When choosing between the two fighters in Super Smash Bros Ultimate, there are pros and cons to deciding on either Samus or Dark Samus. While they may share the Samus name, they don’t play the same. The main differences between Samus and Dark Samus involve their movements, such as when jumping or dodging. Samus has a more compact size and can roll into a morph ball. Dark Samus usually occupies a larger space but attacks with a larger hitbox. Comparing the differences between these two fighters will determine if there is an advantage between choosing one or the other.
Samus vs. Dark Samus: Origins
Samus: Samus Aran is the protagonist of Nintendo‘s Metroid series. She is one of the classic female video game protagonists. Her first appearance was in Metroid, released in 1986, nearly 37 years ago. In the first game, Samus’s gender is unknown unless players complete the game in under two hours or enter a special password. She has since appeared in 54 Nintendo games in one form or another.
Samus is a bounty hunter for the Galactic Federation in the Metroid games. Her power suit grants her abilities that she uses in the Metroid and other appearances such as Super Smash Bros. Ultimate. These powers include a built-in right-arm cannon that fires missiles or a chargeable energy blast. She can also morph into a small ball to drop bombs and has a grapple beam to grab enemies or objects.
Samus is mainly known for wearing an orange and yellow power suit with a red helmet. In later titles, Samus takes off the power suit and appears as a blond female humanoid wearing the more clothlike blue Zero Suit that she wears beneath the armor.
Dark Samus: Dark Samus debuted in 2002 as the major antagonist to Samus in Metroid Prime. She has since appeared in 6 games but only playable recently in Super Smash Bros Ultimate. Dark Samus is originally Metroid Prime, a mutated alien. She steals Samus Phazon suit in the final battle of the Metroid Prime game and is then transformed and entirely powered by Phazon. In the Metroid universe, Phazon is a dangerous radioactive liquid substance. Dark Samus is essentially a Samus lookalike made entirely of Phazon and Samus’s DNA.
Dark Samus gained nearly all of Samus’s abilities after stealing the Phazon suit. These include the arm cannon and grapple beam. She also can absorb life energy and rebuild herself.
Dark Samus looks very similar to Samus, wearing identically shaped armor with the same right-arm cannon. Her armor is dark blue or black with light blue highlights.
Dark Samus is first playable in Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, released in 2018. She is one of the many Echo fighters that appear for the first time in the game. Echo fighters are clones of already existing fighters. They provide a different version of the character and another playable character without developers taking the time and effort to create and add a whole new character.
Samus vs. Dark Samus: Super Smash Ultimate Facts
- Samus’s stance is ground-based, while Dark Samus hovers
- Samus uses fire in her attacks, while Dark Samus utilizes electricity
- Samus morphs when rolling, but Dark Samus does not
- Samus and Dark Samus blast their cannon at different heights
- Samus’s shield area is smaller but deploys quicker
Samus vs. Dark Samus: Fighting Stance
While Dark Samus is a basic clone of Samus, and the pair have the same physical attributes, that doesn’t mean they carry themselves the same way. Samus stands on both feet, which makes her a bit shorter. Samus floats with seemingly just a piece of one foot touching the ground at all times. This height allows some attacks to connect with Dark Samus that fly over Samus’s head.
Similarly, the two characters’ dash dance, when turning quickly, changes due to stance. When Samus moves back and forth, she is more precise with her feet on the ground. This also creates a larger hurtbox area to attack her. Since Dark Samus is floating with one leg extended, she is more compacted as she dashes back and forth but doesn’t precisely land on a leg. Since Samus is standing and not floating on a regular dash, creating a larger hurtbox area than Dark Samus.
Finally, Dark Samus jumps higher when the characters jump despite being the same height. This difference is likely because she begins higher by hovering slightly off the ground at the start of the jump. These differences seem to balance out with Dark Samus’s height from floating being compensated for by a more compacted position while dashing.
Samus vs. Dark Samus: Attacks
Samus’s smash attacks or strikes are fire based. Her up-smash hitbox with the fire attack is slightly smaller and can actually miss opponents standing directly in front of her on occasion. This occurrence is especially true for medium to small characters. Dark Samus strikes similarly, but her attacks are electricity based. She has a bigger hitbox and a better chance of connecting with characters who try to roll through to dodge.
The elemental difference affects low-angle or down-tilt attacks. Dark Samus electric down tilt often puts characters in a shield stun for an average of six additional frames, which would be an advantage. This impact is deceiving, though, and maybe more of a hit lag that slows Dark Samus and the opponent. Samus’s forward smash attack has a slightly longer reach allowing her to connect with opponents standing further away. This advantage seems to be due to the fire element, not her stance.
