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Jamba

Samus Aran - Going in the right direction?

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I've torn this from the Smash Bros. thread in the interest of not diverting it too much.

 

Zero Suit Samus

I'm a massive Metroid fan and I genuinely think that Samus' is one of gamings greatest female characters. She's the interective Ellen Ripley for gods' sake!

 

I very much like the way that Samus handles without her power suit and I totally fangasmed when you got to play as her in Zero Mission (probably why it's my favourite 2D Metroid, after SM obviously). But I've become increasing uncomfortable and a little frustrated by the way that she is portrayed outside of the suit. For a couple of reasons.

 

1) For me Samus should not be a skinny blonde white chick. Ever since she turned up in Brawl and the internet went mental for shopping her naked, it's become clear that Nintendo is trying to use her as a bit of a hot piece of ass. She's very slight with massive knockers (which in this generation seem to be getting rid of the under-boob a little). I'd prefer someone that reflects her personality in the suit a bit more. Frankly a bit more Ripley-ish and with auburn hair!

 

2) Her expression. To portray her properly you have to see her react to her situation in an emotional and relative way. She has spent far too long being essentially an emotionless mask who barely smiles, grimaces, expresses relief, pain, genuine sadness etc. For me this massively needs to change to make her a proper character.

 

3) I'm not going to dwell on this too much but Other M ruined her as a character in a lot of ways for me. They wrote her as a boring, snivelling, self-centred, nonotonous child. I didn't care or feel attached to the bungled story or experience that the game was meant to communicate.

 

 

Any one feel the same? Can I ask that we not make this entirely about Other M?

 

 

People were even kind enough to reply...

 

Good luck with that...

 

I hear the monotonous argument a lot with Other M. I think most of you guys don't realise that she sounds like that only when she's narrating events. She's giving a report, why would she sound emotional?

 

That said, there's a lot wrong with that game, but I still think it's great fun and that's all that matters to me.

 

Anyway, in my opinion, I don't give a damn, really. If Samus had more realistic proportions, given her upbringing, she'd look closer to female weightlifters than to Ripley.

 

And no-one wants that...

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I did not play Other M, so here's my two cents.

 

When Sakurai made Brawl, he took inspiration in many weird ways (Pit's reinvention, Wario having almost nothing to do with Wario Land, etc.), one of which was to fetch Samus with no suit from Zero Mission. He turned what was supposed to be a helpless moment into an action girl with an awesome laser whip. Is there canon material to support her potentially being a fighter in that state? Yes? Then we're good.

 

Due to Smash Bros' popularity, that kind of became the "official" look for no-suit Samus (as opposed to her black panties in Super Metroid, or her Fusion shorts). Since it even looks like a professional suit one could plausibly wear underneath Space Armour, it stuck around well enough.

 

If she became a bit of a sex target, well, that wasn't based on the Zero Suit alone :heh: She was appearing in underwear long before she did in Brawl, it's just that now she had a bigger stage.

And really, that sort of treatment is just inevitable for any female, fictional or not.

 

Should she be a bit more buff? Certainly, to have any sort of credibility, but if the problem persists, I'm chalking it up to Japanese design preferences (even their men aren't buff!)

 

And I'm going out on a limb here and say the same thing about her personality: because plenty of Japanese have a different idea of what a "badass" is supposed to be, compared to the west. They seem to be either fans of quiet stoic characters, or the other hot-blooded extreme, but I never see the gruff John McClanes or Ellen Ripleys in their media.

 

Finally, I'd say she could be a victim of the consequences of turning a silent protagonist into one with character: suddenly, we find out that how we saw the character and how the author saw the character are very different things, and opinions are going to be split either way.

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Hmm, difficult one.

 

Personally, I think Zero Suit Samus is a very nice design. On the other hand, does that design have anything to do with why I like Metroid? No, not at all. To me, the thrill of Metroid, apart from the combat and exploration, is about layering better weapons and armour on top of one another. I'm probably in the minority here in that, although Zero Mission might be my favourite Metroid, the Zero Suit section is my least favourite part as it makes the game completely about stealth. Doesn't mean I dislike seeing Samus in her Zero Suit, but I think the outfit was designed more for cameos and special ending pictures.

