|“||In the vast universe, the history of humanity is but a flash of light from a lone star. The life of a single person should be lost in space and time. But among the stars, there is one light that burns brighter than all others. The light of Samus Aran. Her battles extend beyond her life, and etch themselves into history.||„|
|~ Metroid Prime intro|
Samus Aran is the main protagonist of the Metroid series, also one of the eight protagonists of the Subspace Emissary. She is a bounty hunter hired by the Galactic Federation to defeat an evil race of criminals called Space Pirates.
Samus was born in 2055 to Virgina and Rodney Aran on Earth colony K-2L. Orphaned during a Space Pirate raid on her home of K-2L, Samus was adopted by the mysterious Chozo and taken to Zebes where she was infused with their DNA and raised to become a warrior. Once she reached adulthood, Samus joined the Federation Police where she served under the Commanding Officer Adam Malkovich, but she ultimately left to become a bounty hunter, though she was nonetheless recruited by the Galactic Federation on many occasions. Armed in her cybernetic Power Suit, Samus has become famous for her accomplishments on missions others thought impossible. Her most renowned achievements are the destruction of the Space Pirate base on Zebes, her role in ending the Galactic Phazon crisis, her extermination of the Metroid species, and her disobedience of orders at the BSL station where she chose to destroy the deadly X Parasites rather than turn them over to the Galactic Federation.
Samus broke ground early in the gaming world in the 1986 game Metroid, her first appearance. Originally players were under the impression that Samus was a male, as even the instruction booklet confirmed this. However, completing Metroid under an hour revealed Samus to be a young athletic woman. Although Samus wears the Power Suit throughout most of the Metroid series, it has become a tradition to depict her in much more revealing attire at the end of each game, often as a reward for satisfying certain conditions such as completing the game quickly or with a high percentage of the game’s items collected or even both.
Personality and portrayal
|“||With the death of the planet Phaaze, Samus Aran's arduous fight against Phazon has ended. However, in the vast regions of space, this victory is just a twinkle of a star, spreading the light of hope through the darkness.||„|
|~ Aurora Unit 242, during the credits of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption|
Typically, Samus is depicted as a Byronic hero, who - despite her great achievements - is deep down very lonely and brooding, and seeks revenge against the Space Pirates, especially Ridley, who is personally responsible for the death of her parents. Samus is known to have been inspired by Sigourney Weaver's character Ripley from the Alien series. However, unlike Ripley, Samus is never shown to be traumatized by the Metroids she faces on her various missions. She was, however, petrified when she encountered Ridley in the manga, where she is seen to suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This affliction surfaced again when she discovered Ridley in Metroid: Other M to the point that she could barely communicate; she could not regain her composure until Anthony Higgs was thought to be killed while trying to defend her. This portrayal, as well as other parts of her personality displayed in Other M, were strongly criticized by the general fanbase because they portray her as weaker and more unstable or afraid than previous games, creating a persona that is the polar opposite of the general image most fans have of Samus based on her previous appearances and the brief insights into her thoughts and past. However, by the time of the events of Metroid Fusion, these "weak" characteristics are no longer present, suggesting that she has since overcome the weaknesses she displayed in the previous game, and that they were merely a result of the depression she temporarily sank into after the Baby's death.
In licensed Metroid material outside of the games, Samus’s personality is largely left up to the writer in question. As a result, her personality has varied considerably between major publications. The 2002 manga depicts her as suffering from childhood trauma and often thinking heavily about her role and the role of the Pirates. In the Captain N: The Game Master comics, Samus is depicted as brash and money-hungry (as just about any bounty hunter would be), though she is willing to compete fairly with Princess Lana for the Kevin Keene’s feelings, suggesting her behavior is something of a "tough-guy" act.
In Metroid II, Samus bonds with a Metroid who was born in front of her eyes, and decides to spare it, recalling her three-year-old self during the attack on K-2L. It later sacrifices itself at the end of Super Metroid to save Samus, leaving her heartbroken as shown in Metroid: Other M. Her relationship with the Metroid, called "the Baby" by her, is comparable to Ripley's relationship with a surviving LV-426 colonist named Rebecca "Newt" Jorden. Like the Baby, Newt dies in the sequel, Alien 3, and just like Samus, Ripley feels guilt over her death.
Samus’s lack of defined personality is largely due to the fact that, aside from opening narrations, she has never had a speaking role except in Metroid: Other M. Prior to Other M her voice would be represented by text at the beginning narration, as well as throughout Metroid Fusion. Her character depicted in Fusion, though mostly well received, did garner some criticism from gamers for its depiction of Samus, who they felt should have been better left to their imagination.