Electric vs. Fire: Each element type has unique effects as well. Samus’s fire attacks give opponents a brief ignited appearance, can detonate blast boxes, and thaw frozen characters. Dark Samus’s electricity attacks cause a yellow sparking effect around opponents. Electricity attacks cause increased freeze frames for Dark Samus and hit stun for the opponent. Hitstun is the period after a character when they can’t do anything. Hitstun is crucial as it’s the foundation for combos, as characters cannot defend themselves and are open to being hit repeatedly. A noted difference to this elemental difference in attacks is that yellow Pikmin are unaffected by Dark Samus’s electric attacks, and Red Pikmin are immune to Samus’s fire attacks.
Samus vs. Dark Samus: Rolling
Samus may have an advantage regarding evasiveness as she changes into a morph ball. When Samus rolls forward or backward, she becomes a small round ball, just like when she drops bombs. She also curls into a slightly larger ball when performing a double jump or back jump. Both of these ball forms are considerably smaller than any other form of Samus or Dark Samus, making Samus much harder to hit.
Dark Samus doesn’t change into any sort of ball in these instances. She glides in her usual stance and shape when rolling and back jumping. Her body forms a “T” shape due to her single leg hanging during a double jump. While her non-ball position leaves her with a larger hitbox to target, it also has an advantage. When rolling, since Dark Samus is already in her fight stance, she can react about three frames sooner than the rolled-up Samus.
The advantage changes when performing an up B or jump special. Though both characters become a ball during the attack, they land differently. Samus lands using a three-point “superhero landing” and then stands. Dark Samus floats in a ball for an extra frame above the ground when landing before standing up.
Samus vs. Dark Samus: Arm Cannon
Both fighters have an arm cannon that fires projectiles and energy blasts. Samus has a traditional-looking pink rocket that fires at a slightly taller height. She fires her charge shot energy blast at the same height. Her cannon height is considered medium and should hit most characters in that range.
Dark Samus fires a black and green alien projectile that looks more like a bouquet of flowers than a rocket. Dark Samus fires from a similar position as Samus, but the projectile and charge shot fly at a slightly lower level. While they do the same damage, there is a slight advantage to Dark Samus’s charge shot. Dark Samus’s charge shot hits smaller characters such as Pichu, Olimar, or Kirby despite ducking to evade. At the same time, Samus’s blast may miss these exact characters. Similarly, Dark Samus’s charge shot is so close to the ground it may connect with opponents hanging from ledges, while Samus’s may not.
Samus vs. Dark Samus: Shielding
Samus and Dark Samus have similar-looking circular shields that they can use to protect them from attacks. Samus’s shield is red, and Dark Samus’s is midnight blue. While the shields are of the same strength and style Dark Samus’s shield is slightly larger than Samus’s. This size difference is likely compensation for Dark Samus’s taller height. Despite having the larger shield, it covers her just the same as Samus’s shield does for her.
The fighters’ shield deployment is also slightly different. Due to walking and not hovering like Dark Samus, Samus’s shield deploys marginally quicker. In the instant it takes Dark Samus to stop before putting her shield up, Samus’s is already up.
Samus vs. Dark Samus: Who’s Better?
Dark Samus is an echo fighter replicated from Samus’s basic look and moveset. The noticeable significant difference is their color, but Dark Samus also floats. Constant hovering changes how Dark Samus moves and how much space she takes up. Dark Samus leaves herself open when back jumping, double jumping, and rolling, but is slightly smaller when dashing. She also has a charge that can hit small evading opponents and anyone hanging off ledges. Dark Samus also has the electricity element in her attacks that seems to have a duel-edged hitlag effect.
Samus’ morph ball form and doubling jumping makes her harder to hit but slower to recover afterward. She also is not as consistently efficient against small opponents as her aim is at a more medium level. The fire element in her attacks allows for unfreezing and instant box detonation, which can come in handy, but also doesn’t cause hitlag.
Comparing the details of Samus and Dark Samus, it’s hard to say that one is better overall. While it seems that Dark Samus has an edge against smaller opponents if the two face each other, Samus may have an edge because she is generally more evasive, and neither of them are small fighters. The advantage is likely situational, so consider the stage, opponent size, and whether you want to shoot sooner or dodge first.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Manuel Sagra, AntMan3001 / Flickr.