Revamped for 2015! I've been learning volumes over the last year, and I feel it's time to once again revisit this guide and help impart my knowledge to the greater Samus community.BEFORE READING ANY FURTHER, PLEASE READ Aftermath's Guide To Samus. This contains a write-up of all the move's damage and a short overview of what they do. Also check out the frame data here.
Your fall speed is a set value tethered to your character. Fox has a high or fast fall speed. Peach has a low or slow fall speed. Samus falls more on the slow side. What does this mean? Well, first off, you aren't going to be as mobile in the air. Once you jump, even when fast falling and properly canceling, she will still be somewhat slow.
(-) Her low fall speed makes her very easy to combo at low percents.
(-) The distance that moves send you upwards is determined by fall speed. Since she's so floaty, hits that kill off the top are more effective on her.
(+) It's much easier to recover.
(+) There are few chaingrabs on floaty characters.
Another stat that defines Samus is her weight, or resistance to knock back. Every character has a weight which determines how far a move will send them in conjunction with the percent they are at. If your character has low weight, they'll be knocked further away. Heavier characters will travel a smaller distance when hit by an equivalent move.
Priority: (Wiki page on Priority)
(-) At lower percents, you can be comboed by moves that carry you left to right.
(+) You are harder to kill off the sides.
(+) You can crouch cancel (see below) at higher percents.
Knowing your moves priority means knowing which move can take which move. It doesn't take long to figure out that Sheik's needles will stop your projectiles. This is an example of knowing priority. Knowing which move overtakes another. There are three things that can happen when two attacks hit:
1. (Power) One attack overpowers the other and goes on to hit the personWhat determines the outcome is damage percent, the move being used, and animation positioning. If the hitboxes touch the other character's hurtboxes before or at the same time as the opposing hitboxes, then the moves will trade. Aerial moves cannot clank and will default to overpowering, even against other aerial moves. A clank occurs when two colliding attacks are within 8% of each other. When dealing with out-prioritizing your foes, most of this comes down to just having an encyclopedic knowledge of the game, since there's at least 14 moves per character, many of them have priorities that change depending on which frame the animation is at, not to mention the number of moves with multiple hitboxes with separate percents. That said, Samus is fairly strong if not to make up for her slowness, and, therefore, will tend to clank with most moves.
2. (Trade) Both attacks hit
3. (Clank) The attacks "clank": no damage is received by either person and the animations are canceled.
Samus' Universal ATs:
Samus' dash dance isn't half bad. It's rather easy to execute and has a large window to operate in. She can also foxtrot by hitting dash, going to neutral, and then dashing again.
Samus has a useful wavedash. She has a wide range to cover and her jump squat animation is pretty quick, making the timing a piece of cake. Since she has two different jump animations that change her height (one where she jumps standing straight up while holding the arm canon and one where she somersaults), you have to get a good feel for when you should air dodge to waveland on platforms. Just practice it a lot: moving forward and backward and wavelanding on platforms.
She's not Game and Watch, so hers works just fine. Most of her aerial moves have about 14 frames of recovery, so L-canceling brings that down to ~7. That's pretty fast, but the same as the frame count on most characters' grabs. If you hit a shield but don't land it on the last possible frame of a hitbox, L-cancel it, and space it properly, you can expect to be grabbed. This is another reason why Samus' air game isn't very heavily relied upon.
Crouch canceling is a Mechanic in Melee where characters can assume the crouching position and take a hit without getting stuck in hitstun or leaving the ground. This only works for moves that wouldn't send your character flying very far horizontally. Considering that Samus is heavy, that means she is capable of crouch canceling (CC) these moves at higher percents than other characters. Moves that spike or knock people into the air don't necessarily follow the same rules.
Jab is a fast, two-part move. The second hit is slightly stronger but has more recovery time after. The jab can be used to throw out a quick hitbox to interrupt pressure, to stop a grab, or to apply safe pressure to most character's shields. Using the Jab cancel / fake technique, you can vastly improve the speed at which you can jab or help your jabs lead into attacks more quickly. Jabs are the easiest moves in the game to CC, so be mindful of where you are throwing them out.Up tilt:
First hit :: Second hit
Up tilt is a high reach move that has some great utility. First of all, there are two points where this move pops grounded enemies into the air for easy combos: at the very beginning and at the very end. Her Utilt can hit people on platforms directly above her and reaches out far in front of her. There is a slight bit of wind-up and cool-down on the move, but it's still fairly fast. This move is rather scary since it does a pretty good amount of damage, can set-up into combos, and can be used to edgeguard since it hits beneath her foot.
Forward tilt is Samus go-to move for footsies. It's quick, reaches far, and has little recovery. On top of that, it can be angled in three different ways. Though landing an F tilt doesn't lead into a combo, it does let you win the positioning war and push your opponent further away. Using the proper tilt at the proper time is dependent on the match up (MU), but the easiest way to use it is to sling an ftilt in the direction you expect your opponent to attack from in hopes of clanking with it.Down tilt:
The different angles: Upward, forward, downward
Down tilt is a sort-of sweep attack meant to knock the enemy into the air for an easy combo. It doesn't do a lot of damage and as quite a bit of recovery time, but is hard to CC. Dtilt and Utilt are both 39 frame moves, but Dtilt has hitboxes earlier in the animation whereas Utilt has them later. That means that it's easier to punish a whiffed Dtilt, but Dtilt is easier to punish with since it's active frames are earlier in the animation.Up smash:
A funny thing I'd like to note about Dtilt is that the fire animation starts just before the hitbox comes out, so sometimes you will think you should have traded with a move when in fact you were a frame too slow.