 

In fact, it could argued that the Zero Suit was born of modesty. Samus used to be depicted as wearing a bikini underneath her armour, which perhaps seems a bit politically incorrect nowadays in the context of seeing it as a reward. It's highly likely, in my opinion, that the Zero Suit was created as a more acceptable way to still show the contours of a female protagonist - something that, one way or another, is always going to be desired by many.

 

I do agree that Samus could be depicted as more muscular and less "Barbie doll", but it's really not a big deal to me. It would be worse, in my opinion, to deliberately avoid sex appeal - to cave in to ideas of modesty and prudishness - like has happened with Lara Croft (and made her far, far less appealing). To me, that would be worse than any benefit of improving her design for more valid reasons could be good. Keep Samus tough, but don't be ashamed of showing a woman's body.

 

My biggest problem at the moment, though, is that (aside from fighting games and cameos) Samus Aran doesn't currently have a direction at all! I can cope with her depiction being different from game to game. It's more important that they actually keep making Metroid games at all.

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My only problem is her boobs because they're genuinely impossible... she's wearing skin-tight material that somehow doesn't squish them in any way? It's VeeeeeeeEEEeeerrry male gaze.

 

Especially how they've changed her gun shooting pose so that we can get a good look of them (even though this means breaking her arm).

 

It just seems so out of place in the ensemble.

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Especially how they've changed her gun shooting pose so that we can get a good look of them (even though this means breaking her arm).

 

If you're talking about her weird new pose in Smash 4, someone pointed out it was just a frame of a longer animation, so the screenshot could easily be taken during recoil. It even matches a stance that's easier on one's back/spine.

 

I don't think anybody confirmed this during the invitational, though.

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I'm sure I saw her stick her butt out when making an over-the-shoulder shot, but I could have been imagining it.

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Zero suit is a bit impractical and needlessly skin-tight. But from what I've seen, people are most pissed of regarding the addition of her new rocket-heels.

 

And yes, her breasts have grown to become a bit on the... school boy fantasy side of things.

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Personally i think she should have never, at any point, been shown outside of her suit.

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I find it funny the amount of people that don't realise how completely irrelevant it is that Samus is somehow nominally a "woman" even though in actuality she's a paper thin cipher performing completely male gender roles and has nothing about her that marks her out as a woman through the entirety of her games, except the x-ray visions of her in her underwear every time you hit zero health. So, yeah, a woman, but only the most exploitative way you can think of.

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I find it funny the amount of people that don't realise how completely irrelevant it is that Samus is somehow nominally a "woman" even though in actuality she's a paper thin cipher performing completely male gender roles and has nothing about her that marks her out as a woman through the entirety of her games, except the x-ray visions of her in her underwear every time you hit zero health. So, yeah, a woman, but only the most exploitative way you can think of.

 

I think you're obliquely making the same point I am. That recently, she has only been a woman in the most superficial of ways. Her feminine (mostly motherly) side has been addressed before in quite tones but generally she's a big nothing from a personality point of view.

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But isn't it a bit sexist to expect Samus to behave more like a woman, with traditionally feminine traits? Obviously, no video game character is real, but Samus is drawn like a woman and is voiced by a female voice actress, so what more is there? Sure, she's strong and resourceful, just like many women are in real life. Samus fights enormous monsters, which is somewhat unrealistic for any human, but if we suspend our disbelief and accept everything in the games is possible, it's no more far-fetched for a woman to do it than for a man.

 

Now don't get me wrong - I wouldn't mind a tougher, sweatier, dirtier Samus (ditch the heels and make-up, that sort of thing) - but I just don't see the need to project any gender prejudice onto her.

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But isn't it a bit sexist to expect Samus to behave more like a woman, with traditionally feminine traits? Obviously, no video game character is real, but Samus is drawn like a woman and is voiced by a female voice actress, so what more is there? Sure, she's strong and resourceful, just like many women are in real life. Samus fights enormous monsters, which is somewhat unrealistic for any human, but if we suspend our disbelief and accept everything in the games is possible, it's no more far-fetched for a woman to do it than for a man.

 

Now don't get me wrong - I wouldn't mind a tougher, sweatier, dirtier Samus (ditch the heels and make-up, that sort of thing) - but I just don't see the need to project any gender prejudice onto her.

 

I think the point Jamba was making was that she had more subtle characteristics traditionally associated with femininity, but lately it's been superseded by her physical attributes.

