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Posted by patrickklepek
Posted by johncallahan

Awesome. Listened to those tracks yesterday. Fantastic stuff.

Posted by Zauzazu

If you like Metroid-inspired music, take a look at Metroid Metal.

Posted by MrGtD

I'm going to judge both people involved harshly solely on how they pronounce "Aran".

Edited by crusader8463

For anyone looking for a larger version of the photo, here it is.

Edited by Hassun

@patrickklepek That was fast. Those tracks were only released very recently, looks like PAX hasn't made you miss a beat at all.

Posted by patrickklepek

@mrgtd said:

I'm going to judge both people involved harshly solely on how they pronounce "Aran".

You will enjoy the end of our conversation, then.

Posted by conniedarko

@patrickklepek: your tweet says "Myers" and her bandcamp is "Myers", but you have "Meyers" up in the text of the show notes... just fyi

Posted by conmulligan

Metroid is cool, Maddy Myers is cool.

Edited by MooseyMcMan

When I saw this description, I thought it was going to be music like the music in the games, not singing in character as Samus! She really is a nerd! (Joking.)

Also, good interview, etc.

I would totally watch a production of Metroid starring Patrick as Samus.

Posted by Brackynews

@patrickklepek: Follow up question: Justin Bailey, or Just in bailey/ballet? ;)

@mrgtd: What about her Irish brother Seamus O'Ryan?

Posted by Video_Game_King

We talk about her love of Metroid, and why Samus Aran has remained so popular.

She has?

Posted by D_W

I've not given a listen yet, but I'm so glad you used the best depiction of Samus. That's what she looks like to me. Not an unsure cute petite blonde in a skin tight blue body suit, but a towering amazon with a stern expression. She looks like a hero there instead of fan-wank.

Posted by Edmundus

@d_w: I agree, it's lame going from this to Zero Suit Samus in Smash Bros.

Posted by Hailinel

@d_w: Why does your concept of a hero need to fit one idea and not another?

I can appreciate that old design from the Nintendo Power comic, but that's not the one that I connect with. Her design since Zero Mission, the first design she's ever had that has seen continuous use, and that shows a greater effort across Nintendo to recognize the woman inside the armor, is the one that I prefer and that I identify with. Not everyone agrees with that, and that's fine. But to call the Zero Suit design "fan wank" is uncalled for.

Posted by Fonzinator

We talk about her love of Metroid, and why Samus Aran has remained so popular.

She has?

Regardless of the reception that Other M got, I would totally say that Samus is still very popular. People who know games know that Other M was a Team Ninja joint and are very much looking forward to a "proper" new Metroid game. And as some anecdotal evidence of this, I think of all of the Samus reskins and color alterations that popped up on the net after the zero suit reveal for the new Smash Bros.

Online
Posted by D_W

@hailinel: I say that because on the official concept art for the Zero Suit design they specific the shape of her butt and stuff. It was designed to make her more sexually appealing instead of being a unique and interesting character. (Though it's not as bad as I remember it.)

Samus always had the unfortunate sex appeal bent in the games judging from the "best" endings, but didn't in that nintendo power design at all. I don't remember the quality of the comics that design was done for, but it's by far the best interpretation of Samus as a character design-wise. She's womanly without being a sex object and still powerful and heroic looking. That's how Samus had always appeared to me in the games.

Edited by BanGy

I bought the EP and have it on repeat in the background while I replay Super Metroid, being an adult is rad.

Posted by Hailinel

@d_w: Why does the Zero Suit design prevent her from being unique and interesting? Isn't that just judging her by appearance? That seems like a backwards argument. "She's physically attractive, therefore a dull character."

That doesn't make any sense.

Posted by EuanDewar

Writer, designer, and musician Maddy Myers recently published a three-track EP of Metroid-inspired tracks called "Peace in Space."

For real though good on ya

Edited by krabboss

@hailinel said:

@d_w: Why does the Zero Suit design prevent her from being unique and interesting? Isn't that just judging her by appearance? That seems like a backwards argument. "She's physically attractive, therefore a dull character."

That doesn't make any sense.

The problem is Nintendo took a good character and stripped off her armor to pander to people who want to look at boobs and butts. They put her in sexy poses all the time, her boobs look bigger than ever in the new Smash Bros. trailer and they seem to be trying to sexy up her face even more. Here she is doing the uncomfortable escher pose to make sure her ass and boobs can be seen at the same time.

