Wednesday, October 19, 2011

EPISODE 58: "Heavens To Metroid - Revisited"

Head's-up, folks: Episode 58 is now viewable by EVERYONE at ScrewAttack. Go watch HERE!

153 comments:

Aiddon said...

surprised you didn't mention Fusion again. The Ridley scene does make sense since if you put in the narrative compression of time (especially in Japan; they LOVE that kind of stuff in anime). For Adam, yeah, it's just a classic bit of gameplay and narrative segregation that everyone blows out of proportion for...less than altruistic reasons.

As for the Japanophobia, I haven't heard any peopl actual saying "Japan is teh sexis!" outright...but I can't help but feel that there's some subtle, hypocritical xenophobia going on with people's criticisms of Nintendo in general (even with stuff not regarding Metroid). Anyway, I guess you had to get all that shit out because people wouldn't. stop. bitching. So here's to seeing Samus again with Sakamoto hopefully having a second writer helping with the next game's script.

Aiddon said...

P.S. Everyone asking for Sakamoto's head and thinking he was out to "ruin" his own series need to get their heads on straight. And no, he does not disregard the Prime series as canon, that was just him saying he considers it a sub-series in terms of gameplay and design philosophy and is sort of a separate story arc in terms of the main Metroid mythology.Probably going to have a dozen people pick apart this post, but I just had to get it out regardless.

Spongey Blob said...

I'm going to probably make this a long post, because I want to get all my angst over Other M out one last time then never have to talk about it ever again - even, and in some cases especially, the people who didn't like Other M are grinding my gears because of the fact that it was released a damn year ago, and I'm sick to death of hearing about it.

If it's a little biased to say (it might not surprise you at all that I'm not the world's biggest Other M fact), I've got a few niggling problems with the video. It certainly improved over Episode 40, which felt more like lashing out than an actual defence of the game; in that episode you didn't really say anything about Other M to offer a defence, just ragging on highly exagerrated versions of other people's thoughts, which was my biggest problem with that video. It was certainly not something typical of you, and you don't repeat the same mistake so that's good. What I don't think is good is that you're still bringing up the 'Samus was a blank slate, it's all good y'all' defence, which is both lazy and hideously flawed in that she wasn't a blank slate at all. I explain my perception of Samus's portrayal in detail in the Once More Into The Breach post, which I'll copy paste in a below comment so you don't have to go looking for it, make of the analysis what you will.

I still think the big problem is that yourself and others keep mistaking the argument 'Samus shouldn't have been like this, she should've been more like the real Samus' for 'Samus shouldn't have been like this, she should've been more like a dead cold slate without a fraction of emotion.' Samus DID have a personality; considering how many people were offended by the portrayal there must have been SOMETHING there. I still hold up the argument that, while we did project onto Samus, those projections were manipulated heavily, but I explain that better in my analysis, but the point is that surely, if there was nothing there, then most people wouldn't give a damn, but they do. And in this video, you seem almost to be avoiding the issue.

As for abstraction, again, I'd argue that while it might have a part in why the game didn't work, it is NOT the origin of the problem, certainly not to the extent you claim. You could immediately say 'Then why did Metroid Prime work?' While the generation is different, story telling techiniques aren't too much different from that generation as they are now, and no one had a problem with item pickups then beyond the subject of a silly joke. Here, it was outright offensive because it flew in the face of Samus's character and was so prevelant in the story itself. It was everywhere; it was nearly all Samus and Adam actually spoke to each other about. So, once again, I don't buy.

Spongey Blob said...

- Continued from above -

And if I may quickly refute your argument about the infamous Ridley scene, the perception of time is a clever idea, but I'd say that the scene certainly wasn't that; the effect is far too small and hard to notice, it's not been used at any other point in the game beforehand so far as I can remember it, and it certainly didn't make it obvious enough that time was slowing down for Samus; if just about everyone who saw it missed that fact then the game developers failed to make their point full stop, if they were at all.

However, this might be biased talking; I loved Metroid as a child, particularly Super Metroid, and Metroid Other M took almost all of the core principles and threw them into a furnace. Change is more than ok in a franchise; it's encouraged, to avoid stagnation, but I think Other M is the opposite end of the spectrum; they kept a lot of the superficial elements such as a somewhat consistent look, upgrading as you progress and the various weapons, but the core principles that held the series together (a dark and grimy atmosphere of being lost in a big mean world, Samus's character, a focus on exploration) got thrown away and changed too much. It didn't feel like a Metroid game; it felt like an imposter to me. This is, however, just my own opinion like you said. I'd argue that, considering that Nintendo themselves said that Other M disappointed in sales and the overwhelming bad feeling of the game, we can't objectively call it a 'good' game, but you enjoyed it, which is really the biggest thing for you. I certainly don't want to sound like I'm hating on people because they like a game I don't. I like myself some real shite, so don't take the arguments above and below the wrong way. Thank you for taking the time to read these overly long arguments of mine and best regards to you.

vlademir1 said...

Generally, I'm feeling mildly upset you didn't do a comparative of the Japanese vs English voice acting. There's quite a bit of the subtle nuanced emotional elements common to Japanese in the Japanese voice acting while the English is basically plain flat, which gives a very different subtext to what is being said.
That said I'm only mildly upset because I understand you likely have a fairly hard time constraint on the length of these and that most of the non-Japanese audience doesn't have their ear trained to pick that up, like I do from a couple decades of watching un-dubbed anime and other Japanese media.
That aside I honestly feel you make your case well in both these episodes but I can't personally make any commentary regarding non-story parts of this game either way as the closest I've come to playing it is watching video of all the story parts in both Japanese and English.

On this episode, I rather like how that final shot had a sort of fuzzy, grainy quality to it.
Honestly I feel you're doing quite a bit better at integrating and bookending your overthinking with story content than you were when you started doing so. I also like how many elements have started to have some of the feel of many early tokusatsu works. Both those are very much on display here.

Spongey Blob said...

... well, it's also Samus's portrayal, which most people can agree was wrong wrong wrong. Even people who liked the game have generally said that it was not consistent with the rest of the franchise. And this is another big problem; the game creators assumed that speech = personality, and therefore Samus was a blank slate. She wasn't. This is like saying deaf people can't eat beans. They are completely unrelated. The idea that she has no personality is a lie; the first three Metroid games are the best example, though you can look to the monologues in the Gameboy games and her body language in the Prime trilogy for more recent examples.

The reason that Samus endured the N64 gap was that she was, compared to other character of the time, such a strong character, full of humanity and emotion. How? The game developers, lacking any way of telling the players what she was like, actually used the gamer's input as part of her character.

The gamer is alone in the journey and must become used to this solitude, and so must Samus. The game's atmosphere and style can very easily make the player feel lost and scared, but they eventually conquer these anxieties through perseverance and bravery, so Samus too is relentless and brave. We have to stop to consider our route through Zebes, and we search like bloodhounds for items, making Samus smart and methodical. We spare the infant metroid at the end of Metroid 2 because it helps us win, and thus Samus is not ruthless but, in fact, has a human heart. And she even has strong morals and ideals in her character; she holds her own duties and responsibilties highly and personally. In the beginning of Super Metroid, no one asks her to go back to Zebes. She isn't getting paid for it, and she could've let anyone else save the infant metroid, but instead she leapt at the chance to save it herself because she felt that it was her responsibility.