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I was really just saying that it's a bit wankish to suggest that Samus being a "woman" really means anything in the Metroid games in the same way that thinking that saying Mario is an Italian plumber means anything. Historically it was nothing more than a dude-looks-like-a-lady inversion, and recently it's become a way to get some TnA into Smash Bros. The way to go about empowering women isn't to deny that there are any differences between men and women, but to distinguish between is and aught.

 

Is there a physiological/cultural difference between dudes and chicks? Yes. Aught we to treat women as social inferiors because they don't tend to have a predilection for shooting space aliens? No.

 

Shoehorning women into traditionally male gender roles is boring, tacky and meaningless.

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I was really just saying that it's a bit wankish to suggest that Samus being a "woman" really means anything in the Metroid games in the same way that thinking that saying Mario is an Italian plumber means anything.

 

Character design is a pretty big part of why a character is/becomes popular. If Samus was just some dude, her character wouldn't have had any lasting appeal (just ask Doomguy and the Contra protagonists).

 

That said, I do think the point of her being a woman can pretty much be "Shooting aliens doesn't need to be a man's job". Women may not have a predilection for being action heroes, but those are pretty broad strokes to make.

 

Or is Michelle Rodriguez shoehorned into every role she's in? She gets those action roles because she's good at it, not because she's a woman, and she shouldn't be denied the opportunity to play these characters just because it isn't her traditional gender role. Acknowledging the differences between men and women is all fine and dandy, but traditional gender roles are already something that society pushes every single day, we don't need anybody pushing that point any harder.

 

Samus and Lara Croft are fictional characters without actors, but if designing them as women fits them better, sure, why not? The fact that they stand out from a bunch of other stereotypical and insipid designs within male gender roles makes them anything but boring.

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Point taken about just the fact of saying a character is a woman has an effect on the way you think about the character. I think the point that I'm trying to make is that Samus being a woman is neither here nor there, it's completely meaningless. She could be a robot for all it matters.

 

Although I don't really believe that Samus being an enduring character is either true, or is the case because of the character itself. I think if you have any sort of attachment to Samus it's because of the quality of the games she's appeared in, and their enduring appeal compared to Doom and Contra, which don't really have any sort of emotional ambiance to begin with. The only attachment I have to Samus comes from the worlds she typically finds herself in more than anything else.

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Isn't Michelle Rodriquez pretty much typecast all the time? Definitely a degree of 'shoehorning' or something similar. The fact you refer to 'every role she's in' shows how typecast she is, and yes - it is because she's a woman. She's the tough chick, that's her role. Every role. I'd say it's more of that than a traditional male gender role, though there's some overlap there.

 

Back to the Samus thing though - whilst I don't feel quite as strongly about it, I do think sometimes Samus is just a dude looks like a lady. However I still feel there is SOME merit, despite how weak it may or may not be, in the fact she's a she rather than a he. I definitely agree with Jamba's sentiments about her though, and I think it's a real damn shame they've done what they have with her for Smash, but meh - it's an aesthetic I don't care much about. If she looked different but controlled exactly the same, I'd be just as happy I imagine.

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Isn't Michelle Rodriquez pretty much typecast all the time? Definitely a degree of 'shoehorning' or something similar. The fact you refer to 'every role she's in' shows how typecast she is, and yes - it is because she's a woman. She's the tough chick, that's her role. Every role. I'd say it's more of that than a traditional male gender role, though there's some overlap there.

 

I mainly mentioned her because most of her roles could be male roles and it wouldn't make a difference, either. She's tough and that's what she does. Those aren't roles written "for a woman", those are roles written for Michelle Rodriguez.

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Yeah but MRod's roles are such caricatures. Just putting a woman in a position that you would expect a man to occupy is a bit of a trite gesture if you don't also back it up with other things that try to depict a female experience. As for Samus, it didn't really matter that she was a woman in the games - I guess you could argue with the slight exception of the baby Metroid imprinting on her - and in that sense it's completely immaterial whether she's a man or a woman or a robot. Except for when they start putting her in a skin suit so you can see her titties.

 

So, yeah, I guess in a sense she does capture a female experience in the sense that that part of her identity exists almost entirely for sweaty nerds to cop a look at her ass in the Smash Bros. pause screen.

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