Samus is Slowly Shrinking

I took this picture at PAX, at the Metroid: Other M booth.  These are models of Samus’s “Zero Suit” and her military uniform as she wears in the game “Other M.” 

My initial observation was that they are pretty, but, much too small to be Samus Aran. Samus Aran is a large, tall woman, who generally towers over the men she has to deal with in her day to day life.  She would have to be, right?  To operate that suit?

There’s been a lot of noise on the web lately about Metroid: Other M and its apparent betrayal of the Samus Aran character.  Samus, reviewers argue, used to be a silent but deadly no-nonsense protagonist who showed no fear and worry and was near-invincible.  The common complaint is that Team Ninja’s take on her in Other M instantly turned her in to a whiny rebellious teenager instead of the badass intergalactic bounty hunter we’d all been imagining.

It’s true: Nintendo did change Samus Aran. But they didn’t change her instantly.

Team Ninja’s take on her as a weaker, and frankly, smaller protagonist was not an overnight transformation.  Rather, it’s the direction the character has slowly but surely been going over the past twenty years, which seems to have struck people all of the sudden when it appeared in a major mainstream game release.

The original Metroid instruction manual referred to Samus as a “he.”  I can source that from the Metroid Database, where I’ve also gotten a few of the scans I’m going to use in this retrospective. The fact that she took off the suit at the end of the game and turned out to be a woman was a surprise intended only for the best Metroid players to see, and then spread around among their friends.  My take at the time on this, since there wasn’t a lot of official lore to back any particular interpretation, was that Samus pretended to be male, since that way she wouldn’t lose any “cred” by being revealed as a woman.  The shape of her original suit was fairly gender-neutral, with a stiff rather than curved and flexible waistline.  Though it’d be damn inconvenient to move around in that (let alone transform in to a ball), it wasn’t really feminine and Samus could concievably be either sex.

Enter the Valiant Comic Series.  I remember these very fondly, but it’s hard to say that they were great.  For one, they featured Captain N, Nintendo’s cheesy tie-in television show, and its wacky cast. (Okay, “confession time,” I like Captain N, but I won’t go in to too much more detail there for fear you’ll stumble on my Captain N-inspired fan-character in City of Heroes.)  For another thing, they had some things in them that are just blatantly non-canon and untrue, like referring to “Metroid” as a place instead of calling it planet Zebes.

What I liked about these comics was their take on Samus. She was a tall, pushy broad who saved the galaxy partially out of a sense of justice and partially out of pure greed. See, she got paid to do this; it was her job, and woe betide people who didn’t front up the cash. She might just leave you out to dry.  There’s a memorable issue of the comic that doesn’t feature Captain N, but shows Samus going up against (that version of) Mother Brain in competition with another bounty hunter based on a species from the video game.  I even remember that the other guy’s name was “Big-Time” Brannigan and I didn’t have to look that up or anything.  Samus outwits him, and Mother Brain, using her battle skills and wits. Plus she was super smokin’ hot.  I loved the hell out of this comic series and this is the kind of thing that made me want to be Samus Aran when I grew up.

However, not much floated in to the Metroid canon from this sort of sideways take.  These comics picked out Samus Aran as a one-time member of an elite galactic police force who ditched one day because she thought she could do better out there on her own. This story is slightly mirrored by Samus’s on-again, off-again relationship with the Galactic Federation in the actual canon, though the stories are far from identical.

Meanwhile, the real canon marches on: Samus appeared in Metroid 2, and then a little game called Super Metroid on the SNES.  This at the time was the biggest SNES cartridge ever produced and I also feel it’s one of the best 2D action games ever made.

I think it’s worth noting at this point that Samus Aran was not a silent protagonist. In Super Metroid, she talks. It’s just in text, and calmly explaining the history of her mission thusfar, but it’s definitely Samus narrating this sequence. Anyone who tells you Samus is a completely silent character is wrong, as of 1994.  She tends to be silent during gameplay, for two primary reasons.  The story reason: there’s nobody to talk to.  She’s spending most of her time on alien planets surrounded by barely-intelligent alien species and it’s not very likely they’re going to bust out in complex conversation.   The technology reason: voice-acted games weren’t really possible on the Super Nintendo, and a bunch of dialogue boxes for her to talk smack to the few people who could have talked back (Ridley has been established as capable of speech) would’ve broken the flow of the action.

