Damage from a Distance - A Samus Projectile Guide
Wed 7th Mar 2018 - 9:34pm
Although she might be placed at #10 in the tier list, Samus’ projectile game is among one of the best in the cast. Having many different types of projectiles available to her, Samus is both a threat up close and at a distance. It is important to best know when to use her projectiles, how they act and can be optimized, and even how to defend against them. This guide will help Samus players come to understand their powerful projectile game.
1. Missles (side-b)
Missiles are Samus’ most used and generally most versatile projectile. Not only are they strong projectiles able to push opponents off stage and even KO, but they are fast projectiles. Samus’ missile comes in two forms: super missile, and homing missile. While super missiles are fast, travel in straight lines, and deal considerable knockback, homing missiles are the opposite. They do less damage, less knockback, and travel slower, but they track the enemy aggressively, usually guaranteeing a hit. The two missiles are also known as “strong” and “weak” missiles respectively.
Missiles are one of Samus’ best moves because the end lag of the missile’s animation can be cancelled by landing at the end of the firing animation. This gives the ability to act almost immediately after firing missiles, similar to how Falco can cancel the lag of his laser.
- Platform Cancelling
Platform canceled missiles are one of Samus’ trickiest but most important techniques. By utilizing platform cancelled missiles, Samus can apply twice the amount of pressure to the opponent in the normal time it takes to fire one missile. This is done by jumping at a specific height and shooting a specific missile and immediately landing on the platform. Once you’ve landed, it will cause a no-impact land, and you be able to immediately drop through the platform and fire off another missile. Required jump height and missile type varies from stage to stage.
Yoshi’s Story, Pokémon Stadium, and Fountain of Dreams:
Due to the very low height of these stages platforms, platform cancelled missiles are performed by short hopping and either firing a strong missile or weak missile. Both missile types will platform cancel, and you will be able to drop through the platform immediately to fire off another. Chain these movements together to create an overwhelming barrage of projectiles that will fluster the opponent and rack up damage. (The platform height on FoD does vary, and some heights are not possible to perform this feat on)
Due to its size, Dreamland’s platforms are raised higher than the other stages. This however isn’t an issue for Samus to reliably platform cancel her missiles, it is just done in a different way. Rather than short-hopping, Samus’ must full-hop and weak missile in order to platform cancel on this stage. The timing is not strict for this technique, and is quite is easy to pull off. Follow this up by dropping through the platform and shooting a strong missile to set up two dangerous hitboxes for an on-stage, or off-stage opponent. A full-hop into strong missile will not lead to a platform cancel. The only way to perform this technique with a strong missile is to time a double jump right after the initial jump, but this technique is not nearly as reliable and much more difficult to master.
This stage’s ledges are at a very strange height that makes it the hardest stage to platform cancel missiles on. It is possible, but requires much more practice. Melee pro player known as “ESAM” first made this technique popular and is by far the best Samus at this technique. On this stage, rather than being able to stand in place and short hop, Samus must either be moving forward, or pivoting into a short-hop in order to make the technique work. Not only does Samus need to be moving, but the input also must be performed immediately after jumping (very small frame window). This technique on Battlefield is only possible with weak missiles. The difficulty of landing this timing is incredibly hard and takes lots of practice to make the technique a reliable option in game.
Missiles are one of Samus’ best tools for edge-guarding. Missiles can help force the opponent to use their second jump, up-b in an unfavorable position to avoid the attack, or just secure the KO off stage. While spamming missiles is usually the route most amateur Samus players go with, a combination of platform cancelled weak missiles and falling strong missiles is usually Samus’ strongest option for edge-guarding. A recovering Fox/Falco in the initial stage of their up-b are very vulnerable to a weak missile hitting them into a strong missile. While missiles are powerful projectiles, they are not strong enough to hit Fox/Falco out of their up-b when active. Only a fully charged Charge Shot is strong enough to break Fox/Falco out of this recovery.
- Zoning and Approaching
Missiles are excellent tools for zoning and applying pressure from a distance. Strong missiles create a fast hitbox that travels linearly and forces an opponent to either avoid its line of trajectory on the stage, or shield the attack. Weak missiles create a hitbox that follows the enemy, forcing them to actively evade it or shield the attack. Combining these two missile types together creates space controlled by Samus’ hitboxes, keeping the enemy away from your character and applying pressure and damage. By platform cancelling, you can increase the number of missiles Samus can fire, essentially controlling more space in front of you with active hitboxes. However, missiles can be negated by certain moves in the game. Moves such as Marth's aerials can destory a missle without inflicting any dmagae upon the opponent, so do not rely on their ability to hit everytime they're used.
Dropping through the side platform and firing a strong missile gives Samus a protective hitbox to approach with. By dashing/wavedashing toward the opponent with the missile in front of you, Samus creates a traveling and protective shield that either hits the target and can be followed up by KO moves, or forces the opponent to shield the projectile, and can be followed up by a grab.