While Samus does not have royal heritage in any of the games, she was depicted as the queen of Garbage World in A King of Shreds and Patches in Captain N, and Anthony Higgs gives her the nickname "Princess" in Metroid: Other M (although in concept artwork James Pierce says "Heey, Princess!" likely referring to Samus ). Non-canonically, she is also depicted sitting on the throne in the King Conan Diorama in Corruption. This would seem to indicate that she became an empress to the Reptilicus, although this is never depicted ingame.
The Fusion manual seems to indicate that Samus keeps a journal.
Samus' age has also never been revealed, with the Japanese Prime site even stating that her age is unknown. Other M concept art reveals that in her early years of around the time of the K-2L attack, that she is "4-6 years old", contradicting early media saying it happened when she was three, and in her Federation military period, she is "15-17 years old".
Physical appearanceSamus is a human behind her suit. She is 6 feet 3 inches tall and weighs 198 pounds (not including her armor). Despite this tremendous weight her body is very slender and narrow. Her hair color is blond, her eye color is blue and she appears to be Caucasian. Samus wears her hair in a ponytail, except for two locks on either side of her head, a hairstyle that is distinctive to her.
Samus’ appearance has varied between games. In the original Metroid, her hair was brown, though it would turn green once the player acquired the Varia Suit. If Metroid II: Return of Samus was played with a Super Game Boy, Game Boy Player or Game Boy Advance, her hair would be colored red. It wasn't until Super Metroid that she officially became blond, although the comic colored her hair purple.
Samus’s signature hairstyle first debuted in Metroid Zero Mission, and has been met with mixed critical reception. This hairstyle has been present in every Metroid game released since. The only exception is Metroid Prime Hunters which, though it retained Samus’s ponytail, was missing the two locks of hair on each side of her head. Previously, Samus had been depicted with a ponytail in Metroid Prime and (briefly) at the end of Metroid II and Super Metroid.
Samus’s face structure has also varied between games. Metroid II, Super Metroid, and Metroid Fusion gave her a wider face and larger eyes than later incarnations. In Metroid Prime, her jaw was squarer, her eyes were more deep-set, and her lips were more defined. Zero Mission gave her higher cheekbones and a thinner face than previous installments, and that template has been the basis for every game since. Echoes’s incarnation is possibly the most critically panned appearance of Samus, due to the in-game model suffering from the uncanny valley. Prime Hunters, on the other hand, is currently the most positively received incarnation of Samus. This game gave Samus a face that appeared to be a fusion of Zero Mission’s and Prime’s depiction. Samus retained the deep-set eyes, traditional ponytail, and fuller face from Prime, but also had Zero Mission’s higher cheekbones. Corruption’s is closer to that is Zero Mission, with a thinner, more anime-styled face. A common misconception is that this is the same game-model used for Super Smash Bros. Brawl. However, the two games were developed separately and the Brawl model of Samus shows many notable differences from Corruption’s model. Samus’s appearance in Brawl appears to be a Zero Mission incarnation.On the other hand, Metroid: Other M is perhaps the largest change Samus has ever had to her appearance since Zero Mission, as she is depicted for the first time with short hair, green eyes and an Asian appearance. While her adult appearance still gives her a ponytail, the two locks on either side of her head have been heavily reduced in size, her bangs have been altered and her ponytail has been moved to the nape of the neck. She also has the beauty mark that Yoshio Sakamoto alluded to in the Super Metroid developer interview, under the left side of her lip. Before the credits, Samus is briefly depicted with her hair down, the first instance of this in 3-D. With her hair down, she has locks of hair hanging over her shoulders. After Anthony steps in, the lock over her right shoulder is no longer there. She then ties her hair back into her ponytail, mirroring the scenes in Metroid II and Super Metroid where she unties the ponytail. A development screenshot pictured her young appearance with black hair.
Powers and abilities
|“||Even without the Power Suit, all that training she did with the Chozo has made her a super athlete. I don't think a normal human could ever keep up. Just look at her.||„|
|~ Mei Ling (from Metal Gear Solid), Super Smash Bros. Brawl.|
Samus also demonstrates good sharpshooting skills. She is an excellent marksman, with incredible aim, and is tremendously deadly in combat. She exhibits prodigious puzzle-solving and hacking skills. She also possesses a lithe figure that allows her to crawl through tunnels and gaps that would normally require usage of the Morph Ball. All of these are, of course, augmented further by her Power Suit. If need be, Samus will engage in physical combat, often using kicks and wrestling tactics to weaken her foe for a point-blank shot.