In real life it would be wrong to judge a woman's character just because she was born conventionally attractive. But Zero Suit Samus was invented by men to be looked at by men. The swimsuit sprite in the original Metroid is similarly shitty. From the beginning they've been trying pretty hard to goof up Samus.

Also like most Nintendo characters, Samus is barely a character. It doesn't take very much to ruin her.

Edited by AngriGhandi

@hailinel: Conceptually, you'd be right. But in practice, I feel like her appearance suggests a certain set of priorities in the process of design.

After all, as you point out, many-to-most people do implicitly assume that being superficially sexy makes a character more shallow. And since the character was designed by people who are subject to that assumption, her appearance speaks to their thought processes.

The fact that she turned into a dull character with passivity issues at the same point that she was redesigned to be sexier doesn't seem circumstantial.

Unintentional, maybe-- but not circumstantial.

(Also, what @krabboss said.)

(Also also, holy shit, Samus used to be 6 foot 3 and 198 pounds?? -You can't get a much more obviously different set of design priorities than that.)

Posted by MormonWarrior

@krabboss said:

@hailinel said:

@d_w: Why does the Zero Suit design prevent her from being unique and interesting? Isn't that just judging her by appearance? That seems like a backwards argument. "She's physically attractive, therefore a dull character."

That doesn't make any sense.

The problem is Nintendo took a good character and stripped off her armor to pander to people who want to look at boobs and butts. They put her in sexy poses all the time, her boobs look bigger than ever in the new Smash Bros. trailer and they seem to be trying to sexy up her face even more. Here she is doing the uncomfortable escher pose to make sure her ass and boobs can be seen at the same time.

In real life it would be wrong to judge a woman's character just because she was born conventionally attractive. But Zero Suit Samus was invented by men to be looked at by men. The swimsuit sprite in the original Metroid is similarly shitty. From the beginning they've been trying pretty hard to goof up Samus.

Yeah that's kind of the issue. Not that she's attractive or curvy, but that it's so pandering and tasteless for an otherwise great character. Also, the Other M whiny, bratty, subservient Samus really ruined it for me. I always liked her as a no-nonsense unstoppable robot suit hero that just happened to be a woman. I honestly found it disappointing (as a girl-crazy young teen boy, no less) that she wasn't just kind of plain looking, because I think that would fit the character a lot better. It always felt a little off. Especially since the events of Fusion supposedly disfigured her, and nope! She's ready for sexy pose-time at the end if you beat it fast enough.

Edited by Mr_Creeper

These tracks are pretty sweet. Nice to have some background info to go with 'em. Thanks, @patrickklepek!

Edited by Hailinel

Holy crap. This response turned out a lot longer than I intended it to be. Since I managed to put some meat into this thing, I might as well ping @patrickklepek on the off chance he might like to respond. It would be interesting to get his take on the argument.

@krabboss said:

@hailinel said:

@d_w: Why does the Zero Suit design prevent her from being unique and interesting? Isn't that just judging her by appearance? That seems like a backwards argument. "She's physically attractive, therefore a dull character."

That doesn't make any sense.

The problem is Nintendo took a good character and stripped off her armor to pander to people who want to look at boobs and butts. They put her in sexy poses all the time, her boobs look bigger than ever in the new Smash Bros. trailer and they seem to be trying to sexy up her face even more. Here she is doing the uncomfortable escher pose to make sure her ass and boobs can be seen at the same time.

In real life it would be wrong to judge a woman's character just because she was born conventionally attractive. But Zero Suit Samus was invented by men to be looked at by men. The swimsuit sprite in the original Metroid is similarly shitty. From the beginning they've been trying pretty hard to goof up Samus.

Also like most Nintendo characters, Samus is barely a character. It doesn't take very much to ruin her.

I'd argue that no, they didn't do that at all. In comparison to say, Metroid Fusion, in which Samus looks like this if you beat the game under the proper requirements:

Her Zero Suit design is actually a step up. For one, as a body suit, it makes sense as something that she would wear underneath her armor. It fits to her skin, doesn't get in the way, and covers her from neck to toe. The Team Ninja addition of heels in Other M aside (which really are gratuitous), there's nothing wrong with the Zero Suit from a functional standpoint.

