On Metroid Prime and Tone

Metroid Prime/Echoes

Normally, I’d be reviewing a game for content, but with the Metroid Prime series that’s spanned from Gamecube to Wii, I think an alternative perspective is deserved. As most Metroid fans are aware of, the series follows the endeavors of a futuristic bounty hunter named Samus Aran. Most of her work takes her into the far, isolated, dangerous reaches of space where any without a heart of steel would be overwhelmed and destroyed. Let it be known that Samus is the canonical lone wanderer/badass type that made Nintendo a powerhouse in the FPS category. How does she do it? The answer isn’t so simple, but I’ll explain it to the best of my ability.

To start things off, Metroid Prime one was the pinnacle of in-game world isolation. With giant, open worlds varying between natural paradise and mechanical nightmare, there wasn’t a lot of room for interaction. Most creatures ran off of instinctive and territorial aggression, treating Samus as a trespasser needing termination. Those with more powerful minds, such as the space pirates, or perhaps Ridley, wanted her dead on general principle. And that was it. Isolation. You are alone in this world, Samus, and everything here will either ignore you or attempt to kill you. The only help you’ll get is from yourself, and from the remnants of technology scattered about.

For a game targeted at younger players, that game feel, even the environment itself, is very cold. Many games rely upon, even require interaction and cooperation for progression to occur. The Metroid Primes don’t give such methodology a second thought.

Metroid Prime/Echoes

Once you get to know the character you play as herself, the enigmatic Samus Aran, the overall tone only darkens a shade. Not into blue, but to grey. Her childhood is a mystery to her, and her only memories are of life with a mysterious clan of bird-people known as the Chozo. She was the only human among her kind, being raised by them as a curiosity, or an icon. They outfitted her with her renowned Varia Suit and sent her off alone, and now the Chozo are gone. Note the trend in solitude, and how throughout most of the games, Samus remains silent and stoic. What is she feeling? How does she interpret solitude? Is it sanctuary? Desolation? Is it all she knows?

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes breaks down these barriers slightly by introducing two factions: The Galactic Federation, all of whom are dead by the time Samus arrives on Aether, and the Luminoth, most of whom are dead aside from U-Mos. U-Mos is the only one who speaks to Samus directly. The rest of the dead leave hologram recordings for her to view. Even though there are more people, the isolation remains for the most part unscathed. But that raises the question: How did Samus feel about U-Mos?

Metroid Prime/Echoes

His respectful yet vague interactions with her make her seem more like an icon and an ancient hero rather than a human with wants and weaknesses. He even knows her name without any exchange. That’s understandable, considering her prestige throughout the galaxy. But doesn’t that only serve to further her seclusion from everyone else, this elevated podium of ability and power that sets her so far above everyone else? It makes you wonder, is she using her fame/infamy to keep others away from her, or is that merely incidental? Perhaps she wishes that someone will recognize her as the lonely human girl raised by Chozo instead of the invincible bounty hunter.

Perhaps life has become one colossal mission for her to complete, one objective after another. Is Dark Samus just a Metroid that sampled Samus’s DNA, or is it a symbol of inevitability, a sign of what is to come? When her time passes, will she be remembered for who she was as a person, or for what she did as a bounty hunter? Perhaps she won’t allow her walls to lower in fear that her potential friends will slip away on solar wind as the Chozo did long ago.

Think about that.

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