Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Of Metroids and Woe

Metroid: Other M is here, and the short version is, it's pretty fun but the plot is HILARIOUSly bad.

A brief plot recap for the uninitiated: You play Samus Aran, bounty hunter. At this point in the story she has been through six adventures of note (in chronological order, they are Metroid, Metroid II, Metroid Prime through Prime 3, and Super Metroid). She fights space aliens, typically as a contractor for the Galactic Federation, with a special emphasis on Metroids and Space Pirates. Metroids are bulbous, hovering creatures with tooth-ringed suckers that devour the life energy of basically any creature. They are terrifying. Space Pirates are pirates – but in space. Samus has just defeated her nemeses, Mother Brain and the Space Pirates, for the second time (see: Super Metroid) when Other M picks up. The first half hour of the game consists almost entirely of Samus talking to herself, soliloquizing even, about the infant Metroid that saved her delicious, savory bacon at the end of Super Metroid. “The Baby,” she calls it, in a breathy, Bella Swan-esque murmur. Samus' weird, uncomfortable maternal attachment to a lifeforce-devouring space alien monster is, unfortunately, a reoccurring one, unfolding throughout the game. Samus is flying through space to who knows what port when she gets a distress call, codenamed Baby's Cry (I know this because the name is mentioned on at least two occasions, and is just as cringe-inducing both times; the game makes special mention of the fact that this distress call is meant to call attention to itself – like there is any other kind of distress call). Samus flies her maternal self to the source of this call, a secret GF installation called the Bottle Ship, so-called probably because it's shaped like a cricket bat. Turns out she's not the first to get there – her old commanding officer, Adam Malkovich, is already there with a cadre of soldiers, all of whom are completely forgettable except for Sergeant Black-Guy-Who-Looks-Asian. Predictably, he is the comic relief, and while he does try very hard, laughing at him feels sort of dirty since he's such a caricature of what black folk tend to look like, combined with subtly and inexplicably tilted eyes. Imagine a half-asian Al Jolson wearing blackface in a Broadway production of Aliens. Jarring. Malkovich decides that Samus can help the team take care of business and unravel the mystery of the Bottle Ship, so now, one hour into the game, is when the fun actually happens.