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Mother, May I See Metroid: Other M
Korval

[table of contents]
Leaping Lizards, Part 1
Following that boss fight and some further gameplay, Samus comes to a door. Above that door is the carcass of the Furizard. As with the Furby carcass, it's empty. So it's evolved again; I wonder what it could have evolved into?

Samus walks into the dark room. She looks around for a bit, but we see the red line from a laser scope playing over her body to her face. When it reaches her face-plate, Samus sees it and turns to fire. Before she does, she sees that it's Anthony, who tells her to move out of the way. Um, why not say that before when you were clearly aiming at her; why wait for her to turn around? Anyway, she hits the deck and a dark shape rises up behind where she was standing.

Anthony asks where the exit is. After Samus finds it, a stream of fire from the ceiling blasts the bridge leading to it, trapping them. Anthony gets ready to go charging at something he can't even see, but Samus tells him to leave it to her, since her gun doesn't require ammo and stuff. So she runs out and dodges fireblasts from the ceiling. Adam suggests opening a magma chute, and then he graciously allows Samus to use Super Missiles to do so. She does and magma starts filling the floor of the room, providing light (Anthony and she are on an elevated platform).

And now we reach what is one of the most infamous boss intro cutscenes in videogame history.

Ridley appears, seemingly from out of the lava and in backlight for added horror effect. He jumps down to the platform and begins to approach Samus while screaming. Samus, shocked, says Ridley's name and then* she turns into a crying, 3-year-old girl.

There are not enough "I am not making this up" disclaimers to cover this, but that's not hyperbole. That is not a metaphor or a simile or any form of exaggeration. We do a zoom in on adult Samus's face, and when we pull back, it's crying, 3-year-old girl Samus standing there. Ridley approaches the toddler, who transforms back into the actual Samus as the camera swings behind Ridley's leg.

Adam, who's apparently decided to actually pay attention to what's going on with Samus, is surprised that Ridley's 4 feet away from his monitor. He feels that the best course of action when Samus is being confronted by a 30-foot-long flying dragon is to distract her by talking to her. He tells her to use her plasma beam and then asks what her status is. She simply cries out that "it can't be," which isn't subtitled because it would overlap with Adam's line, which is naturally more important than the protagonist's dialog.

We get a shot of Adam in his control booth (it's interesting how this scene about Samus suddenly turned into a scene about Adam), but from behind now, as though it's a POV shot. Adam screams for Samus, then sees something out of the corner of his eye. A gunshot is heard, and what appears to be a shell casing falls to the ground.

Hurray, Adam was deleted! And wow, even that sounds stupid.

So back to Samus. After standing there howling for what must have been no less than 30 seconds, Ridley decides to finally take advantage of Samus going mentally bye-bye. He grabs Samus, wisely pinning her gun-arm down. She struggles a bit with her free arm, then... her arm's armor starts to disintegrate. Anthony screams at Ridley to release her, but shockingly enough the 30 foot dragon doesn't give a shit. He flies up and drags Samus along the wall, where more of her armor disintegrates.

And now the Metroid series has reduced itself to stealing from Smash Bros. Brawl*. With Anthony taking on the role of Pikachu*. That again is not hyperbole; Anthony fires his plasma gun, which causes Ridley to drop Samus. She's completely without her suit, but fortunately it reforms before she hits the bottom.

Anthony looks up at Ridley, while Samus is lying on the ground with her thumb up her ass, and says, "Hey punk: don't you know how to treat a lady!?" He then calls Ridley out by saying, "I think I got to teach you a lesson about subtlety." Anthony, you're in Other M; nobody and nothing associated with this game knows anything about subtlety.

Well, that's enough for Ridley, who takes Anthony up on his offer. An offer made, I remind you, when Anthony had already fired his one round. Anthony just called out a 30 foot dragon while wielding an empty gun.

As Ridley approaches him, Samus cries out to him and reaches for him with her left hand. Which could very easily have been her right hand. The one with the gun on it. The gun that could have been firing. So, while Samus sits there completely uninjured, Anthony performs a backflip to dodge one claw swipe, but gets knocked into the lava by Ridley's tail.

Samus finally decides to actually, you know, do something in this game that's ostensibly about her. And then we get a boss fight. Ridley is defeated... again, so Samus takes a minute to look at Anthony's gun. The lack of monologuing suggests that Ridley's not dead. So he gets up and attacks. After some pointless bullet time dodging on both sides, Ridley blasts a hole in the wall and dives through it.