The extent of Samus’ training after she joined the Federation Police is currently unknown, but it is clear that the Federation has made one major augmentation to her abilities: her infusion with Metroid DNA. This infusion was done in a last-ditch attempt to save her life after she was infected with the X Parasite, and thus it was not completely known at the time what the side effects would be.
As a result of the infusion, Samus gained immunity to X Parasites, but also inherited the Metroid’s crippling weakness to cold, though this disability is canceled out with a later Varia Suit upgrade. She does not seem to have inherited their ability to float, and still relies on the Space Jump to do so. It is currently unknown whether Samus has inherited the Metroid’s signature ability to leech life energy from other lifeforms, aside from the well-documented X Parasites, though this is likely to be resolved in any sequels taking place after Metroid Fusion.
Samus' most notable piece of equipment is, of course, her Power Suit, which has become virtually synonymous with her own identity. This suit was given to her when she first began living with the Chozo, and was built to be fused with her mind, body, and soul. The original Power Suit was destroyed when Samus crash-landed on Zebes after an ambush by Space Pirates, but her duel with the Ruins Test gave her a new, upgraded suit, which is able to absorb dozens of upgrades of alien origin. The Power Suit's main purpose is to protect her from adverse environments and enemy fire. The suit itself can be upgraded to dozens of other forms, each with its own different advantages. While some suits are stronger than others and have different abilities, they all maintain the same basic shape and usage.
Beneath the Power Suit, Samus wears a skin-tight body suit known as the Zero Suit. Because of its negligible weight, this suit allows Samus to perform at top physical performance level, and gives some, albeit weak, protection from enemy fire. She also owns a pistol known as the Paralyzer, which auto-charges to fire stunning shots, though unfortunately, it has no lethal capacity.
For transportation, Samus uses her Gunship, which usually resembles her helmet. Samus has been seen in five gunship of unique design. Her first ship design was used and destroyed on her initial Zero Mission, while the second was used in her mission to Tallon IV and the mission to the terra galaxy. She has also she has had two ships made especially for her in Aliehs III ship yard, her custom chozo-federation infused upgradable ship used in the invasion from Phaaze, and her "iconic" ship. This gunship model was first seen flown on the Mission to Aether and stays with Samus until its its destruction in SR-388 asteroid field. After its destruction, Samus gets assigned a new ship from the Federation with an onboard AI to investigate the BSL. It is currently unknown if/how her first two ships and the "Iconic" ship are related, although information on the Metroid Prime website indicates that her ship in that game was the same one as her Zero Mission model.
Behind the Scenes
Concept and Creation
|“||Samus is an ideal role model not just to me, but for many women to look up to as a powerful game icon. In a video game realm with princesses aplenty, Samus stands out as an atypical Nintendo gal holding the title of one of gaming's strongest symbols of courage, power, and heroism.||„|
|~ Michelle Perl|
Samus' true identity as a woman was a heavily guarded secret, and was obscured by the already simple Power Suit’s androgynous appearance. The game manuals for Metroid in Japan uses pronouns like "it" mainly because the Japanese language only has gender-neutral pronouns like aista. The American manuals instead used male pronouns like "he", but it is unknown if this was a botched attempt to keep Samus' gender a secret or simply a mistranslation. Only by beating the game in under an hour could the player gain access to a secret ending where Samus would remove her Power Suit and reveal herself to be a woman. It has become a tradition for Samus to do so in every Metroid game since, if the player completes the proper in-game requirements.
Super Metroid marked the first time Samus ever spoke in a game, narrating the events directly after Metroid II: Return of Samus. Her speaking role was expanded in Metroid Fusion, where she spoke in more narrative monologues, and also conversations with her computer. Though Fusion was well praised, there was some controversy over Samus’s speaking role and as a result, aside from an opening narration in Metroid: Zero Mission, she did not speak again until Metroid: Other M, the first Metroid game to give Samus voiced dialogue.
Yoshio Sakamoto based the image of for Super Metroid on actress Kim Bassinger. She was also briefly nude when she died in this game with a voice by Minako Hamano, but these elements were reconsidered because of American sensitivity to nudity and the voice sounding "too sexual", so Tomomi Yamane added the bathing suit to her and the voice acting was removed. Sakamoto claimed in a Super Metroid interview that he has "a special version of the ROM" with the original death sequence. Sakamoto also claimed in this interview to be the only person to know "where Samus' beauty mark is," which later turned up in Metroid: Other M under the left side of her lip and was marked in concept art for Metroid Prime, but was not added to the model. Despite the absence of Hamano's voice in the final game, there is some sound that comes from Samus. When panting on the ground after being weakened by Mother Brain, she begins breathing heavily after the baby leaves, but stops when it comes back to heal her.
