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1. Powered By Alien DNA
Ever notice how much ass Samus is still kicking in Smash Bros. without her suit? As it turns out, there is a canonical reason for that!
The alien race that raised Samus after her parents died didn’t just give her a cool suit of armor. They also infused her DNA with new DNA that makes her faster, stronger, and harder to kill. That DNA helps her to control the armor, though she is still plenty strong without it.
2. Changing Hair Colors
Pop quiz: what color is Samus Aran’s hair? These days, the answer is “blonde.” But that wasn’t always the case!
In the original game, she had brown hair most of the time and green hair with the Varia suit. The Super Game Boy Color rendition of Metroid II gave her red hair. Comic book appearances gave her purple hair before the devs settled on blonde hair in Super Metroid.
3. Her Bikini Keeps Getting Bigger
The early Metroid games offered a pretty pervy incentive to beat the games quickly. Doing so fast enough will give you a glimpse of Samus in her bikini. However, here’s a weird fact: those end-of-game bikinis just keep getting more modest.
In the original Metroid, Samus looks like she is wearing a very skimpy two-piece bikini. The end of Metroid 2 keeps the bikini bottoms but replaces the bikini top with what looks more like a baby tee. And at the end of Super Metroid, the outfit looks like a leggy onesie that exposes a huge chunk of her midriff.
4. Ridley Killed Samus’s Mother
Ridley is one of those video game bad guys that just keep getting new, weird background information. And Metroid: Other Me added the strange wrinkle that it was Ridley that killed Samus’s parents when she was very young.
Honestly, it’s one more bit of weird lore leaking out of a bad game. But this story wrinkle makes the showdowns with Ridley in earlier games even more important.
5. Samus the Space Cop
Samus Aran has a pretty well-known reputation. In the proud tradition of sci-fi protagonists, she is a bounty hunter. But do you know what she was before that?
Before being a bounty hunter, Samus worked for the Federation Police. And even though being a bounty hunter means playing by your own rules, she was still lawful good enough to keep helping the Galactic Federation on multiple occasions.
6. Moods and Music
Most famous NES games like Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda are known for their music, but not Metroid. And have you ever stopped to wonder why that is?
The main reason is that there is no music theme for the vast majority of Metroid. This helps make things moody and claustrophobic. And you only get to hear the main theme after defeating Mother Brain, making your hard-fought victory feel nice and cathartic.
7. Samus Might Be Trans
With some characters, it’s difficult to pick out what the biggest controversy is. But that’s not the case with Samus. In her case, the biggest controversy is whether she is trans or not.
Why the debate? In 1994, the writers of the official Japanese Super Metroid guide asked game devs if they could share any secrets about Samus. And one of the original Samus designers, Hirofumi Matsuoka, said that Samus “wasn’t a woman” but was instead a “newhalf.”
This is an outdated and kind of bigoted term referring to transgender people. Some fans point to this as canonical evidence that Samus is trans, while others think that the dev was just giving us a joke answer to a silly question. The fact that we seemingly see a young Samus born as a female in Metroid: Other M, a game rife with questionable canon, makes this debate even murkier.
8. Samus Is Hella Tall
Unless you’re MatPat, you probably don’t spend a lot of time worrying about how tall fictional characters are. With that being said, it’s always interesting when we get a canonical verdict on a game character’s height.
In the case of Samus, an old Nintendo Power bit of trivia has her height listed as 6”3. This wouldn’t be so surprising except that we rarely see Samus next to other humans, and it’s tough to gauge the relative height of a human vs. a flying bug or giant, evil brain.
9. The Movie That Almost Was
In 2003, Metroid was hot enough for Nintendo to consider making a movie. After some producers let the rights expire, we came crazy close to getting a Metroid movie from auction auteur John Woo.
Why did this film never see the light of day? According to producer Brad Foxhoven, there were two Nintendo-related problems. First, the company was gunshy after their awful Super Mario Bros. movie flopped. And second, they wanted to make an origin movie and Nintendo was either unable or unwilling to answer questions about Samus Aran’s past.
You might dismiss his claims as sour grapes. But it’s notable that when Nintendo did try to give us some origins in Metroid: Other M, fans revolted at how weird and inconsistent the characterization of Samus was.
10. Male Samus?!?
Players who beat the original Metroid were shocked to discover that Samus Aran was a woman. Her gender has actually been at the heart of a few debates, and we nearly had a TV show make these debates even worse.
Back in the 1980s, you could see Mario and other Nintendo characters on the Super Mario Bros. Power Hour. There was going to be an animated Metroid show for this hour of entertainment, but the Power Hour was soon canceled.
We don’t know much about what the cartoon would have been like. But we do know that the concept art featured a male Samus Aran!
11. Samus Visits the Mushroom Kingdom
These days, we simply expect to see Samus alongside Mario in the Super Smash Bros. games. However, she made a much weirder, much earlier appearance in the Mushroom Kingdom.
In the Super Mario RPG, you can find Samus sleeping in a guest room in the Mushroom Castle soon after you get the fifth Star Piece. If you talk to her, all Samus will say is that she is “resting up for Mother Brain.”
This is obviously meant as a throwaway cameo appearance. But it’s tantalizing to think that the Mushroom Kingdom may just be part of one more alien world for Samus to explore.
12. Samus Was Raised By Space Birds
It’s impossible to talk about Metroid without talking about Samus. She is synonymous with the series, but many fans don’t know some of the stranger things about her origins.
One of the weirder facts is that Samus was adopted by bird-like aliens known as the Chozo after her parents were killed. They raised her and also gave her two gifts: enhanced DNA and the famous suit of armor.
13. The Game That Nearly Killed the Franchise
Part of why fans were so hyped about Nintendo’s Metroid Dread announcement is that we haven’t had any new franchise games in a while. But have you ever stopped to wonder why that is?
Most fans lay the blame directly at the feet of Metroid: Other M. The game was meant to return Samus to her sidescrolling roots, but fans hated everything from the gameplay to the characterization of Samus. This bad reception led Nintendo to pump the brakes on the franchise for over a decade!
14. Foiled By the Nintendo 64 Controller
In retrospect, it’s a little weird that we never got a proper Metroid game on the N64. There were Metroid titles on NES, Gameboy, and the SNES. So, why no N64 Metroid sequel?
According to legendary Metroid designer Yoshio Sakamoto, he held the N64 controller in his hand and could simply not imagine moving Samus with it. While the N64 controller could theoretically have been good for an FPS Metroid, we wouldn’t get such a game until the Gamecube came around.
15. What’s In a Name?
There are some interesting names throughout the Metroid mythos. And some of those names have more significance than you might think!
For example, the very name “Metroid” is a deliberate mashup of “metro” and “android.” In addition to sounding cool, this mashup was meant to reference the subterranean nature of the levels as well as the android-like nature of Samus’s armor.
Speaking of Samus, her major foe Ridley was named after famous director Ridley Scott. And that is because Scott’s Alien was such a major influence on the Metroid development team.