Hello and welcome back to GoNintendo’s Super Smash Bros. Character Review Series, where we take a look at the fighters of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’s roster and see how well they represent their respective characters.

Today in honor of Super Metroid’s 30th Anniversary, we’ll be looking at the Chozo warrior Samus and her toxic echo Dark Samus. Samus was one of the first ever Smash Bros. fighters while Dark Samus finally got the invite as an echo in Ultimate so this will be an interesting clash between old and new.

As always, we suggest checking out our first review to get an understanding of how this series works, but with the preamble out of the way let’s get into it!

Neutrals (Samus)

Samus’ Neutrals won’t take long as there isn’t that much to say for either her or Dark Samus.

The rest of Samus’ kit consists of physical attacks like kicks which might seem bizarre for someone with a arm cannon but does make some sense considering her lore in game.


Samus was infused with Chozo DNA at a very young age which gave her enhanced mobility, flexibility, and strength. It’s very likely that Samus’ reliance on physical attacks might be a reference to her Chozo upbringing.

Even if you don’t want to admit that Smash was considering the lore when giving her so many kicking neutrals it’s a decision that has aged very well as the series progressed.

While earlier games rarely showed Samus getting physical with her bounties, later entries like Other M, Samus Returns, and Dread all show her becoming much more physically violent with her enemies.

That said, there are still some absurdities in her moveset that haven’t aged well, one such example is her random flamethrower arm seen in a few attacks.


Samus has had a flamethrower in a grand total of one game, Metroid Prime, and it wasn’t even a necessary ability to beat the game. While Samus’ moveset does technically work as a modern interpretation of the character it’s held back by many archaic choices that have much better alternatives.

Score: 6/10

Neutrals (Dark Samus)

Moving on to Dark Samus there’s even less to say as she copies most of Samus’ moveset, though unlike Daisy there are some slight differences.

It’s honestly hard to judge Dark Samus’ physical attacks due to her never using physical attacks in her boss fights. This is an issue with Dark Samus that will be persistent through this feature, since she only has two boss battles to her name, so it’s hard to judge how well she adapts to a fighting game. For now, I’m awarding them both the same number of points but honestly if Samus received a rework to her neutrals I’d be fine with Dark Samus retaining what she has now with some added flair. It’s mainly the Specials of Dark Samus I want to see overhauled, speaking of…

Score: 6/10

Specials (Samus and Dark Samus)

Samus’ Special Attacks are all based on the various weapons and items Samus acquires for her power suit. We’ll also be throwing Dark Samus on at the end of this section because there is even less to say for her.

I realize this sounds very pedantic, but given how simple the attack is in the original game, it’s weird that so many liberties were taken with it.

It’d be like if Mario’s fireballs were blue and double the size and didn’t bounce. The move was so simple originally, so why fix something that wasn’t broken?

While this isn’t reflective of how these missiles work in the Metroid games, it’s a good reinterpretation that helps give the missiles differences without simple power scaling. If the missiles functioned the same, but the Super missiles were just stronger, there would be no point in using the regular missiles. This is a good example of how Smash moves can stray from the source material to better adapt to the rules of a platform fighter.

Unlike other characters who have Special Attacks that feel like weird picks (Mario’s F.L.U.D.D. or Pikachu’s Skull Bash for example), all of Samus’ Specials make sense but they’re not utilized to their full potential.

Moving on to Dark Samus, she utilizes all of Samus’ Specials with no change other than cosmetics.

It's fitting we talk about Dark Samus right after Samus' Final Smash because, ironically, it's the one move that arguably works better on Dark Samus than normal Samus; she actually utilizes a giant Phazon Laser in her fights!
It's fitting we talk about Dark Samus right after Samus' Final Smash because, ironically, it's the one move that arguably works better on Dark Samus than normal Samus; she actually utilizes a giant Phazon Laser in her fights!

While obviously resources were limited, I am wishing they did more with the echo fighters then they actually did.