(That whole flow-of-action thing is something that we seem to have forgotten about in action games.  The original Megaman X, a contemporary to Super Metroid, “talked” a little, when a big story event was about to happen.  Later Megaman X games talked up a huge blue streak for whatever reason, maybe to make the story more epic. One of the best things about Super Metroid is its ability to convey story points, simple as they are, in a dramatic way without saying a word.)

But that’s a digression; I’m not going to talk about why Super Metroid is good because other people have said more and better. Instead I’m talking about the story, and the Samus character, so I’m going to talk about the Nintendo Power Comics Series.

You may or may not remember these. These are the comics that depicted Samus with purple hair, for whatever reason (thankfully, that particular bit didn’t make it in to canon, where she’s always been a blonde).  They also are the first comics to actually tell a fairly-canon version of Samus’s story, or at least, the story that would eventually make its way in to canon which appeared here in some parts for the first time.  The Nintendo Power comics tell the story of a sole survivor of a colonizing mission that was attacked by Space Pirates. She’s brought under the care of the Chozo alien race, given some of their blood in a transfusion, and becomes a surrogate daughter to the bird-like species.  The power suit she is given allows her to transform in to a ball the same way the Chozo can, as well as survive on their harsh planet.

Here’s a scan from that, again thanks to the Metroid DB. It’s possible again most reviewers didn’t know about this, but this was a bit of a ret-con for me personally. However, this is the story that is accepted as canon, which is going to be backed up later in Metroid Fusion, a game that also referenced the Adam character for the first time.  The man you see in the scan above is not Adam, nor is it Ivan the Space Viking despite the uncanny resemblance – it’s a viewpoint character named Armstrong Houston who serves as a useful guy for Chozo to explain stuff to.

I remember completely hating this comic with a fiery passion at the time for how it weakened the Samus Aran character. Now she’s not so much independent and self-propelled as a sole-survivor who was given a gift of amazing powers and a power suit (which is fused with her body) from a benefactor alien race. In the old story she was just just doing her job, or in the right place at the right time and saved the galaxy because she was there.  But now instead, she’s the destined protector of the galaxy.  I still love the character and her awesome skills and abilities, but to me it was just a weaker story for someone to give her her powers and position instead of her taking everything all on her own.  They also took a lot of the edge off of the character as she was no longer a greedy perfectionist and had different character weaknesses.  This was in 1994, more than fifteen years before Other M ruined her for a larger amount of people.

I can’t fault the comics for everything though. For one, they had really detailed Metroid creature art. Also, Samus’s vital stats are dead-on what I imagined they should be.

You’ll have to pardon how bad this scan is. It’s my personal scan of the Super Metroid official strategy guide, a book I own which has seen a lot of love and isn’t in great condition.  I offer it up as an example of the Samus character, personality and vital stats, as presented in 1994.  6’3″, 198 pounds? That feels right to me. That matches what I saw in Super Metroid pretty well.  You can look at the large-sized image for the text, but I can also reproduce it:

When something threatens the Galactic Federation, they call on Samus Aran.  She’s the most accomplished bounty hunter anywhere.  But even though she weeds out dangerous and evil characters from the galaxy for a living, she also truly cares about the safety of all law-abiding life forms.  The Galactic Federation depends on her, and many other life forms throughout the galaxy have counted on her to save their hides.  Her second mission to Zebes is bound to be her most difficult mission yet. Having had no preparation time, she’s hoping to find some helpful Items on the planet.  She’d rather forgo collecting bounty than see harm come to an innocent life form.  While she has her kind side, she is ruthless in battle!  The power suit hides a strong, muscular woman. Samus is nearly six feet, three inches call and weighs nearly 200 pounds.

Regardless of how badly that paragraph flows, it’s not a bad take on the character, if not as edgy as the old take.  It’s about all we needed as a personality for Samus.

Super Metroid, regardless of its virtues as an action game, sold poorly in Japan.  Metroid was developing a reputation as a franchise that appealed to Americans.  It has a more American sensibility for whatever reason and didn’t really appeal as much in Japan. It’s okay: we like Metroid, please give it to us, America said.  So the franchise was dormant for many years.  When it was time to revive it, the task of creating the next Metroid was given to an American studio.  And they wanted to make it an FPS.

Dooooooooom cried the doomaysers. Doom!