Samus first received a voice actor in the game Metroid Prime, where she was voiced by Jennifer Hale. Samus has no in-game dialogue, however, and speaks only in various grunts and yells when damaged, a scream when killed, and rarely, breathing when at low energy or when at an extreme climate. Hale has remained her voice actress throughout the entire Prime series and it is unknown if she will return to reprise the role in future games. Her second voice actress was Alesia Glidewell in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. Glidewell also voices Knuckle Joe and Krystal in the same game. Most surprising about Glidewell's depiction of her is that Samus is given a voice-over with speaking lines for the first time. While she is in her Zero Suit, she speaks for all three of her taunts, and one victory cutscene.
|“|| Is that all?|
Metroid: Other M features Samus speaking again, voiced by Jessica Martin. In the Japanese version, she is voiced by Ai Kobayashi. In the Japanese commercial for Metroid: Zero Mission, Samus is portrayed by Chisato Morishita.
The name Samus is the female variant of the name Seamus, which is Celtic for James, which means: "He who supplants". Her last name of Aran may refer to the Aran Islands on the west coast of Ireland. Combining the two gives the meaning: "She who supplants an island" or "She who conquers an isolated area by force." Pronunciation of the name over the years has varied from either SAMUHS A-RUHN (as in the verb "run"), A-RAHN (using the "CAT" vowel for the first two As and the verb form of "ran"), but it wasn’t until the release of Metroid Prime 3: Corruption that pronunciation of her name was finally cemented as SAMUHS ERR-EN, and it is likely to remain this way since. An interview with several of the developers on Metroid state that her name originated from Edson Arantes "Pelé" Nascimento.
Role in other media
|“||What's the matter? All I said was that Komaytos look like little Metr—||„|
|~ Pit, Kid Icarus Uprising|
Being one of Nintendo’s flagship franchises, Metroid, and Samus with it, have been featured in a variety of other media, as cameos, or in promotional material, as well as being mentioned or spoofed in other games or on television.
Super Smash Bros. series
Samus is one of the original eight characters in the Super Smash Bros. series and has appeared in all installments to date. The wide array of weapons she can use include Missiles, Super Missiles, the Charge Beam, the Grapple Beam, the Screw Attack, and Bombs, as well as a flamethrower. Her Gunship from Metroid II: Return of Samus appears as a trophy in Melee and returns once more in Brawl.
In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Samus is given access to a powerful new weapon as her Final Smash: the Zero Laser. It allows her to fire a gigantic beam of incredible strength, but consumes so much energy that Samus’s Power Suit falls apart, revealing her Zero Suit. Samus's appearance behind the Power Suit is completely original in this installment. In her normal Power Suit form, Samus tends to be a heavyweight character who's rather floatly in midair, but tends to pack a decent amount of power. In the Zero Suit form however, she becomes far faster and gains access to her Paralyzer, which she can use as an energy whip and to fire stunning shots, though at a small cost lacks a bit of her original raw power.
Adventure Mode: The Subspace Emissary
Samus also plays a role in Brawls Adventure mode: The Subspace Emissary. In it, she first appears in her Zero Suit, breaking into the base of the Subspace Army on the Island of the Ancients. Soon she comes across a Pikachu being drained of its electrical power. Samus uses her whip to break the container the Pikachu is being held in, summoning a security force of R.O.B.s. The two join forces to retrieve Samus’s Power Suit, but are confronted by two Shadow Bug clones mimicking it.
After reacquiring her Power Suit, Samus and Pikachu come across Ridley. He grabs Samus and starts to drag her against the wall, until Pikachu returns Samus' favor and uses Thunder on Ridley, causing him to drop Samus. An infuriated Ridley attacks. Once they defeat him, the duo exits the base and come across a cave where R.O.B.s are exiting with newly manufactured Subspace Bombs.
Samus and Pikachu make their way through the Subspace Bomb Factory and find the Ancient Minister with the R.O.B. Squad. They prepare to fight, but then realize that he looks very sad. At that moment, Captain Falcon, Olimar, Diddy and DK burst in. A hologram of Ganondorf appears and orders the R.O.B. Squad to activate the remaining bombs. The Ancient Minister tries to stop them, but is set on fire when Ganondorf orders them to retaliate. After the Ancient Minister is revealed to be a R.O.B. himself, Samus and the other characters all rush out to escape the Island before it is engulfed, but are confronted by Meta Ridley and duel him aboard the Falcon Flyer.
|Nintendo All-Star Heroes|
Super Mario Bros. franchise