Since this is Other M, we need Samus to monologue. So she wonders whether or not Anthony was conscious when he was incinerated by the lava. "Unbearable thoughts welled up in me." Prospective writers, see this line? NEVER EVER WRITE THIS! This story is basically "How Not to Write a Novel" in videogame form. Samus then says that she regrets the whole not doing anything while Anthony just died. Really, Other M? We needed narration to say that? She also feels guilty for thinking that he was the Deleter (*groan*); you know, when he was aiming a gun at her.

Mercifully, the scene ends.

... Wow. You know what? I'm not mentally prepared to discuss IT yet; so first, I'm going to talk about everything but IT.

Did you catch where Ridley comes from? Yes, that's right, Furizard evolved into a Ridley. Oh and if you think that this was a nice bit of subtlety, it isn't; the game won't actually let you continue until you see Furizard's shell. And they'll beat you over the head with it in the next scene.

Oh, and that means that this is true:

-_-

Ridley is a Goddamn Pokemon. Sure, he may have a Magikarp Power, but it's still stupid as hell. The life-cycle of the Space Dragon starts off as a tiny rabbit creature with no arms, then becomes a four-limbed lizard/mammal, then becomes a six-limbed dragon capable of flying through space? Sorry; not buying it.

Also, how much time has passed on the BOTTLE SHIP? There has been no indication of weeks passing. And we'll find out in the next scene that Furby's been on the ship for a fairly lengthy period of time. So why is it that he was still a Furby when everyone showed up, then went through two evolutions in about a day's time?

And don't just say that this is a videogame, so they can't really show the passage of time. You can't tell me that there was no point in this story where they couldn't have had the team get together for chow and sleep. With the dozens of cutscenes and stuff so far, there were plenty of opportunities to say how long passed. Even just an offhand comment that they've been on the BOTTLE SHIP for days would help. Though that wouldn't explain why it took days to search one ship, even a big one.

That being said, I will say one positive thing about this scene: Ridley looks nice. I never much liked how thin and gaunt the old Ridley looked; yes, I know it looked more like Alien. But this muscular Ridley is a nice redesign. It loses the homage nature in favor of added aggression and intimidation. It's more appropriate to his purpose in the game: a hard boss fight. Though I could do without the random spikes.

Also, we need to talk about Samus's power armor, which is coming dangerously close to discussing IT. The nature of Samus's armor throughout the Metroid games is generally pretty clear. It's obviously some kind of physical object. Samus lost it in Zero Mission (because she'd taken it off and it was destroyed in a crash), and parts of it were taken from her body in Fusion and Echoes. The GF even modified it to some degree in Corruption, though it may have just used it's ability to absorb technology to fuse with the PED equipment.

At the same time, it's clear that Samus doesn't put the suit on; it just sort of magically appears on her body. In Zero Mission, she got her new suit from one the Chozo left behind. And in Corruption, it magically assembled itself around her as she woke up on her ship. It also disappeared later, when she was just outside her ship. One could imagine that there's some physical object associated with the suit which can be activated and deactivated to construct or disassemble the suit. A mental command would be all that's required to create or remove the suit.

But now Other M comes along. Here, the suit isn't just activated by her will; it's fueled by her will. That's why it starts to disintegrate here; being in the presence of Ridley caused her to loose her will.

There are many problems with this. It doesn't fit into the prior games at all. If it takes Samus's will to keep the suit operational, then what about all those times when she's been in the suit while unconscious? Corruption springs to mind, as does Fusion, where the GF cut pieces of her suit off. In fact, it doesn't even fit into this game, because it's a major plot point that Samus was unconscious with her power armor intact.

Also, if the suit is fueled by her will, how can a piece of the suit even be cut off? Who's will was fueling the SA-X pieces? Could Samus have killed SA-X just by turning off her suit? Could she have neutered the Boost Ball Guardian in Echoes just by turning her suit off for a brief period?

So again, Shitting on Metroid #5: for directly contradicting several games in the series, all so that Samus can be made a weaker character for it. (oops, did I talk about IT too soon?)

