Girls and Games. And Mega Man.

Samus Aran on the NESA few days ago I received the Metroid: Zero Mission GBA game. I play lots of GBA games on my DS because they’re much cheaper and the same fun. But I must confess: I’ve never played any game of the Metroid series before.

I didn’t know much about the great Metroid Saga before last week until I decided to spend my remaining 500 Wii-points on some NES game at the Wii Shopping Channel. But which one? Firing up Google helped me finding a good site on the best NES games. Of course, Mario Bros is on the top ranks, but I’ve been in the Mushroom Kingdom so often that I feel quite saturated. So it was rather a draw between Metroid and Mega Man. I know, Mega Man 3 is the best one but that’s not for sale yet. And thanks to my self-inflicted urge to conduct a purchase now rather than anytime from now, I transferred my points to Nintendo and after seconds Mega Man arrived at my Wii.

But… I was talking about Metroid, right? While browsing through the Shopping Channel I looked up some stuff on YouTube and found a long video of the actual gameplay of the Alien inspired game. Or why is one of the bosses called Ridley if not after Ridley Scott? After a few minutes I knew that the game was well designed: Jumping passages, shooting passages, loads of secrets, good music and great atmosphere have been cramped into that 128 kB cartridge.

But it’s a little old now, don’t you think? And a graphics fetishist like me hates it. And loves it. Because I am not only a lover of retro, I even subscribed to it! So after downloading Mega Man and cursing it I surfed to Amazon.de for the GBA version of Metroid instead. But it was too expensive for a 21 year old ROM I could download myself into NESticle. There I learned from the reviewers awarding only a single star to the article that the GBA game called Metroid: Zero Mission was the best of the 2D Metroid games. Plus it’s bundled with the original NES version that becomes accessible after beating the remixed game. A big yay!

When I finally got it I played it for hours because it got so very addicting and I nearly pissed my pants the first time I encountered the first mini-boss. I’m such a girl…

Speaking of which: Even Lisa likes it. And Lisa doesn’t really like computer or video games. And, hell, she hates boardgames for sure! Below is a complete list of the few games she actually enjoys playing:

  • Super Mario Bros I 1. She has beaten it so often that I stopped counting.
  • Super Mario Bros III. Same here
  • Chip ‘N Dale: Rescue Rangers for the NES. Beaten by her also on the emulator. Thank you, beloved quick save!
  • Garfield for the original 1989’s gray GameBoy. Nice pixeled cat, interchangeable gameplay. But we adore Garfield so much that I don’t dare writing anything bad about this game just because of the license. Actually there aren’t even any rumors about it on the internets because the game is so ancient.
  • Super Mario World. I was dusting my old SNES at the time Lisa discovered it and instantly fell in love with the formerly unknown Mario game. Also played by her on the emulator. Excessively.
  • The Sims and Second Life because you can dress up people.
  • New Super Mario Bros for the DS. She finished the game within a week or so. I still haven’t yet…
  • Metroid Zero Mission for the GBA because you can run through it without worrying much about the ruleset. I guess that’s the reason she likes it: Samus’ gameplay is kinda like Mario’s.

The First Woman in Space

Okay, Samus Aran wasn’t the first woman in space but definitely the first female protagonist in a big video game. And nobody knew it at first. Not even Justin Bailey! It was 1986 back then, where Indiana Jones and Marty McFly were the given protagonists who a common boy would aspire to become. And then came Samus. I really wish that I could be an eight-year-old in 1986 right now, just having finished Metroid in less than 3 hours, marks of the unergonomic and sweaty NES controller in my palms. And then Samus takes off his suit. And… it’s a girl! In a pink leotard. How would a pre-teen boy who considers girls as his number one enemies react to that?

Unfortunately I will never know. I always knew that Samus was a girl like I always knew that Darth Vader was Luke’s Father 2. I guess I stumbled across Samus’ gender definition in some very old Club Nintendo magazine I begged my mom to subscribe to, which was in fact paying for Nintendo’s self-advertisement.

I guess the girl-in-a-bikini-wearing-boots-sprite 3 was more a gimmick than a clever storyline decision by the guys at Nintendo. Nevertheless it set ground for great female protagonists to come as well as for epic story lines in Japanese tradition that are carried on sequel by sequel for decades now. Just take a look at Metal Gear, Final Fantasy or even Silent Hill and Resident Evil.

What’s the name again?

Do you know how to pronounce Samus Aran? I pronounced it the way it was written until I recently discovered that the Irish boy’s name that’s also written Samus is pronounced like [shamus]. So I adjusted to that and pronounced her name like it … despite the fact that I didn’t grew comfortable with it. Lisa also didn’t and looked it up on Wikipedia where the name is also written in Katakana: サムス・アラン: Samusu Aran. No [sh]. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Something funny before I go to bed: Lisa has had troubles remembering the name Samus Aran. And lately when she was talking about Samus she just called her “Sandra”. Now is that cute or what?

  1. Why am I adding a link here? You all know it for sure! Cause if you don’t….!
  2. I am sorry for this major spoiler on my otherwise spoiler free blog. But refer to footnote 1
  3. If you’re truly interested in those pay a visit to this site.

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Comments

Jason Li (Apr 27, 2009)

i am happy to see that i ain’t also the only person that is a big fan of Metroid.I am 10years old and named jason.i am a realy big fan of metroid.at firsti never relize the name of human combined with chozo blood race inside that suit until i played more and also relized she was a women(BIG SHOCK TO ME!!!)and this is the part where i began to became a nerd and learn more about her.and where i got interseted

Jason (Jan 10, 2011)

I refuse to pronounce that name shamus.

I see that Samus comes up a lot in writings about girls in video games, but I don’t really think of it as a female character. More of a gender neutral character as if adding the long hair at the end was an afterthought for shock value. We’re still talking about it now, but more due to the fact that it was a great game.