August 6, 2008 - For a game that's essentially about running around some futuristic sci-fi planet as a buff, well armored, totally kickass bounty hunter and blowing the crap out of a bunch of weird space things with missiles, bombs, ice beams, and other implements, Metroid certainly packed more than its fair share of surprises. There's one in particular most might recall with clarity.
My first run-in with Samus Aran was at some random kid's house. I don't remember exactly which kid or where, but the entire ride home was filled with "Mom, I NEED to have this game!" I never did actually end up owning the damn thing, but that didn't stop me from getting some hands-on time through an underground NES cart trade route organized between childhood pals.
Gleefully blasting my way high and low through the planet Zebes and its nasty space-pirate inhabitants became a frequent obsession. Meanwhile, rumors about various codes - JUSTIN BAILEY among others - circulated the halls at elementary school. Their implications led me to ponder many a thought while en-route to fight a giant malicious brain in a fully armed glass jar. Could it be true?
Indeed. The game's yellow and orange main character was not a totally ripped and gnarly dude. The discovery came as a leotard-toting Samus waved coyly at me from the screen, just after trouncing Mother Brain and jumping vertically through a painfully sparse obstacle course of miniscule platforms. The experience of learning I had been a woman the entire time did not leave my manhood emasculated, but I was surprised nonetheless.
Though her depiction as a hot babe in a space suit was rather sexist at the time, Samus' outing herself at the end was a landmark achievement for video game heroines. Since then, gaming girl-power has prevailed on many occasions - as it should. Women know how to handle a rocket launcher too, you know.
CCC Staff Contributor / Pixel Artist