So long story short, Metroid Prime was a really good game. It offered an immersive atmosphere that was rare in a first-person shooter.  As for story, they were kind of doing something different with Samus there, basically making her silent most of the time (to again, keep the action moving) and offering her viewpoint in little cutscenes that served as an opportunity to showcase how tough she was against the threat of awesome alien mutants.  Sometimes she made a little grunt or gasp noise when she was hit, and you could see the reflection of her eyes in your visor. Lots of little touches, like showing Samus’s hand position when she switches from beam to beam (which is exactly how I imagined it worked when I was 14 years old) really made you feel like you were that character, in that situation.

Story segments in Prime focused a lot more on the Space Pirates and their backstory than Samus’s, but other than it being a little uncertain at the time where the story fit chronologically in the canon (after Super Metroid? Before Return of Samus?), it didn’t contradict anything established.

Metroid Fusion also came out around this time and focused a bit more on Samus, confirming the idea (from the Nintendo Power comics and etc) that the suit was part of her body, that she had Chozo blood and a genetic connection to the Metroids, and etc. It also introduced the Adam character we meet officially in Other M, albeit as a disembodied voice belonging to a computer that liked to lock doors.

Released in 2002, Metroid Fusion takes place “last” chronologically, at least to my understanding. Regardless, it doesn’t contradict anything presented in any previous Japanese-developed Metroid game nor, as far as I can tell, does it contradict the Nintendo Power Comics Series starring Samus.  (It also doesn’t seem to make Samus any smaller or shorter.)

These two new Metroid games made Metroid a popular enough franchise to allow for a bunch more sequels. One of these is Zero Mission, a remake of the original Metroid with more modern sensibilities.  For a portion of this, Samus is without her power suit, as she can’t summon it for whatever reason, and travels through the Space Pirate ship in her “Zero Suit,” an outfit that would later make an appearance as an alt mode in Super Smash Brothers Brawl. The real-world interpretation of that outfit is on the first photograph on this entry up on the left. For a bonus, go ahead and Google Image Search “Zero Suit Samus” and enjoy a large variety of creepy porn.

There’s nothing wrong with a skin-tight suit at all for a heroic character and it makes sense to wear this – or less – under a huge metallic power suit.  In Super Metroid she wears a sort of swimsuit and that’s fine too.  And it doesn’t bug me that there is porn, because there was going to be anyway. But this is where the shrinking started.  Though she’s still way curvy, especially when fans draw her, she’s working her way down in to tiny, skinny, short.  Maybe shrinking her is part of how she’s become more sexualized, because that also makes her more vulnerable.

The Metroid manga, released in 2004 in Japan, focused a lot on Samus’s backstory and childhood.  Again, it was largely about portraying her as vulnerable, though not in a sexualized way.  I suppose it can be argued that portraying her as a weak young woman is important to create contrast with the strong independent woman that she will later become in the actual games.  But now that I’ve said that, I’ll go ahead and disagree, since it was perfectly acceptable to me to have a tough no-nonsense character who had a totally different set of flaws.  Going the vulnerable little-girl route is not the only way to develop a female protagonist, but, this is the way they decided to go.

So now Samus is a hysterical woman who freaks out at the sign of Ridley, a character she’s blown up several times before. The manga writes this off as “repressed trauma.”  Ridley killed her parents and all the sudden right now this is starting to bother her, to the point of helpless weakness, because she has PSTD about it.

I feel bad about it, almost as if I were personally responsible, or like I’m breaking bad news to the rest of the blogosphere or something, but this was in 2004.  She’ll do this same sort of thing in a cut-scene in Other M but it’s not the first time they hinted at it. This really was the direction the creative team with Nintendo was deciding to go here, and have been going this way in the background for fifteen years while Samus was a largely silent protagonist in the Prime series games developed by Retro.

The fully translated manga is available on the internet, like many things.

When I first saw this scan from it, I kind of wanted to flip a table or something.

After I had my moment, other fans pointed out that, first of all, she’s a kid in this shot, so she would be expected to be shorter (and have an itty bitty power suit, since it’s part of her body now and grows with her, footnotes about it requiring a strong woman no longer hold). Second of all, with the shot in context, a previous panel establishes her as being on her knees:

Those comments all hold, but even in context, what is the point of framing it like this?  Probably to showcase the character’s vulnerability in the face of Adam Malkovich, who, as we all know from Other M, is the most important person to Samus past or future.