And, on a slightly more personal note, the reason that the ending of Super Metroid is considered by many to be one of the strongest emotional experiences in gaming is that we care about the infant metroid; it was our goal, and to see it destroyed both saddened and angered us, and thus Samus is hugely protective and considers her own responsibility highly, and she continues to assault Mother Brain despite the fact that she's already lost once. It's not a smart thing to do, so why does she try again? Because the player's renewed attack on Mother Brain gives Samus an air of reckless desire for revenge. She has weaknesses as well as strengths because we have weaknesses as well as strengths. She's a three-dimensional human being, because we the player make her one.

It's why Link is so brave and James Sunderland a coward, and why RPG characters change personality even in the same game; because the players make the character as much as the developers do, and the team of the original Metroid games knew how to steer us into thinking of Samus as how we do. The games used player input as part of Samus's character, and the game creators, for lack of a better word, manipulated our quote-unquote 'projections' to make Samus the character they wanted to portray. Samus didn't really have anyone to speak to, so this was the way they gave her character and a personality.

The Samus of Other M showed none of these qualities. It would've been just as annoying to people who disliked Other M if Samus was a violent bitchy ice queen, or a comedic slapstick character, or a friendly and shy demure woman, because that isn't what she is.She's methodical, brave and wrathful, refusing to give up in the face of impossible odds, and with a great rage as her greatest flaw. You may be correct in saying that she isn't stoical, but that wasn't all we thought of her, and this is why, at least as I see it, why people hated Samus so much in Other M. It wasn't the Samus we had been steered to making. It wasn't the Samus we knew and loved. It wasn't OUR Samus Aran.

Jannie said...

I'm going to comment on this more in depth tomorrow when I have time and when my seething anger at Bob's unremitting strawmaning of any view he dislikes has subsided, lest I react poorly.

Let me just say two things:

One, you CAN NOT possibly prove any of this "compressed narrative" bullshit.

Two, even if you could it would STILL NOT justify Samus suddenly acting like a little scared girl at the sight of a monster she's killed a hundred fucking times.

Three, you know this.

Four, your entire schtick about Japanophobia is laughable and at best you're ignorant of the facts and at worst childishly trying to defend something without actually having read anything about it (i.e., Japanese views on women).

Finally, I swear to God, Bob can you EVER mention a modern game without some ridiculous insult? Do you really feel so insecure that you simply MUST react that way? Do you not understand how fucking absurd that is? No of course you understand you don't care do you...you honestly could care less if you insult millions of people constantly as long as you feel better about your ridiculous OCD Nintendo fetish.

I'm done for today, I'll come up with an actual in depth overview of the video and my rebuttal thereof when I calm down a bit, but Jesus Christ...wow...

Jannie said...

Oh and PS asshat:

You can scream racist all you want, but seeing how a pudgy white guy from Boston knows about as much about racism first hand as a sponge, and seeing as how I'm actually a fucking minority and have experienced racism first hand, some friendly advice:

Throw it around sparingly. Some people (HINT HINT) may have actually seen and experienced real racism in their lives, real racism being the opposite of "not liking Nintendo". Or am I being too much of a strawman by pointing this out?

But please, no, continue insulting me on every level--as a woman, a gamer, and a Black person--with your completely ridiculous defenses of this shitty game and the shitty company that made it. That's not a telling sign of your true feelings at all.

Mads said...

@ Spongeybob
"
considering how many people were offended by the portrayal there must have been SOMETHING there.
"
Fundamentally, the something that was there could both be fanon and kanon.

The fact that many people were offended doesn't prove she had personality in anything but the fanon. She may have had, she may not have had, but that argument doesn't prove it. You'll have to do better.

"
As for abstraction, again, I'd argue that while it might have a part in why the game didn't work, it is NOT the origin of the problem, certainly not to the extent you claim. You could immediately say 'Then why did Metroid Prime work?' While the generation is different, story telling techiniques aren't too much different from that generation as they are now, and no one had a problem with item pickups then beyond the subject of a silly joke. Here, it was outright offensive because it flew in the face of Samus's character and was so prevelant in the story itself. It was everywhere; it was nearly all Samus and Adam actually spoke to each other about. So, once again, I don't buy.
"
You're right, people probably _didn't_ have much of a problem with the sillyness of item pickups...that's not the point. The point is, did the developers try to _fix_ this "problem" by trying to make it so there would be _less_ abstraction? It's not entirely bobs argument, but it may as well be a lemma to it.

I think that was probably their goal. Building it into the narrative seems like it would cost more money and be harder to design, so they must have a motive for doing it differently. The motive could either be to make the game have no pickups because those require more abstraction (a wrong assumption, but a legit motive), or that they integrated the pickups into the story to give the main characters something to talk about that was pertinent to the gameplay.

Neither is a fundamentally sexist reason.

Or do you have some alternative motive that _is_ sexist that would fit the bill?

"
And if I may quickly refute your argument about the infamous Ridley scene, the perception of time is a clever idea, but I'd say that the scene certainly wasn't that; the effect is far too small and hard to notice, it's not been used at any other point in the game beforehand so far as I can remember it, and it certainly didn't make it obvious enough that time was slowing down for Samus; if just about everyone who saw it missed that fact then the game developers failed to make their point full stop, if they were at all.
"
Again, the question is, what was their intent? If it was as bob says, the underlying reason isn't sexist. Could Bobs interpretation have been their intent? The no-prior-examples doesn't eliminate it as a possibility, and it _is_ terribly common in anime...

Mads said...

@ Spongey bob

I do think your interpretation of Samus Aran from the metroid games is viable. I find little fault with it.

It's all very implicit, but I can see why you were dissapointed that when she finally got a voice, she didn't match your expectations.

I'm not sure how reasonable those expectations _were_, considering that subtlety is exchanged for a very fleshed out character, and considering how everybody and their mom tends to mess that stuff up...but it's a good argument.

The question I really want to ask is, could Samus Aran from Other M have done the things she supposedly did earlier in the series? That's kindof the litmus test.

Because she probably _should_ have been an extension of those traits you mentioned, but if she could have possesed those traits and it wouldn't feel off it's not necessarily an inconsistency. So what do you say? Could Other M Samus have acted as Metroid Series Samus in her past?

Evilkinggumby said...

Kool albeit short episode. I like the way you worked it all together, and aside from the lengthy (and kind of needless) recap in the beginning, it all came together nicely. And I will agree with one of the commenters on Screwattack, your dialect kicks in a lot thicker on this one, but so does a certain sense of frustration/distaste so maybe it was a product of emotional tension... Who knows.

My only question is why this whole relationship between Samus and Adam and his barking orders hasn't been looked at as a Master-Student sort of thing. If Adam originally had a certain venom for her because she was a 'deserter' then think of it like a shogun having to ally with a freelance ronin that used to be part of his original military. He is going to not only force a certain proof of loyalty and discipline on that ronin to establish a sense of who's in charge, but also challenge the ronin to prove their worth and overcome obstacles. It allows Samus to grow as a warrior and as a person, vaguely similar to how the military tears soldiers downa nd then builds them back up. He strips her of use of most of her abilities and then slowly almost says "ok you have proven your skill and loyalty a bit more, now you can use THIS". For the level with the fire suit, it also kind of makes sense.

Thinking of it like this, it can mean that as the story progresses, Adam will be impressed and somewhat emotionally invested in Samus as she proves over and over her dedication and skill, two things that are immensely important to the Japanese(or at least thats what their pop culture products seem to imply) and to the military. Samus can internalize the whole of the events as a rite of passage and a challenge to strengthen her resolve and make her a better warrior. Why? Perhaps she felt a bit too comfortable in her armor and wanted to make sure it was HER skill and not technology alone that was saving the day.. I don't know.

