Metroid and why I love it

by maddrunkgenius

None of you read this, and even if you do, I doubt you’re familiar with my other internet roles under this pseudonym. So it may come as a surprise to know that I’m fairly popular.

Let me rephrase that.

I’m fairly popular as a fanfiction author.

There, that’s better. Okay, truer. Debating the merits of fanfiction is not my purpose here, nor do I think I could actually convince anyone that it has any real benefit anyway. Read a random fanfiction on fanfiction.net or just a personal site and no doubt you’ll walk away disgusted with how terrible it is (and most of them are terrible).

So why do I write it? Me, the superior, almost divinely intellectual (and humble) entity that I am? I write it because I love the Metroid video game series like the woman I do not have.

For those of you out there not reading this who are unfamiliar with Metroid, it’s a quasi-science fiction following the exploits of the bounty hunter Samus Aran, and Samus’ repeated run ins with Space Pirates, Metroids, and assorted ne’er do wells. Samus runs around defending the galaxy in an advanced powered exoskeleton, that’s basically an indestructible tank. Also, Samus Aran is a chick.

That last detail is not why I love the series; the quality and elements presented within the games is what does that. But Samus’ gender is probably why I love it as much as I do. And despite my lack of a significant female romantic presence in my life, it’s not any kind of substitution. Seriously, it isn’t. I actually prefer her in her suit than out of it, and view her as more masculine than most male heroes in fiction. Consequently, this is a matter of disagreement between me and a good portion of the fandom, but I digress.

I could definitely ramble on about Samus and make myself sound even more like a pathetic fanboy, but I’ll stop now and just come back to it later. Because like I said, she’s not the reason why I love the Metroid games and universe, nor is there really any one reason. But if there was, it would be the eclectic genres that are and can be represented within the confines of the Metroid universe.

Note: above I referred to the games as “quasi-science fiction”. There’s a reason for that. Although you could probably lump the games in with a lot of other space operas, it doesn’t quite fit that mold. The galactic struggle, the unexplained scientific technology (don’t question how a tiny ship could move far faster than the speed of light or something with wings could fly in space or a girl could curl up into a sphere and roll around, they just do), plethora of alien races, and borderline mystical elements are all part of space opera, but they’re not the only things. At least as I write it, Metroid is large parts military science fiction and cyberpunk/technological dystopia. At times, it’s very close to Whedon’s Firefly/Serenity universe. It can be all of those things because there is very little canon to go on and a lot of it contradicts itself, which is freedom for a fanfiction author. That’s my favorite element of Metroid as an author, but as just a fan, it’s all of the genres present.

I didn’t mention why I only consider it partly science fiction yet, so let me do so. All of the aforemention genres were really sub-genres of science fiction; this isn’t: fantasy. Metroid is a fantasy in a lot of very important ways. Samus Aran is a knight who runs on glorified magic (unexplained alien technology) whose primary antagonist is the most classic fantasy villain of all: a dragon. Ridley the “space” dragon is a large red (or sometimes brown or sometimes purple) dragon that breathes fire, flies, the whole bit. Ridley is a substitute devil and (as I write him) one of the greatest video game villains of all time. But Samus also fights other large lizards and even a ghost or two. She is, as I said, your prototypical knight in shinging armor, but because of the more pessimistic science fiction elements in Metroid (along with a backstory I really don’t feel like getting into) she isn’t as boring as, say, a Link from the Zelda games is, or really any usual hero knight from most fantasies are.

Samus Aran is a bounty hunter which means that she saves the galaxy out of a desire to get paid, not altruism.

Although I put way too much thought and concern into all of this, that may be what makes it all work so well. You have clashing genres and sub-genres that (when written well) create a truly magnificent dynamic to put your stories in. A hero that’s not always heroic, a world/galaxy that equal parts science and magic (mystical magic or “just accept it” magic). And really, the freedom to write stories about whatever you want.

I think I’ve gotten off track again, but no one is reading this and if you started, you haven’t made it down here yet. This is writing for me, and I’ll forgive myself for rambling.

Super Metroid presents the mythological elements the best. Samus became less of a human being in that one (not that she ever had much personality, mind you) and more of a representative force. She transcended characterization and became an archetype of heroism and destruction. Heroism because she was on a noble quest again, but along the way all she did was kill and wreak utter devastation.

But it wasn’t just her. Ridley was given the truly satanic persona of a devil living in hell. The climax of the game was killing him in Lower Norfair, and the denouement was the intended climax fighting Mother Brain and escaping as the planet blew up.

But it did it without compromising the science fiction qualities of the game, and added a level of horror to it as well (which in all of my previous rambling, I forgot to mention). The Wrecked Ship was a frightening an experience for me as a child as I can remember. The atmosphere of gloom, suspense, and despair, were marvelous.

I’m just going to end this now. I had hope for something coherent and thoughtful, but this will have to do for now.