"Unlike most other female video game characters, Samus isn't some husky-voiced bimbo in tight leather included only for sex appeal. Samus is tough, silent, heavily armed and spends most of her time in a bulky suit of high-tech Power Armor." - Justin Hoeger, The Sacramento Bee
In 1986, a video game called METROID hit Nintendo Entertainment Systems everywhere. Merging the platforming of the SUPER MARIO BROTHERS style of game play with the exploration aspects of LEGEND OF ZELDA and setting the scene in a darker space realm, gamers would play as ex-Galactic Federation soldier turned bounty hunter, Samus Aran, as they travelled to the space caverns of Zebes to stop Space Pirates from achieving Galactic domination.
What you might not and many gamers didn't know at the time was that your character, fully decked out in a totally badass power suit with laser shooter, was a woman. If you were able to complete the game under an hour, then you would be privy to the highly guarded secret.
"Warning. This Article contains the spoiler that Samus is a girl, so, if you don't want to find out that Samus is a girl, which she is, don't read it. Because Samus is a girl." -Uncyclopedia, Samus Aran Page Warning
What significance can does this have? Well, for an avid gamer like me - been hitting the consoles hard since I got my NES at the age of five - it didn't really hit home at the time. There were lots of ladies in games. Like Princess Toadstool, that I needed to save. And Princess Zelda, that I needed to save. Yet, Samus didn't need any saving. She did the saving and she wasn't the token 'chick in a game' sort of chick either. She wore a power suit, because when you're fighting Mother motherfucking Brain, you really want to be in a power suit.
Samus Aran was gaming's first female character that didn't rely on a man to save her. Even though she wasn't originally a she - Samus' sex was determined halfway through production by the development team and I wonder if the series would have been as popular had 'she' been a 'he'. Yeah, fuck that, probably not.
Despite the fact that if you do beat the game in time to get your big reveal of Samus, the big reveal in itself is a big reveal with your bounty hunter in a bikini. Now, I've heard people complain and remark that this is some sort of sexism - I must try to be less sexist when I go the beach in that same thought process - but it's an intentionally 'hey look, that badass bounty hunter is a girl' moment for the player and I think it comes across quite rad.
Besides, Yoshio Sakamoto, the Japanese Nintendo designer who designed METROID, has fought industry standards to downplay Samus' sexuality. Not showing a glimpse of skin, programmers find other ways to add Samus' sexuality to her role and not in the sexy kitten way, but rather the maternal instinct in prime (pun intended) example where Samus protects the Metroid hatchling as seen in the end of METROID 2: THE RETURN OF SAMUS.
"I next fought the Metroids on their homeworld, SR388. I completely eradicated them, except for a larva which, after hatching, followed me like a confused child... I personally delivered it to the galactic research station at Ceres so scientists could study it's energy-producing qualities."
The noble efforts of the Metroid team won't protect the image of the icon from fan art and fan fiction, but that isn't solely a female-focused issue. I was googling 'arrow in the knee' as I have been playing Skyrim as of late and saw a fan orgy pic including the soldier who' used to be an adventurer' before his injury. If someone wants to jerk off to it, there will be something on the internet to support that.
Rupert Goodwins, The Independent said about her sex, "Samus Aran is apparently female, although the Transformer-like suit she wears could just as easily contain a large centipede; it's hardly a breakthrough for feminism." - and totally misses the point of the character and her gender. Yeah, it could be anyone under there. Just like how Spider-man's suit hides his identity to the 'it could be anyone extent'. Having a female character that plays a tough, take no shit role in the game that is depicted as a tough sexless character is a breakthrough for feminism in gameplay - after all feminism is all about equality and that notion women and men are equal.
"Planet Zebes... I called this place home once, in peaceful times, long before evil haunted the caverns below. Now I shall finally tell the tale of my first battle here... My so-called Zero Mission."
*The following paragraph is pure nerdism of basic game story lines in the series.
*What has the blonde bounty hunter been up to these days? Well, from METROID (1986) on the NES and fighting Mother Brain on Zebes, her adventures went on to METROID 2: RETURN OF SAMUS (1991) - Samus must destroy the deemed too dangerous to exist Metroids, including Queen Metroid, but saves a hatchling that she brings back to her scientists, SUPER METROID (1994) - just as she is leaving base, Ridley kidnaps the hatchling which he brings to Zebes where a new base has been built and the Space pirates are starting shit again. At the cost of its life, the hatchling restores a grim Samus so she can destroy Mother Brain once more, METROID PRIME (2002) - Space pirates again that steal her suit and perhaps the beginning of Dark Samus, METROID FUSION (2002) - major parasite and Metroid problems here, METROID: ZERO MISSION (2004) - Space pirates, Ridley, and Metroids in this Metroid remake, METROID PRIME 2: ECHOES (2004) - new baddies called the Ing and shadow selves, introducing Dark Samus, METROID PRIME PINBALL (2005) - pinball, METROID PRIME HUNTERS (2006) - a trick by a monster named Gorea that Samus totally kills, METROID PRIME 3: CORRUPTION (2007) - Space pirated again, Phazon, and Dark Samus, METROID: OTHER M (2010) - Metroids and betrayal. Really fun gameplay in these and old side scrolling games are addictively awesome.
So, ladies and gents, are you a gamer? If you are, then you already know the endless hours of pure joy and fantasy that these worlds bring. It's like a movie, except you get to play a hands on role within it - as the hero kicking asses and taking names. If not,n why not pick up a controller and get it on! Seriously. It's a great way to chill, save the world, laugh your ass off, and thrill fully waste your time. It's not just for dudes, it's not just for chicks, it's not for young folks, it's not for old folks - it's every-fuckingbody. Game on, girls and boys. Game the fuck on!