Up smash is probably Samus' most useless move. The Samus community has yet to find a practical use for the move, and that's directly because of Smash Direction Influence (SDI). Most players, even on a casual level, are able to escape this multi-hit move and avoid the damage it causes and the combo set-up that is the last hitbox. It's not particularly fast to get out and has a long recovery time, making it hard to land and follow.Forward smash:
Forward Smash is Samus' iconic move. The gun punch. It's strong and hits quick, but suffers quite a bit of recovery time. Just like the Ftilt, you aren't likely to get a follow-up after landing one, but getting it wins you positioning points. Also, like the Ftilt, the Fsmash can be angled to different heights as well which increases its utility even further.Down smash:
Down smash is one of Samus' most feared moves. It is a far-reaching, fast move that sends characters flying over your shoulders. This move hits faster than the Fsmash does and has a hit from behind that sends forward, but, like most of Samus' moves, has quite a bit of recovery time afterwards. Since it sends characters towards you, enemies are likely to be knocked off stage from it facing away from the stage, which is a huge hindrance to part of the cast. Additionally, since it comes out so quick it's very easy to land a Dsmash after a CC to set up for easy punishment.
Dash attack is a very polarized move. In some situations, it's ok. In others, it's horrible. The move comes out quick and has two different power levels: a strong one that comes out first and weak one that comes out after. The knockback on it can combo characters at low to medium percent and enemies at high percent that try to crouch it will get grounded and tend to slide perfectly in front of you. Enemies approaching from the air are a sound target for this move since even a trade will put you in a comfortable position on the ground and them further in the air. Where the move is not good is against Shields, very low percent characters that can either CC it or shrug off the attack and retaliate before you can defend, and trying to rush in during the neutral game.Neutral Air:
Samus' Nair is her most useful aerial move. It's strong, last a long time, covers a wide area, and has a fast recovery. You can use this move to drop of ledges and make a wall using her leg to keep people from getting back. It's stronger at the beginning than at the end, which can be used to combo into itself by landing a weak hit first and then following with a stronger one. There is a hitbox on her butt that sends enemies behind her (Reverse hitbox). Using this, you can make sure your Nair always sends the foe in the direction you desire most. When at low percent, you can use Nair to break out of non-true combos since it comes out so fast (5 frames). Moves that knock you lightly in the air can give you the opportunity to follow with a Nair to help you get back on the ground.
Most Uairs in this game are used for juggling, but the way that Samus' Uair hits doesn't help in that regard. It's a multi-hit move that sends opponents off to the side after the last hit. The hitbox reaches out in front of her feet a good distance making it safe to use from below against most characters without disjointed hitboxes. One of the best ways to use this move is to hit with the first few hitboxes , but then fast fall/retreat before the last one hits.
The move is fast enough to do from the ledge and regrab.
Forward air is generally a great move. It comes out fast, does quite a bit of damage if all of the hits land, and the last hit can pop characters up to set-up for a combo. The animation starts with her pointing the gun upwards and. with each shot. angles lower. This makes it a little difficult to get max damage since you have to start at just the right time in your jump to ensure all the hitboxes touch. The problem with the move is that each individual hit is very easy to CC and you will be very tempted to use it against low percent characters since it helps rack up damage and is easier to land all the hits then. Despite the flashy animation making it appear like it reaches far, the hitboxes don't stray far from her body, leading to this move getting stuffed by many others in trade situations.
Down air is a slow but strong move with some niche applications. The immediate thought with it is to spike enemies as they are recovering, but the move is meteor cancel-able, which reduces the effectiveness of it being used that way. This is only good against characters that have more horizontally geared UpB recoveries since they can cancel it but not make up for lost height. Another use that doesn't work well is trying to force your way back to the ground. The move has much wind-up time which makes it hard to effectively use on reaction, meaning that you are more likely to whiff it and get punished than you are to land it and get back safely.
Instead, this is much better used as a strong pop-up during tech chases or trying to shield stab someone's head. Landing a Dair on a grounded opponent will put them in position for a whole host of follow ups depending on their percent and falls speed, including another Dair.
Samus' back air is one of her best kill moves. It works very similarly to Zelda's Bair in that it has a sweetspot that does great knockback and sourspots that do low knockback. It's possible to do weak to strong Bairs in a combo and the move is fast enough that it's hard to punish if spaced properly.
The move is fast enough to do from the ledge and regrab.
Missiles are a decent projectile and a good move. You can use smash missiles to do damage and limit options and homing missiles to help get gimps and apply pressure. When you're facing the wrong direction in the air, you can shoot missiles to turn yourself around. If you start a missile in the air and then land on the ground, the move will have virtually no lag on it, making it easy to shoot a missile and follow up. Certain places on some stages allow you to short hop and missile cancel on a higher platform, allowing for more stage presence.
Missiles are meant to limit options, not win games. If you expect to play Samus by running away and shooting to your heart's content, you will find the task difficult. I suggest playing Super Metroid instead. As mentioned above, she's not a fast character, so being able to evade faster characters is very, very difficult. Missiles can be destroyed by almost any attack in the game, which means that people can just plow through them to get to you or swat at them when they feel like it. Missiles aren't like Falco's laser: you can't move as fast as, which means you can't shoot as many, and they aren't as fast or unstoppable.
Instead, focus on using missiles to limit your opponent's options. Shoot the missile on the ground and follow it. If they stay on the ground, then you can do a combo if they get hit by it, punish them if they use an attack to stop it, grab them if they shield it, etc. You can shoot one above head level to protect you from aerials when you approach, you can chip away at shields if someone likes to hide behind theirs, and shooting missiles near feet increases your chance of getting a shield poke and forcing them to move around it. Of course you can hit people with missiles and get kills off the side with them, don't get me wrong, but try to use them intelligently.
That charge shot is a deceptively bad move. It's a move that takes about 3 seconds to charge up and does 25%. You can lose that charge if you are hit while firing it OR when you are hit out of your UpB (yes, you lose a B move from getting hit out of an UpB move. SAKURAI!!!!!!). On top of that, the move becomes horrifyingly deadly if it's reflected, making it a high risk to use in certain matches. It moves rather slow, doesn't travel the entire screen, a ton of hitlag which allows for easy DI, and it can be stopped by plenty of moves especially when diminished slightly (a single Shiek needle, Falcon's knee, Ganon's Fair, Marth's Fsmash, Fox USmash, Falco FSmash, etc.). So, the move isn't really all what it's cracked up to be.
