I had mentioned in a previous blog posting that Samus Aran is my all-time favorite videogame heroine. All time. Higher than Jade, higher than Terra Branford…even that horrible freaking Other M game could not stop me from loving the character and from loving Metroid as a whole, because OTHER M NEVER HAPPENED DO YOU FREAKING HEAR ME? IT NEVER HAPPENED!!
As a game series, it has pretty much been a formula that likely made me fall in love with the latter Castlevania series as a result of it ripping of the design. As a story, it never really got itself too deep but was a great enough story and setup that I was compelled to play through every game in the series. As a character, though, Samus Aran is where it really came together for me.
Samus’ backstory is one that has always resonated with me as the definition of a hero. A young girl who was orphaned by space pirates to become a weapon of their repeated destruction because she never wanted the rest of the galaxy to know her pain. She is not an anti-hero in my eyes, or even a boring revenge-driven psychopath. Rather, she is a warrioress. A weapon forged in the fires of tragedy to strike back at the heart of interstellar evil with no quarter given. The strength to rise up from such events is probably one of the first signs of heroism, in my view. And to be honest, I never felt more badass than when I caused the destruction of a whole planet or an entire species of danger.
What helped complete the character for me wasn’t just her drive, but also her abilities. The Power Suit she wears is probably one of the coolest pieces of tech I have ever seen in sci-fi, seeming both within the realm of possibility and completely insane at the same time. Every part of the Power Suit seemed to have a function in spite of the fact that it doesn’t actually seem logical.
The fact that Samus Aran is a woman blew my tiny little gaming mind back in the day, but not in the way that would probably be expected. Instead of being stunned in to disbelief, I found myself cheering even harder at the revelation. I was immediately enamored with the character because no other female in gaming to that point really had stepped up to the plate like Samus.
Through a whole line of games over a variety of platforms, Samus battle with the Space Pirates always gripped me. From a gameplay standpoint, there was nothing like it. You really felt a sense of empowerment and the fact that new abilities made the game’s world spread open for you really drove home the idea of exploring a dangerous alien world as well as giving her a sense of increased power. Samus was already pretty cool, but unlocking her full suite of abilities always made me feel like a juggernaut.
Adding to this sense of both power and dread and curiosity was the music. I can’t say enough about the tunes that were created by Hirokazu Tanaka. They built the world of Metroid just as much as its storyline did, from the time you landed on Zebes to the time you faced Ridley to the point you encountered the Mother Brain.
And that storyline…honestly, hardly deep-dish, but Samus didn’t need to be. We already knew she was a powerhouse. No great level of exposition was needed. There were pirates that needed blasting and metroids that needed eradicating. And everything about the game’s world made you both want to see what was behind the next door as well as dread what may be coming. I still get a bit of a cautious pause whenever I’m in a place where metroids have been, and I still kind of jump and freak out a little when one of those little bastards latches on. I still always wonder as well as worry what lies further in the area I’m in. I still want to kick Ridley’s ass over and over and over again.
And then things kicked up a notch with Prime. Not only did we get to be inside of the Power Suit and feel like we were feeling everything Samus did, but we were facing an enemy that really felt even worse than before. Samus was being destroyed from the inside out by a corrupting force, and there felt like nothing we could do about it…except we could. Because Samus Aran kicks ass.
Samus Aran has been the first, best and most impressive hero to come out of gaming in literally decades. She has destroyed pirates. Metroids. A threat growing within herself. A virus trying to duplicate her. Even a misogynistic pile of story writers who thought “woman” equated to “hyper-emotional bundle of goop”. She took them all down and stood stoically at the hull of her ship, letting the wind catch her hair so she can cool down from the heat of immense odds. No character before, currently or since will ever match up to Samus. Many can try, but they will always bow down to the baddest of asses.
Happy anniversary, hunter. May you never EVER stop being incredible.