I love Samus, and the Metroid series games in general.  I’m not shocked by the story turns in the Other M. Disheartened, maybe, but it’s a little easier to accept for me what has been a long, slow slide than what has been a sudden betrayal for a lot of other fans.

Has Samus actually physically shrunk? Hm, hard to say; the portrayal of her height could just be chalked up as inconsistent. She looks pretty short in Other M, but then again she’s also standing next to other space marine types in big power suits.

Has she metaphorically shrunk? Yes, definitely.

19 thoughts on “Samus is Slowly Shrinking”

  1. A few things:

    As far as timeline, if you were wondering, it goes

    Metroid – Metroid Prime – Metroid Prime 2 – Metroid Prime 3 – Metroid 2 – Super Metroid – Other M – Metroid Fusion

    As far as Samus’s transformation in recent years, I don’t find her to be as outright weak as some people say. I have not finished Other M yet, admittedly, so I still have time to become outraged.

    But the stoic badass who never speaks and is better than everyone at everything? How is this an interesting character? By giving her weakness, naivete, and an origin that shows that she may not be quite as strong as the face she wears, she makes for a much more interesting character. Really, before, she didn’t HAVE an interesting character. Just because she was a female doesn’t inherently make the character who was completely forgettable all of a sudden rad.

    As far as the sexualization of Samus, this isn’t really new either. At the end of nearly every Metroid game, the reward for high item completion and low game time was pictures of Samus in skimpy clothes.

    For example:
    http://www.vgmuseum.com/end/gba/b/mfu-37.png

    But this goes back to Super Metroid as well:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wlu5Mx-9wwU

    The increase in graphical fidelity led to Samus being represented as more and more sexualized. Now making her smaller and more petite, I’m not sure I agree with that decision, but it makes for an interesting juxtaposition between the reality of how she looks, the the outer shell she wears. It’s the same kind of duality you see in her character. On the outside, a stoic bounty hunter who always gets her man. On the inside, a woman who has never really had a home, drifting from one parental authority figure to another, in a constant battle with the demons of her past that haunt her (Characterized by Ridley)

    Do I agree with this direction the character has taken? Not necessarily, but I don’t think I’d like Samus nearly as much if she was just a badass who is good at everything. And to say she isn’t a badass despite these things isn’t true as well. Come on, look at the end of Metroid Prime 2!

    I apologize, didn’t realize this would go on so long. Hopefully it provides some food for thought. I just love Metroid. =)

  2. As a woman and an author who is interested in being and writing about strong women, I also have some conflicting feelings about the vulnerability of tough women. Often it seems that the only way people can think of to remind their audience that a tough woman is really a woman is to show that she is actually weak on the inside – or it least, it OFTEN seems that way. Perhaps we’re biased because we’re women, or perhaps it’s simply the old ‘feminine side’ cliche. To be a woman is to be weak, so goes the old tale.
    Setting aside women like Athena, who could win wars, punch out potential rapists, and still come home in time to kick ass in a sewing competition, I don’t think I’ve seen too many portrayals of tough women that haven’t included something I felt was a copout, or that everyone else felt so strongly was a copout that I started to feel weird about it too.

    On the other hand, as Hunter points out, these kinds of things – weakness and sexuality, which in much of fiction is basically the same thing as weakness – are necessary to create depth in a human character. Real people have weaknesses and they have sexy times. They have business socks. How do we reconcile the need to make compellingly complex women without overdoing it? Or is this struggle to balance part of that person’s life that should be interpolated in the text, so to speak?

    That said, holy shit man, they practically cut her legs off. Classic chauvinism!!!! 😀

  3. The radical change in character model from Metroid Prime 1 to Metroid Prime 2 (both the suit and the person inside the suit) indicated pretty clearly to me that Nintendo was taking its character back from Retro Studios to a certain extent. Retro had apparently made a mistake in creating a Samus that could pass for human; Nintendo was here to shrink her back down to the teensy little abstract anime character that she has been (apparently?) all along. Other M seems like the ultimate extension of that. I won’t be playing Other M, mostly because I don’t have a wii, but also because I don’t have the time or stomach for interminable, maudlin cutscenes.

  4. Hunter:

    Yeah, I’m not saying that the sexualization is anything new, nor the vulnerability. In fact my point is that the vulnerability angle is NOT new; it’s just been put on a lot more gradually than most people realize from what they imagined the character to be.

