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Mother, May I See Metroid: Other M

[table of contents]
Deletion, Authorized
Right after the building explodes for no apparent reason, Adam chimes in, saying that she should continue using her current stuff. He'll consider authorizing other powers "after we get a better understanding of the situation." I remind you that Samus is chasing a monster that just took out one of Adam's team. But Adam sends her into the Pyrosphere of the station with no ice beam at all. Remember: everyone else got to use their freeze guns. But not Samus.

Speaking of the Pyrosphere, Samus is running through a glass and metal hallway over a lava pit. Wait, what? There's a lava pit, on the BOTTLE SHIP? Oh well, we let Fusion get away with it on BSL. A giant monster jumps up and tries to eat Samus through the tube; Samus barely avoids it.

Cut through a fair bit of gameplay to Samus landing on the top of a volcano. Wow, even Fusion didn't say they had a active volcano on BSL; at least there, the lava was used as part of recreating SR388's environment (and for the "boiler").

Adam then authorizes Samus to activate "the Varia feature on your suit to protect yourself from heat damage."


I'll leave that be.

A lava monster rises up and grabs Samus, but she shoots her way out of it. And then, there's a boss fight; Samus kills it with a spiffy badass move.

At this point, I have to step out of theater mode again because the damn thing doesn't even explain how this scene links to the next. Samus continues tracking the monster until Adam tells Samus to head to the Cryosphere to look for survivors. Why he thinks that a survivor might be there is not explained. Also, why he doesn't send his team there while Samus stays on the hunt for the big, huge monster that took out one of his guys is also not explained.

Anyway, after some gameplay in the Cryosphere, Samus comes across a dead creature. Samus narrates that the creature looked like a Metroid had fed on it. Well... no, it doesn't. The only sign of "Metroid predation" I know of is when something loses its color and turns into dust*, and this creature seems perfectly normal, albeit frozen. Samus exposites that Metroids can't survive in the Cryosphere's cold temperatures. Then she reminds us that "the baby" was the last of its kind.

Well, after lots more gameplay, Samus comes across the frozen body of a GF soldier: Maurice. Adam... says nothing. Remember: he can see what Samus sees. So he sees another of his team dead and does not care. For her part, Samus also says nothing. She doesn't report that a man's down or anything. So she also does not care.

Well, as Samus looks at him, we get a shot of someone looking at her from within a nearby building. It's a blond woman in a labcoat. Samus apparently has Spider Senses or something and knows she's being watched. So she spins around and enters a bit of gameplay to locate the blond. Once she sees Samus looking at her, she runs off, quickly pursued by Samus.

Cut to shortly thereafter, where Samus is in a warehouse full of shipping containers, following the blond woman. Samus tells her to stop running away while slowly stalking her. Samus says that she's here to rescue everyone, but the woman thinks the GF wants to kill everyone who knows about the BOTTLE SHIP. She then says that she can't trust them when their troops are killing one another.

This sentence provokes a very odd flashback. See, it's flashbacking to what the woman saw, not Samus. So... how does that work exactly? Is the game saying that she tells Samus this? Because some narration, or God forbid dialog, from her would help. It feels very odd from a game that has, until now, stayed firmly centered on Samus's viewpoint. In any case, we see one of the GF soldiers shoot Maurice with an ice gun. But the view is too far away to know which one it is.

Back in the present, the woman runs to a console, followed by Samus who finally decides to start running after her. Samus repeats her line about rescuing them, and that seems to stop the woman this time... for some reason.

Then a power-lifter almost entirely stolen from Aliens attacks. It throws a box at the woman, who avoids it and takes refuge behind Samus. Then Samus gets a look at the cockpit, and she sees... a GF soldier! What a shock! Well it would be if we weren't just shown that there was a traitor on the team. Samus tells the survivor to run away. So cue the boss fight.

After the fight, Samus finds the power-lifter's cockpit empty. Samus then recounts what just happened for the benefit of people who took hours to beat this boss, or for people who can't remember what happened 20 minutes ago.

Well, never mind that. Adam calls in to say that the Furizard's cry is somehow making all of the other creatures more aggressive. Because that makes sense. So Adam is sending Samus back into the Pyrosphere. Wait: so you had Samus go track down survivors in another sector for a good hour or so, then decided to send her back on the mission you pulled her off of. And you still have nothing to say about Maurice being dead or the fact that there's a traitor on your team.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you Adam Malkovich: The Perfect Military Mind!* A man who doesn't give an airborne shit about what happens to his squad members and who constantly dithers back and forth on what people should be doing. I can totally see why the GF decided to preserve his brain in an AI.

Though Adam does authorize her to use her plasma beam. But only when she encounters the creature; no, the stuff along the way should be attacked with conventional weapons. Thank you Adam, may I please have another?