As for Samus's physical appearance, again, this is something that shifted, and shifted wildly from game to game up until Zero Mission. She wasn't blonde until Super Metroid (It's hard to tell in Metroid II), her physique, facial structure, and hair all tended to differ from game to game, even between Metroid Fusion and Metroid Prime, which were released at the same time. Though she actually has quite a bit of backstory and history as a character in comparison to other Nintendo protagonists (there is only one Samus, for example, as opposed to numerous Links and Zeldas, and the overarching narrative of the Metroid series tells a continuous story), her physical appearance was something that shifted and fluctuated. She was known more by her armor than her appearance as a human woman. Despite the glimpses of her appearances at the end of each game, she was more or less a Master Chief figure. Zero Mission changed that. I'd argue that change was for the better.

Again, I appreciate the design that was created for the Super Metroid comic that ran in Nintendo Power back in the day, but at the same time, it doesn't feel like Samus to me.

As for poses she's placed in or how beautiful she's made, we're not likely to see eye-to-eye on that, either. You simplify her appearance entirely down to pandering and sex appeal. I'm not going to argue that sex appeal isn't involved. It's obvious that they deliberately design her as an attractive woman. But her being an attractive woman doesn't automatically demean or destroy her character. Her characterization in the games is one that I empathize with and sympathize with. Yes, even in Other M. I'm probably the biggest proponent of the game on the forums here, and even I'll agree that the writing has its serious flaws. But those flaws (overuse of narration, telling over showing, a dependency on familiarity with canon not specifically depicted in any of the games), while they harm the telling of the story, don't strictly harm Samus as a character.

I could go on at length about Other M and my thoughts on it, but I'll set that aside for now, because that's a topic I have argued for coming up on four years. If you want to know more on my thoughts regarding the game and Samus's depiction in it, I wrote this article for another website back in 2012.

Are there aspects of Samus's depiction that I think could be handled with more style or grace? Yes. I just don't find her design, characterization, or the intent behind either to be all that poor or nefarious.

Posted by big_jon

I'll fight all of you!

Edited by CaptainInvictus

The Zero Suit is a skintight catsuit. Her figure has been getting more pronounced over the years ever since it's been introduced. They gave her fucking ROCKET PLATFORM HEELS in the new Smash A Bro game. That Fusion image is actually far less sexualized than the Zero Suit despite showing much more skin. For one, it doesn't seem to hug every crevice of her body like it was just painted on.
Other M is a bad game for bad people. Super Metroid was and still is an incredible game from so many aspects, including the story, where Samus literally never says anything outside of the prologue, yet there is a definite story being told as you play the game. Other M has a bunch of redshirt mooks for allies and Samus has been reduced to a whiny, obnoxious, clingy mess where the story is spelled out at every turn. She blindly follows orders from an incompetent leader to the point of self-harm. She has never had that much characterization outside of non-canon stuff like the Super Metroid Comic, but Other M certainly made her characterization take a nosedive from "cold, tragic loner" to "I need a man to command me. Oh, and THE BABY THE BABY THE BABY".

They also managed to mess up the Power/Varia Suit as well, she used to look like a walking tank, a force of nature in mechanized form, an asymmetrical juggernaut. Now it's much more rounded and somehow blander despite retaining the same general shape. I honestly don't know how they messed it up, the Super Metroid design was near-flawless. Hell, even the Fusion Suit isn't bad in terms of "what the Power Suit would look like sans armor plating".

Posted by TheHT

@hailinel said:

@d_w: Why does the Zero Suit design prevent her from being unique and interesting? Isn't that just judging her by appearance? That seems like a backwards argument. "She's physically attractive, therefore a dull character."

That doesn't make any sense.

It doesn't prevent her character from being unique and interesting, but it can certainly make her depictions uninteresting and generic. You can have the most interesting character in the world, but her design can still be distasteful. Assessing the merits of a character's design isn't automatically being shallow. It's quite a leap to go from "you think her design sucks" to "you only care about her design and are ignoring her personality", especially when the conversation is about depiction.

The power suit was iconic for good reason. It was imposing and alien, sleek but still with a sort of roughness, like Boba Fett or the Predator. When you found out Samus was a woman it was cool as shit, because it didn't matter. She was still a bad-ass bounty hunter with some sick as fuck power armor.

Now whenever I see Samus she's usually in skin-tight light blue spandex, posed in a way that accentuates her breasts and ass. It's pandering, gratuitous, and most of all boring.

I'd like to hear your arguments for why that shift was for the better.

Posted by Seroth

So...how 'bout them new heels on Samus in the new Smash Bros.? Personally, I think they look REeeaallyy dumb. People make the excuse that it has a practical function, but there's no reason why her jet boots couldn't just be...you know...boots...without long heels.