Now that I said all that though, you better believe I'll get that charge whenever I can. Because the one awesome thing it can be used for is punishment. Miss a tech? Charge shot. Low percent? Up/down throw charge shot. Recovering? DODGE THIS! It's great to get a kill when your opponent messes up. There are also plenty of other times where it's safe to use, but that starts getting into Character Matchups (see below). You can reverse any neutral B attack by hitting the opposite direction your character is facing on the control stick, returning it to neutral, and then pressing B. Using this, you can do things like walljump into chargeshot to hit people blocking your recovery or jumping passed them and shooting them from behind.
Another tech you can preform with the charge shot is Pumping. Whenever you press B, you start a charging animation. When you press R/L, you stop the animation. You can press B and then R/L rather quick (not as fast as possible, you have to wait for the charge to start before pressing R/L), so it's rather fast. What is it good for? Faking people out. Players will react to the animation of Samus shooting the CS by reflecting, shielding, jumping, etc. If you have a nearly charged shot and do a quick pump, you'll mindgame some into giving you easy punishments. This obviously doesn't work if the shot is fully charged.
Bombs are interesting in so many ways. First off, there's the Super Wave Dash (see below), which is just weird. Don't worry much about that tech, but be aware of it. Primarily though, bombs are used for bomb jumps. A bomb jump is the little bounce Samus gets when a bomb explodes on her when she's not doing a move aside from Zair or taunt. Directly after bomb jumping, you can do a move; this makes bomb jumps a sort of mini-hop for Samus, since it's much shorter than her short hop. The most practical use of this is on recovery: you can use the bomb jump by dropping a bomb, falling with it, and then dropping another just as the first is about to explode. This massively increases your recovery range.
Bombs have two hitboxes. The first is the bomb itself, the second is on the explosion that happens after it explodes. Sometimes characters will hit the bomb, without getting hurt, but will then get hit by the explosion. If you drop a bomb while touching someone, it will immediately explode and you'll bounce off of it. If you press downB fast enough, you can hit them again. Another way to do this would be to drop the bomb, bounce, waveland, and then bomb again. This option is a good go-to if you are close enough to them to hit but not far enough away to avoid counter attacks: get on top of them, drop a bomb, immediately bounce from the explosion, and follow up with either another bomb/Dair/Nair/Waveland away/etc. Bombs have very low priority though. Practically every move overpowers them, and the explosion hitbox doesn't stay out long enough to punish even when the attack is misspaced. In other words, it's not wise to hide behind bombs, because people will just hit your through them.
Screw Attack (UpB):
Samus' UpB has more utility to it than what you may expect. It works by having four hitboxes on each corner of her that all point inwards to lock the enemy in it. It starts out strong and gets weaker as it goes. You cannot grab ledges in reverse out of it even though it's a "spinny" move. If you do it on the ground, you go higher and you also get a few frames (4~) of invincibility during its start-up. Because of that, doing UpB to break pressure is very effective, since you'll be invulnerable for a split second, suck the enemy into your move, do around 12% damage, and cause a reset in most matchups. If you do an UpB to break out of pressure, try to edge cancel it or just grab the ledge, you might get punished by faster characters/players if you don't. Since the hitboxes are strong and point in a bunch of different directions, some weird things can happen if someone SDIs at the right time. They can get shot down, up, or out... some times it stage spikes... and other times people just flinch and don'tg et sucked up into it. Primarily you want to do grounded UpBs to break pressure, but know that it can be a little finicky.
Jump Cancel and Boost Grabs:
Samus probably has the worst grab in the game. To give you an idea of just how bad that is, most grabs come out on frame 7~ish of their animations, Samus' comes out on 18. Hers almost takes 3x as long before the grab starts. Then, it slowly crawls out, hangs in the air for a second, then whips back. Missing a grab with her leads to some pretty hard punishment. You can't grab out of the air either, except for during the first few frames of her arm swinging before the grapple actually comes out.
On top of the grab itself being bad, her followups out of it aren't the best. Her forward throw does the most damage, but it flings them too far to follow up but not far enough (like Peach's) to be a kill move. Similarly for her back throw, she flings them behind her too far to get anything out of it, but not enough to kill with. Either of these throws are best used to toss someone off the stage to set-up for the edgeguard (see below). Downthrow is a Samus favorite since it's the one that leads to the most usage. Depending on DI, a downthrow can lead to Dtilt, DSmash, Utilt, Ftilt, Fsmash, or Nair. Good players will be able to DI down and away and escape many of your follow-ups, so try to read if they are out of reach and opt to tech chase instead of throwing out a move. Characters that fall too fast can instead be Upthrown which can lead to Bair, Nair, or CS.
Grab :: Dash grab
Generally in Melee, these are the most favored form of grab. Most characters have faster standing grabs than dash grabs, and JCGs allow for you to do your standing grab while moving. The best of both worlds, right? Well, not for Samus. See, Sammy is the opposite. Her dash grab is much faster and her standing grab is so slow that doing it while moving doesn't help you land it much.
I'd explain boost grabs and why you do them, but Samus' boost grab is pretty unhelpful I'm afraid. It's hardly noticeable at all
I feel like Samus is strong in reactionary defense, meaning that you allow the other person to be aggressive so that you can punish their over aggression. Her tools allow her to soak damage in order to dish it out, can get reversals out of combos, and has some stage control to force the aggressor into certain positions. A lot of this part of the game is dependent on your game play style, but I think it's generally agreed upon that Samus' strengths play into defense more than offense. Some things to consider about Samus is that she's in a very bad position if the enemy is beneath her, her Uptilt can hit on some stages' lower platforms from below, well-placed bombs can halt an approach, and your shield is very safe most of the time. Taking all of that into consideration, the best place for Samus to be is on the actual stage (not a platform) with some room to run around if she needs an escape. When you are trying to get a hit off, you have to be fully aware of your limitations as Samus. Ftilt is a good tool for keeping enemies away from you because it's quick and far reaching. Be careful when using it, because hitting on her thigh or leg instead of the tips of her toes might get you grabbed or worse. As a matter of fact, try to do this with every move.