So Samus goes to a nearby elevator and starts monologuing again. She talks about how the BOTTLE SHIP had become Zebes all over again. Man, this sounds familiar. A ship-style environment where there's a recreation of some planetary environment, while Samus is being given orders on where to go by Adam Malkovich, and we eventually find out that the GF is up to no good. I'm sure I played a game like this somewhere, but it's just not coming to me.

Samus then suddenly changes topics to Adam and his crew. She deduces that the GF figured Adam's little team would uncover the illegal bioweapons research. So they put an assassin on his team. Good job doing background checks on your boys, Adam. Samus wonders who the traitor might be, ominously adding even Adam to the list of possible suspects. Then, Samus utters the immortal line:

Until I found out who it was, I decided to call the traitor the Deleter.

The what!? OK, this must be some kind of Japanese thing, where in the Japanese version it was used for Gratuitous Engrish and sounded cool and menacing to them. But then someone decided that they should use the same word in the English version, even though it sounds absurd to the point of pants-soiling hilarity. Especially the way it builds up to Samus saying the word, with the soldier that's supposed to be "the Deleter" turning to face the camera ominously as she says it.

It's easily one of the most face-palmingly hilarious moments in the entire game.

OK, so after that, Samus wonders whether the blond woman was the one who sent the distress call. Why? Who cares who sent the "Baby's Cry?" For all you know, it was just an automated signal sent by the computer when nobody used it for a time. Or the person who sent it was killed. Then Samus wonders if this is Madeline. Again, why? The odds of it being her are minuscule at best.

Anyway, Samus monologues that she has to protect the woman, because she'd be attacked again. OK, so... why are you running off to do what Adam said if you need to protect her so badly? Then Samus says that Samus herself would be seen as a target. Well, yeah. But you're in Chozo-built magitek powered-armor that's superior to GF weapons and armor in virtually every possible way. His best chance to hurt you was to use a giant mecha in the form of a power-lifter. You're not exactly in great danger here; it's like a kitten trying to fight an elephant.

Then, cut to the Pyrosphere, where the Deleter (I can't believe I'm even writing that) has racked up another victim and thrown him in the lava. We can see how tall he isn't and that he's not wearing a big backpack, so he's obviously not Anthony. So that only leaves three people: K.G., James, or Adam.

Speaking of who this guy is, something needs to be said about this plot. Think about what's happened. Samus has discovered pretty clear evidence of a traitor on the team. This plot element is introduced, a boss fight happens because of it, and then it vanishes entirely for quite some time; Adam tells Samus to go back to hunting Furizard. Why doesn't Samus tell Adam about it? Or why doesn't Adam mention it? Remember: it was established that he sees everything Samus does. So why doesn't something reasonable happen here?

Because if it did, the plot wouldn't work.

The Deleter is a plot device that exists for exactly two purposes. Indeed, the very moment both of these are fulfilled, it will be discarded as soon as possible and never be mentioned or made relevant ever again. Yes, really.

I'm not going to say what the purpose of this plot is yet, as it would be a spoiler. My point in bringing it up now is this: look at how many plot holes this opens up. Look at what it says about Samus that she wouldn't bother even telling Adam that a traitor exists. Look at what it says about Adam that he isn't paying enough attention to what's going on with Samus.

These plot holes only exist because if they didn't, if Samus and Adam acted like normal people and talked about the traitor, the plot wouldn't do what the writers want it to. And coming up with another way of making this all work, of achieving the same effect, would have required, you know, actual effort!


Hmm... Something really, really stupid happened in that last section of the game. I mean, besides "the Deleter." But it's gameplay, so I'm not allowed to talk about it. Well, I guess that means...

What? It's part of the story? It impacts the characters, because it's an attempt at providing a storyline explanation for a game mechanic?

Heh heh heh...

So, speaking of things that could have been done better if actual effort had been put forth, the whole authorization gimmick. To properly discuss this requires explaining why this exists. And that requires a quick digression into gameplay.

Metroid is an action/adventure game series. There is a clear progression of powers and abilities (sequence breaking aside) from beginning to end in all of the games. These are usually provided by picking up powerups for Samus's suit; these give her new abilities. Of course, this raises a question for the sequels: why doesn't she have all her stuff from the last game?

Now personally, I'm a big fan of Gameplay and Story Segregation for these sorts of things, so I would be willing to just say STFU and play. But then again, I'm not in charge of multi-million dollar gaming franchises either, so some game developers who are decided to try ways to explain this.