I kind of miss when Samus just stayed in her power suit. Sure, they'd put those fanservicey pictures at the end of the game if you beat it at 100% or really fast or whatever, but in gameplay, she was in her suit. I don't remember people being very focused on what she looked like out of the suit until Zero Suit Samus. I guess it was because every incarnation before that was pretty inconsistent in design.

Also, I feel like after Zero Suit Samus became a thing, there was suddenly a lot more Metroid porn on the Internet.

Posted by TheHT

Great interview! Maddy seems really cool.

Posted by Hailinel

@theht said:

@hailinel said:

@d_w: Why does the Zero Suit design prevent her from being unique and interesting? Isn't that just judging her by appearance? That seems like a backwards argument. "She's physically attractive, therefore a dull character."

That doesn't make any sense.

It doesn't prevent her character from being unique and interesting, but it can certainly make her depictions uninteresting and generic. You can have the most interesting character in the world, but her design can still be distasteful. Assessing the merits of a character's design isn't automatically being shallow. It's quite a leap to go from "you think her design sucks" to "you only care about her design and are ignoring her personality", especially when the conversation is about depiction.

The power suit was iconic for good reason. It was imposing and alien, sleek but still with a sort of roughness, like Boba Fett or the Predator. When you found out Samus was a woman it was cool as shit, because it didn't matter. She was still a bad-ass bounty hunter with some sick as fuck power armor.

Now whenever I see Samus she's usually in skin-tight light blue spandex, posed in a way that accentuates her breasts and ass. It's pandering, gratuitous, and most of all boring.

I'd like to hear your arguments for why that shift was for the better.

This is the comment I was responding to:

@d_w said:

It was designed to make her more sexually appealing instead of being a unique and interesting character.

Straight up, unless I misread d_w, he's saying that the design purpose is all of one and none of the other. That's what I disagree with, because it ignores entirely the personality aspect of her depiction. I was not making any leaps in my argument on that specific point.

Samus's armor is iconic. I'm not denying that. Her armor, its functions, and its origins are all a part of Samus's characterization, but they do not solely define her. Her armor is a tool that she wears and that she uses to fight. But she is more than just the armor.

Characterization, or rather, full characterization of any particularly meaningful depth, is more than just surface elements. Thin characterization is saying that Samus Aran is a female bounty hunter in power armor and leaving it at that. There's a point that gets across, sure, but there's no real personality there.

A more full, complete characterization takes everything about the character into account. Where did Samus grow up? Who are her parents? Where did she learn to fight? Why does she fight? Who are her friends and loved ones? Who are her enemies? What does she like? What does she hate? What does she fear? What does she desire and hope for?

What does she look like?

That last question is not shallow. Certainly not when compounded with everything else that there is to know about her. Samus is more than just a blank figure in a mechanical suit. She's a human being, and to empathize with others, we picture who they are. Even when reading a book and there aren't any illustrations to go by, we take the bits of description here and there. Age, coloration, choices of clothing, posture, physique, whatever is given to us, and we create these pictures in our minds. For Samus to be a whole character, her appearance as a person matters just as much as the appearance of her suit.

So what did they do in Zero Mission? They took some common elements from her previous appearances and shaped them into the figure that she has become. They addressed the question of what she looks like, what she wears under that power armor, how she defends herself in situations where she has lost her armor, and along the way touch on aspects of her early childhood with the Chozo and the question of where her distinctive armor came from. That she is physically an attractive woman should come as no surprise, as previous games had depicted her as such. What matters as far as her physical appearance purely on the aesthetic level is concerned is that she was given an appearance, a distinct one, that is identifiable as the woman underneath the armor. Through gameplay, they show that without her armor, she is resourceful, that she's athletic and quick, and though her emergency weapon many not have the kick needed to kill, she knows how to use it quite well.

Here's what I fail to understand about the opposing viewpoint. How does Samus's physical appearance as an attractive human woman hurt her as a character? Why does it matter that she is not a 200lbs woman in what frankly looks like a skin-tight body stocking with stirrups as depicted in that old comic, or that she's not this or that, when the person she is is a capable human bounty hunter? Someone with a lot of experience, with friends and enemies, psychological scars, things she likes and hates? Regrets and desires? She has elements that define her as a human being; as more than whatever appearance Nintendo chose or chose not to give her. And the more people focus on the fact that she's an attractive woman, the less they focus on everything else that makes her who she is.

