September 7, 2010

Review – Metroid: Other M

Metroid: Other M
In 2004, the original NES release of Metroid joined several titles deemed classic enough to represent that period of gaming through revisits on the GameBoy Advanced, and yet that same year also saw a much more thorough revisit on the handheld with the release of Metroid: Zero Mission. Aside from several tweaks within the game, the release returned to the source of the series to establish cannon at ground zero, setting the tone and direction for all subsequent releases.

The most significant element of that release was the newly added Zero Mission, a mission that showed Samus Aran stripped of her armor and evading space pirates in the instantly iconic zero suit. It was the emergence of a more vulnerable, but still capable Samus, and a defining moment that opened the floodgates for a greater discussion of the role gender plays within the Metroid series, executed with clever subtlety.


December 13, 2009

The Burden of Being – Samus Aran

Filed under: Editorial Rants — Tags: , , , , , , , — Jamie Love @ 11:13 am

Samus Aran

Originally Published via Toronto Thumbs – June 14, 2009

Few revelations could have placated the long time Nintendo faithful at E3 this year more than the announcement that another Metroid title was in development. The applause within Club Nokia was instantaneous, and I’m certain the person to my right started convulsing almost immediately; the person to my left added “new Metroid game” to his notes as if he’d forget, but that’s another story. As gamers have absorbed the news, there’s a nagging concern as the knee-jerk excitement gives way to a recognition of what was shown in the footage.

The Team Ninja project consists of video sequences focused on developing a back story for the bounty hunter, presenting characters and emotional elements through externalized story telling tactics. In other words, aspects that are largely foreign to the series. Nintendo told me that the project was about telling a different story in the franchise, and for now that appears to rely on anime-styled cinema to wedge a new entry into the series. I can’t help but think that this has more to do with selling units in Japan, where the series has proved less popular compared to Nintendo’s other storied franchises. Yet there’s more at stake than that.

As Hideo Kojima wisely pointed out at GDC this year, technical limitations played a definitive role in the design and narrative aspirations of early videogames. Designers were forced to find unique ways to tell stories, often achieving fresh narrative approaches by nature of the marriage between what was desired and what was technically possible. While that caused Kojima to create a stealth-oriented genre that continues to thrive today, it also gave birth to a science fiction series that represents the single most symbolically significant franchise Nintendo claims ownership over, linked to the best examples of a genre where the primary goal is to think harder about who we are and where we are going.

With technical limitations fading and giving rise to unparalleled design possibilities, there is every reason to be concerned that this most preciously-guarded franchise will be raided and exploited, lessening the significance in the attempt to broaden the appeal.


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