Samus Score: 6/10

Dark Samus Score: 2/10

Uniqueness (Samus)

Samus was pretty unique when Smash started, being one of the few zoners in the roster, but having a bit of physical prowess to back herself up. She was also one of the first instances of a Smash Bros. character having more complex inputs for attacks, which always helped her feel more technical than her contemporaries.

I’ve seen some people wish Samus was more of a zoner, but I can’t say I agree. My biggest problem with her as a character is that she doesn’t lean into her mixed zoning style enough. With characters like Mega Man and the Belmonts having the zoning style on lock, Samus’ mixed style doesn’t feel fully realized. Samus needs her tools to blend better with the rest of her move set.

Samus is pretty unique as she is, I simply want them to lean into what makes her special next time around.

Score: 7/10

Uniqueness (Dark Samus)

Dark Samus being an echo obviously shares the same issues with normal Samus, while she obviously has less source material to pull from Dark Samus somehow annoys me a bit more than normal Samus. Samus stays the course for sake of tradition and ease of development, but an echo like Dark Samus could’ve gone in a much more interesting direction than just floatier physics and no morph ball.

Obviously, an echo wouldn’t stray too far from the base fighter, but I just wish she landed more on the Ken side of the quality divide rather than Daisy’s.

Dark Samus: 6/10

Aesthetics (Samus)

For Samus’ look in Smash, she utilizes her most iconic outfit, the Varia Suit, the upgraded Power Suit that allows Samus to traverse extreme temperatures. It’s rare in these types of cross over games that a character’s upgraded form is more utilized than the base form, but Samus is an exception.

However, in Smash, I do take umbrage with which version of the suit she uses.

Even ignoring the controversial status of Other M, I just don’t care for that game’s interpretation of the suit. I was fine with it for Smash 4 because I figured they were just trying to update Samus to the most recent game. Come Ultimate, however, and that was unfortunately not the case. It’s a shame, too, because I really like the Samus Returns design.

While I don’t care for the base suit itself, thankfully I do think the alternate colors are great.


There’s been a wide array of suits in the Metroid series, and their colors are pretty well represented in Ultimate. While a part of me wishes we could’ve gotten the actual designs and not just the colors, I understand that would’ve been a lot of extra work.

Samus’ taunts and victory animations all do a good job at displaying Samus’ power and “cool-under-fire” demeanor, but doesn’t something feel missing?

Samus has absolutely no voice lines associated with her, just mechanical noises for her suit. While I understand that Samus isn’t much of a talker in her home series, it’s weird to not even hear grunts or gasps from her mid fight. By the time Metroid Prime rolled around, it became pretty common place to hear her emote during battle. Even if they couldn’t have recorded new lines, I would’ve just as easily accepted slapping a filter over Zero Suit Samus’ lines.

It almost feels like they were trying to preserve the mystery of Samus’ character from the original Metroid, the twist that she’s a woman under the suit. While that might have been understandable at the time of Smash 64’s release, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Nintendo fan in the current age who doesn’t know that fact, it becomes even more ridiculous when you consider that Zero Suit Samus has been on the roster since Brawl. Smash has always been pretty weird about spoilers (just ask a Xenoblade fan), but it’s strange to see probably the most well-known attribute of Samus being hidden.

Score: 6/10

Aesthetics (Dark Samus)


Moving onto Dark Samus, I want to praise her for still managing to have a nice variety of colors in her alts. It’s nice to know she doesn’t fall into the trap some other characters fall into where their dark theming overpowers their color options.

Dark Samus’ animations help sell the creepy alien vibe of the character, but much like standard Samus, her voice is nowhere to be heard.

The creepy evil laugh is a particular big loss to me, as I feel it really highlights that Dark Samus is an actually evil entity as opposed to her contemporary SA-X (which could be argued is just acting on instinct).

All that said, however, I am shockingly giving Dark Samus the edge this time – mainly due to the lowered bar from her having much fewer appearances than true Samus.

