At the E3 invitational tournament, Super Smash Bros. lead director Masahiro Sakurai stated that although Samus wasn’t represented at the event, she was thought to be the strongest character in the current build of the game. We don’t have a lot of information backing up that claim, and fighting game developers are well known for not understanding the intricacies of what makes a character good or bad in their games, but let’s give Sakurai the benefit of the doubt here. If Samus is the best character in Smash Wii U, where does that leave Zero Suit Samus?
If the Smash invitational is anything to go by, she’s a very solid character in her own right. She won the invitational tournament. Granted, the game was new to all of the players participating in the event, and the inclusion of items (especially Smash Balls) as well as the single elimination format made the results of the invitational a little less definitive compared to a standard tournament format. So even though Zero Suit won, it doesn’t mean she’s right up there with normal Samus. What it does mean is that she has some solid tools to work with, and is well on her way to being a potential top tier character.
Examining some of the buffs and nerfs we saw in the latest demo of the game, it’s clear that Zero Suit improved. She has 50 percent combos off her down B special attack (which buries an opponent in the ground, allowing for a guaranteed follow-up). In addition, the range, start-up and recovery time of her grab was improved. Her run and general movement speed are faster, her dash attack, back air and forward air are all faster, and her forward Smash also saw improvements in speed and power.
In addition, Zero Suit has a new up B special move. It’s a multi-hitting upward kick attack that feels somewhat similar to Link’s aerial Sword Spin. However, it’s more comparable to the Melee version of Link’s attack given that it’s extremely powerful and should be one of her main new tools in Smash Wii U. Her normal jump moves her higher, and her short hop keeps her closer to the ground, both improvements to her movement options. Her grab animation still tethers to the side of stages, and her comeback game after being knocked off a stage improved overall.
On the flip side, her downward tilt attack has significant recovery after the attack, her up aerial attack is slower and it’s harder for her to follow grabs with attacks. However, this is something that is a general system change, which impacts every character, similar to how every character has an improved jab attack series.
For now, there are far more buffs to Zero Suit Samus than there are nerfs. She was dominating many of the play stations are E3 and at various Best Buy locations. While her win at the invitational isn’t definitive, it shows she is a strong character. Given the fact that Sakurai was in attendance at the invitational, it remains to be seen whether or not Zero Suit gets a few more nerfs before the final release of the game, but at the moment, she is definitely one of the better characters in Smash Wii U and looks to be an early top tier candidate.