Since Sammy's bombs, missiles, and CS can be stuffed by a lot of moves, you can't depend on them to hold your enemy at bay. Aside from unskilled opponents, most players can advance with a couple aerials to cut right through your spam and get in your face. Since missile canceling is so good, you might also find yourself shooting missiles when you should be leaving yourself open to react in different ways. For example, I usually shoot a missile when I drop through a platform, but I'll not do it if I'm on a stage or in a position where I think they could hit me first. Instead, I'll waveland away, FF into shield, grab, etc.
Lastly, try to mindgame them into attacking first and then go for a punishment. You'll find it much easier to make openings by baiting the other player into a whiff than by putting on a lot of pressure. Again, it's not like you can't pressure other players/characters, just that Samus' abilities lend towards reading and reacting more than going in on someone.
When you are the one edgeguarding, you should be in complete dominance. Samus just so happens to have just the right tools to **** up almost every character on recovery. Her projectiles can force attacks, fast falls, air dodges, or double jumps; her Utilt can hit slightly beneath the stage; Dsmash can stage spike and also fling enemies back off the stage if they land on it; bombs can mess up spacing when near the ledge; her roll get-up is sooooo slow; run-off nair/bair/dair are all strong; Fsmash and Ftilt can be angled to make hits land; and she can recover from going deep for a kill with her floatyness and grapple beam. For me, this is Samus' everything. Get those early gimps by using all of these different abilities to kill at sub %50.
When you are the one recovering, again you have just the right tools to make it back from just about anyone. You can set your pace by bomb jumping or not, you can break your FF by bombing, you can airdodge into a grapple, you have walljumps at your disposal, and you can use your grapple to 3rd jump. Try to avoid using your double jump if at all possible. Saving that option for when you need it, especially against characters with downward angled projectiles, is critical. Getting to the ledge, though, is significantly easier than getting on the stage.
From where Samus is more floaty, it's hard for her to get on the stage while she's still got ledge invincibility. This means you have to rely on baiting your opponent into committing to something that you can get passed or by simply outsmarting them. If you are riding the stage in your UpB or pulling up on your grapple, be prepared to wall tech. Samus' walljump tech is great. You can shoot a missile, reverse chargeshot, Bair, bomb onto the ledge, airdodge onto the stage, etc. There's so many things you can do out of it.
Samus in Shield:
As mentioned above, Samus has a really slow grab, so slow in fact that most players can react to the start-up be maneuvering away or attacking first. This means that it's very unlikely that you'll be able to break out of pressure with a grab, which is why UpB out of shield is so useful. If someone is right on top of you, you have to UpB to get it to stop or retreat with wavedashes. There are very few moves in the game with such ending lag and little shield stun that you can possibly manage to get a proper shield grab without it being a player mistake (missed L-cancel, mess up escape, wrong move/direction, etc.). So, generally, I'd avoid going for it unless you recognize the specific positions where you can punish with a shield grab.
Light shielding is a good way to make a fast retreat. The difficulty in using a light shield is deciding when it's most appropriate: will it push me too far away? Will I get trapped in it? If you do a hard shield too often, you'll not only lose shield more quickly, but you'll also get stuck in shield pressure. On the flip side if you light shield too much, you will end up passing up great punishment opportunities and players will start following your knockback to continue pressure. You can use light shields to get yourself quickly pushed off platforms or the stage in order to get better positioning. Make sure to face the edge you are falling off of to keep from tumbling so that you don't accidently force a tech.
This has become quite a necessary skill as of recent. Not only does this allow you to escape a lot of pressure caused by projectiles and fast moves, but it lets you conserve precious shield time and grants you openings you might not otherwise would have gotten. I'm not sure if its personal bias, but I find it easiest to PS when I'm running toward the projectile or attack. The game is progressing to the point where doing this regularly and intentionally is a must do, so please train yourself to do it constantly.
Samus Special Tech:
Super Wave Dash:
This is probably the most well-known Samus technique just for how outrageous it is. First off, let me say that I think it's amazing that this glitch has been known for over a decade and we still don't really know why it happens. It just does. Let me explain how to do it: Drop a bomb, on the 41st frame hold left/right, on the 42nd frame press the opposite (right/left), and you will move very fast along the ground in her standing animation until friction slows you or you reach an edge/obstacle. If you try to run, jump, B move, roll, or anything else that changes your momentum, you will lose it. You can, however, SWD into Fsmash, tilts, grabs, etc. and do them while moving quickly, but you still have to wait to be fully out of the bomb animation before doing so. Just get the timing down.
Ok, now that that's out of the way, let's talk about its usefulness and how there's little. Since you are just moving fast, that means you can get hit while doing it. Also, it takes a minimum of 42 frames before you do anything, and that's enough time for most players to read and react to it. You have to have great consistency and mixups with your bombs to make the SWD viable as an approach. The most offensive tactics I employ with this tech is to SWD behind them, and then pressure them with moves (missile, tilts, grabs, etc.). It works like a blink strike, but it requires astounding precision and you can expect to mess up a lot just from not knowing if you'll actually land the 1 frame glitch to begin with. What I really like it for is to escape the invincibility of my opponents. After taking a stock, most people will start a charge (or unlock extender if they're smart >_>) so that they have it for the next stock or take a place on the stage that they can retreat from. If you SWD, you can make them waste time by hunting you down from one side of the stage to the other and get them to use up their invincibility.
The extender is a sort of Easter egg put into the game. You activate it by pressing Z to start a grab, Up Down Up on the D-pad, then hitting Z again, and doing all that before it's fully extended. The extender grapple has very unique properties, but the ones that it shares with the regular are Samus' animation, the same number of frames overall, and the same length when used as a Zair. The extender does not automatically grab, instead you activate the grabbox by pressing A. You can only do it once per use, but it can be done while traveling out, at full extent, and during recoil unlike the normal one. On top of that, you can press R or L to home the grapple on the nearest target (if you are playing teams, it will home in on a teammate. Also, if it targets the nearest character and then a different character gets closer, it will switch to them. This makes the extender a poor choice for teams). This feature allows for you to grab opponents above or below you, hold the grapple in place during a spot dodge to grab them afterwards, or to have the grapple grab an opponent who is behind you. The best use for it I've found is punishment on Double Jumps. If your opponent has double jumped but isn't close enough to hit you, then throw it out, home in on it, and grab them when they hit the ground. If you miss, they are more than likely too far away to properly punish you.
