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Samus Aran's Twentieth Birthday

Samus AranWe're deep into "twenty year anniversary" territory now, as all of our favorite franchises introduced in 1986 are turning the big 2-0 this year.  This week the honor goes to Nintendo's Metroid, everyone's favorite video game series involving an intergalactic bounty hunter, the bird-people who raised her, life-sucking parasites, and a big brain in a bottle. does the honors with a look back at Samus Aran's adventures and a glimpse into what makes her character so interesting.

Samus rarely expresses angst outwards, but fans can guess at what she's thinking. Does she throw herself into battles with Ridley moreso than with other Pirates after witnessing the destruction of her family at his claws? Did she rescue the baby Metroid on SR-388 because despite the threat the Metroids present, she remembers what it's like to be the last thing alive on a ravaged planet?

My first meeting with Samus was when Super Metroid for the Super NES was released in 1994.  I'd heard good things about the previous two games (and even had the Nintendo Power poster for Metroid II: The Return of Samus on my wall), but for whatever reason had never approached the series.  After reading the Nintendo Power review and map guide I decided to jump in, and the next time I was at the mall I bought the game at the Nintendo-produced player's guide.  Not long after the game became hard to find for some reason, and suddenly I was the only kid in the neighborhood able to head to the planet Zebes whenever I wanted, tears and all.

Metroid PrimeWe all know what happened next.  Metroid went underground for far too long (aside from a cameo in 1995's Galactic Pinball for the Virtual Boy), but when it resurfaced for Metroid Prime I made sure to preorder the game.  Even though I made my way nearly to the end of the adventure (and even bought the sequel, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes), I can't say I like the 3D Metroid titles over the 2D adventures.  There's just too much going on in Prime, and the challenge of enemy attacks coming from all directions at once is just too much for my raised-on-2D brain.  Even Metroid Prime Hunters for the Nintendo DS hasn't made the fun zone of my brain cheer.  Despite not finishing (or really enjoying) any Prime title, I'll probably still go for Metroid Prime 3: Corruption later this year just to try the new Wii control scheme.  I never learn.

Back to 2D though, it wasn't until after I acquired a Nintendo DS that I went back for the new 2D Metroid adventures.  I blasted through Metroid Fusion in just about a week, and for Metroid: Zero Mission I held off on playing until I had a long plane ride ahead of me; in this case, the flight to Los Angeles for E3 2006.  I finished off the whole adventure somewhere over the American Midwest.  Somewhere in the middle of those two came Metroid Prime Pinball, a Prime game I actually managed to finish.  To be honest, I bought the game primarily to get the included Rumble Pak, but was surprised to find a solid pinball game in the package.  I've also gone back to where it all started and played the first two Metroid titles, although in all honesty I find that they haven't aged very well.  The Game Boy sequel deserves a modern makeover with in-game maps and full color.

Metroid: Zero MissionSamus Aran is one of Nintendo's most intriguing characters because we really don't know much about her.  Questions about her past weren't answered until this generation of gaming, and her motivations are still mostly a mystery.  Is she in this for the money?  The fame?  The fight?  Now that Nintendo has finally realized that Metroid is popular among players we can surely count on many new adventures in the years to come.  Hopefully a good chunk of those new titles will be 2D adventures.  What can I say?  I'm a fan of the classics.