Looking at it from that angle, to me, it has very little to do with the fact she is FEMALE and he is male, and is more of a warrior's tale between teacher and student, which might explain why the whole issue with Samus becoming a supposed "woman submissive to a man" thing wasn't really considered in the final design.

I'm pulling that all out of my butt though, I haven't played the game myself, haven't seen proof of this in any way, just did some reading up on the game.

Spongey Blob said...

Mads

"The fact that many people were offended doesn't prove she had personality in anything but the fanon. She may have had, she may not have had, but that argument doesn't prove it. You'll have to do better"

I probably didn't word my argument correctly, in all honesty; I was referring to my own analysis, but consider just how many people had a very good view of what Samus was like based solely on the games, and consider that the Metroid games before Other M built on that. A lot of details would differ from person to person, but the core of Samus's character, the brave and kind-hearted but incredibly wrathful warrior, was pretty much consistent everywhere. I certainly wouldn't call that a coincidence or simply a fan's perception, considering firstly just how many people thought this and secondly how strongly they did. My own analysis was kind of a mix of my own perception of Samus and trying to explain just where people got the idea of Samus from; manipulated projection and the game creators using gameplay as part of Samus's character.

As for the abstraction, I get that the weapon stuff from earlier was silly, and it DID need changing from the earlier format of 'because I say so'. It's the method they chose that jars everyone. It's an ok idea, pulled off in such a way to make it even worse than before. The odd thing is that both Bob and you yourself seem to make this a defence when it isn't. It's like saying "I'm sorry my son set your house on fire, he's very bad with cooking." It's a reason, but it's not an excuse.

"Neither is a fundamentally sexist reason."

Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall EVER saying the word 'sexist' or 'sexism' in the argument... at all. My own problems with Other M aren't really do with the sexism; I can certainly see why people call Other M sexist, but I don't think that it was intentionally sexist; Nintendo are many things, but sexist is not one of them. Other M offended me because it really tore apart one of my favourite characters, franchises and childhood experiences. I very nearly can't play Super Metroid, or any Metroid game for that matter, without being reminded of Other M. Melodramatic as it sounds, Super Metroid was one of my strongest childhood experiences and now I can only play it and get annoyed by where the series went, and Other M took that joy from me. Again, I get the sexism argument, I see where people get from and I won't lie if I said that I got a few unpleasant vibes from Samus and Adam's relationship, but my issues are more personal and I can recognise an accident when I see one.

"Again, the question is, what was their intent? If it was as bob says, the underlying reason isn't sexist."

Once again, I never said that it was sexist. I said it was inconsistent with Samus's character, not sexist. As for Bob's defending argument, there's a doctrine in film study that I'm guessing Bob follows considering that he's a film critic too; always assume that what you see on screen is the film maker's intent. It's the classic way of objective film critique, which is where Bob got the argument of perceptive view or whatever it's called from. My problem is that I had to look back at the scene to notice it, and seemingly MovieBob is the first person to point it out, a whole year after the fact, which means that the effect failed.

CONTINUED BELOW

Spongey Blob said...

"The question I really want to ask is, could Samus Aran from Other M have done the things she supposedly did earlier in the series?"

Check your use of the word 'supposedly'. Supposedly is to suggest that something might of happened but is still vague, but that's avoiding the question. The answer is a "no" but it's a complicated "no". To make it easier, I'll disregard the Prime trilogy, seeing as Sakamoto has said that he treats them as an equally valid but by no means in-canon story.

She certainly would've gone to Zebes ala first game; she was hired to go there, but it's doubtful she would succeed. She would've needed someone talking to her constantly to help her, as she often mentions how weak and naive she was and always follows orders to the letter in Other M. She would've met Ridley for the first time since he killed her parents, which would probably cause her to freak out even more than in Other M, and he would've killed her. The end. Assuming she survived, however, we go to Metroid 2, and here's where things get really messed up. She'd kill all the metroids, following orders blindly like the submissive she's become, and I mean all of them. No infant metroid, nothing. She might have hesitated at the prospect of killing an infant, but somebody would've yelled in her ear to do it, and she'd happily butcher the metroid, having no previous connection as she did in Other M. Then she'd just go on and on, a mindless, directionless sponge of a character who ironically becomes a far better example of a blank slate than most people think Samus used to be.

As for how the actual Samus would've acted in Other M had she been more consistent with the rest of the series, I would suggest that she instead becomes completely and utterly reckless during missions. Fuelled by rage and colossal hatred, she would be too dangerous for the Galactic Federation to have as a bounty hunter but too precious to throw away. The bottle ship mission? A test to Samus to prove that she is still worth having. If asked about the infant metroid, instead of harping on and on she simply avoids the topic and pretends that she doesn't care, even though it's clear that she does, and the game ends with Adam teaching her to learn to accept her mistakes rather than ignore them, to admit that, yes, she had a soft spot for the infant metroid, and learn that to simply mope and whine about the death is to let it be in vain, and she should instead make sure that the infant metroid's sacrifice is ho noured. The game would end with Samus returning to form triumphantly and earning the respect of her peers. BAM; three problems solved in one:

1) It justifies the authorisation without a change of dialogue. No one wants loose cannon Samus running around firing missiles everywhere, so she must earn the trust to keep those items. You could even incorperate that into gameplay; the more pointless kills and ignorance of orders the players make, the less likely they are to get new weapons.

2) It gives Adam reason for being there other than tying the game to that fucking awful backstory. Seriously, THAT was the root of the problems even if it wasn't the biggest of the lot; the dev and writing teams were unfocused on whether to write Samus's backstory or about where Samus was now, and the whole plot became a mess as a result.

3) IT'S STILL IN CHARACTER FOR SAMUS! It builds on what we already had, rather than slapping random character traits together and calling that Samus. Hell, it'd be consitent with Other M's more action-focused gameplay over previous more methodical games, with Samus basically killing more than she ever has done in any other Metroid game in a hyper-violent rage.

Giving Samus weaknesses and flaws is no problem to Other M; it was the weaknesses and flaws themselves that they gave that was the problem, because they were completely out of character.

Ian said...

@ Evilkinggumby

Had the story been written differently, your explanation probably would have worked, but that's not why Adam imposed restrictions on Samus.

He says at the beginning of the game that she can't use her weapons due to 'sensitive equipment and civilians aboard the station.' That's the only reason we're given as to why Samus can't use her equipment.

Unfortunately, this story element winds up falling short when:
A) Samus is allowed to continue using authorized weaponry despite conditions on the station remaining unchanged,
B) Samus is unable to use nonlethal equipment including the Varia and Gravity suit as well as the grapple beam that wouldn't pose a threat to anything,
C) Samus finds two weapons on the ship that she's allowed to use without waiting for authorization.

It also doesn't help that Samus will continue to refrain from using her equipment even after Adam is gone, one example being the endgame sequence where Samus tries to escape an exploding ship, risking getting killed by explosions, shrapnel, enemies, and the potential vacuum of space, wearing nothing but her zero suit which, for some reason, is now equipped with high heels.

Just going by what the game tells us, the story reason as to why Adam imposes such arbitrary limits on Samus just simply doesn't work, not just from a gameplay standpoint, but also not from a story standpoint. Not only is it rendered entirely pointless by the gameplay, but it tells us that Samus won't speak up unless spoken to, that she won't even ask for permission to use equipment, even if it means letting herself get hurt.