A bigger problem than that is that this is never explained very well in the game. It looks more like Ridley is actually causing damage to the suit or has some special power that destabilizes it. The only other scene where this will come into play could again be considered some destabilization power. So the player can easily get the wrong impression about what's going on. Samus monologues about bullshit and whatnot, but they couldn't spare a sentence or two to explain this?

One more problem, though this is more Fridge Logic. The Chozo's special magitek powered armor appears specifically designed to fail when you need it the most. Because that's what happens here. When Samus most needs the protection of this armor, it starts shutting down. No wonder the Chozo are all but extinct; their most powerful weapons are made to fail when you need them.

Preamble to IT

Anything else? Anything at all? No? Not a thing more to talk about? Dammit. *sigh* Alright. I guess it's time to deal with IT.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have now Jumped the Shark. Many people get the definition of this wrong, so allow me to state it just to make sure we're all on the same page. The Jump the Shark moment is often seen as the worst moment in a work. It isn't. Or at least, it doesn't have to be.

The Jump the Shark moment is a scene within a larger work that is so antithetical to the original purpose of that work that you know that the work has so lost sight of that original purpose that it will never return to it. And that's what we have here.

Before now, you could believe that it could get better. Yes, there was the Varia Suit badness, the terrible writing, the shoddy storytelling, the relationship between Samus and Adam, etc. But there was always a chance for things to change. After all, Fusion says that Adam dies, so that could still happen here, and that would be a good thing. The writing probably isn't going to improve, but maybe you could write the Varia Suit thing off as an accident.

No longer. The antithesis of the Metroid series is this: Samus Aran pussing out before Ridley. This is the exact opposite of what Samus Aran is about. You cannot craft a scene more opposing of what Metroid is in terms of story.

This is Metroid's anti-particle.

And yet, people stand up to defend this scene. You may well be one of them. I'm going to structure my discussions of this scene based on defenses of it. That's one of the nice things about looking at this stuff well after the initial anger and cross-fire has died down.

First, we need to talk about the nature of opinions. I'm of the belief that an opinion given without support, without evidence and/or reasoning, is of no value to the "not you" demographic. I don't really care if you like something; I want to know why you like it. That's why I like writing these long dissertations of works. Here, I can lay the work out for everyone to see, state my opinions on the subject, and provide argument and evidential support for them.

Oh, you can still like or hate something without providing a reason. Just don't expect me to give a damn about your opinion of it if you can't articulate why you feel that way. You can't effectively discuss opinions without being able to justify them; if you can't, it's just two people screaming "LOVED IT" or "HATED IT" at each other.

When people argue for a position on things, it is often an indicator of how they feel about the work as a whole. Many people who love something will bend over backwards to defend it, just as those who hate it can fall over their own logic in their zeal to attack it. Even more, if a work is really good, you'll often be willing to ignore the flaws in it. What does it matter if there's some minor inconsistency if the story is strong and generally works? It's just common courtesy that if the writers are doing diligence in providing quality entertainment that you choose to overlook any minor flaws in it.

Of course, the knife cuts both ways: if a work is terrible, then every minor flaw is magnified. There's no reason to forgive it anymore because the story has already destroyed your suspension of disbelief. And without that, you're just watching actors in costumes speaking lines at each other (or in this case, CG things that resemble people while voices are dubbed over them).

So if you are one of this scene's champions, I want you to think carefully and truthfully about how you feel about Other M and this scene in particular. Because I think that's a good starting point for deconstructing the arguments defending it. I think you can guess what my perspective on Other M and this scene in particular is. As for the hypothetical "you" who are trying to defend this scene, there are three possible perspectives you could have:

That's not to say that none of the other groups are defending it from unfounded attacks. It's simply a question of what you feel about the scene and the work as a whole, what your biases are when you rise up to defend it.

I'll tackle all three of these mental perspectives, in the order presented above. Continued in Part 2.

24th May '12 9:52:09 AM flag for mods
comments
Oh man, I didn't think I'd make it through the gigantic wall. So much deconstruction that it's ridiculous, but it's a very well thought-out read.
nomuru2d 23rd May 12
Hey, China called. They want their wall back!
MadWritter 24th May 12
Yeah, that was kinda lengthy. Especially when you realize that the entire scene is only about 7 minutes of Theater Mode, and the egregious part is 1 minute.

I felt the length was necessary due to how often and how vehemently people actually defend this. It really amazes me how often it is that people really don't get what the problem is with this scene.