Metroids Fusion and Prime were the first to do this; the previous games just used the STFU maxim. In Fusion, it was part of the plot; your suit has been taken over by the main villain. This integrated well with the gameplay, as it also gave the game SA-X, the very best part of Fusion. Prime basically gave it a handwave: a strong impact damaged bits of her suit. Echoes did something like Fusion; the Ing attacked Samus and jacked parts of her suit, so she has to get them back. It gave a legitimate explanation for why those bits of gear were available after boss fights. With Corruption, they decided to go back to STFU, because quite frankly it was just getting tiresome.

And this brings us to Other M. Powerups in prior games were more or less a handwave; it's here because it was left here by the ancient Chozo, or an Ing stole it, or she recovered it from an X-parasite, or it was a Luminoth relic, or whatever. Other M can't use those excuses because it's set aboard the BOTTLE SHIP. Even though it does use those excuses, because there are still missile and energy tank expansions lying around. So they couldn't even commit to their own dumbass mechanic.

So they basically decided this. With two exceptions (for new weapons she picks up from bosses), Samus already has all of her stuff. But she won't get to use it until an arbitrary point in the game, just like pickups are placed at arbitrary locations. So they basically use Adam to replace pickups. I'm not here to talk about what this feels like as a gameplay mechanic. This is about how it interacts with the story.

And the Varia suit authorization is easily the worst of the lot. Why? Well, look back at the scene where Adam introduces the basic concept of authorization (notably a cutscene, so yes, it is story). He specifically calls out power bombs because of their destructive power. They go around corners, through walls, kill people instantly, etc. And this is still ostensibly a rescue mission.

And... that makes sense. Samus is a neigh-invulnerable engine of destruction; it's important for her not to accidentally destroy something that might be important. So from a storyline perspective, we see that the authorization gimmick has some logical foundation. Granted, the logical foundation is undermined in that Adam never de-authorizes equipment in later circumstances. But there is some logic to it on the basis of the potential destructiveness of Samus Aran.

Except that the Varia Suit isn't a weapon! As the name suggests, it's a suit. It's a purely defensive modification: it protects from heat and reduces damage. Shields can't cause collateral damage. The gameplay mechanic only has storyline justifications when applied to things that can actually kill people. When you're talking about suits or mobility powers like the Space Jump, it makes no sense.

But that's just the storyline justification. What matters is what this says about the storyline itself.

During gameplay, Samus runs through an active lava zone. And the Metroid games since Super Metroid has been pretty good about averting Convection Schmonvection*; this means that she takes damage when she's near lava. In all previous Metroid games that do this, it is a sign to turn back until you have a suit that can deal with it. Namely, the Varia Suit.

In this game, not only do they expect you to charge right through, Samus actually has the Varia Suit with her. So at any time during this run through a fiery inferno, Samus Aran could just decide to stop taking constant damage from heat.* The game puts Samus through a fairly lengthy run near lava, leading up to the boss fight, which is where Adam finally allows her to turn it on. It should also be noted that the Varia (and the Gravity Suit) reduces damage taken from hits. So every time Samus is attacked, that's an attack that should have hit for much less than it did.

We know that Adam is watching Samus, that he can see what she sees (I told you that would be the source of a lot of plot holes). So, what does it say about Adam Malkovich when he allows/forces Samus to run this fiery gauntlet, only authorizing her Varia suit at the very end?

Well, it's possible that Adam believes that Samus seems to be trying to do a low-percent run of Other M. He's shocked that she wouldn't turn the Varia on, but isn't sure what it is that she's trying to do, so he doesn't interrupt her. But at the end, he can't take it anymore and just tells her to turn the damn thing on already. This is a possible interpretation, but the matter-of-fact, all-business tone that Adam takes when giving the order doesn't lend itself to this position. Granted the voice acting and direction in this game is uniformly terrible, so it could just be that. But there's nothing in the words themselves that suggest this explanation.

Alternatively, Adam could have just really needed to go to the bathroom. For ~10 minutes (longer if the player's not very good). Again possible, but that makes him a pretty lousy CO. He's restrained Samus from using her gear, then sent her on a trek into the Pyrosphere, knowing that there are open pits of lava that could kill her. And then he decided that he really needs to take a dump; and he needs it so badly that he'll leave Samus to her own devices. Thus making him incredibly irresponsible.

It could be that Adam specifically wants to hurt her. After all, saying that their reunion was strained would be putting it mildly. The very first thing he did was glare at her. Then he called her an "outsider," followed by even more glaring when she actually did something of value without his direct authorization. He only reluctantly agreed to even keep her around after a boss fight. And even then, he made it clear that she was to do exactly and only what she was told.

If Adam wanted to reinforce his control over her, this would be an effective way to do that. After verbally browbeating her earlier, treating her like a non-person and only reluctantly allowing her around so long as she submits to his will, he then starts the corporal punishment. He puts her in this situation where following his orders means that she gets hurt. Not fatally, of course. Just enough so that she gets the point of who's in charge here. Plus, it acts as a test to see if she'll disobey him. And true to form she doesn't.

