We’ve all had our “Samus Moment.” You know the one: the moment where we can’t help but blurt out, “Samus is a girl?!”
I had mine when I played Super Smash Bros: Melee with my brothers, and one of us activated Samus’s smash attack, and she came back without her suit, bearing her long, blond ponytail and all.
You might’ve had yours while actually playing Metroid as a kid, or a friend could have spilled the beans. What did you feel? Confusion? Shock? Joy?
This week, Another Castle explores Samus Aran, the original “Anything you can do I can do better, and I can do it in four-inch heels.”
Name: Samus Aran
“My past is not a memory. It’s a force at my back. It pushes and steers. I may not always like where it leads me, but like any story, the past needs resolution. What’s past is prologue.”
– Samus Aran, Metroid: Other M
Occupation: Bounty Hunter for the Galactic Federation, freelance Bounty Hunter, officer in the Federation Police
Aliases: Entrusted One, the Hunter, Protector of the Galaxy, Hatchling
Race: Human (cybernetically-enhanced)
Nintendo has always been good at creating characters whose personalities are left largely unexplored in order to make it easier for the players to immerse themselves into the characters and the game. Despite that, Samus can’t help but leave an impression.
Samus Aran is strong-willed and brave, a lot of the time to the point where she’ll put others’ safety before her own. More than once she’s put herself in front of a firefight to save innocent people in danger.
She is also resourceful and clever. When her Power Suit is damaged and she’s forced to go without it, she’s able to survive without the extra protection and still pass a test that allows her to get a new one.
Samus isn’t the perfect heroine, however. Tragedies from her past have left her traumatized and alone, seeking revenge on the Space Pirates who took her family away. Because of this, she’s a renegade and will often disobey orders and put herself and her mission at risk to work toward her own agenda.
Also, in some depictions of her character, Samus is depicted as a typical bounty hunter, money-hungry with her own set of rules and a chip on her shoulder.
Strong resistance to foreign environments due to being infused with Chozo DNA, the full range of her Power Suit, which includes lasers and missiles from her arm cannon, bombs, paralyzer, and the ability to collapse into a Morph Ball.
Games She’s Been Featured in: Metroid, Metroid II: Return of Samus, Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion, Metroid Prime, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Metroid Prime Pinball, Metroid Prime Hunters, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Metroid: Zero Mission, Metroid: Other M, Super Smash Bros: Melee, Brawl, Nintendo 3DS/Wii U, also featured in the Metroid manga
Why She Rocks:
Though Samus may be hidden behind her suit a lot of the time, she can’t hide from everything, and the few moments of vulnerability we see from her are what makes her a great character.
There are several instances in which it becomes clear that Samus suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, including her sudden paralysis when confronted with Ridley again and how she was unable to come out of her stupor until something shocked her out of it.
Samus’s vulnerability here, as well in certain aspects of her personality introduced in Other M, were widely criticized by the general fanbase because it seemed to them that Samus had become weaker somehow, perhaps more feminine in her inability to deal with her emotions, but to me, that just makes her more human. We have to break past the idea that suffering from and having emotions are just things girls do. Every human being who’s experienced the trauma Samus did will have emotional consequences to deal with; that’s just how it is.
Of course, far be it from me to ask for realism in a series with Space Pirates and giant, sentient, talking brains in jars. However, I feel like giving Samus emotional drawbacks for her to work past reminds us that she can take laser beams and bullets, but underneath that Power Suit shell, she’s just like any one of us.
Why you should play her game:
I mean, it’s Metroid, which is one of biggest and most beloved NES games of all time.
It’s also Samus, whose the OG femme fatale and pretty much laser-beamed her name into the “Characters that Kick Ass” Hall of Fame.
Samus games are great for anyone who loves sci-fi and, of course, the collection has grown a lot as time has gone on, so it’s not just jumping and shooting at Metroids anymore. There’s a lot more.
Why we’re glad she’s out here reppin’ for the ladies:
Seeing Samus’ body could be viewed by a lot of gamers as a sort of “reward” for finishing the game in a certain amount of time. If you completed the first Metroid in under an hour, you got to play through the game again with Samus sans her suit, in just a purple bikini. If you finished the game in under an hour again, her bikini became skimpier.
And while this is obviously a rather objectifying play by the game’s creators to entice replayability, there’s more to the timing of Samus’s big reveal than just sex appeal.
You have to play until the very end of the game to see what Samus really looks like. There’s no prior implications or clues to lead us to believe that Samus would be a girl. The only reason that would lead us to believe that she’s anything but a girl is that the whole space cavalier, defender of the galaxy, fearless vigilante hero thing is very often a role given to male characters.
On top of that, Samus’s Power Suit does not contour to her body in any specific way. It’s just a suit of armor that would look just the same on a man as it does on Samus, who’s noticeably curvy when not in her Power Suit.
Samus’s gender wasn’t an aspect of her character until it was. You go through the whole game not really thinking about the person under the suit, but when she’s shown, the game doesn’t really change, yet your perception does.
By saving the big reveal until the end, it proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that a woman could and would do anything she needs or has to do to complete this mission and can do it without any special treatment or handicaps.
Metroid doesn’t give Samus any sort of gender-defining quirks, and that trend continues as the series unfolds. There’s no “ouch, I broke a nail,” no higher ranking male authority figure that gets in her way but is also a sort of romantic subplot because he’s “doing it for her own good,”and there are certainly no pink guns. She’s just a person in a suit with a laser, shooting at stuff to survive, and she’s doing it well.
Fun facts: Outside of her Power Suit, Samus stands at 6 foot, 3 inches tall.
Another Castle will update weekly, which is just enough time to play all the games your new favorite character is featured in (you’ll be fine if you don’t sleep).