Score: 8/10

Design (Samus)

This review was written in honor of Super Metroid’s anniversary back in March, and I find it extremely fitting as this feels like the game that Samus’ design mentality is stuck in. Samus’ clunkier controls in Smash feels more in line with the classic Metroid games of the 80’s and 90’s. This isn’t a bad thing; if the team’s goal was to replicate the feel of controlling Samus in those games, I’d say they did an incredible job. The issue is that Samus in Smash didn’t evolve with the Samus in Metroid.

I know Smash is a fighting game and concerning yourself with canonical power levels is a bit absurd, but it really irritates me that Samus without her power suit is consistently considered a better character than Samus with her power suit. If you’ve played Metroid: Zero Mission you’d know that that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’m not saying Zero Suit is a bad character by the way, I’m just saying that it’s really unfortunate that she outshines normal Samus. The power suit feels like it’s limiting her potential rather than enhancing it.

Comparing Samus in Metroid Dread to Smash Bros. is like night and day. I wish we could channel more of what Samus does in the modern games into Smash Bros., but I do recognize why she is the way she is. After Samus Returns, Dread, Prime Remastered, and the eventual release of Prime 4, it’s hard to forget that Metroid as a series was M.I.A. for a while.

Between Brawl and Smash 4’s development, the only Metroid release of note was Other M and Samus Returns – the latter being the first Mercury Steam game which laid the groundwork for Dread – and Returns only released within a year of Ultimate. While I still think more improvements could have been made to the character over the years, I also understand that the series was a victim to timing. Ironically, though, timing also helped one aspect of Samus’ character age surprisingly well.

I mentioned this earlier in the Neutral Attacks section, but Samus mixing her physical hits with her weaponry was odd at the time of Smash 64, but actually makes perfect sense for her given the way she’s evolved in the Mercury Steam titles. For the longest time I always felt that Samus’ physical attacks should have been tossed out entirely, but playing Dread really helped me see how they added a grit to her character. Samus being able to gracefully yet powerfully alternate between physical blows and ranged attacks feels so right for the character and I hope a future Smash Bros. game can lean more into that side of her.

Score: 6/10

Design (Dark Samus)

Samus’ flaws unfortunately exacerbate Dark Samus’ own as well. Unlike the similar SA-X from Metroid Fusion, who copied all of Samus’ abilities, Dark Samus was more Samus in appearance only.

Yes, Dark Samus did get an arm cannon like Samus – but she also received phazon tentacles, a phazon shield, and the ability to split herself. It’s clear that Dark Samus was less a copy of Samus and moreso a vehicle for Metroid Prime/the phazon.

Having Dark Samus just copy Samus with new dodging animations feels like such wasted potential. Obviously as an echo she had less work put into her than the others, but similarly to Daisy I feel like something more could have been done.

Score: 3/10

Final Score

Samus: 31/50 or 62%

Dark Samus: 25/50 or 50%

Improvements? (Samus)

Starting with aesthetics, I’d like for Samus to get a new suit either based on the one from Metroid Dread or from Metroid Prime 4, whichever one is more relevant at the time of the next Smash game’s release.

It’d also be great if we could get other suits as alternate costumes, like the Dark and Light suits from Metroid Prime 2, Fusion Suit from Metroid Fusion, and a certain suit from Dread (if you know you know).

Similarly, I’d like for Samus to find her voice next time around, either by recording new dialogue or placing a filter over the existing Zero Suit Samus lines.


Moving onto her move set itself, I think an interesting idea would be to make her similar to another NES arm cannon wielder, Mega Man. Specifically, by making her jab and forward tilt be blasts from an uncharged charge beam, though she won’t be able to shoot in the air. She also won’t be able to spam the shot as often as Mega Man, but it would do slightly more damage.

Going a step further, the player would be able to hold the attack button to actually charge Samus’ beam while she’s moving like in the Metroid games; however, the full charge shot wouldn’t be as strong or large as the old Neutral Special, which would be more in line with how the charge beam is depicted in her home series.

