Samus Aran is a Hottie!
Considering that just this past month I beat two Metroid games, they're kinda fresh on my mind. I'd therefore like to take some time to talk about something that is near and dear to everyone's hearts: the ending sequences of the Metroid series of games... ALL of them.
The first Metroid game, way back on the 8-bit NES setup the player for a shocking revelation at the end. We of course all now know that Samus is a woman, but originally this was a mystery. The instruction manual for the original Metroid even calls Samus a "he" and says that "his true identity is shrouded in mystery."
Anyway, the plot involves some scientists finding a killer lifeform known as a Metroid on the planet SR388. It can drain life energy from any lifeform and store that energy inside its body. Space Pirates steal the Metroid and discover a way to reproduce it (something about gamma rays). Realizing the horrible danger of Space Pirates in control of such a dangerous lifeform, the gubment hires Samus Aran to go in and kill 'em all.
After an arduous fight against Mother Brain and a breathtaking escape up a really long and really repetative passageway, the intrepid player is given his first clue to Samus Aran's identity. This game also introduced what would become a staple of the Metroid games: different endings depending on how quickly/completely you made it through the game. The endings all started out the same, with a victorious Samus standing on the surface at night:
Then his armor would flash, and let's say you took a long time but not too long of a time, Samus's helmet would vanish, revealing his true identity:
Well, maybe not all that much of a revelation. From the closeup we can see that Samus looks like a woman...
Or a man with a really, really horrible perm. Considering this was the 80s, that's not a completely unreasonable assumption.
But let's say you beat the game really fast. Now when you get to the ending Samus will start blinking and then "his" entire set of armor will disappear, and you'll see once and for all who is under there:
That's definitely a woman; long brown hair, pinkish leotard thing, big jugs.
Believe me, back in the 80s this was a huge, shocking revelation. This was before the age of Buffy and Lara Croft and countless other ass-kicking examples of womanhood. Tons of macho 8-year-olds were playing through this game as this kickass dude who blasts the shit outta everything in his path, and then you beat the game only to discover that *gasp* this whole time you've been playing as a girl. Girls weren't kickass action heroes! Certainly not in video games!
Or were they?
Us kids had just played through the game and watched Samus do all sorts of kickass stuff. Only to learn that the whole time "he" was actually a "she."
"Well, yeah," you might think. "But Samus wasn't a girl until the end. It coulda been like an action movie where a guy is doing a girl's stunts."
Oh, yeah? Well, Nintendo apparently had thought of that as well, because after you beat the game and got to see Samus in the flesh (so to speak), you got to play the game again—without wearing the armor! Just take a look at these screenshots and their closeups:
Sure, her hair was undeniably green for some reason, but she was undeniably female. A female woman action hero. Take that, all you girl-phobic 8 year olds!
Of course, since this game was made by lonely and underpaid/overworked programmers in Japan, if you beat the game well enough, you got to see Samus wearing next to nothing:
That's a grand total of 16 pixels of bikini there, folks. She thoughtfully kept her boots on, though. And, no, you couldn't play through the game with Samus in this outfit.
There were, of course, rumors that it was possible to get Samus to take all her clothes off. There are, however, just rumors. I did a ton of research (believe me, I looked everywhere and couldn't find any screenshots).
The first Metroid's endings set up many things that the sequels would adhere to. Namely, that if you did crappy you wouldn't get to see Samus in her skivvies. She's just stay in her suit.
Metroid II: The Return of Samus
A few years later Samus would re-surface on the old black-and-white GameBoy in the direct sequel to Metroid. This time she's sent to the home planet of the Metroids to commit absolute genocide on the entire species. You think I'm kidding?
Even though the game was in black and white, programmers by this time were paying more attention to artists, and creating more detailed sprites and whatnot. Therefore, when you beat the game you got to see Samus, and she didn't just look like some sorta blob with a big gun for an arm, but actually a person in a suit:
And, of course, if you beat it well enough, you get to see Samus take most of her clothes off:
Looks like she's traded in the unitard worn in the first game for a spunky "tankini" outfit. Her hair seems to be cut a lot shorter, though—more like Sigourney Weaver in Aliens. Oh, wait, what's she doing:
She's reaching for her hair...
Oh, I see, she just had it pinned back/up so we couldn't see it at first. It was a clever ruse. But, as you can see from the pic above compared with the pic from the ending of the first Metroid, Samus has gotten a lot clearer, and a lot more anatomically identifiable—a belly button and everything!. And she took off her boots this time!
Unfortunately you could not re-play the game with Samus in her tight little tankini. For some reason this whole idea was dropped after the first game.
Super Metroid has Samus heading back to Zebes, the planet in the original Metroid, in order to keep the bad guys from using the last surviving metroid hatchling to make badness happen.