    What was interesting about Samus wasn’t her never being sexualized at all, since she always was in some capacity. But it wasn’t her “default” setting unlike many other female game characters who are designed for the male gaze first.

    But the stoic badass who never speaks and is better than everyone at everything? How is this an interesting character?

    A character with no flaws who doesn’t talk isn’t an interesting character. But Samus has never been that character. Her character has always had flaws, but the nature of those flaws have changed. I think that’s what a lot of people don’t realize. It’s not that the character has transformed from something flawless to something flawed, but that there are other ways to make a character flawed.

    Ofiuco: It’s also interesting that you mention Athena since I always thought of Samus as one of those Greek Goddess archetypes back in the day… though more of an Artemis the Hunter in there somewhere. 🙂 You know, you’re right, the myths have no problem creating female characters with different kinds of flaws…

  5. @Ofuico:

    I think that it is possible that because of the relative novelty of wide-scale “strong” female characters, that when a “strong” female character shows a moment of weakness, that becomes, so to speak, the glaring flaw in their “strength,” rather than an aspect of a complex character.

    Presumably this will be less of a thing in a couple of hundred years… maybe.

  6. Well, Tommy, I don’t know about ‘relative novelty’… strong female characters are common in the myths that are the foundation of many civilizations. I think that strong female characters in MODERN WESTERN FICTION are relatively novel, so, blame America.

    I think it has much to do with a society’s attitudes towards women, and America still reeling from its recurring Puritanical streak, strong warrior women have kind of only just emerged from being niche fiction. That said, I think if one of us sat down and looked, we’d find plenty of examples through history or time, but perhaps the truth is that strong warrior women are just always in the minority.

  7. The gradual weakening of character is something I didn’t notice until you explained it. It was totally jarring in this game because it’s so bloody obvious, especially the height difference. It may have been going in this direction before, but it’s really obvious when she’s standing next to space marines and Adam. If she’s 6’3″, they’re 8 feet tall easily. That’s just a load of crap.

    That doesn’t mean this game isn’t particularly egregious though. The Ridley PTSD is total BS since she fought him numerous times before, but check out when Anthony saves her in that scene. The plasma cannon is literally a crotch mounted laser. Cue discussion of guns as phallic projections in 3…2…1…

    Then there’s the unfreezable metroids. She doesn’t go to sector zero at all. Instead, Adam heroically marches to his doom while Samus cries like a little girl. And right before this, she gets attacked and overwhelmed by a single, solitary, normal metroid and Adam has to save her. That is just crap. She’s killed hundreds of these things in the past, and we all know how to get a metroid off you. Morph ball, bomb, done. Why does she get completely weakened by a single one? That is just moronic.

    Finally, in the last scene, she doesn’t even do a damn thing at all. The big manly marines rush in to save the day. They freeze MB, Madeline freezes her again when she thaws, and the marines blow her to pieces. Then when the colonel tries to cover the whole thing up, she lets herself get escorted away before good old Anthony (another man) reveals himself to save the day with orders from Federation HQ to investigate the whole mess.

    The decline of Samus’s character may have been gradual over the past 10+ years, but this game was a big push forward in that direction and it really pisses me off.

    The Samus I knew is dead. Long live Samus.

  8. You know what is the MOST weird…many fans (especially male fans) are okay with this “soft side” of Samus, while as a woman I think it’s annoying. The argument seems to be: “Well it’d be really cliche if she were just some total badass, so those moments of little girl weakness are GOOD!”

    Let’s see the moment where Master Chief pees his suit in Halo when confronted with a resurrected enemy. THEN let’s hear the fanboys say they liked it. Oh, but it’s character depth! …:)

    Total badassery seems to be completely acceptable and desirable in male characters, but not for females. WTF, people?

  9. Brittany, you are spot on about the double standard. My theory (not actually mine, but I think it’s correct nonetheless) is that this helps soften the blow of Samus being threatening to the male audience. “Oh sure, she acts all tough, but really she’s still just a girl underneath with all those pesky emotions them dames can’t control. Us guys gotta help them in those tough situations, ya know?” Just picture that being said with a Brooklyn accent or something. 🙂

    This is basically the “Chun Li” variation of female video game stereotypes. Yeah, they can crush cars with their thighs, but they act like little girls. Their appearance also tends to be more child-like. Witness Samus’s gradual decrease in height to the extremely petite feminine form she has in Other M. This reinforces the idea that they’ll be, well…easy. Thus, you stand very little chance of being sexually inadequate. It makes them much less threatening, and it’s easy for guys who don’t even consider themselves chauvinistic to think this is okay because hey, they still blow things up right? They’re “strong”, right?