On the plus side, none of the other sections will be as long. There's one that gets somewhat close, but that one is more due to the sheer density of stupid in the scene being described.
Korval 24th May 12
I've split it up into three parts, to make it less text-wally.
Korval 24th May 12
It's okay by me, man.
nomuru2d 24th May 12
There seemed to be a conspicuous lack of uproar at "Ridley is a Furby". Perhaps that's because of the sheer idiocy of the "Samus freezes up" scene. But I thought it sounded like a strange idea at best, a dumb one at worst, for Ridley to be a fluffy thing. Good to hear that's the case.
Tuckerscreator 25th May 12
I remember when Samus actually took her helmet off at the end of Prime 1, and stood there for a moment looking at the destruction while holding said helmet in her hand. Other M screwed the pooch when it came to her suit's powers.
crazyrabbits 31st Aug 12
I know it's sort of late and a side-bit, but actually, there was some justification for the suit disintegrating from previous Metroid works.

Chozo suits (and the Chozo's psychic powers themselves, in a sense) function on an ability to turn matter into energy (or maybe just shift them into a pocket dimension at will) and back into matter again at extremely high rates of speed.

First, consider that missiles are essentially phased-in on demand without needing any sort of belt feed or ammo clip even though Samus can literally carry hundreds at a time. Ammo is held as energy inside her suit capacitors.

Second, consider her right arm - for a long time, fans of Metroid considered Samus's cannon to be a prosthetic because it clearly occupied the same space as her forearm. Parts of Prime contradict this, since the X-Ray visor lets you see arm bones inside the cannon (even nearly to the tip of the cannon, which leaves no space for that cannon to actually charge up energy), but generally, it's implied that Samus's forearm is actually turned into energy when her arm cannon is in play.

Third, the Morph Ball doesn't involve Samus just tucking into a ball. Read that part in Prime 1 where you read the datalog about Space Pirates trying to copy the morph ball again - it actually involves turning Samus's body into energy and morphing the shape of the armor around the energy ball her body was turned into. In fact, you can outright see this in Hunters, and to a lesser extent in some of the Prime balls after you get charge ball.

Fourth, the whole suit comes off at will like it does in Other M at the end of Prime 2 and converts her back to "zero suit". Meaning, basically, that her whole suit, or any part of it (she can just take off the helmet, for example) materializes or disintigrates at will.

Finally, in the comic put into parts of the old Nintendo Power magazines, there was a Metroid comic. At one point in the comic, right before the first boss in Brinstar, Samus was being accompanied by another bounty hunter, presumably just so she had someone to talk to, since the comic would need some dialogue to keep things interesting. (Notably, he was portrayed as generally incompetent and Samus was having to save him frequently in between her insistence that he go home and leave things to her.)

At one point, however, in the middle of talking to the other bounty hunter, a spike trap pops up and spears Samus in the arm, right through her power armor. The other bounty hunter freaks out, and drags her off the scene, and flies her to the "only family she has", which is her Chozo wizened old kung-fu mentor guy. He explains that the power armor is based upon her will and concentration, and will not properly materialize if she doesn't stay in the right frame of mind. When the bounty hunter sheepishly asks if he was at fault for distracting Samus, the chozo responds that it was unlikely, and that it was more likely that she was disturbed by the disappearance of the Metroid Hatchling. (Incidentally, he heals Samus with the power bomb heal trick.)
Wraith_Magus 5th Sep 12
For the missile thing, would Samus be able to use any type of energy to form a missile? In the games, different ammo pickups were separate. Health was also a separate pickup. If Samus could use any type of energy, you could logically assume that Samus would be able to convert health energy into ammo if she needed, and vice versa.

That being said, I would think for a warrior like Samus who has undergone extreme physical and mental training, maintaining the suit during crisis situations would be extremely important. She probably was trained extensively just for that. The Chozo battle suit is regarded as one of the most powerful weapons in the galaxy not because it is rare, but because Samus is probably the only being who is able to use it.

Still, I don't like the whole "materialize" thing. Seems too magical and less sci-fi. For Morph Ball, I had always thought that her Chozo DNA allowed her to contort her body in ways that other beings could not (curling up into a ball is a Chozo-unique ability and they did it for ritualistic purposes if you look at the Chozo statues with their palms open).

You probably know more about the source material than I do, but sometimes the source material makes just about as much sense as the games.
Leopoldshark 15th Oct 12
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