Being on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, this game boasted the best graphics so far, and therefore the most well-drawn Samus thus far. Her suit was especially well-realized, as you could see from the ending sequence:
A little bit on the pink side, maybe, but then you have to remember that Samus is a girl. And of course if you beat the game well enough you'll see:
Once again Samus is wearing some sort of tankini outfit, although this time the upper part is much more high-necked, more like a sleeveless shirt than a tank top. Once again she teases us by having her hair pinned up, but don't worry, she lets it down:
And, damn, she's been working her abs since Metroid II! Check out that six-pack! And check out them gams! She's buffed all around. Also notice, however, that she has neither brown nor green hair as she did in the first Metroid. She's suddenly a blonde.
Well, true, she could have been a blonde in Metroid II, but we can't tell, can we?
(Well, true, they were planning on making a color version of Metroid II when the GameBoy Color came out, and would have therefore had to decide on a hair color, but the game never came to be).
Anyway, could this be a dye job? Or is this her natural hair color, and she just dyed it brown/green for the first game? Well, since we never actually get to see her naked, I guess we won't know whether the curtains match the carpet.
Here she goes showing of those super-buffed legs by jumping offscreen:
For a long time there was silence on the Metroid front. No Metroid games were made at all for the Nintendo 64 (unless you count her appearance in Super Smash Bros.).
Then, finally, with the GameCube Samus made her transition into the third dimension:
But this game, rather than being a sequel to Super Metroid, actually takes place immediately after the first Metroid game. Therefore it's kind of a sequel to Metroid and a prequel to Metroid II. So Samus hasn't callously exterminated an entire species. Yet.
Anyway, at the end of the game you get to see Samus take her helmet off. Will she be brunette, like the end of the first Metroid, or will she be in black-and-white like the end of Metroid II? Let's find out together:
Blonde! She's blonde. A rather dark blonde (just lookit them eyebrows), but undeniably blonde. This seems to put to rest the condition of her hair color in Metroid II. If that game were in color, the likelihood of blonde hair would be practically undeniable.
Having come out with a new system, the high-powered GameBoy Advance, Nintendo decided to make a Metroid game exclusively for the new breed of handheld devices.
The result was Metroid Fusion, which takes place after Super Metroid. It seems that exterminating all Metroids on their homeworld was a really, really bad idea, because now a really dangerous lifeform known as Parasite X, which used to be kept in check by its natural predator (the Metroid), has exploded and taken over the entire freakin' planet. On a mission to the planet, Samus gets infected by the parasite, and only a serum developed from the DNA of the last (and late) Metroid hatchling saves her life. But it transforms her, fusing her DNA (hence Metroid Fusion) with Metroid DNA. In a sense, Samus, who was responsible for the race's extinction, is now herself the last surviving Metroid.
Irony? Or instant karma? You decide!
At any rate, her suit gets a radical redesign as well, due to the fact that surgeons had to surgically remove chunks of it when they were trying to saver her life. You get to see a good drawing of it if you beat the game (which involves completely destroying the Metroid homeworld and every living creature on it) rather poorly:
Of course if you beat the game a little bit better, you get to see Samus take her helmet off. What color will her hair be?
Blonde. All right, that settles it. Samus is blonde. The first game was just an abberation. She was just going through a phase. All young women color their hair at some point in their lives, right? And everybody goes through a punk phase, so that would explain the green hair. But it's settled. Samus is definitely a blonde.
Metroid Fusion really expanded the whole "different endings" thing that the Metroid games have going on. Depending on how quickly you beat the game and how many items you got, there were a ton of different endings you could get. If you did well enough, of course, Samus would take off more clothes. Here are the "good" endings you can get:
Wow! Samus is definitely a hottie. And she's traded in her bikini bottom for some short-shorts, and she's still wearing a high-necked sleeveless top. This time she's going for an all-blue look instead of the black she wore in Super Metroid.
If you think that was a lot of endings, the Japanese version of Metroid Fusion also had different difficulty levels, so there were even more endings depending on speed, item collection, and difficulty. I've lumped them all together here:
A lot of the Japanese ending stills show scenes from Samus's childhood as she was raised by the bird-like Chozo people. These stills are actually from a manga all about Samus's backstory. Let me see if I can dig up the link to the first couple issues:
I think those links might be in Japanese, so watch out. There's a translation of Issue 1 here.
Metroid Zero Mission
Metroid Zero Mission is kind of a remake of the original Metroid Game done with better graphics and a better understanding of what came after it. It basically takes the place of the original Metroid game.
Like Metroid Fusion, there are a ton of different endings based on speed and item collection. So let's see them:
I have to say, I really miss the Samus from Metroid Fusion. It seems back when she was younger, Samus had a really, really horrible hairstyle. I mean, a ponytail on the top back of your head with a big red scrunchie? No definite part in your hair? What's with those two long strands you didn't pull back into the ponytail? C'mon, Samus, I know you're an intergalactic bounty hunter, but you should at least try not to look too much like a clown!
Seriously, though, I really don't like these drawings at all. They just aren't nearly as appealing as the Metroid Fusion ones. And I don't really like Samus's face very much in these. And besides the bad hairdoo, it looks like they gave them to a junior in high school to color using photoship. It's really, really bad coloring, especially the excessively glowing glare that's all over everything. Here's a hint: You don't need to use the "airbrush" on everything!