The extender doesn't have air grabs, sadly. Also, if you grab an opponent and something is between you and them, the grab will separate. Lastly, the button combo to unlock it has to be input every life since it resets when you die. Since doing a grab is so punishable, there's hardly every time to do the button combo safely. The ways that I've found to safely unlock it are to use to the button combo...
- when you are standing on the spawning platform. You'll be invincible and have it for the rest of that stock, but this doesn't work if you died after using the grapple before touching the ground on the previous stock. (To test this out, kill yourself without DJing or Zair-ing. You should be able to DJ and Zair off the spawning platform. If you jump off the stage, DJ, Zair, and then die, you won't be able to do either off the spawning platform. I don't know why this is, but that's how it works.)
- when recovering, you can do the button input while tethering to the stage.
- when bomb jumping, you are pulled out of the Zair animation. Knowing this, you can drop a bomb, Zair, do the extender input, the bomb jump will pull you out of the animation, and you can attack/dodge/waveland/etc.
Grapple Beam (Zair):
I'm going to break down some of the components of the Grapple. It's a complicated and weird move that has subtle, amazing intricacies.
You get one grapple in the air, after that the Zair works like it does for any other character in the game, a cloned A button. You only get the grapple back after touching the ground. This does not include being grabbed before touching, getting hit out of a pre-scripted ledge get-up, or wall jumping. It can latch on to almost any wall as long as you can physically interact with it (For example, the spines under battlefield have no collision so it won't grab them). If the grapple latches onto the stage, you can immediately pull up, or you can dangle for a few seconds before doing it. If you don't pull up after about four seconds, the grapple will dislodge and you'll enter free fall. If the grapple latches and part of the stage gets in the way, the grapple will dislodge.
Every ledge can be sweet-spotted with the grapple. The idea is fairly simple, try to land the grapple as high on the ledge as possible without missing and going above it (certain death). If you get a sweetspot, then Samus will 'snap' to the ledge when you pull up on it. Each stage has slightly different sweetspots, so you just need to practice on them to get the feel for where they are (for example, FoD's sweetspot is surprisingly lower than the others).
If you don't get the sweetspot, then you will be flung slightly in the air. You can only DI during this and not do any moves. This can be used when grappling lower parts of the stage; the pull-up can put you just in reach of the ledge to get a sweetspot, but, aside from that, it's rather unfavorable to do since it's an easy punish. One way to escape this is to do a wall jump right as you pull up on the grapple. If you time it right, you will do a walljump instead of just flinging yourself up a bit. This walljump can lead to a missile/CS, Nair/Bair, or even to an UpB. Another thing to note is that, since you can't do a move out of grapple pull-up that it's safe to hit L or R to tech if they do hit you: you don't have to worry about accidentally air dodging.
Rising Grapple or Third Jump:
When you do an air-dodge, you can grapple during or after. After an airdodge you go into special freefall; when Samus goes into special freefall, she begins to tumble. You can grapple anywhere from the start of the air-dodge all the way up to about the first 3/4ths of a revolution of her special freefall. That's a nice window. Additionally, you can cancel the air-dodge with the grapple to gain a boost of momentum in the air. It only really works upward, but reaches quite high. The faster you hit Z after hitting Up+R, the higher you can go. Since it doesn't have a hitbox that covers your body, it's somewhat less safe. On the positive side, you can get more horizontal distance out of it, the Zair is a damaging move that can hit enemies from a distance and is unstoppable, and you can use it before your double jump meaning that, unlike your UpB, you won't lose your double jump if you're hit out of it.Zair Bomb Cancel:
If you are really close to a wall when you try to grapple it, you'll just enter special freefall instead. If you are close to the ledge, then you'll automatically grab it like a sweetspot, but if you aren't that generally means a nice fall to your death. However, you can do the rising grapple when next to a wall and do you special freefall... upwards. if you do it at the right speed, it will auto sweetspot the ledge. The danger of using this technique is obvious: MESSING UP MEANS DYING. THIS IS SUPER RISKY/SEXY.
The concept is fairly simple. You drop a bomb in the air, fade a way, airdodge towards it, grapple, the bomb will pop, and then the bomb jump will allow you to avoid special freefall. This is a nice mixup during your bombjump recovery. Many players are comfortable with attacking you as your bomb is about to blow, since it's always the same set distance. Generally this means you have to avoid their attack by backing off or going through them, but this allows you to feign a retreat before you push back onto the bomb, throw out a hitbox that can't be traded with, and then cancel the ensuing special freefall. You can also do this by FFing past where the normal bomb jump would be and then rising grapple into it.Grapple Canceling:
This is my current favorite thing in Melee. If you combine the rising grapple with the fact that the grapple will dislodge if part of the stage gets between you and the grapple point, then you get a grapple cancel. This sends you into standard freefall upwards. To do it, you have to be on a stage with a wall that caves inward (FD, Dreamland *though a little hard*, FoD) or has outcroppings (BF and PS). *It is possible to do on YS, but it's ****ing hard and unreliable* If you connect the grapple on the lower part while rising, then Samus will shoot up while still connected to the wall. If nothing interrupts it, you stop moving up when the grapple pulls tight. If a corner of the stage gets in the way, then you are slingshot up the edge in freefall. Since it's the standard freefall (tumbling) you can do any move out of it.
