Metroid: Other M Review, Where’s the Samus We Know and Love?

Hi! Did you guys pick up Metroid: Other M yet? I’ve been playing it for a couple weeks I’m just now writing about it because I don’t even know, I mean what? I just…agh.

This review has been a long time coming because playing Metroid: Other M felt like a straight-up chore. But I really wanted to dig into it, even if digging into it was a lot like digging into something really awful and unpleasant, before actually writing down my probably harsh and deeply biased judgments. Which remained probably harsh and deeply biased. Let’s begin.

Chronologically, Metroid: Other M takes place in between Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion. The game begins when Samus wakes up on a Galactic Federation (read: government) ship. Upon leaving the ship, she picks up a distress signal coming from a derelict vessel floating around somewhere, so she figures “hey, I got nothing going on except this smokin’ hot bod” and decides to see if she can help. When she reaches the source, she finds a Galactic Federation platoon led by her former Commanding Officer, Adam Malkovich, already investigating. The two decide to search the ship together, and this is where the actual gameplay begins.

Gender Trouble

I feel like Metroid: Other M made a pretty blatant (but probably not deliberate) assault on one of the rare non-sexualized, ass-kicking female protagonists in the gaming world. Throughout Other M, Samus reveals herself as a less confident, calculating and independent character than the Samus we know and love. And on top of being less certain, she defers to the Adam for direction.

Where past Metroid games centered around Samus’ boss fights and the ensuing newer, cooler loot, Other M opts for a more didactic structure. Now Samus can’t put the sweet gear you collect to use unless Adam grants her permission. Like he waves his hand and says “Oh yeah, you can use that now I guess,” and then you can.

Samus’ newfound deference and uncertainty could feel like a humanizing, nuanced approach to the woman-behind-the-mask, but it just doesn’t translate. Oddly, imposing these kind of limitations on our beloved heroine seem rather dehumanizing, particularly when paired with zoom-in close-ups of her…other assets. This cowed version of Samus feels more objectified than humanized, which is a downright let-down for such an iconic female video game figure.

Everybody’s Talkin’ At Me

In Metroid: Other M, the story is spoon-fed to you through a series of long, tedious cut-scenes and rampant voiceover-ing. And even Samus rambles on like a teenager at a house party who’s gone a bit overboard with the cheap tequila. The real problem is that the story is told at you; you don’t get to discover it for yourself or piece things together as you go along.

3rd Person Problems

Other M is mostly a side-scroller, and I gather this choice was meant to be a throwback to the Metroid and Super Metroid days of yore. All of the first-person play happens while your character is stationary, making it feel as though the whole first-person aspect was just thrown in there to appease fans of the Metroid: Prime trilogy since these different modes of play aren’t really woven together.

At some points in the game, the camera required you to pan around until your focus fell on some key something or other, kind of like Where’s Waldo but about a thousand times less fun. And until you managed to navigate the camera correctly, gameplay remained at a stand-still.

No Place Like Home

In the past, setting and landscape were paramount for Metroid games. Zebes, Tallon IV, Aether were among the beautiful, expansive maps that felt like home after hours and hours of lonely wandering. I couldn’t help feeling like The Bottle Ship, on which most of the gameplay takes place, is cold and impersonal. And not in the ominous, threatening kind of way that can inspire atmosphere in a game. More just…straight-up cold and impersonal.

What Went Right: Shiny.

Much like Samus herself, this game is pretty but otherwise, well, hollow. This is a good-looking game, but that’s all it is: good-looking. Not good-feeling, not nothin’.


What’s the deal? Was my strong reaction a result of my attachment to the Prime games, some kind of emotion-clouded nostalgia centered around how they got me through several breakups?

What did you guys think of Other M? Did it make you want to dust off your NES? Or just huff Dust-Off? Just kidding, don’t even think about doing that.

Kim is a student doing a double major in English and Gender Equality & Social Justice at Nipissing University in North Bay, Ontario. She works part time at a small brewery, and thus mostly smells like wine/ beer / a homeless person at the end of the day. In between enabling many an alcoholic and getting schooled in the ways of close reading and thinking critically, she plays a lot of video games, reads a lot of comics, spends a lot of time in the library, occasionally blogs, has feelings about the aforementioned things and then she snuggles with her cat / writes about them. The feelings, not her cat.

Kimbit has written 5 articles for us.

22 Comments

  1. Good review. Makes me feel thankful you are the one having to actually get to know the game and not I, in order to review it which in turn reaffirms I am not missing a thing by staying away from games.

    • You’re welcome! Howevs, Other M isn’t reflective of the entire video game-verse (which makes ME feel thankful). There are lots and lots worth playing! Check out some past articles/reviews of better games! =)

  2. I actually play games, and when I heard about this I was very sad, I expected ass-kicking Samus action, not this…strange mash up of bad game play, bad story and saddest of all-bad Samus…she was one of the rare females in games who isn’t just a token and isn’t used for boob shots..Sad day indeed.

  3. I TOTALLY AGREE I AM HALFWAY THROUGH THE ?EPIC? IT WAS THE ULTIMATE FUCK-ALL OF VIDEO GAMES. IT ONLY FUELS THE FIRE OF MY ANTICIPATION FOR SKYWARD SWORD. SURELY THEY DID BETTER.
    YOU REALLY BROKE IT DOWN. UNBELIEVABLE I DIDN’T KNOW GIRLS EVEN KNEW WHO SAMUS WAS.