That's ultimately where the sexism claims come from, in a nutshell. Even if the genders were reversed, or had two people of the same gender, it wouldn't stop the protagonist from looking like a really stupid person.

Felipe said...

I don't think the player problem was REALLY the misoginy. Sure that's what everyone complained about, but I'm doubtful that's what ACTUALLY bothered them.

In the end, the problem is that Adam is a hated character. Had he been female, players would have hated her just as much.

The problem is that Adam effectively gimps the player. See, in most media, the main character is the one we feel for and relate with, but in video games we take it a step further: The main character is who we control. We don't just relate to the main character, we ARE the main character. I'm not just controlling Samus, I AM Samus. I see Samus as a strong, independent and capable woman, because I see MYSELF (or would like to see myself) as strong, independent and capable.

So when Adam "forces" Samus into progressively more dangerous situations without the use of her strongest weapons with little rhyme or reason, he is putting MY life in danger, he is frustrating ME, for no reason other than "I said so." So yeah, I hate his guts. The gender thing is just something the masses grabbed on and made it bigger.

I am reminded of the Enslaved issue. Those of you who haven't heard, Enslaved is a game where a little girl has a mission, she can't complete it alone, so she uses the one resource she has: She forces the unsconsious guy next to her to help her. Players HATED her, and in this case PLAYERS were called mysogynistic for doing so.

But the point here is similar to that of Other M. I'm not playing as the girl, I'm playing as the GUY. The fact she took my unconscious body and put a slave crown BACK on after I had fought to free us BOTH makes her a bitch. The fact she nags at me the whole damned game makes me want to murder her.And let's metagame here for a second, but she's cute, and she has a good cause, and it's a GAME, so I was going to help her ANYWAYS, which just makes her FORCING me to sting all the more.

In the end, I think Other M could have redeemed itself much in the way Splinter Cell (the original) did for gimping the player for who levels: Commeupance. Right after the CIA level, when you are not allowed to be seen, or heard, or kill anyone at all, you're given a mission where five minutes in your boss basically goes "Oh shit, everything went to hell. Complete this mission NOW by ANY means nescessary. Kill everyone if you have to, don't give a shit. Just get it DONE." It gave the player the freedom he'd been craving for that hour (or three, depending on trial and error) he spent sneaking into the CIA pacifist style

Imagine if near the end of Other M, when Samus has about 4 or 5 things left to unlock, she just basically went "You know what? Fuck this! We've tried things Adam's way and it's not working, we're doing things SAMUS' way!" She turns on everything in her armor and basically does her OWN plan, ignoring Adam's orders and saving the day. Hell, for extra player power, make Adam's subordinates follow her too. Give the player the power and control they've been yearning for the rest of the damned game! It would be considered the best part of the game by everyone who played it... Guaranteed.

Felipe said...

I don't think the player problem was REALLY the misoginy. Sure that's what everyone complained about, but I'm doubtful that's what ACTUALLY bothered them.

In the end, the problem is that Adam is a hated character. Had he been female, players would have hated her just as much.

The problem is that Adam effectively gimps the player. See, in most media, the main character is the one we feel for and relate with, but in video games we take it a step further: The main character is who we control. We don't just relate to the main character, we ARE the main character. I'm not just controlling Samus, I AM Samus. I see Samus as a strong, independent and capable woman, because I see MYSELF (or would like to see myself) as strong, independent and capable.

So when Adam "forces" Samus into progressively more dangerous situations without the use of her strongest weapons with little rhyme or reason, he is putting MY life in danger, he is frustrating ME, for no reason other than "I said so." So yeah, I hate his guts. The gender thing is just something the masses grabbed on and made it bigger.

I am reminded of the Enslaved issue. Those of you who haven't heard, Enslaved is a game where a little girl has a mission, she can't complete it alone, so she uses the one resource she has: She forces the unsconsious guy next to her to help her. Players HATED her, and in this case PLAYERS were called mysogynistic for doing so.

But the point here is similar to that of Other M. I'm not playing as the girl, I'm playing as the GUY. The fact she took my unconscious body and put a slave crown BACK on after I had fought to free us BOTH makes her a bitch. The fact she nags at me the whole damned game makes me want to murder her.And let's metagame here for a second, but she's cute, and she has a good cause, and it's a GAME, so I was going to help her ANYWAYS, which just makes her FORCING me to sting all the more.

In the end, I think Other M could have redeemed itself much in the way Splinter Cell (the original) did for gimping the player for who levels: Commeupance. Right after the CIA level, when you are not allowed to be seen, or heard, or kill anyone at all, you're given a mission where five minutes in your boss basically goes "Oh shit, everything went to hell. Complete this mission NOW by ANY means nescessary. Kill everyone if you have to, don't give a shit. Just get it DONE." It gave the player the freedom he'd been craving for that hour (or three, depending on trial and error) he spent sneaking into the CIA pacifist style

Imagine if near the end of Other M, when Samus has about 4 or 5 things left to unlock, she just basically went "You know what? Fuck this! We've tried things Adam's way and it's not working, we're doing things SAMUS' way!" She turns on everything in her armor and basically does her OWN plan, ignoring Adam's orders and saving the day. Hell, for extra player power, make Adam's subordinates follow her too. Give the player the power and control they've been yearning for the rest of the damned game! It would be considered the best part of the game by everyone who played it... Guaranteed.

Miguel said...

For me, the reason the PTSD episode failed wasn't it's length, but it's context in the overall story. Other M is meant to be after Super and before Fusion, right? In both of those games, and the original Metroid and apparently (I wouldn't know, having not played them myself) the Prime games, she encounters Ridley and retains her composure perfectly. The game doesn't even having Samus stop responding to player input during his greeting roar or anything. If Other M had been set after Fusion, I could have bought the freak-out as Samus breaking down with the realization that he's going to haunt her forever, but as it stands, it's just a complete melodramatic failure.

Also, there's one thing I'd like to know... Why is Capcom racist for putting Sheva in a tribal-themed bikini, but Nintendo isn't sexist for having Samus suddenly be scared of a monster she's already killed at least five times before and too stupid to turn on the Varia Suit until authorized?

Just asking.

Mads said...

@Spongey Bob

"
Forgive me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall EVER saying the word 'sexist' or 'sexism' in the argument... at all.
"

Excuse me...that's the most common theme of the criticism and, I think, also the main thing Bob is getting up in arms about (I believe); whether or not there was sexist intention, or whether it was an accidental byproduct.

I'm sorry for projecting that onto your argument.

"
Check your use of the word 'supposedly'. Supposedly is to suggest that something might of happened but is still vague
"
Well, if there's an internal logical inconsistency, then some of it _can't_ have happened. Some of it must've been a mistake.

In this specific case, the makers of Other M claims that Other M continues the story, but if there's inconsistencies and questions asked about whether this makes sense, it becomes a claim in dispute rather than a fact.

Yeah, it's not a very clear use of the word, but that's the mindset behind its use =]

If you truly believe that the "what if" scenario would've gone down like that, then there's clearly an inconsistency. I'm not in a position to call your observations into question if you're certain.

It also appears that your alternative would've worked. I'm not sure the Samus you describe is particularly three-dimensional, but as a basis, it appears to be clearly supperior.