Now, look at these possibilities and ask yourself: given what we have seen of this game thus far, which of these theories has most actual evidence within the work? Doesn't the last option sound rather like the Adam we learned of from Samus's flashback? The one who dumped on Samus verbally and encouraged this behavior in others, while somehow making Samus love him like a father? Verbal abuse is not so far removed from physical abuse after all. Isn't this the sort of method of control that he might be willing to employ?

But it takes two to tango, so what does all this say about Samus? Why did she willingly subject herself to this? Samus could have just turned on her Varia whenever she wanted. So why didn't she?

Maybe she's just following orders, military-style. He's the commander-on-site, so if he didn't tell her it was OK, then it wasn't. Some have used this as a defense of this nonsense, saying that Samus had no choice. Well quite frankly, that's bullshit. Even in modern militaries, soldiers in the field are given reasonable freedom of action. The rules of engagement allow you to at the very least return fire on an enemy that's shooting at you.

Again, we're not talking about spraying Power Bombs or her rapid-fire Plasma Beam. It's a purely defensive ability. It's like soldiers in the field being told that they must wait until explicitly ordered to put on their magical armor that takes up no space or resources to use. There is no reason to believe that Samus would have been wrong in some military sense to activate the Varia on her own recognizance.

And if the GF military works that way, then the GF military is full of shit and deserves to be overrun by Space Pirates. No wonder those dumbasses couldn't take Zebes with an entire fleet; they were probably killed while waiting for orders from HQ to wipe their asses.

What else could explain why Samus didn't turn it on? It could be that Samus wanted to impress Adam. Maybe she thinks that it would be a way of getting back into his good graces. So she decided to just keep her suits off until she absolutely needed them. Possible, but the evidential support is lacking. If she wants to be in Adam's good graces, then the right way to do that is to appeal to what Adam wants.

Obedience; that's what Adam wants, by his own admission. "You don't move unless I say so. And you don't fire unless I say so." So she does exactly and only what Adam says, not because he's her military superior but because he's Adam. She does only that which he will approve of. Just as she did when Adam glared at her for daring to fire a missile, she again accedes to his authority. He didn't say she could use the Varia, so she can't use it.

Again, I ask you: which of these explanations has more support within the story itself? Doesn't the latter sound like the actions of the Samus who willingly turned off her missiles and bombs after just a glare from Adam?

I mentioned earlier how you could dismiss this stuff out-of-universe as just bad writing. And that's true here. However, this does fit into the template established in that section. Of course, an actual pattern requires at least three data points, so this could still just be bad writing. But if there are more data points...

There is also another aspect to authorization in relation to the Samus/Adam relationship. Adam is controlling which weapons Samus gets to use and when. Why? Because he doesn't want Samus to kill something by accident. On a fundamental level, what this means is that Adam does not trust her. He doesn't trust Samus to clear a room before flinging Power Bombs around. He doesn't trust Samus to know what she's shooting at or what's behind what she's shooting at.

Adam feels that Samus is someone he has to keep under control, lest she go off and start recklessly blowing up everything around her. He cannot rely on her to take care of this stuff on her own, to check her fire in unusual surroundings and so forth. Remember: Anthony was allowed to decide on his own whether to whip out his Plasma Beam. Samus has to submit herself to Adam's judgment for her Plasma Beam.

Hmm... isn't that another data point? Did we just reach three; do we have a pattern?

29th May '12 8:44:51 AM flag for mods
And here we go... Can't wait to see how you'll tear into it through the next entries, judging from how thoroughly you've done this one. XD
nomuru2d 22nd May 12
Korval, did you follow Maple Leaf and Olive Branch's Lets Play thread? Because they actually jokingly brought up the first two reasons for the Heat Run. Either way, said Lets Play is brilliant and is worth checking out. Particularly Olive Branch's commentary, who is experiencing the story blind.
Emperordaein 22nd May 12
I did see the Let's Play (though not when the thread was active), and it was very good. I do admit taking the first idea from them, but the second was pretty obvious.

The impetus for me starting this really was Slowbeef and Diabetus's Rongu-Purae of Theater Mode. I heard enough about Other M when it came out to avoid it at all costs, so I'd pretty much forgotten about it until that came up on the Retsupurae You Tube channel. And after seeing that whole thing, I just felt the need to do this.
Korval 22nd May 12
The lack of trust Adam has for Samus is really jarring; it's nothing like the relationship she alludes to in Fusion.

I'd say the Sector Zero scene is the best evidence of why Adam's lack of trust for her is stupid stupid STUPID
Scardoll 30th May 12

bsw17 5th Dec 13
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