Since it works on almost every stage in the line-up, it's fairly practical. Since you can do anything out of it, it's slightly better than doing an UpB. You can grapple cancel into a double jump to go higher, into a Fair/Nair/Uair/Dair to knock the edgeguarder away, into a missile or chargeshot, you can control stick slam to break out of tumble and then waveland onto the stage, you can bomb to either stop your momentum and stay beneath the ledge (mixup to keep from getting hit while rising if you think they are going to throw an attack) or bomb just as you get level with the ledge to roll onto it. I know the rising grapple is considered the "3rd Jump," but this thing actually allows you to do moves out of it as if it really were a 3rd jump. I highly recommend practicing this even if you don't plan on using it much. It's just way too good in my opinion.
Samus and the legal stages:There are a lot of stages in the game and, as the years have flown by, less and less are available to play on. Right now the Neutral stages for 1v1 Melee are Final Destination, Battlefield, Yoshi Story, Dreamland, and Fountain of Dreams. The only current counterpick stage is Pokémon Stadium.
BF is probably, currently, the most neutral stage in the game. The edges and ceiling are a good distance away though the bottom feels a little closer than it seems. The standard three platform set-up is in full swing and allows for smooth movement from on side of the stage to the other. Samus can use the top platform of any 3-platform stage to escape pressure. If you find yourself getting juggled, you can get back to the ground by moving across the platforms until you get an opening. The spacing for the lower platforms allows for your Utilt to hit from below, but it's too high for short-hop missile cancels.Final Destination:
The very small edge makes it hard to grapple, and, contrary to what you might think, is actually hard to sweetspot even when you do land it. I still don't know 100% when I'm going to sweetspot or not, but, after a while of playing, you'll get a better feel for it. Since there's little options for places to grapple, it makes attempts to sweetspot far more readable than otherwise and you may find yourself getting hit for trying to go for it. Grappling the lower part of the stage is ok, but it's generally going to leave you open to getting edgehogged. The best answer to that is trying to walljump cancel, rising grapple and coast to the ledge, or grapple cancel. Though, honestly, just sweetspotting with UpB is most likely the best option.
FD is a big open field, wide edges, a fair ceiling, and a long bottom. Samus has plenty of survival room to recover with. The lack of platforms is the biggest benefit and detriment to this stage. In some matchups, you'll be able to press your strengths by using projectiles to halt approaches. On the other hand, some matchups will be hard because there will be no platforms to escape to if the pressure is on. Edgeguarding is super easy since there's no platforms for them to escape to. They have to land on the stage or go for the ledge. If you start getting juggled, the best thing to do is to escape to the sides and try to get back on that way.Yoshi's Story:
YS is a lot like BF with some differences. First off, the arena is so small on all sides making it hard to last long at all. The platforms are low enough that you can short-hop missile cancel on them, but you will also get hit from below much more easily. The edges are sloped, which make many of your attacks hit even lower than normal causing your Utilt to be even more beastly. Since Randal (the cloud) is on a timer that perfectly sychs with the game clock you can take advantage of that by stalling and waiting for him with bomb jumps, wall jumps, etc. (If you didn't know this, here's how it works. Randal comes out of the stage every time the clock reads X:X5.00 Look at the 10's digit of the seconds on the clock: If it's even, he will come out on the left side, if it's odd it will be the right side. So, for example, if the clock reads "7:25.00," Randal will just be coming out of the top left corner of YS. Be careful, it's not when it says 7:25.99 but closer to 7:24.99)Fountain of Dreams:
The stage can really **** you up. Fly Guys randomly appear and can block missiles, stop charge shots, mess up bomb jumps, cause massive hitlag on moves leaving you open, and generally just ****ing you up. You can time it so that you drop a bomb on one and bomb jump off of it, but they're hardly even in just the right position for that. If you don't watch out for Randal, your opponent might land on him and get back much easier. Luckily the stage extends all the way down to the death box, so you can grapple almost any time you have it.
FoD's sides a really short but the ceiling is very high and the bottom is quite low. Since the stage extends all the way to the bottom, it's possible to recover very low and use walljumps and grappling to make it back. This also means that it's generally fine to go super deep on this level since you can make it back from just about anything. The most distinguishable feature is it's moving side platforms. Depending on their height, different options will be available to you. These platforms will drop into and pop out of the ground at rather inconvenient times with no real discernible pattern. As mentioned before, the grapple sweetspot on this stage is a little weird, so get use to that or prepare to react with walljumps if you miss.Dreamland:
This stage is the best... for Samus. First off, this stage is huge. You can recover from it forever. Don't be surprised if you live to %150 on every stock even with not-so-good DI. There is plenty of room to run away if you need, the stage is easy to grapple, walljump on, and sweetspot. Wispy is a bro like no other; if you are trying to get up from the ledge while someone guards it, you can stall and wait for Wispy to push them and mess up their spacing. The platforms are very spread out which means a couple things. First, you can't hit through them with your Utilt, but that also means that it's harder for other characters to do that to you. Second, the platforms are bigger and more spread so you have to get perfect wavelands to go from one side to the other.
Pokémon Stadium (Counterpick Stage):
This is not the best stage for Samus, but it isn't necessarily bad. The lack of center platform means that getting away from enemies is a little bit harder and not to unalike FD in a way. That said, the platforms that are there are in perfect position to PMC. The ceiling is low, so you die quickly that way. The sides are medium distance, but the stage has a weird bottom to it. There are parts that stick out, little coves, and it's all obscured by the stage above. It's VERY hard to grapple recovery on the lower parts of the stage and still have a chance at getting back. You might pull up on the grapple just to bump your head and die. The stage transforms about every 45 seconds into one of either four transformations: Water, Plant, Fire, and Mountain.
The water transformation is pretty neat. The windmill let's you auto-cancel moves by falling at the right time; the lower platform can be used for PMCs; and the stage lowers beneath the ledge which makes landing Ftilts, Fsmashes, and Dtilts easier.
The plant transformation is also pretty useful. The low hanging tree can be used for PMCs as well as the upper middle platform; the edges are sloped in places which can be used to alter your animations to make the hitboxes hit lower or higher than normal; since everything is more central in the stage, there's less options for recovering which makes your edgeguards easier.
