The video game Metroid debuted in 1986 for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) by Nintendo. The game followed the story of a intergalactic bounty hunter who travels to the planet of Zebes in search of a parasite organism known as a Metroid which was stolen by the Space Pirates who had the intention of reproducing the organism with the use of beta rays and using them as a biological weapon to destroy all who opposed them.
If you have ever played Metroid as a kid, you may already know what I’m talking about. The Space Pirates attacked the Galactic Federation Research Vessel and took the sample of the Metroid creature. While searching galaxies for the base of the Space Pirates, the Federation discovered their location was on Zebes. With initial attacks on the planet and Space Pirates base, the Federation was forced the retreat. In last minute attempt, they sent a long bounty hunter to the planet with the plan of accessing the Space Pirates fortress to destroy the Mother Brain, the biochemical life form that controlled the operations and defenses of the Space Pirates.
The hunter was specifically chosen to be Samus Aran, one of the greatest intergalactic bounty hunters of all time. Samus is an ex-solider of the Galactic Federation who became a bounty hunter. Usually fitted with a powerful exoskeleton suit, it included missiles and weapons containing directed energy.
Samus lands on the planet Zebes, and explores the planet, eventually entering into the planet’s caverns to find Kraid, one the Space Pirates ally’s.
Once defeating Kraid, Samus travels farther into the cavern’s of the planet, eventually stumbling across the lair of the Space Pirates. Once inside the Space Pirates base, Samus must defeat Ridley, the commander for the Space Pirates. Once defeating Ridley, Samus finds the Mother Brain. The Mother Brain must be destroyed in order for the Federation to get back the Metroid parasite back. Once the Mother Brain is defeated, Samus sets a time bomb for 999 seconds, and gets out in time before the lair collapses.
For the longest time, fans of the video game believed Samus was male. Throughout the entire video game, not once is Samus’s gender ever revealed or mentioned. Samus wear the exoskeleton suit the entire time. In the original Japanese version of the game, the manual referred to Samus as “it”, because the Japanese language has gender-neutral pronouns. In the American version of the manual, Samus was referred to as a he.
If you watched video of the Mother Brain battle, you will notice once Samus escapes the Space Pirates fortress and the credits for the ending of the video game appear, Samus morphs from the power suit to reveal Samus was actually a female the entire time. The credits for the game don’t normally end that way, only by beating the game in under an hour was Samus’s gender revealed.
Taking a look at the theoretical frameworks by Peter Barry, I looked at the gender and feminist frameworks, in this case. For so long people had no idea Samus Aran was a female, people around the world were shocked to hear that about this video game character. The scene itself has become coined as the first, and original “jaw dropping moment” in video game history.
This became a huge breakthrough for feminism, but to some it didn’t mean anything. It was big deal the fact the producers of the game decided the game was going to feature a female character, as the main character, and accomplish impossible and “manly” tasks. People also in the video game industry commented on the fact that Metroid was the most nonsexual female character ever.
Although it was a hidden secret, it was still, in a way, making a point that females can also be a part of video games. Video games don’t need to be just centralized totally on guys and can branch out both ways. More females play video games than people understand and that idea has always been overlooked.
In the 2007, Metroid received the award for greatest twist in video games by Game Informer and Greatest Moment In Nintendo’s History, in 2008 by GameDaily.