Posted by BigMike

@video_game_king: I don't think one bad game make's her no longer popular. If anything it galvanized people to form an opinion on what they actually liked about the character.

Posted by Lingxor

@zauzazu said:

If you like Metroid-inspired music, take a look at Metroid Metal.

I was kind of disappointed to find out that this story wasn't about those guys...

Posted by FallenAway1511

@crusader8463: Thanks for that! I was just going to head to google to look up that picture.

Posted by Jack_Lafayette
@hailinel said:

Here's what I fail to understand about the opposing viewpoint. How does Samus's physical appearance as an attractive human woman hurt her as a character? Why does it matter that she is not a 200lbs woman in what frankly looks like a skin-tight body stocking with stirrups as depicted in that old comic, or that she's not this or that, when the person she is is a capable human bounty hunter? Someone with a lot of experience, with friends and enemies, psychological scars, things she likes and hates? Regrets and desires? She has elements that define her as a human being; as more than whatever appearance Nintendo chose or chose not to give her. And the more people focus on the fact that she's an attractive woman, the less they focus on everything else that makes her who she is.

I think that last statement holds very true, and indeed concerns authorial intent inasmuch as it does the player base. The designers recognized this when they saved the gender reveal for the end of Metroid. They provided no opportunity for the player to distance themselves from the character they were inhabiting, exploring with, and getting shit done through. Instead of being "the woman they stuck in some cool armor," she became "a badass spacefaring bounty hunter who - hey! - is a woman." Because preconceptions do matter in our society, and are perhaps even more relevant now that Samus' gender has been common knowledge for coming up on three decades. It's become easier to forget why the character herself is important, rather than just physical fodder for lists like the one literally called "The Best Boobs in Video Game History" (which, by the way, ranks her Zero Suit appearance significantly higher than boring, old, stodgy, pixellated, genre-forming, boundary-redefining OG Samus).

That she is an attractive character would not in a perfectly equitable world affect our perception of her, but as savvy consumers we should all the same be able to recognize both the creative and corporate forces that shape that character. The fact is that when Samus lost her armor her appearance was also changed to be more "crowd-pleasing" (I'd find it hard to argue the design at the top of this page wasn't already attractive). This could have either been a creative decision ("Our audience will sympathize with a thin, curvaceous female more easily than a towering, muscular one.") or a corporate one ("T&A sells. Ship it."), but you cannot say the decision was arbitrary.

And while that choice is difficult to classify as moral business practice, it's understandable within a reality in which thousands of real women each day are Photoshopped meticulously until they meet some magazine's/ad agency's/pornographer's definition of acceptability. Vastly more troubling is - and keep in mind I have not played the game, so my judgment is colored - everything I've heard about Samus' characterization in Other M. You argue we need to know more about the woman under the helmet to care more about her, and I agree to the extent that the developer can make that woman interesting. What isn't interesting is a sob-story, a vulnerable mess of emotions that is not only obligated to obedience but needs it for personal stability. That's a gender-obsessive trope that degrades the integrity of not only that specific representation but the character's legacy as a whole. It skips right over pandering to an audience that expects to see a sexy lady to pandering to an audience that expects to see a sexy lady in tears under even the slightest duress.

I don't believe others are arguing Samus shouldn't have development, but rather that it should be by people who are willing to grow the existing character naturally, instead of people willing to exploit her popularity to suit their own purposes.

Posted by garnsr

Maddy's story of coming to Metroid, and the way she interprets the character of Samus, sounds like a born-again Christian finding meaning in religion. It seems to be putting a lot more meaning into it than I've ever seen as a white, Midwestern male who's played the Metroid games since they first came out, but it works for some people, so more power to them.

Lara Croft in the new Tomb Raider had never had an adventure before, so falling apart at the beginning seems reasonable. I can't think of many games, other than JRPGs, that have a male character having his first life-threatening adventure, they're usually seasoned veterans by the time we get to them. The old Tomb Raider games featured Lara as a seasoned adventurer, and that seems to be the thing that Maddy is complaining about needing rebooting.

Posted by Hailinel


And while that choice is difficult to classify as moral business practice, it's understandable within a reality in which thousands of real women each day are Photoshopped meticulously until they meet some magazine's/ad agency's/pornographer's definition of acceptability. Vastly more troubling is - and keep in mind I have not played the game, so my judgment is colored - everything I've heard about Samus' characterization in Other M. You argue we need to know more about the woman under the helmet to care more about her, and I agree to the extent that the developer can make that woman interesting. What isn't interesting is a sob-story, a vulnerable mess of emotions that is not only obligated to obedience but needs it for personal stability. That's a gender-obsessive trope that degrades the integrity of not only that specific representation but the character's legacy as a whole. It skips right over pandering to an audience that expects to see a sexy lady to pandering to an audience that expects to see a sexy lady in tears under even the slightest duress.