The fire transformation is somewhat bad. In some matches, it can be great to get up next to the tree since you can tech on it and survive almost anything. In other matchups, it's a death trap getting cornered and combed against the wall. You can PMC on the shack and you can grapple the tree as another option on recovery. There is a trick on the tree you can preform which was dubbed Stock Canceling and/or Stock Cancel Canceling. Basically, there's a collision detection problem if you are on the branch of the tree, WD forward, and grapple quickly, you'll fall through the tree and die off the bottom (Stock Canceling). Sometimes when you do this, though, you'll grapple the inside of the tree and pull yourself through to the other side for MAXIMUM MINDGAMES (Stock Cancel Canceling). Why did I tell you this? Cuz it's cool.
The mountain transformation is arguably the worst. To start out, there's a collision problem with the right side of the stage. Like the water form, the stage is inset slightly which lets you hit below it. That's nice, but the edge clips you. If you run toward the ledge, you end up running in place over it. You can't roll over it, run over it, do moves over it, etc. It sucks and can mess you up pretty back. The only good thing is that it messes up everyone, so make sure you take advantage of it if someone gets tripped up on it. The mine area in the middle is a deathtrap like the fire one. Sure, you can live a while in there with some matches, but there's no real advantage to going in there. There's not much you can do on or next to the big mountain either, and you are very likely to die off the top if you start fighting on it. When recovering you can grapple the mountain to avoid going for the ledge, but it's the only benefit to this transformation that I can tell.
Character MUs are very difficult to talk about. First off, there's a lot to say about playstyle that directly affects how a character is used. A certain tactic could be strong against X character with Y player, but not for Z character with Y player or X character with Z player. Talking about MUs means talking about specific things in those matches and benefits from stages. Since the meta is ever evolving and is a state of pure rock/paper/scissors, it's hard to define optimal strategies. That said, let's take a swing at this...
Fox is the best character in the game. Let's just get that out of the way first. He's a fast faller with a medium weight, he has strong, fast moves with plenty of combo potential. He has a one frame, invincible, un-Crouch Cancelable attack that he can jump cancel that works anywhere, can turn him around, and spike. Hi recovery is solid since he has an UpB and Forward B that can get him back and be sweetspotted, walljumps that give him a little boost, and he can stall using reflector. He is a powerful opponent.
Since he falls so fast, he's pretty easy to combo and tech chase. Landing a Dtilt on him can pretty much mean victory if you can carry that hit to the ledge. Even though he has lots of options on recovery, you still have enough tools to deal with each one. Utilt is great for stopping UpB and FB, the UpB takes long enough that you can go in with a Dair and stop it if they do it far away. Since they fall so fast, they can't air dodge to the ledge, which means they have a hard time getting back safely without having to hit you while doing it. Knowing this, you should be able to guess/read when they are going to 'go for it' and try to push through you. In that case, Fsmash and Dsmash are more than adequate at putting them back in the recovery position. Low angled Ftilts are strong against FB as well as dropping a bomb on the ledge and forcing them to UpB close to the stage. You can CC a lot of attacks until around 50% and punish with Dsmash. Upthrow is a good move on Spacies since they fall too fast to do much off of Dthrow. After chucking them upward, react with either Nair or Bair to follow up.
Fox is really strong at killing enemies off the top and Samus is very keen to dying that way. His Uair is strong, fast, and can't really be traded with. Getting hit by the second hit of that move at anything over 70% is asking for death. His Usmash is deadly for a non CCing Samus around 100%. He can't do easy combos on her like he can other characters, but she can still be combed no doubt. Waveshines can cost stocks, so make sure DI accordingly to escape them. His edgeguarding is supremely annoying. Getting hit by a shine usually results in death, and there's not much you can do about it since the move practically gives him invincibility. Foxes like to use drop, DJ, Bair to stuff your moves as well. Since he's so fast, there can be a lot of pressure on your shield. Be prepared to land UpBs out of shield in order to reset back to the neutral game.
FD: The lack of platforms doesn't help or hurt this matchup much. On one hand, it's very hard to get away from Fox while he has no issue approaching through any of your spam. Since there's no way to go over him, you have to deal with him directly all of the time. On the other hand, he has less recovery options and it's a lot easier to get kills on him compared to other stages where he can cancel on platforms or escape to them while you block other options.
BF: This stage can be particularly painful if you get shined under the ledge. There's pretty much no way to get back if that happens, and you don't honestly have a comparable benefit that may counter that. Though, it's possible for Fox to get messed up by BF's edges, most players know how to avoid having that happen now.
YS: Games here heavily favor Fox because there are no apparent problems for him here. It's almost the same game as BF except it's very easy to kill off the top and he can recover from about anywhere.
FoD: Since the ceiling is so high here, you can expect to live through some of his attacks a bit longer. On top of that, the stage has a very low bottom, so you have plenty of space to work with while avoiding his guards and stopping his recoveries. You can also try to camp the ledge until the platforms change and mess him up, giving you a windown for save arrival.
There's not much to say here other than you are going to live a lot longer since the stage is huge and the platforms are so spread. The only real problem is that counterpicking a Fox to this stage might mean dealing with a campy Fox that just wants to spam lazers until you get to kill percent before going in for an attack.
PS: This is probably Fox's best stage just because of how low the ceiling is. Samus dies fast here and it doesn't help that there's no escape. Fox can infinite you during the Fire and Mountain transformations, so avoid those walls if at all possible.
Arguably Samus’s worst MU, and for good reason, needles cancel every projectile Samus has, including a fully charged neural B, and she can hit both Samus and the bombs while Samus is off stage for very safe and easy gimps. Grabs lead into down throw Fair, Uair, or Bair at almost every percent, and your DI needs to be impeccable. Overall, Samus needs to write a book on what sheik is going to do, in order to win a match, and sheik just need to be the best sheik she can be.