    The other main variation is the “Cammy”, a.k.a. The Ice Queen. Not interested in guys at all; basically devoid of all sexuality. This also serves to lessen the level of sexual intimidation in a male audience. Yeah, she’s not interested, but she’s not interested in any guys, period. It’s not just you. See? Don’t you feel better now? 🙂

    Samus was definitely more of a Cammy back in the day. True, we didn’t really know much about her, but she definitely came off this way. She certainly could have had romantic involvements with people for all we knew, though. And I definitely preferred it to the full on Chun Li we’ve got now…

  10. I can’t help but disagree with much of what has been said in the main post and the comments.

    It must be remembered that the Captain N and Nintendo Power comics were never meant to be canonical, so you shouldn’t look at them as official characterizatons. Personally, I thought they took a misstep in terms of characterization by making Samus the love interest for some dork in a varsity jacket. I remember one issue where she was in tears at the end because Kevin wasn’t the man she wanted him to be. That’s hardly better than the daddy issues Other M loaded her with. Ia also can’t help but feel tha they presented Samus as too much of a female Han Solo.

    If the earlier Nintendo Power comics didn’t swell on her origin, that’s because she didn’t have one yet.

    I also don’t see how the Chozo connection weakens her. If anything it makes her more important. And sure, the Chozo were able to predict her birth, but that hardly makes her the “pre-destined” protector of the Galaxy. The manga, which is official (and certainly had its problems, but on the whole, it was a decent work that fit in with Metroid canon as a whole and portrayed Samus consistently), it was shown that the Chozo simply gave her a home and raised her with a sense of right and wrong. That’s all. It just explains where she got her morals from and how she learned to build her own ship and why she’s so strong. It doesn’t take away from her independence. Who cares where she got her abilities from? Would she have done anymore to earn them if she was just gifted by genetics? The earlier parts of the manga showed how hard she trained and how disciplined she had to be to become the most feard bouty hunter in the galaxy. It’s not like the Chozo made her invincible over night.

    If Samus seems timid and vulnerable because she creis in front of Ridley, that’s because she’s a three year-old girl in front of a space dragon. Is Batman weak because Bruce Wayne cried the night his parents were murdered in front of him?

    The manga shows her to be just as determined, capable, and shrewd as she was in the original Nintendo Power comics anyway.

    One memorable scene that takes place after she’s left the Federation has her destroying a monster in front of Adam (without his authorization) and charging him three times the market value for the inconvenience.

    And speaking of Adam, Samus is shown to be very irreverent of his authority. The scene you’re so angry about where Samus points a weapon at his head takes place after Samus decides to defy his orders and fight to save the Chozo. She actually makes Adam stand down and bend to her will, so she’s the one in control. In another scene she flat out tells Adam that she’s not one of his soldiers anymore, so he shouldn’t give her any orders.

    The reason she’s short in that scene is because she’s only about 14 years old or so. She’s drawn as much taller after the timeskip later in the manga.

    In Other M Samus left the Federation because she was ashamed at not being able to follow Adam’s orders. In the manga she was frustrated with Federation restrictions, and believed that she could do more good on her own, and Adam seemed okay with it.

    It’s also worth mentioning that the scene in the manga where she panics in front of Ridley takes place before all the games, and is the first time she’s seen him after her parents were slaughtered

  11. (cont.)

    I don’t find it at all convincing to say that the suitless scenes at the end of Metroid, 2, and Super Metroid were examples of sexualization. Considering the average player has unlikely to see them on the first few playthroughs, those scenes were just Easter eggs. It’s a little tiring to hear people say that Samus is sexualized simply because she’s an attractive woman.

    How exactly was Samus shrinking in Super Metroid? The only other human character she was standing next to was the federation scientist which she dwarfed. I also think that her out-of-suit appearance in that game was pretty trim, and it’s not like she was drawn as Super Muscular in those Nintendo power comics.

