>Et Tu Nintendo?

>With the noteable exception of Princess Peach, Nintendo has been doing better than Sony and Microsoft in terms of positive depictions of women in its video games. The female characters in Super Smash Brothers kick just as much ass as the males, and with the Wii Nintendo has largely steered clear of the jiggle-tastic fighting game series that have proliferated on the PS3 and Xbox360. (Mostly. I’m looking at you, Mortal Kombat: Armageddon.) And of course, Nintendo had one of the first female hero characters ever, the unbelievably bad-ass Samus Aran of Metroid series fame.

Of course, what most people know Samus for is her assortment of cannons and the bulky power armor. There’s been a lot of suits over the years, but they’ve all been large, bulky, and powerful-looking:

Now I’ll admit that I haven’t played any of the Metroid games after the original GameBoy games (My first console was a PlayStation and I’ve stuck with Sony since), so I’m a little fuzzy on the chronology of which suit came when. But I can definitely say that I love, love, love these suits. Samus started out as a total badass and has continued to be a total badass.

Except…

Except then they created the “Zero Suit” – a much less powerful spandex version of Samus’ suit. Gone is the badass armor, gone is the huge cannon. They replaced the Samus that I love with some blonde bimbo with a handgun:

Et tu Nintendo? ET TU??? It seems like a pretty blatant attempt to re-design Samus to be more appealing to the lowest common denominator of gamers that marketing departments seem so convinced are their “core” market – lonely horny teenage boys looking for action games with wank-fantasy females.

Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t guys who were unhappy with the re-design. But for every guy who complained that he wanted his power-suited Samus back, it seemed like there were twenty more who welcomed the new Zero Suit Samus with open… um… arms. And they’re all too eager to dogpile on people who complain about the new Samus with gems like:

dont be mad shes not a frumpy carpet muncher

get laid, mouth-breather

i really don’t like the idea, but she’s hot man.. and i hope that playing with no suit will be an extra o something like that.

Please, stay off the internet for the rest of your life.

lol, youre a fag.

*sigh* I wish those weren’t actual quotes.

And now, of course, the damage has been done. According to Wikipedia, the Zero Suit was introduced in 2008, but it seems to have come to dominate the popular representations of Samus, despite that the Zero Suit was never a total replacement, just a new option. If you search for “Samus Aran” on Google Image search, 15 out of 44 images on the first two pages are of the Zero Suited Samus – some very NSFW. So despite that there are seven suits to choose from, if you include the Fusion Suit that only appeared in one game, the Zero Suit accounts for 34% of the results on the first two pages – definitely a disproportionate representation.

(An interesting side note, though I’m honestly not sure if this signifies anything, is that despite the fact that the helmet is one of the most distinctive features of her power suits besides the cannon and the large shoulders, only 16 of 44 images on the first two pages show Samus actually wearing the helmet. Almost two thirds, 63% show Samus without her helmet on. Not sure if that’s good or bad.)

But if you really want to see how much of a wank-fantasy Zero Suit Samus has become, just search for “Zero Suit” and look at the huge number of fanart results that come up on the first two pages. The fanart universally falls into three categories: Ridiculous Cheesecake (Sphere Boob Ahoy!), Soft Core Porn, and Holy Shit That’s Disgusting. (Needless to say, links NOT SFW.)

None of these images depict Samus as anything other than a sex object, and none of them show the toughness that made Samus such a popular character in the first place – which is hugely disappointing. There are so few really good female characters that have their own franchises, so it’s really disheartening to see Nintendo give in to the Sex Sells Marketing Machine after around two decades of a Samus who in no uncertain terms could feed you your spleen on a plate if she felt like it.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go soak my eyeballs in Lysol. Srsly. Yuck.

About wundergeek
In addition to being a cranky feminist blogger, I am an artist, photographer, and somewhat half-assed writer living in the wilds of Canada with a wonderful spouse and two slightly broken cats.

5 Responses to >Et Tu Nintendo?

  1. Henry says:

    >I haven't played it myself, but I heard that Metroid: Other M was also a huge step backwards for Samus in the characterization department.Also, apparently this is what Samus looked like in the original Metroid if you cleared the game fast enough and got the reward. At least the Zero Suit wasn't this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Samus_at_the_end_of_Metroid.png

  2. kmvalexa says:

    >Warning: I'm probably going to go on too long about this one.Suit chronology:In the original NES game, the Varia suit was simply a palette swap of her power suit. From what I've read, the big shoulders were added to the varia suit for the gameboy game because there weren't enough colours to differentiate between the two.The big shoulder varia suit became the iconic Samus outfit (despite the fact that you typically wouldn't have it at the beginning of the game).The anything after the Gravity suit is from the Metroid Prime series (which chronologically seems to fill in cracks between Metroid 2 and Super Metroid).The Zero suit actually only makes its appearance for the final segment of Metroid Zero Mission (a remake of the original) in a new section where she loses her armour. It makes a reappearance in Super Smash Brothers Brawl. I don't know much about Other M, but in the other games, it has only the one, short appearance.I'll continue in another post simply for a slight topic change.

  3. kmvalexa says:

    >The big reveal of the original Metroid (if you finished it quickly enough) was that the big, armoured, missile-blasting bounty hunter was…gasp…a GIRL!If you finished the game quickly, she removed her helmet revealing her long flowing hair. If you finished the game really quickly, she removed a bit more (see Henry's link).This has become the pattern for subsequent games. Finish the game quickly enough and you see Samus in a bikini. To their credit, she only took off her helmet in Metroid Prime (I can't speak for the other Prime games as I haven't played them).It's an odd contradiction that's been there from the very first game. Here you have the strong image of a female character who goes to hostile planets alone with no backup, and blasts the hell out of anything that opposes her, yet the reward for completion is seeing her flash some flesh.You could maybe argue in the first game that the bikini is to clarify that she isn't just a long-haired guy (a weak argument, but I'm feeling generous), but since that first game, they've never made a secret of her gender, so that excuse doesn't fly anymore.Random comment: I always preferred the purple hair she had in the Super Metroid artwork over the brown/blond hair they gave her in the game.

  4. Haruka says:

    I am also very upset with this change to Samus. In the manual to Metroid 2 it said she was 6’3 and 198lbs. In super Metroid when she took off her armor she seemed tall and built. And in one of the ending pictures for Metroid Fusion she had broad shoulders and muscular arms. But starting in Zero Mission is when the new barbie zero suit samus was introduced. When i first played it and first saw samus remove her suit i couldnt help but be disgusted with how she looked, Big red lips, petite figure. I hoped the next game would have her looking tough again, but this is the Samus that stuck till today.

  5. Pingback: Happy Birthday! Looking back at a year of GMMaS. | Go Make Me a Sandwich

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