The charge beam will be more of a supplemental tool as opposed to Samus' most powerful attack.
The charge beam will be more of a supplemental tool as opposed to Samus' most powerful attack.

Be ready to see a lot of Dread’s influence in this move set…

As for her Smash Attacks, I honestly don’t really know what to do other than just making them be big shots from the charge beam. Maybe make them as big as the Neutral Special was originally, kind of like how Mega Man’s Charge Shot is his Side Smash.

And speaking of repurposing old moves…

Moving on to her specials. Since the charge beam has been added to Neutrals, the missiles will now become her new Neutral Special. However, considering super missiles are now more of an upgrade to regular missiles, as opposed to an alternate weapon, we will be dropping the button input that allows choice between the two.

I honestly can’t decide between the storm or ice missile for the charge version of the Neutral because I can see the argument for both being overpowered. In my mind, the ice missile wouldn’t be guaranteed to freeze, but the odds of it freezing would go higher the more damage the opponent takes. Likewise, the storm missiles would pepper the opponents with damage but wouldn’t have actual knockback for balance purposes. Let me know in the comments which version you’d prefer.

Heck, if the next Smash brings back the custom specials from Smash 4 I could see an argument made for both.

Improvements? (Dark Samus)

Shifting gears to Dark Samus, I would like her actual voice to be used, especially the laugh as either a taunt or victory screen.

I’d also think it’d be neat to give her an alt based on her true form underneath the suit.
I’d also think it’d be neat to give her an alt based on her true form underneath the suit.

Ironically, if we’re going to change Samus as much as we have, one could argue that just keeping Dark Samus as she is would be enough to help her stand out from the crowd. Just for fun though I’m going to offer my own ideas to help Dark Samus feel more like herself.

I’m going to put forward two ideas for move set revamps. One that keeps her mostly the same as she is now, but with one major change and another that actually changes her attacks


My first idea is based on something I’ve seen tossed around in discussions online. Dark Samus should actually utilize the phazon for more than just cosmetics. In Metroid Prime, phazon is referred to as ‘The great poison” which damages Samus whenever she touches it, except when she gets the phazon suit.

To reference this, it’d be neat if any of Dark Samus’ moves that utilizes blasts from her arm cannon would spread phazon on the other fighters slowly damaging them over time.

While Smash has dabbled with the concept of poison damage in things like Olimar’s white Pikmin and certain Spirit battles, there hasn’t been a character based around the concept of applying poison to foes. You could maybe argue the Inkling’s ink mechanic does so, but that just amplifies damage from additional hits.

Just adding this mechanic would make Dark Samus’ moveset feel a lot more unique. However, for the sake of balance, her knockback would be toned down immensely. Dark Samus’ focus would then change to spreading as much phazon on her foes as she can while waiting for the chance to finish them off, basically making her the Mythra to Samus’ Pyra.

If we wanted to make more drastic changes, I think we could take some cues from her boss fights and assist trophy in Smash 4.

Again, you could have these moves with the Phazon poison gimmick or without; I think they work either way.


My most radical idea is for a new side special based on Dark Samus’ aforementioned ability to make a copy of herself.

It would work similarly to Fox’s side special: Press the button and tilt the stick in the direction you want Dark Samus to dash towards, but the twist is when the move is performed a double will split off into the direction you didn’t dash. The double will float in place and explode into a phazon cloud when hit, after five seconds pass, or when the move is used again.

Unlike the clones in the boss fights, it wouldn’t copy Dark Samus’ movement or attacks; its purpose is simply to confuse your opponents.

I actually really like this idea, and even if it couldn’t go on Dark Samus, it’d be neat to see it get added to another fighter. Maybe one of the Pokémon characters like Pikachu or Greninja to reference double team?


Thank you for reading this review, and sorry this one took a while to come out. I’d wanted it ready back in March for Super Metorid’s 30th but some personal stuff came up and it had to be put on the backburner.

What are some characters you’d like to see covered on this series? Let us know in the comments!

About jmaldonado


A recently graduated creative writer hoping to work his way into the greater gaming sphere.

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