"
As for Bob's defending argument, there's a doctrine in film study that I'm guessing Bob follows considering that he's a film critic too; always assume that what you see on screen is the film maker's intent.
"
As an aside, I think gaming is too young a medium to apply that doctrine in good conscience, and I doubt it's even compatible with gaming due to the fashion in which game design works; you design first-order rules most of the time, but that usually results in 2nd, 3rd and 4th order derivatives, which often means unintended concequences. For movies, you have much tighter control, since you don't even really _need_ consistent rules.

But yeah, you've made good arguments all through, and it seems like this aspect at least is deserving of criticism.

The sexism issue is what I think Bob really took issue with, though, and I actually think that's the more interesting discussion. Finding and understanding sexism in gaming, and categorising it reasonably, that's kindof important.

Sad as it may be when it happens, a company messing up on a sequel just isn't as important.

Nick said...

I think there's still a problem with your reasoning, something you're overlooking. But, I also think you're still right in your conclusion that Yoshio Sakamoto or anyone else aren't necessarily consciously saying anything bad about Samus.

I agree with your point about the story being tacked on and secondary to the gameplay; they came up with the "authorization mechanic" without thinking about it, and the unfortunate implications only come once you DO think about it. There was no malice behind the conception of that mechanic / plot point.

What I feel you're overlooking is this. Everything you said from 12:05 to 13:50 about why the absurdity of the mechanic bugs us so much, can ALSO be used to argue that Sakamoto, or whoever, SHOULD HAVE NOTICED the unfortunate implications of the mechanic. They should have noticed it, and it seems hard to believe that they didn't notice it. If the implications seem so blatantly obvious to the player for all the reasons you stated, why didn't the writer or anybody else making the game notice for those same reasons? And so, given that they should have, and seemingly must have, noticed the implications, the fact that they DIDN'T DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT appears to say something about how they choose to view Samus; that they apparently have no problem with portraying her in this light.

The same applies to other unfortunate implications in the game. For example, the fact that Samus' freak-out when Ridley shows up leads to the [seeming] death of another character. This would seem to send the message that "Anthony [almost] died because of Samus' feminine weakness." Moreover, the fact that Anthony is a man adds the further implication "This is what men have to put up with from women." Again, the people making the game should have noticed these implications, and the fact that they didn't fix it seems to send a message of its own.

But, despite all that, I still don't think the game makers are actually expressing any kind of view or characterization of Samus. Why? Because, I think it's entirely possible, and in fact MORE likely, that THEY SIMPLY REALLY ARE THAT NEGLIGENT. They either really are too shortsighted to see the implications, or, somewhat more likely, they JUST DON'T CARE. And "just not caring," to that extent, about a character such as this, is a crime, but a different and lesser crime.

In short, Hanlon's Razor:
"Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."
Even if the explanation requires A LOT of stupidity. :P

Nick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nick said...

@ Miguel:
"Also, there's one thing I'd like to know... Why is Capcom racist for putting Sheva in a tribal-themed bikini, but Nintendo isn't sexist for having Samus suddenly be scared of a monster she's already killed at least five times before and too stupid to turn on the Varia Suit until authorized?

Just asking. "

Two reasons. One, there's no obvious reason for putting Sheva in a tribal-themed bikini OTHER than racial stereotypes. Sakamoto could have just as easily portrayed a male character freaking out in front of a recurring boss monster; but having, say, an Asian character wearing Sheva's outfit, would make a lot less sense.

Second, if you watch that episode again, Bob said that the problem isn't actually racism. As for what he said the problem IS... well, you COULD apply that argument to Other M's portrayal of women, but I still think that Other M can be explained by simple negligence. Resident Evil 5 can't; again, Capcom wouldn't have had enemies wearing grass skirts and throwing spears at you, or your sidekick wearing a leopard-skin bikini, war paint, and a necklace made of bones, if the character's in question weren't black.

If you replace all the black people in Resident Evil 5 with another race, the story and images make a lot less sense. If you replace Samus in Other M with a man, the story and mechanics make just as much (or just as little) sense, and in fact carry LESS unfortunate implications.

Nick said...

Sorry for the triple post... I just thought of something very interesting.

Remember this?
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/articles/view/columns/moviebob/7779-The-Problem-With-Twilight

How are the extrapolated implications people draw about Other M, different from those you drew in that article about Twilight? Implications that relate to pretty much the same issues; dated portrayals of women as submissive to men? Implications you condemned at length, despite admitting that they probably actually WEREN'T intentional?

Bob I'd actually be really interested in your thoughts on this. Do I have a point? Am I missing something? Does this have any effect on how you view Other M, and/or the criticisms of it? Does this make you view Twilight differently, you having now been on the other side of a similar argument?

Has someone else pointed out this very thing before, and I'm late to the party? :P

I'm interested.

Smashmatt202 said...

O-K! I'm kind of nervous for what Bob says and how he goes about it... Might as well get it over with.

...The FUCK?! An affair with a female ninja from Mortal Kombat? Just how old IS Strawman?! "late nineties"... Are you saying that these ninjas are in their teens now?!

"Resume"? How the HELL did Bob get Strawman's resume? Did he actually APPLY to appear in the Game Overthinker's show? What kind of stupid-ass logic are we going by?

Oh goodie, what video game creature is he going to fight this time? Either way, it looks like YOU'RE not looking forward to this topic, Bob. Neither am I, actually. I'd kind of prefer to forget EVERYTHING about Metroid: Other M... But at the same time, I like that you're actually going to address some complaints about that episode you did a year ago... The same episode in which Strawman made his first appearance.

It's amazing how that one video, out of ALL the videos you ever did, managed to be the most popular thing you ever did, mostly for all the wrong reasons. You claimed you were "shutting up the trolls", which is confusing, because to some people, it sounded like the "Trolls" were anyone who hated the game and Samus's characterization, and that turned out to make them even more angry then before. Sometimes you need to watch what you say...

OMG, you thought the Nostalgia Critic's Bart's Nightmare Let's Play was actually funny? Good God... No offense, I respect your opinion, but I couldn't even make it through that video, it was painful to watch...

Uh-oh, Bob's Boston accent is slipping, get ready for some bad shit to go down! Also, good use of that "No. I am not saying you are wrong if you didn't like the game" disclaimer, glad you got that out of the way.

I wonder who that guy in the stripped shirt is in the background. Sorry, that's a bit random, but it caught my attention for some reason. Also, I kind of care about if this is canon or not, but okay, whatever.

I kind of agree that Metroid: Other M WOULD have been good, as in the ideas behind its story would have been good, if it was executed properly. But it wasn't, pretty much for the reasons Bob gave.

I have no idea what Small Wonder is. Oh Bob, and your obscure jokes that nobody gets!

Krispy Kream? I prefer Dunkin' Donuts myself.

Smashmatt202 said...

I never really thought of that kind of defense for the Ridley argument... The passage of time, differing depending on perspective...

Adam Malkovich... You know, he was the character I was most-looking-forward-to-seeing. Now I kind of which they'd re-write it in a way that didn't make him look like a cold, heartless jerk, in my opinion.

I think it's way more silly that Samus refuses to turn on her armor, as opposed to finding it there. I'd be all "Oh thank GOD I found this", you know?

Although, the way you explain The Legend of Zelda's story, as well as Contra and Ghosts 'n' Goblins story does sound pretty stupid... I guess we're more forgiving of them they were less about the story, like you said. Thing is, Metroid: Other M is all ABOUT the story, and if something doesn't make sense in there, then it's going to stick out a lot more than usual.

I don't know about "abstraction", though... Oh God, you're not going to rail on against reality in video games again, are you? No, nevermind, sorry I even brought that up.