I don't believe others are arguing Samus shouldn't have development, but rather that it should be by people who are willing to grow the existing character naturally, instead of people willing to exploit her popularity to suit their own purposes.

She's not really a sob story, though. Samus has certain relationships and attachments that linger; an old CO that she once respected, Adam, but grew distant from after a mission went south, leading to the death of his brother. The still lingering memories of the final events of Super Metroid and the concept that a creature that confused her for its mother was so willing to sacrifice itself for her. That Ridley, who was seemingly finally killed in Super Metroid, is suddenly, inexplicably back despite all logical reason.

And here she is, on this mission where she chooses to participate, but in order to do so, is required to follow government protocol and follow the mission commander's (her old CO) orders. People mistake her willingness to follow orders in this context with some unnatural submissiveness, but it's not really submission as much as it is acceptance to follow protocol. When she encounters Ridley, she freezes up and has PTSD style flashbacks to her childhood when Ridley wrecked her home colony. She had lived for some time under the assumption that she would never have to see or deal with him again and then, he's back, like some sort of nightmare.

I said before that Other M was not well written, and the elements I speak of above are among the points that suffer for that. It's not that Samus's characterization is hampered by the plot or by authorial intent. It's that the person responsible for the writing (Metroid co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto) is not good at writing scripts, and there's only so much localization can do to make already flawed writing palatable in another language.

For reference, Sakamoto was also behind the development of Fusion, which introduced Adam, and Zero Mission, which introduced her Zero Suit appearance and added numerous textless/dialogue-free cutscenes to the story of the original Metroid. He also supervised, but did not write, a two-volume manga back in the Metroid Fusion era that depicts Samus's backstory and history, much of which is corroborative with elements of Samus's past depicted in Zero Mission and Other M. So it's not that there was a sudden decision made to have Samus act as she does in Other M. The character is consistent with the creator's vision. It's just that his ability to pull off what he wanted to achieve in Other M was lacking, primarily because he didn't have someone more adept at writing aid him in that task.

The point being, Samus is intended as a character with a range of emotions. She has weaknesses. I can understand that some people are uncomfortable with the idea that anything could or should make Samus frustrated, or panic, or put her in any state where she's not in total control. But she's human, and humans have those moments of weakness whether we like them or not.

Edited by D_W

@hailinel:

You're over complicating this. My statements were my subjective idea of what Samus was to me growing up and how that differs from how she is now portrayed. It's not about the narrative, her deeper personality, or how "practical" the zero suit outfit would be. It's about the specific character designs and characterization displayed in those designs.

The purple haired Nintendo Power comic version of Samus is unique to video game protagonists. She doesn't appear that way in the end of Super Metroid. No, that depiction is much like her current iteration and is equally unfortunate. So I guess the issue I have isn't with the Zero Suit design specifically but more with the official version of Samus. The official version of Samus is just another conventionally beautiful bad ass lady in an ocean (or more aptly, a universe) of conventionally beautiful bad ass ladies. There's nothing wrong with a character who is not only strong and cunning but also beautiful and sexy, conventional or otherwise, regardless of gender. The problem is that is the standard candle for female protagonists in video games. Name 100 female protagonists from popular franchises that don't fit that mold. Name one.

To me growing up, Samus was that one because of the interpretation of her that I was most familiar with. The NP comic version of Samus is what was used in the official guide books and, obviously, the short comic series that was included with the official Nintendo-based magazine. I spent more time looking at those books, barely able to read all that well (as I was about 8 to 10 at the time), then looking at the bikini clad version from the end of the games. I can't tell you sort of dialogue that comic had or whether it was any better/worse than the official narratives. But I can tell you that it formed my view of the character. She was like Ripley from Aliens. She was the Breinne of Tarth of my childhood. [Note I found scans online and am reading through it now. Despite hokey dialogue she's portrayed to be strong but relatable so far.]

