Bayonetta. Jill Valentine. Lara Croft. What these women have in common is they have proven that the role of a main protagonist in gaming no longer is dominated by men. They have risen above the standards that females must play the role of the distressed damsel or ruling queen. In the 90s, the male role has moved over to the feminine side and even more so in the 2000s. So as a gamer, you have to wonder where this revolution started. Some may think it was Lara Croft but they’d wrong. For this Time Warp Review, we’re going to take a look back at the very first female protagonist in gaming. She is Samus Aran. I am Devildriver1313. And this is Metroid: 30th Anniversary!
Samus Aran’s story begins with her recovering the parasitic Metroid organisms that were stolen by Space Pirates on the Planet Zebes, who plan to replicate the Metroids by exposing them to beta rays and then use them as biological weapons to destroy Samus and all who oppose them. The game takes place on the planet Zebes, a large, open-ended world with areas connected by doors and elevators. The player controls Samus Aran as she travels through the planet’s caverns and hunts Space Pirates. Samus is armed her beam cannon, which can be upgraded with power ups. The Wave Beam sends out shots in a swirling motion and has the ability to pass through solid objects. She even gains the ability to freeze enemies with the Ice Beam. Other power ups include the Morph Ball which allows Samus to curl up into a ball in order to gain access to secret locations and navigate narrow passageway; the Bomb which is planted while Samus is in a ball; and the famed Screw Attack, allowing Samus to destroy her enemies by jumping into them with a somersault attack. As with games in the NES toddler years, platforming was also a staple in Metroid and worked well with the game’s open-ended exploration. Defeating normal enemies yielded additional energy and ammunition for Samus’ weapons. Samus’ weapon capacity can be increased by finding storage tanks and defeating bosses.
Development for Metroid began following the success of platforming titles Ice Climbers, Super Mario Bros., and the critically acclaimed Legend of Zelda. Nintendo wanted to set Metroid apart by presenting it as a non-linear title that forced players to retrace their steps in order to progress further. This led to Metroid being considered one of the first video games to impress a feeling of desperation and solitude on the player. The game was directed by Satoru Okada and Yoshio Sakamoto (credited as ‘Yamamoto’). During Metroid’s development, a developer suggested the possibility of a woman being in the space suit instead of a man. Sakamoto, acting on this idea, drew inspiration from Ridley Scott’s sci-fi horror classic film “Alien” and its female protagonist Ellen Riply. The idea was incorporated into the game, however, instruction manuals for the North American releases still referred to Samus as a male, using the pronoun “he.” Metroid helped pioneer the use of power ups to boost your character as you progress through the game. The concept came following the success of the Legend of Zelda. Before this, temporary power ups, such as the Power Shot from “Guantlet” and Super Mario’s Starman, offered an easy victory over your enemies but for a limited time. Like Zelda, Metroid offered a save system that allowed up to three different games to be saved. It also was one of the first titles to feature a password system. Entering certain passwords granted special effects. The most notable of these was the “JUSTIN BAILEY” code that allowed the game to be played with Samus not wearing her space suit.
Metroid has sold nearly 3 million copies worldwide. It has been ranked 11th best-selling title on the NES. On Top 100 Games lists, the game was ranked 69th by Electronic Gaming Monthly, and 6th by Game Informer then 7th in 2009 by Game Informer. Metroid’s gameplay style, focusing on exploration and searching for power-ups to reach previously inaccessible areas, influenced other series, most notably the post-Symphony of the Night titles of the Castlevania series. The revelation of Samus being a woman was also lauded as innovative. This blew the norm of women in pieces, at a time when female video game characters were forced into the role of dutiful queen or kidnapped princess, missile-blasting the way for other characters like Chun-Li from the Street Fighter series and Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider series. Heck, even Princess Peach stepped into the spotlight with her own game title and Zelda taking up the hero role afterward. Samus herself has gone to have a huge impact in gaming ad pop culture. She is seen as a revolutionary character. Her reveal at the end of the first Metroid title has been called the original “jaw-dropping moment” in gaming, and was named the greatest twist in video games by Game Informer in 2007 and the greatest moment in Nintendo’s history by GameDaily in 2008. Samus joins other female video game characters on several “Sexiest Females in Gaming” lists. She is seen as a strong female who has not only renovated but also dominates in the testosterone fueled world of action games.
10 minute gameplay!
Mother Brain battle and reveal!!