It IS kind of true, how webcomics kind of point out these weird oddities about things in video games because they were made back where the narrative didn't matter as much. Now, the narrative does matter, not just to gamers but to the people making this game, and, well... Yeah.

Maybe back when I was more impressionable about this sort of thing, I might have been on the bandwagon about Yoshio Sakamoto, Nintendo, and Team Ninja about Samus's characterization, but after a year of contemplation (with a little help from Extra Credits), I think that was just, once again, a matter of bad execution. Even though you didn't INTEND for it to be that way, that's the way people are going to remember it. I often compare Metroid: Other M to the Star Wars prequels; they might have been good, if they were executed properly...

You know, when I thought about that "Japanophobia" thing, I wasn't really thinking about just Yoshio Sakamoto, but rather most of the stuff I see out of anime and manga... Which now that I think about it, it's pretty silly to base an entire culture just around the likes of what cartoons and comic books, or even video games, they happen to produce. I regret ever thinking that way about it. :(

OH! Well, okay then... That went better than I thought it would. Okay then... For the moment I'm satisfied... To be honest, sometimes when I watch your videos, some of the things you say don't really "register" immediately, so I have to watch them several times. Maybe I'll watch this again tomorrow or something. Your videos are always great to play in the background while I'm doing stuff.

OH SHIT IT'S A NETTLER FROM KID ICARUS! ...Oh God, I can't believe I actually not only recognized that enemy, but knew it's name...

Sure is dark out, huh?

Mmm, magic artifacts, huh? Do I sense another Quest for the Overthinker?

You know, I'm actually warming up to these stupid-ass storylines. It took some getting used to, but yeah, I guess when someone puts their foot down and says it's hear to stay, I guess people just lay back and accept it. Like how Canada started to use only coins instead of having paper money. Eventually, everyone just accepted it because Canada refused to go back. I learned that from one of my old money classes at school.

Oh, I guess there's not quest, huh? Who'd of thought that tacky bling would be that "anti-metal" you needed?

Anonymous said...

Umm, Bob, I'm sure you're tired of hearing this by now, but I'm really starting to get bothered by your storyline segments. It's for a different reason than you'd think, though. I'm alright with the idea of you doing them, but don't you think they're getting a little self-indulgent? Look at me, I'm Overthinker, I'm so awesome, I fight ninjas and have people out to kill me. Plus I own a fairy and work for a police commissioner played by a rabbit. You know, I used to like Linkara, but now he just seems so full of himself that, even if it is a character he's putting on, I can't take him seriously. Especially when he makes a mistake. I don't want you to go down that road. You know The Big Picture? Your other show where you essentially do what you used to do in Game Overthinker, but for a whole spectrum of issues? You know how it doesn't need a storyline? I think the success of that show should inspire you.

Ian said...

@ Nick

"I agree with your point about the story being tacked on and secondary to the gameplay; they came up with the "authorization mechanic" without thinking about it, and the unfortunate implications only come once you DO think about it. There was no malice behind the conception of that mechanic / plot point."

Except that the story isn't secondary, nor 'tacked on'; it's the entire focus of Other M.

You can't skip cutscenes on your first playthrough. Loading up saves gives you a plot recap of everything that happened thus far. Beating the game gives you 'Theater Mode,' which lets you watch the entire story from beginning to end with pre-recorded gameplay footage stringing together the cutscenes.

Just in case that wasn't clear, not only are you forced to take in the story, but Sakamoto actually thought it could stand alone as a movie, that some people would want to watch the story again without actually playing the game. I think this speaks for itself:

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_fMl1MrkycLE/TJZE8H0CuiI/AAAAAAAAABE/NooaZLRZpvw/s1600/metroidothermthemovie.JPG

I know later in your post you mention that someone should have noticed that there was something wrong, that they didn't notice because they probably didn't care, but therein lies the problem; Sakamoto clearly cared, as he actually believed the story was good enough to be a movie, calling it his 'dream project' that made him cry when he saw some of the later cutscenes (I'm not kidding about this part), and despite the monstrous amount of criticisms the narrative got, he hasn't attempted once to dispel any accusations or clarify any misconceptions.

I think we deserve an explanation why.

Mads said...

Ian:

In any videogame ever, the story is always secondary to the gameplay, or it _should_ always be secondary to the gameplay.

"Gameplay should dictate the story" is the truest rule of game design outthere.

Gameplay is hard as hell to craft, whereas story is easy to adapt.

Its the very reason games have secondrate naratives. I love a lot of game stories, don't get me wrong, but the narratives don't hold a candle to narratives not inhibited by having to fit with an abstract system of rules.

Some games interweave the two really well, and some game directors may even state things to the contrary, but in the end, Other M was about whooping up on monsters, not about the specific narrative. That's where the development resources go to too.

And look, I'm not going to say that gameplay is never ever changed to fit a specific story twist, but when it happens, it's usually _bad_ for the gameplay, which is much worse than the gameplay being bad for the story.

Theater mode or no, that's still how things are for games. That argument isn't well thought out btw - Star Wars: Rogue Squadron has an unlockable "jukebox" that you can use to listen to all the tunes of the game without playing it.

That clearly doesn't mean the developers thought the tunes were platinum record material. It _is_ added value for a small specific segment of fans, though.

@ Nick

I love you for finding the twillight comparison forward. That's a brilliant bit of thinking.

I don't see how Bob can square his oppinions in this piece with those from the twillight piece though.

Smashmatt202 said...

"Story must ALWAYS be secondary to gameplay"

Oh hey, can you hear me all the way back there in the 1980s?!

Times have changed, story is not longer a secondary feature to video games. It can be the forefront if it wants to. That's NOT to say the gameplay shouldn't be secondary to it at all. In fact, on the contrary, the gameplay and the interactive nature of video games is what sets it apart from other forms of media. The thing is, story should not clash with the gameplay, it should compliment it, or better yet, story can be told THROUGH the gameplay.

Aiddon said...

I'm actually astounded that some people think Bob might actually respond to them.

Also, yes, story is always going to play second fiddle to gameplay in the grand scheme of things. The very first games did NOT have narratives and as such the idea of narrative being superfluous is completely sound. Some games have had stories that are unique and epic (oddly, all of my favorite ones being from Japan), but let's not fool ourselves into believing they're necessary. Games are toys, they are meant to entertain through gameplay, that's their function

Smashmatt202 said...

Now hold up, I get they're here to entertain, but "toy" would imply that they're almost specifically made for children. And even though adults can play with toys, it's usually looked down upon, and the stigma that video games are toys are only going to convince people that video games are and will always be meant for children, and continue to rally against any mature content in video games.

And yeah, story in games aren't necessary, iPhone games and the like have proven that, but doesn't mean we can excuse bad story telling within games, does it?

Dave from canada said...

@ Jannie.

Win. Just win.


Is anyone really that surprised by this outcome though? It's kindof bob's mo when responding to personal criticism. Call the other guy a racist or some other unpopular group, and then repeat the original argument nearly verbatim as though that makes it somehow better.

FFS the guy goes on about how sexist games are, using massive amounts of footage from japanese games and still has the gall to act like people are racist for implying that other M is sexist garbage.

John "TH" Wells said...

I do not feel The Other M is any more intentionally sexist than Resident Evil 5 is intentionally racist. That doesn't make either of them any less guilty. Bad game/narrative decisions due to laziness is still bad game/narrative decisions. I'm fairly sure there isn't a professionally released game on the market who's flaws were intentional, but that doesn't make them go away.

