version of himself. In Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, Ridley has both his regular skin and Meta Ridley as an alternative skin. All of his alternative color schemes reference his appearances or art through the Metroid series’ history.
– Neutral Special: Plasma Breath
Ridley spits a fireball which bounces off the ground a few times. It doesn’t deal much damage, but it can be charged to spit numerous bigger fireballs that deal a lot more damage. However, if Ridley is hit in the mouth by anything while he charges his Plasma Breath, he will be interrupted and get recoil damage depending on how much he charged it.
– Side Special: Space Pirate Rush
After a bit of startup lag, Ridley jumps forward to grab an opponent, dragging them on the floor, dealing a lot of damage and throwing them if he reaches the end of a stage, or you can release them earlier and make Ridley jump by holding B (launch power was significantly increased when dragging an opponent to the edge of a stage, and ending lag was reduced while cancelling the move by holding B in patch 4.0.0). The further Ridley drags his opponent on the ground, the more damage he deals to them. Ridley’s opponent can escape his grasp by mashing buttons, the speed depending on the difference between their and Ridley’s percentages of damage. You can also use it in the air for recovery or putting down an enemy, just like Ganondorf’s Side B.
– Down Special: Skewer
Ridley stabs horizontally with his tail. It doesn’t deal much damage unless you hit with the sweet spot on the tip of his tail, dealing extremely high damage and making your opponent fall on the ground. However, this move has a lot of startup lag, making it very difficult to land (yet it is extremely rewarding and satisfying when you do), and Ridley barely has time to do anything after his opponent is stunned, making his follow-up based on his enemy’s next move to get away.
– Up Special: Wing Blitz
After a short time, Ridley dashes in four possible directions (up; down and slightly forward; forward and slightly down; and backward and slightly up). It makes him travel a long distance and is quite powerful too, allowing to kill an enemy with high damage. It also meteor smashes aerial targets when used downward (please note that Wing Blitz’s startup lag was significantly reduced, and both the traveled distance and speed were increased in patch 4.0.0).
– Final Smash: Plasma Scream
Ridley dashes forward. If he hits an enemy, he throws them on Samus’ ship and shoots a plasma laser, instantly killing the enemy if their damage is at 100% or higher before the end of the cutscene. You can see Samus’ ship crashing in the background afterward.
C. Combos and tips
Ridley is a solid mid tier character as of patch 4.0.0. His recovery is now significantly better but his hurtbox is still pretty big (there we go, we had to say it at some point – Ridley is indeed TOO BIG), which makes him very weak against fast characters and projectiles. He’s also too light a for character this big (he’s actually lighter than Samus!), which makes him easy to combo. However, both his Up Smash Attack (longer hit detection and knockback) and Up Air Attack (sweetspot hitbox size was increased) were buffed in 4.0.0, as well as his back air (does 16% damage now, was 15% pre-4.0.0) and Space Pirate Rush (signficantly more knockback when throwing an opponent off the edge of a stage). He also cannot stall in the air anymore by using his Down Air Attack out of hitsun.
Do not use his charged Plasma Breath too often, or you might get easily punished by your enemy. It’s better to use it from a distance if you only want to deal damage. However, it can be used as a very good edge guarding tool. The charged fireballs bounce from a long distance and knock back opponents!
Space Pirate Rush can be used to throw your enemy off the stage and launch them off the side of the screen by using Ridley’s forward air attack afterward. Don’t hesitate to do it on slower characters and characters that have bad horizontal recovery.
Space Pirate Rush can also be used to grab an opponent in the air and bring them down with you. However, just like Ganondorf or Bowser, Ridley will die first, making this trick useful only if you have at least one more stock than your opponent. You can also hold B to release your opponent earlier, throwing them against the corner of the stage if you’re close enough!
Ridley’s Down Tilt is pretty fast and has a good range. You can use it to combo into his Forward Aerial when your opponent’s damage percentage isn’t too high.
Ridley’s Down Smash Attack has amazing range on both sides but only hits opponent close to the ground. You can also use it on someone hanging on the ledge if they’re not invulnerable anymore!
Ridley’s Up Smash Attack has a very good range and knockback, making it quite good to prevent your opponent from landing!
Samus/Dark Samus, Zero Suit Samus and Ridley all have very different and unique play styles that need a lot of time and practice to master. We encourage you to try all of them to see which one you like the most and eventually main them !
Written and Illustrated by Glaedrax
Feature accurate as of patch 8.1.0