- Ledge Mix-up
Missiles can even be fired unto the stage from the ledge. By dropping from the ledge, immediately using your double jump, drifting slightly toward the stage and firing a strong missile, Samus lands on the stage with a missile fired toward center stage. Both missile types can be used in this technique, however the strong missile is often the better option.
2. Charge Shot (neutral-b)
One of Samus’ most powerful moves, the charge shot is a high risk, high reward move. Taking just under two and half seconds to fully charge, it can be difficult to find the time mid-match to fully charge the move. It is a powerful KO move that travels faster the longer it’s been charged. Sometimes thought only to be effective when fully charged, an un-fully charged charge shot can also be effective in edge-guarding, as it stuns the opponent for a short while as they fall downward. This technique is useful against the entire cast.
The charge shot’s biggest strength is its strength. At its largest form, the move does 25% damage and travels extremely fast. Although it takes a while to charge the move, when it is available it is a deadly move that the opponent will have to respect. The presence of a fully charged charge shot often pushes the other player to not approach and play extremely defensive. It is not only a big physical presence but a huge mental pressure as well. Your opponent will realize that you have a very powerful move that can cost their stock at any moment, so they will play accordingly. You can benefit from the extra space your opponent gives you by throwing out more missiles and searching for an opportunity to punish with your charge shot.
- KO Setups
Charge shot is a move that is best used to punish a whiff, tech roll, or bad DI on Samus’ throw. While top level Samus’ can be effective at finding the perfect moment to shoot a charge shot in the neutral, it is often wasted when doing this. Practice holding onto the charge shot, and using its mental pressure to weaken your opponent, then capitalize hard on a mistake.
Samus can combo her up-throw into charge shot against some of the cast. This combo is most effective against the spacies. Against Fox/Falco, Samus’ can up throw the opponent at high percent’s and punish almost any direction of DI with a charge shot. While it takes practice learning how to accurately read and chase an opponent’s DI, Samus’ double jump is quick enough to reach the vertical height of the throw while the enemy is still in hit-stun from the up-throw. Extreme high percent’s however make this combo non-reliable, so aim to land execute it from about 70%-130%.
When in a situation where the opponent has been sent tumbling to the stage, the player will most often attempt to tech the landing. By doing so, if prepared and poised, you have secured yourself an easy charge shot. If the opponent tech rolls away from you, shooting the charge shot right as they tech the landing will normally catch up to their roll before they are able to shield, therefore connecting into a hit. This is usually the most unsafe option to avoid a charge shot. If the opponent techs in place, timing the shot to when they stand up can land you a hit. This is tricky however, because teching in place is usually the fastest option, allowing them get into shield quickly. Reacting to a tech roll towards you is a little trickier. In this case, if you shoot the charge shot at the same time as they tech roll, the charge shot will often pass through their roll during their invincibility frames, due to the shot and opponent traveling in different directions. While it is trickier to land, it is not impossible and will require a little more practice to react to with a well-timed wavedash back or pivot.
3. Bombs (down-b)
Yes, bombs count as projectiles too. They may not be as powerful as missiles or the charge shot, but they are still useful in play. By understanding gameplay tactics with bombs, you can make use of an often overlooked move.
Bombs are the main reason behind why Samus’ recovery is so good. By simply inputting a bomb in the air, and then inputting another bomb, Samus is popped up by the first bomb thereby extending her horizontal recovery. It is an extremely simple technique that every Samus should be aware of and utilizing.
While bombs do not cause a lot of knockback or hit-stun, they can still disrupt an incoming move. By placing a bomb in between you and your opponent as you are retreating, it can disrupt an incoming approach or force them to wait until it has exploded. This works well against Captain Falcon, disrupting incoming n-airs and resetting the situation or giving Samus and opportunity to strike.
- Shield Pressure/Combo Starter
By placing a bomb directly upon an opponent’s shield or character them self, it will immediately explode, popping Samus upwards. With the upward short-hop given to Samus from this move, she can immediately descend with a L-cancelled down-air and combo that into a down-smash. If the opponent is still in shield, she may have the opportunity to grab after the down-air rather than combo into down-smash on shield.
Placing a bomb right over the edge of the ledge forces characters like Marth to stall longer than they intended to below the stage. This situation can allow you to grab ledge with invincibility and ledge-hog the Marth from recovering. If the Marth challenges the bomb and up-b's into it, he won’t recover to stage right away and will rather have to perform another up-b (often not sweet-spotted after making contact with the bomb) and can lead into an f-tilt to keep Marth off stage.
While on paper, Samus’ projectiles are good and effective, they only become truly effective when the player understands the situations that call for them and has mastered their timely techniques. Work hard to practice platform cancelled missiles, as well as being more patient with your charge shot. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll land a NICE SHOT in tournament.
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