That said, I think that this is a problem from developer to developer, not some Japanese cultural phenomenon. You see the same thing from American studios, just about as often.

Also, I'd argue no narrative/narrative left to the player is better in games than distinctly bad narrative. What we knew about Samus may have been largely inferred, but the player inferred these things largely from consistent game design decisions, and those decisions helped make the series popular.

I could see the time compression argument helping your stance, but if that's the case, it is so poorly illustrated that that is what is occurring that even you, Bob Thinker, who come from a background as a professional movie critic, didn't spot it at the time. If this was there intention, they failed to communicate it, just as they failed to communicate that Samus wasn't suicidally following her ex-commander's orders by flying in the face of common sense and not using her equipment, that she had on hand, to prevent herself bodily harm.

That said, yeah, gameplay not bad, I didn't mind the perspective switching as much as the mechanic used for it [not big on switching controller grips], and it's really a shame that Samus's first narrative driven outing was received so poorly. Here's hoping the dev team learns from their mistakes on this one.

Chris said...

There is another rather simple explanation for the Ridley scene that I actually haven't seen anyone talk about at all. It could just be that Other M is supposed to be the low point of Samus' character. The baby Metroid just died at the end of Super Metroid and she's feeling like everything she's sacrificed to further her goal of protecting other people has been futile. So at the beginning of the game she's feeling defeated, worthless, and self-hating when she arrives on the bottle ship where she is immediately confronted by the people who represent her second greatest failure, the military unit she deserted after being unable to save her commander's brother. Of course she isn't at her best during most of Other M, because she's lost the confidence and balance that make her a hero.

Her primary arc in the game is to overcome this crippling self doubt and restore the equilibrium that we see her have at the beginning of Fusion. And a big part of that restoration is to see that her former colleagues and commander still have faith in her, in fact respecting her more than ever as a grand hero, and Anthony and Adam are willing to sacrifice their lives to help her get through the pain she's feeling.

So yeah, that would make Other M a story of redemption, which in turn would make Samus the "fallen hero" at the beginning. That doesn't make her weak, or feminine, or a bad role model, it just makes her human.

Anonymous said...

@Chris

THIS. TIMES TEN.

Mads said...

@ Smashmatt202
"
Oh hey, can you hear me all the way back there in the 1980s?!
"
Hahah, yes, it's quite cozy here, there's this new thing called punk rock that I really dig.

Anyway, I'm not at all against integrating story and gameplay, and I believe I said as much.

It's also totally OK to lambast a game for having a poor story. Perfectly alright.

But it must never ever be more important than the gameplay, and it almost never is. Even a game like the latest metal gear solid is structured such that the narrative includes as many fun and interesting locations as possible. At the forefront is the development of a realtime rendering engine and the design of interesting rules and dynamics, and environments in which these make sense. Metal Gear Solid, story-heavy as it is, is _still_ primarily a game about a specialized super-commando and what awesome things he does, rather than a traditional narrative with gameplay inserted where it fits, and that's where the majority of the resources went. You can even tell that they're unwilling to compromise the games interface integrity by refusing to include traditional film-tools for the enourmously long non-play sequences, when they really should've included pause functionality, the ability to rewind, and all that other good jazz you would have with a movie or a book.

But yeah, the main thing is, gameplay is really hard to make, and you don't want to restrict gameplay by anything other than optimizing for fun. If you hold story above gameplay, you clearly can't optimize to the same degree.

Of course, the two are in a symbiotic relationship; if you suddenly break apart from the established narrative and contradict it, this will be frustrating...but if you _did_ that, you would create suboptimal gameplay as a result because a frustrated player isn't having as much fun. So in a story-heavy game, both need to _work_, but the goal is not to tell the story, it's make the player have fun as he plays the game, and the story is merely a means to an end.

Oh, and I absolutely favor the "toy" moniker, too. I get the negative connotations with the word, but I don't care. Haters gonna hate.

It's simply the most accurate well-known lingual denomination for a superclass of "pretense-play-things" to which games undoubtedly belongs.

Spongey Blob said...

@ Mads

"It also appears that your alternative would've worked. I'm not sure the Samus you describe is particularly three-dimensional, but as a basis, it appears to be clearly supperior."

See, if something I just made up in literally five minutes is a better characterisation for Samus than what the Other M dev team sicked up, then I don't think the game's even worth defending OR attacking. As for the three-dimensional thing, it's not as if Other M's Samus was particularly deep, with so many facets like self-doubt, self-doubt, self-doubt, self-doubt and a touch of self-doubt.

@ Ian

You're correct in saying that the story is so prevelent it can't be ignored. It's the problem with the defence "well, duh, the story sucks, it's a video game" that some of Other M's fans toss up. I still think that the story can be attributed to laziness over malice on Sakamoto's part, but not the laziness of not thinking about it; I personally think the word 'lazy' should be replaced with 'weariness' and 'fed-up, and not just pointed to Sakamoto but to the development team on the whole. This was a development team consisting of three different companies, all wanting to take the project in different directions;

Sakamoto originally wanted to make a cheap little aside to link Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion together, though he changed his mind about half-way through and wanted to make it more about Samus's past. Nintendo and Team Ninja wanted a base and simple game for differing reasons; this was Team Ninja's chance to gain a very powerful link with a huge company. D-Rockets are a film company, though, that make cutscenes, and they wanted a lot of cutscenes and therefore a story heavy game. As such, focus was shifting like a kangeroo on amphetemines, and anyone who's ever worked in a constant crunch knows how bad this can be. I think this led the development team to end up getting fed up and, by extension, lazy. See as evidence the unsubtlety of the message (YES WE GET IT THE GAME'S ABOUT MOTHERHOOD JUST SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP), the lack of payoff on the betrayal storyline, the unfocused plot that can't decide if it's about Samus's past or her loss of the infant metroid, the lack of justification for the hell run and the choice to have no exploration. This is, however, simply hyperbole; the truth could be very different.

To be honest, I'd actually argue that laziness, to me, is in it's own way far more offensive than outright malice. At least people who hate and insult me care enough about my reaction to put effort into garnering it. Other M's lazy design is simply Nintendo sending the message "You are not worth our time and effort." It's not the first or the most recent time I've got that message from them, either.

Well, if that's your attitude, Nintendo, you can go fuck yourself too.

Ian said...

@ Mads

I agree that story should always be secondary to gameplay, which is why I and many people complain when, in this case, it evidently isn't.

"Theater mode or no, that's still how things are for games. That argument isn't well thought out btw - Star Wars: Rogue Squadron has an unlockable "jukebox" that you can use to listen to all the tunes of the game without playing it.

That clearly doesn't mean the developers thought the tunes were platinum record material. It _is_ added value for a small specific segment of fans, though."


In this case, the jukebox analogy doesn't work when comparing it to Other M's story, because you're certainly not forced to listen to the music before you can play the game, and a large amount of games have a music player anyway, which is not that difficult to add.

As Spongey Blob said, the key word I'm trying to get at here is 'forced.'

You're forced to watch the game's story.

You're forced to read the plot recaps every time you load up the game.

In the end, your 'reward' is the ability to watch what Sakamoto felt compelled to call 'Metroid: Other M - The Movie' without actually having to play the game. Unlike, say, Metal Gear Solid 3's theater mode, Sakamoto and Team Ninja actually went through the trouble to create pre-recorded gameplay clips to connect the cutscenes together.