That, and Samus looks way too much like Jennifer Anniston for my taste:
Thankfully, it isn't all doom and gloom. They still you get if you complete the game with the fewest possible items is far an away the best. It's actually well drawn, well colored, and Samus has cool hair:
Why couldn't they all have looked that good?
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
The latest Metroid game as of this writing, Metroid Prime 2 takes place after Metroid Prime, but still before Metroid II. So thankfully she hasn't exterminated an entire race, then ironically become the last surviving member herself, and then destroyed an entire planet and every living thing on it. Yet.
At the end of the game Samus takes off her entire 3-D suit. Let's see what's under there:
No! No, no, NO! Samus, what were you thinking going back to that awful, awful hairstyle? Sure you experimented with it in Metroid Zero Mission, but by the time Metroid Prime happened you'd gotten smart and just pulled it back into a cute ponytail. But why did you have to go back to this horrible, horribly hairstyle!? If possible, it looks even worse in 3-D! Also, did you get some work done? You look a little different:
Maybe not. Maybe it's just the hair and the mascara that's making you look different. I gotta say, I'm not loving the new/old you all that much. Hopefully by the time the next Metroid game rolls around you'll have returned to your senses and gone and seen a professional hairstylist or something. Here, let me give you someone's card. They're good, and they're not too expensive.
See you next mission, Samus, you li'l hottie! Now go see that hairstylist!
Metroid Prime: Hunters
So according the Wikipedia article on Metroid Prime: Hunters, it takes place between Prime and Prime 2. So what does her hair look like in this in-between time? Well, I don't actually have this game, so I haven't seen the ending myself. I also don't really have a way to get screen captures or take photos of the ending or anything
Thankfully Mr. Mollica, a reader of this article, was extremely kind enough to email some photos he'd taken of Samus in MP:H. Let's take a look:
Whew! She once again has her hair pulled back into a sensible, functional, but still sexy ponytail. It just looks about 1000% better than Metroid Prime 2 or Zero Mission. Such a relief. Hopefully they'll use this model in Metroid Prime Corruption and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Hopefully. Also, it looks like she has much prettier eyes in Hunters than she does in Echoes:
Metroid Prime 3: Corruption
At the end of Corruption (which takes place after Metroid Prime 2 - I know, I'm shocked), Samus once again takes off her armor if you do well enough. A big "Thank You" to everyone who sent in Corruption pics! I've settled on these by "Aleclom." If they look a lot like the ones you sent in, well, that's because you can only see Samus for a small number of frames at the end of the game, so there are only a few possible screenshots. Let's take a look, shall we?
Well, it unfortunately looks like they re-used almost the exact same model as Echoes. Just spruced it up some so that it wouldn't look bad in the souped-up Wii graphics. I just don't think she's nearly as pretty as in Hunters.
Super Smash Bros. Brawl
So here we have it. I include Brawl in this article even though it technically doesn't count as an entry in the Metroid franchise, and in spite of the fact that you don't have to beat the game in order to see Samus de-armor herself.
Zero-Suit Samus is kind of an "unlockable" character in Brawl. You have to select regular, armored Samus and then break the Smash Ball in order to do your "final smash." In Samus's case it's a gigantic blast that is so powerful it actually breaks her armor and it falls to pieces around her. Let's take a look at some pictures I took myself by using Brawl's built-in pause capturing, then converting them to jpg with the fantastic bin2jpg tool. What does she look like without her armor?
Woo! She looks great! The Brawl Samus is easily my favorite 3-D Samus of them all, even with the entirely un-functional hairstyle. It's a very similar model to how she looked in Corruption, but they slightly exaggerated and softened her up so that she looks more like an animé character. I think it suits her much better than trying to make her look "realistic." Here's a closeup (from Aleclom again) of her pretty face:
Please please please, Nintendo: let this version of Samus be the definitive one from here on out.
Oh! And don't worry that she's lost her suit; she now (somehow) has a gigantic pistol with which she can fire energy blasts:
The pistol also converts into an energy-whip-deploying weapon, and you can use it to whip forward...
... or upwards:
Unlike the rather plodding armored Samus, Zero-Suit Samus is very dextrous and extremely quick. She has some fighting moves that she would never be able to pull off in a big, bulky suit of powered armor:
But just 'cause she's pretty and kinda looks like she's break-dancing doesn't mean she isn't a kick-ass fighter. Here she is kicking Solid Snake's ass:
If you really want, you can break another Smash Ball and do Zero-Suit Samus's "final smash," which re-constitutes her suit of armor around her.
But why would you want to? Super Smash Bros. Brawl is a fun game, but it doesn't hurt to have something nice to look at while you're playing.
And so there you have it. I have to say that suitless Samus from Fusion (the endings available in America, not the extra Japanese endings) is probably my favorite rendering of the character. She has a pretty face, decent hair and her anatomy isn't overly exaggerated.
But still... I do have much affection for the Zero-Suit Samus from Brawl, even though it isn't an official entry in the Metroid games, and even though I'm not a fan of that hairdo (as you may have gathered from reading this article). It'd be nice to think that this version of Samus is somewhere out there amongst the stars...
Yeah, like that!