It doesn't matter that's not what the creators ever had in mind with the character. It's not about them. And right now I don't really care what they do with the character. I could go other places to find characters like the way I interpret Samus. Or I could even make my own game with a character like that. I don't care about Metroid anymore and haven't since they decide to take the Samus in a direction that is counter to how I thought of her. It saddens and frustrates me, but all I can do is move on and hope to one day use what I thought this character to be to make a character who is actually like that.

Also I was going to apologize to @patrickklepek for going off topic, but it seems this discussion is in line with the topic of the podcast.

Posted by FierceDeity

For anyone looking for a larger version of the photo, here it is.

My understanding is that that picture was made by a contracted artist, and was never actually canon?

Edited by simian

She should talk to the members of The Protomen on skirting copyright issues. Also: all hail Protomen.

Posted by TheHT

@hailinel: I think you might have misinterpreted then, because the rest of his post and the prior post are all clearly concerning just her appearance.

But rather than bandy words about it, might as well ask. @d_w, were you suggesting that her zero suit depiction actively prevents her character from being interesting?

There wasn't a great deal of story in the early games, but enough for you to learn quite a bit about Samus. A lot of this gets away from the purely design focused discussion though. In any case, from the first three games we can understand Samus to be hard-working, capable, reputable, not cold-hearted nor sentimental, smart, independant, and with some sense of duty. A woman of few words who got the job done.

http://metroid.retropixel.net/metroid3/artwork/metroid3_01.jpg

You didn't need to see what she looked like under her armor to understand that, you didn't need to see if she was a man or woman. You saw the power suit and saw how she carried herself. We knew that she wasn't just a power suit and that underneath it all Samus was a person (who happened to be female), but the armor's design was good at reinforcing those qualities. It looked powerful, weathered, and adaptable. We might have wanted to know more about her thoughts or her backstory, but sometimes that desire is much better off being left unsatiated.

There's nothing wrong with a little bit of mystery around a character. You might not get great deal of insight into why a character is the way she is because of it, but in this case there's enough all the same for her to not just be a blank slate. There's a certain allure to that mystique anyways, and the hypotheticals can be exciting to mull over. Unfortunately that mystique also meant someone could come along and fuck it all up.

Anyways, deciding to show her out of the armor isn't the problem, they've been doing that since Metroid 1. Deciding to take her out of the armor for extended stretches wouldn't have been entirely objectionable either. But choosing to depict her as constantly wearing what's essentially her underwear for al time spent out of her power suit, the underwear itself highlighting particular parts of her body, was a poor design choice.

They took a character whose appearance conveyed her strength and tenacity and reduced it to one of mere titillation. I'm not an apologist for the old games, ending them with images of Samus in underwear was silly there too (but as references to Alien aren't as bad). And don't think that the female form is incapable of conveying strength or tenacity.

But instead of trying they just did this:

Yes, ass and boobs, great. It's a boring design decision that shifts the focus from a powerful and mysterious husk and the strong woman inside, to a girl in the tightest fucking suit they could make, twisting and stretching and crawling around. That it's becoming a prominent way to depict Samus is disappointing.

There's a scene in Other M where they just stuck a harness and other random belts on the zero suit, wrapped right around her breasts just in case you didn't notice she had boobs. All the while of course everyone around her is wearing regular clothes. It's just so silly and gratuitous.

As I said, a character can still have an interesting personality and such in spite of their design being the opposite. Samus was still the same bad-ass I remembered even when I first saw her wearing the zero suit in Brawl, just sexed up and looking ridiculous. But that's because of what I alreay knew about Samus. The zero suit conveyed none of that. Other M apparently fucked all that up anyways, but that's another discussion altogether.

It's a shame because her being a woman was the one quality that was the least important, and that made it real easy for my young mind to understand that anyone could be strong. But with the zero suit it's like that's the one aspect of Samus they wanted to convey. They took a character that had built up some degree of dignity and stripped it away by placing the emphasis on her body, as if those qualities before don't matter when she's not wearing her armor.

Hell, that image of Samus on the interview here is way better. But I guess that's from the days when Metroid designs were still inspired by Alien. Unfortunate.

http://static.gamespot.com/uploads/original/1534/15343359/2506461-zerosuitsamuscomfirmednintnedodriecrimagesiteojgbowubgo2ubgo2ubgt.jpg

Edited by D_W
@theht said:

But rather than bandy words about it, might as well ask. @d_w, were you suggesting that her zero suit depiction actively prevents her character from being interesting?