  4. Metroid: Other M was developed by a team that included a bunch of people from Tecmo’s Team Ninja, i.e. the people who brought the world the extremely cheesecakey fighting game series Dead or Alive and the completely gratuitous spinoff DOA: Xtreme Beach Volleyball. So I’m not surprised their version of Samus was weakened and sexualized.

  5. I was really, really looking forward to this. I played the NES Metroid to death as a kid, and thought surely that enough time had elapsed that they could figure out how to combine the technological capability of the Wii with a decent side scroller. I also had high hopes for the evolution of Samus, who IMO is the most ass kicking women of all time in the video game universe.

    But alas, my hopes have been dashed to death. Maybe it was the 15+ times I’ve died fighting Ridley (still haven’t beat him) or the general lameness of the story, but I am hella disappointed.

    I can’t recall the last time I played a game that required me to constantly check ign.com to figure out where the heck I was supposed to go, or what I was supposed to do. I’m all for good puzzles in game, but when you run circles round a sector and still don’t know what’s up, well that’s just shoddy design.

  6. I’m a total closet gamer. Like i love them, A LOT. And apart from The Elder Scrolls series, Metroid is the only thing i REALLY play (and diablo 3 OMG Soooo EXCITED for that). But when i looked up the art work of what Samus was going to look like pre-release, i knew this game would be for shit… It’s Like honestly where’s her long blonde hair, gorgeous jaw line and the muscles?? no wonder she has to have permission from adam to do everything, it looks like she might break something if she put her suit on wrong. It totally pisses me off to see what they’re making her into.

    I’m just reminiscing those days where you had no idea if it was a guy or girl, all you knew is that they kicked ass. Then you got to the end and she rips off the suit and its like “OMG…WOW. No wonder i liked this game.” But i guess being Hot and Independent and having an arm cannon is too much??
    Maybe it is for 14 yr old boys… but not me, thats what i loved about her.
    Old Samus, where are you? We miss ya girl

  7. Remember in Metroid Fusion when she started reminiscing about this “Adam” character? Right then I knew this was heading in a bad direction – Samus is not supposed to think about dudes all the time, she is too busy kicking ass (and being gay in my mind).

    Um, also, I refered to Samus as “he” until around 2005 because I didn’t want to spoil the ending of Metroid for anyone. *Clueless gamer*

  8. I played Metroid Other M and it was a very great and enjoyable game in my eyes just not as good as prevous games. You people all just suck at it and are babying about samus potrail in it. Screw you all you suck.

  9. I’m going to have to disagree with you. This whole “Samus is weakened” debacle must be stopped. Sure, she isn’t silent anymore and the story is a bit weak (what Metroid story isn’t weak besides the Prime games?) but she still kicks ass and I dare anyone to point out otherwise. Just because there was some emotional breakdown on her part during the Ridley confrontation does NOT make her weak, so please drop it. Why does everyone point to that one scene? She blew away all these bosses and the ONE creature (ridley) that KILLED HER PARENTS isn’t allowed to make her a little upset??

    Also, it’s obvious that the Adam-dominating Samus in terms of her using her abilities was a gameplay tactic. What were they going to do? They couldn’t use the whole “oh, your suit is damaged” gimmick again. Granted, it was lame, but it works to give us the same Metroid formula of “gain an ability, reach a new area” that we are used to.

    I honestly had a blast playing this game and feel that everyone nit-picked it to death and didn’t give it a proper chance.

    That said, you are a good writer and wish you the best. Sorry if this came off as a bit harsh, nothing against you personally. This was written for all the (I feel) unfair reviews of this game.

  10. I’ve been playing thsi game for a while, and though I haven’t finished it yet, I’m pretty disappointed with what i’ve been seeing. The PORTRAYAL (not potrail, whatever the hell that is supposed to be) of Samus was a bit weak and not a great direction to go in, but i felt the control mechanics was probably its weakest point. i feel that they should have picked either a FPS or a sidescroller direction and used it, rather than trying haphazardly to mash the two together. The stationary FPS portion was just ridiculous and unneeded. I believce someone called it an intentional handicap, which is a pretty good description. The automatic fire in the sidescroll section seemed like they were just trying to compensate for how sucky the FPS portion was, and it just seemed rather sad. Ultimately, they failed in the execution of both perspectives by not realizing either fully, or just using one. I personnaly loved the Prime games and liked what they did with them, and I even feel the graphix were perhaps a little better rendered in them than in Other M. Change is good, but not alwys. Just changing something doesn’t make it a masterpiece; just because it’s a Metroid title doesn’t make it a masterpiece, and Other M is a clear example of this.

  11. I always felt that samus was one of the most badass female gaming icon, no screw that IT’S THE GREATEST GAMING HEROINE, until now, hell she blowed up a space pirate base, an ancient mutant monster, and a fraking dark dimension and A LIVING PLANET, does sakamoto believe that this pimp that believes her to be samus is good, he is the worst writer of history even more than uwe boll, sakamoto deserves to get off of metroid or if he is making a new game, excise completely unnecesary and boring story, I mean cliche conspiracy trough cutscenes against the story of doomed civilizations told trough the gameplay.

Contribute to the conversation...

You must be logged in to post a comment.