The Neutral Game:
Unfortunately there is not much Samus can do that is effective against sheik. You do outspace and out prioritize sheik when it comes to tilts, but most sheiks are just looking for a grab anyway, which samus can keep a sheik from doing with a jab, tilt or throwing out a grab hoping for the best. You should start off this match spacing with missiles (Shiek has a very easy powershield on missiles, so be ready for high-level players to send them back at you), dash dancing and wave dashing into forward tilts, and just shielding all standing needles sheik throws at you. The number of ways sheik can approach you are limited, so knowing what options you have to combat sheik are very essential in this MU. Listing the most common options are: run up dash attack, run up grab, run up short hop fair, run up short hop needle à fair or grab, run up shield.
If Shiek tries to stay on top of you, UpB OoS isn't a horrible choice. I wouldn't use it where there isn't a platform or ledge to cancel, but being able to re-position is very important in this MU. Sometimes the fight will be all about getting in the right place so that she doesn't have freedom to approach or run. Even though her needles stop your projectiles, it's still important to zone her out with homing/smash missiles when the opportunity to do safely arises.
Here are a lot of common situations and counters that you will find in this MU:
Sheik Dash Attack: our dash attack will hit sheik first because the hit box of their dash attack is on the back part of their body, a tilt, simply a jab, jc grab. Some moves will clank with it which might lead into her immediately doing an Ftilt or grab. You can also CC this if it isn't the sweetspot.
Run up grab: Same options as Dash attack, as well as spot dodge any move of your choice.
Run up short hop fair: Wavedash back into fsmash/uptilt, take the hit of the fair to CC downsmash, stand in place up tilt, get underneath sheik à rising upair or nair, run past the short hopping sheik into a bair.
Short hop needle: This is a rather tricky approach because you can never really know if its going to be a needle into Fair or just a Fair. Rule of thumb in which I use, the Sheik never really used this option if she doesn’t have any needles charged, so be sure to know if she has none or some stored up. But as soon as you see a sheik jump in front of you, just get underneath her, because her options are very limited at that point, especially if you opt for a rising up air. Imagine that there is a triangle of pain:
Wherever the height is at, you can imagine her using needles to come down at you (hypotenuse) try and put you in shield or hit you, which both lead to grabs. The vertical line is where she can FF Fair. The horizontal line is where she can grounded needle, dash attack, or dash/JC/boost grab. Every time she jumps, I visualize this triangle and try to position myself around the lines to get punishment.
Run up shield: This is the most annoying option higher level sheiks do, where you just need to be patient, and NOT THROW OUT ANY BIG MOVES, they will let it hit their shield, and then get a free grab, you must space tilts or jab pressure their shield, should this be done to you, or just retreat slightly. You can also run on their shield and do wavebomb options to keep pressure on. Sheik can never really pressure your shield, but you can pressure theirs, they want you to attack, and they want as many free grabs as possible to get you out of CC percent.
Sorry, but once again this is going to be the vital point of the match for you, can you avoid her needles and get back to the stage? What makes samus able to fight with the rest of the cast is her ability to live forever, but if you die at 70-100 because sheik can hit a few of your bombs and kill you off early, you are going to have a rough time with this match up. You need to see where sheik is standing when throwing the needles, and the angle the needles will go from the point of release while in the air, (it’s a 45 degree angle downward when she throws them from the air, and should they be thrown from the apex of the jump downward, you need to either have passed that point of the last needle, or be just outside of the 45 degree angle mark to avoid). Fast falling after sheik just positions herself for the onslaught of needles into a zair to grapple the stage, air dodge through a needle and then grapple the stage, or use of your second jump after the fast fall are your best bet to avoiding the needles, but be sure to still be aware of what the sheik on stage is doing, because she may come after you with a nair, bair or fair.
Going low can be a lot safer than other possible options since the angle quickly becomes unfavorable. The general tactic being to save your jump and grapple (if possible), and dodge the needles with smooth bomb jumps. Once the stage intersects the needle angle, your approach will be much easier. Just watch out for death strikes with drop-off Bairs and Fairs from Shiek.
As for edgeguarding sheik, this is a very simple process, once sheik is off the stage, just grab the ledge, make her up B onto the stage, and punish accordingly with a reverse nair, fsmash, bair, or whatever you deem to be most appropriate. The way I generally calculate it is thusly:
<75%: Dair into Bair
>75%: Reverse Nair
Before 75%, the reverse Nair doesn't send her far enough away to put her in a bad position. Plus, Dair+Bair puts a lot of damage out and a sweetspot Bair knocks further than reverse Nair. After 75%, Dair sends her too high to follow up with Bair or anything else. Something Shiek might do is go straight for the ledge while in the start-up of her UpB. Since it does damage, it forces you to let go/roll up/etc. or face getting hit. You can try to waveland + regrab to try and reset your invincibility or you can nair the sheik right before the hitbox appears, because she is actually vulnerable for a few frames there during her up b.
Just having the platforms to missile spam, to position yourself under to protect from aerial approaches, and to escape on help put Shiek in less advantageous positions, but depending on how platform needle campy the sheik is, this may work against you.
Fountain of Dreams: You can recover pretty low on FoD, but what I like about this stage is the changing platform heights make it difficult for sheik to needle camp without getting naired by the samus, and the smaller the stage, the less she can move around.
Yoshi’s Story: can be a good option if you are confident about teching sheik’s downthrows to get away from the follow ups, but you will die on this stage much earlier than any other, however because of the low hanging platforms, it makes needle sniping for sheik much more difficult.
Final Destination: I personally hate FD as a stage for Samus because of her limited mobility without platforms around, but for this match up, it takes away a platform for sheik to hop on to get more angles for hitting our bombs, and she can’t camp platforms, making it a much more up front match up.
Pokemon Stadium: The missile spam makes Sheik approach you in this MU, however you need to get the lower missiles nearly at ground level or sheik will crouch right under them and get to you, as you are firing the next missile. When you get Dthrown, NEVER go for the upper DI; the ceiling is so low that Shiek's Uair will kill you at depressingly low percents.
Battlefield/Dream Land: These two stages are relatively the same in the MU, except sheik is better able to up b onto the platforms of battlefield, and should you DI up and towards the corners of the stage, on dreamland, it will make it harder for sheik to get the earlier kills. However most of sheik’s attacks to get the kill will be her fair, which sends you at a downward angle.