    Personally, Samus was appealing not because she was a strong female character, but because she was a strong character period.

    I think it is fair to say that she was a silent protagonist before Other M. She communicated not through speech but in mission logs before as a way to frame the narrative of the game, and that seemed consistent with her character. She doesn’t chit-chat, she internalizes and recollects on her missions. Fusion and Other M took this a step too far by having her narrate every little detail, rather than just setting up the story.

    Sure, you could say that she didn’t talk because there was no one else around or because of technology limitations, but then how do you explain her stoicism in the Prime games? There were certainly other people to talk to, and they were all fully voice acted-except for Samus. Her stoicism was always something inherint to the character, and there was no reason for her to suddenly start chatting. That’s why Fusion, and now Other M will stand out as black sheep in the series.

    Her sexuality is the least important thing about her, which makes her a standout when most other female characters are just there to show that “girls can do what boys can” or just be eye candy. In the games before Other M, Nintendo didn’t go out of their way to remind us that Samus She would have been just as interesting if she had been “Samuel Aran” instead.

    It seems like a step back. Now instead of being defined by her merits and achievements as an individual like she used to be, she’s defined by her sexuality.

    Nor did the much maligned Zero suit reduce her to pin-up girl status. It has always been shown as just another uniform, and never really shown in a sexual context like Laura Croft’s hot pants.

    She’s always been portrayed as stoic, but she’s had a consistent humanizing characterization throughout the series. Sparing the hatching in Metroid 2 and donating it to science in Super Metroid demonstrated her compassion. And don’t forget that she was visibly saddened by the destruction of the Chozo Temple at the end of the first Metroid Prime game, and mourned the deaths of her fellow bounty hunters at the end of Prime 3. She’s always been shown as a strong and compassionate character, who certainly wouldn’t break down in front of Ridley and need a token black sidekick to save her. That characterization via her actions, not to mention the backstory-via-scans in Prime, were a much better way to tell a story in a Metroid game, and it worked. It fleshed it the mythology of the Metroid universe, and humanized Samus.

    It’s also worth noting that these traits do not make her weak or vulnerable, but only strengthen her resolve.

  12. (cont.)

    Which brings me to another point. Hunter, Samus doesn’t wear a “mask”. She and the suit are one, and it is an aspect of her, connected on a physiological level. This is reinforced in Zero Mission when she still fights on despite being unable to use the suit. Her home was with the Chozo, and she doesn’t dwell on tradgedy (as the end of Prime 3 shows). Samus can cope. That’s why she ends every mission with a thumbs up.

    The Chun-Li/Cammy thing is too much of an oversimplification. Samus was never an “ice queen”, just a stoic. She isn’t quiet as a way to make her less threatening to men, she’s silent because that’s a trait she picked up from the lonely atmosphere of the early games, which began to stick with her. She also ends each game with a thumbs up, and has a strong sense of remorse (like when she closed the eyes of the dead Federation trooper in prime 3).

    Ofiuco, it’s easy to use the Puritans as a scape goat, but to do so is to succumb to belief in a crude stereotype of history. Puritan women had quite the intellectual culture. There are also plenty of strong characters in American media who aren’t weak simply because they aren’t written as flawless Greek gods. Besides, complaining about America is irrelevant when discussing a character created by Japanese writers.

    No, the real character assassination began with Fusion, were thankfully avoided by the Prime games, but came back with a vengeance in Other M. Yoshio Sakamoto decided that the things that made Samus cool and independent were just cries for help and approval from an angsty, whiny crybaby.

  13. Seth, Samus having a more stylized design is not the problem. I actually prefer her Brawl and Fusion designs because they make her look capable and cool.

    Her Other M design looks like a Dead Or Alive reject with high heels and a pointless beauty mark.

  14. TMinusFun, you so completely missed my points that I’m not sure if you’re for real or if you’re a troll.
    Let me know so I can decide what sort of response I will craft.

    Either way, as someone who is apparently big on stereotypes, you should be smart enough to realize that when people say ‘Puritanical’, they’re almost never talking about actual Puritans. As someone who paid attention in high school, I would never say that Puritans are dumb or not intellectual. However, even with Anne Bradstreet, that doesn’t make them champions of feminism.

  15. Am I the only one that thinks Samus just has osteoporosis? Must have been made way worse from the Chozo’s birdlike attributes. Hollow bones and all that.

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