Absolutely not. Some of my favorite characters are in the same vain. But what it does do as both of us have already stated is dilute the character because the "Strong but sexy" archetype is the default now for female protagonists.
If you read through the comic that I linked to above you'll find that despite being poorly written ("I'll use the healing power of a power bomb.") it's still presents her as an proper character with moods and emotions with having close ups of her chest and ass.
Talk in the podcast went to the idea of a complete reboot of series. Personally I don't trust Nintendo with the character. It's beyond apparent that they have a very specific and sort of disgusting view of how she should portrayed. But if I were doing it, I would probably completely disregard anything after Super Metroid. Maybe rework in the general plot of Fusion (ie her merging with the Metriod DNA and some other amoral non-space pirate related experiments,) and include some of the more interesting items from those games (diffusion missiles, stuff from prime.)
But, as I said before, it's probably better to wait for some Metroid-fan-turned-indie-dev to make a different game with a character inspired by what Samus could have been.
Posted by Chicken008

Well she definitely pronounced manga wrong. :P

Posted by TheMasterDS

I don't consider anything that's not in English to be cannon so the manga's not canon. If Japanese versions were canon Vivian would be trans for no reason other than comedy and DKL3 would be in color.

Also here is another song sung from the perspective of video game characters. This one is a Duet from the OCREMIX album Serious Monkey Business.

Posted by rmanthorp

I'm not terribly sure what Maddy means by 'no one has done this before' - there is plenty of headcannon game music albums out there and as crazy focused as that is it's still true. For one, The Megas are a tribute act for Mega Man who have recorded albumsn for MM1 and MM2 (I believe they are doing one for 3) and they are heavy deep dives into the robot masters using their themes to tell a story through songs. Very similar concept as they take some pretty crazy liberties. Personally I love it though - so if you've not checked them out I can't reccomend The Megas more.

Moderator
Posted by HammondofTexas

So is it Samus AH-RAN or Samus AIR-REN? I've always said "Ah Ran" but Hammond ain't no expert.

Posted by DeF

So is it Samus AH-RAN or Samus AIR-REN? I've always said "Ah Ran" but Hammond ain't no expert.

The former (Ah-Ran). Nintendo of America's top dawg translator Bill Trinen pronounced it that way in the Tomodachi Direct (which you should watch if you haven't).

Edited by verysexypotato

@krabboss: @theht: @d_w: @hailinel:

I loved reading all of your thoughtful discourse on this subject without devolving into a slap-fight. Good job guys!

As an animator and illustrator, I think about character design a whole lot. The fact that samus has been made to be more attractive doesnt effect her as character necessarily, but its very out of place when you looks at the WAY in which she's been made more attractive. Increased bust size, skinnier waist, fuller butt(well, fuller butt might actually make sense.)

Designing a character is interesting because we are taught not to judge a book by its cover, but as a designer you find that it is your job to make sure this cover says loads about who this character is and what they do. When designing samus psysically, the first thing you would take into account is her athletecism and physical strength since she spends an incredible amount of time keeping fit persuing targets in stressful combat scenarios.

The body presented to us in the Zero Suit design is more akin to a swimsuit model, and i cast no value judgement on that body type. However, looking at that design without any context doesn't accurately convey her lifestyle. If you look at some of the real-world results of the body of an athlete, they can be absolutely gorgeous:

http://www.boredpanda.com/athlete-body-types-comparison-howard-schatz/

Youll notice that most of the women featured here have lost most of the body fat that would lead to larger breasts, and those that haven't have grown larger to the point that large breasts would look small in comparison.

As for her tiny waist, if you refer back up to those bodytypes, youll notice that the "weightlifter" has a noticably larger belly and core than the "bodybuilder." This is because the bodybuilder is the title given to someone to just wants to give the visual appearance of strength, as in those "mr. Universe" competitions. The weightlifter may look more like an ogre with his larger belly instead of a tiny waist and toned abs, but his larger core helps prevent his spine from breaking with additional muscle support. As such he is able to lift noticably more weight than the more superficial bodybuilder.

I guess you can make justifications for her size by attributing all physical strength to her giant robot suit, but after a while i find myself making more and more excuses for a design that just doesnt fit the role.

You can totally have sexy, intelligent female characters! But the type of life Saman Aran leads doesnt lend itself to THAT specific build. It directly contradicts it. And as her bust slowly increases without reason, so do the leaps of logic to justify it.

Again, im strictly speaking about her visual design in relation to her lifestyle. I havent played other m, so I cant speak to writing decisions there.

And completely undermining my argument, I love skullgirls. Those girls are just so ridiculous.

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