With all of this said, it's impossible to say that the story in Other M was meant to be 'secondary,' that it was just 'tacked on.' Considering how much money went into making it, more than Nintendo is willing to admit they spent on it, and the time they spent to make sure that the story could be watched without having to play the game, and how it's quite possible that the actual game became as linear as it was to reduce downtime between cutscenes (let's not forget the doors that lock behind you, which can result in a gamebreaking glitch), and how the authorization mechanic is the result of the story, which is prevalent throughout the majority of the game, it's incredibly hard to argue that the story wasn't meant to be the focus, that it didn't matter.

It clearly mattered to Sakamoto, as it was also one of the game's biggest selling points.

P.S.:

Conversely, if the focus was beating up monsters, you'd think that a control scheme more conducive to combat would have been produced, and maybe, which would also have gotten rid of the authorization mechanic, Samus finds new items that could be used to kill monsters. They couldn't even be bothered to do that.

Jannie said...

This is going to be a long one, so yeah, multi-post...

Part the First:

I find it baffling that Bob seems completely incapable of even attempting to address any actual criticisms of this game. More so I find it baffling he's convincing people that their criticisms are wrong by yelling RACISM.

Look, lets just say this outright. Yes, Japanese people have a long, long history of not treating women very nicely. Every culture does, but a small few continue it onward today. THIS IS NOT A FUCKING GENERALIZATION. Stop apologizing for it. He's hammering you into a corner and making you abandon the truth by accusing you of racism. He's a dishonest prick, don't buy into it.

Do you know why he does this? Because he has no argument. His best argument here was "but, but what if they were using a cinematic technique!" That's it. He addresses IN NO WAY any actual argument arrayed against him. All Bob had done is repeat what he said before but louder and more sarcastic.

I'll get back to the time compression thing in a sec but let me first say this. I'm also going to address the difference between "sex sells" and "sexism" because some people don't really understand it (not an insult, it's true)

His attempt to say that modern games are to blame for this (and yes that's precisely what he said) by giving up what he calls "abstraction" is absurd on it's face. Modern games use abstraction as much as any other--unless he thinks that somehow all Special Forces units now include genetically engineered supermen with mutant healing factors. That's just one example, but it's the most obvious one. I could go on about ammunition, about how games like Gears of War lets you reload weapons JUST RIGHT to get extra power or ammo, about how classes still exist in most games, or even go into the blatant abstractions used in every modern RPG from Mass Effect to Borderlands, but that would be needlessly complex if done in detail. Just ask him why single bullets don't kill you in Modern Warfare 2 and see if he has an answer.

He won't, because he knows he's lying. Abstraction exists in every game ever made, even simple ones like checkers or snakes and ladders. Don't even get me started on CHESS!

It has nothing to do with this issue. Even if we completely wound the clock back to 1980 and had enemies explode into coins it STILL would not make sense, and it would STILL be insulting to women. Even if this were a side-scrolling Metroid game it would still require the protagonist to wait for her father/lover/wow-you're-fucked-up-lady to tell her to activate protective armor IN A PLACE SHE NEEDS IT TO LIVE.

No game would ever do that. In the old days, that'd never, ever fly, and Bob fucking knows it. They would never throw you into a level with no way to survive and then demand you wait till they give you one. You'd either be expected to find one, or have one already.

And even if they did, it wouldn't be because some guy tells you to, it'd be because it's a gauntlet run or you have to find it before you die or something. Not the same thing. Hold on...

Jannie said...

Part two:

No, just no. It's not the same thing.

Anyway, that still doesn't explain the real problem. Why don't they just do like normal and make you go find the armor and weapons and stuff. All they have to do is say that it was confiscated from Samus when she landed cause Adam's a tool, then it got scattered in the pirate attack and now she has to go find it.

Then the whole fire run thing becomes not a dethroning moment of suck but a test of endurance, making Samus come off as a bad ass. Or better yet, why not just say her suit is damaged somehow, and then she has to wait for it to reboot, like in Crysis 2, so you get other abilities later on in the game. Or perhaps you start out with these abilities but they're "not strong enough" so she has to collect "power cores" to upgrade and therefore get stronger.

I could do more but you get the point.

There are so many OTHER ways they could have done this. Nintendo decided on the ONE single way that would be both insulting and demeaning to Samus and show how big and powerful Adam is. This was a deliberate choice. The only other possibility is that someone at Nintendo is so completely retarded they never thought about how this would look...and I refuse to believe that because this went through everything from a design phase to story boarding to game testing to beta and finally sale and, what, NO ONE said "hey this mechanic here and her relationship with Adam is kind of...stupid and horrible."

No. That doesn't even make sense. It'd have to go past more than a hundred eyes with not a SINGLE dissenting voice.

Someone saw this, thought about it, and decided it was the right way to go. Someone who believes genuinely that yes it's perfectly fine for Samus to be the whimpering girl child she is in Other M instead of a hard ass mercenary like every other game, including ones where she did have a voice and story like the GBA games. This is a massive departure from her previous characterization and it could only have been done by way of deliberate malice or incidental neglect. I simply cannot see the latter being a real possibility, not on a game this big, not with this many hands in the pot, not from a company as seasoned and stolid as Nintendo.

Some indie company? Maybe. Some new character? Sure. Not Nintendo, not with Metroid. Too much money, too much good will to risk, too many eyes on it to fail.

Now lets talk about time compression shall we?

Hold on...

Jannie said...

Part three:

Time compression.

I'm not even sure how to respond to something this asinine. There is no way to prove it one way or the other. You could just as easily say her suit DOES have some turn you into a little girl mode, it would be just as easy to explain.

But ok, lets for a second assume this is correct (knowing what happens when we assume).

Even if it were the scene is STILL stupid. Why? Because why doesn't it happen at any other time. Samus has fought Ridley at least twice by now maybe more, she's fought him since a few more times, so why should she suddenly have flashbacks NOW. Why not in Super Metroid? Why not in the first or second one?

What could possibly make this instance any different. Ridley is never different, he never has been, he's always a giant bird-dragon-somali pirate thing. He never changes, he never evolves, he never grows, he just exists in stasis (subtle jab at Nintendo). Samus has by this time killed him eight times that morning, and she knows all his moves, this shouldn't be a shock to her.

If it were the first time, yes, but not after she's killed him several times and had her vengeance on him more than once now. Not after all that. By now I'd imagine her being more frustrated and annoyed than scared. There is no reason for it...other than to make Samus look weak.

But really even if you take the time compression bullshit and take it as read that it's true, that is literally the only interpretation still. That she's supposed to look weak and scared because in that moment she's weak and scared. That is the only way to interpret that, time compression or not. She's afraid...of a monster she's killed at least three times already. Why? If she killed him once and he came back, then I could see this, but she's killed him and watched him come back several times now.

And she lets an innocent man die for it. All because of what? Fear? Of what, she's beaten this thing several times. Anger? Weird way of showing it. Surprise? Surprised by what, Ridley comes back again, he always does. It doesn't make sense and it calls other, later parts of the Metroid canon into question. Hell it calls the FIRST Metroid into question! Why didn't she freeze up then? Why didn't she in Super Metroid? Why?

Because it was a deliberate choice, to make her look weak. Because it's sexist. There is really no other explanation, again, except pure stupidity and again I find it hard to believe no one in all the game testing and betas never said 'nothin about this.

Hold on...

Jannie said...

Finally I'd like to discuss sexism and sex selling.

Some people think that DOA is sexist. It isn't, it portrays women as sex objects but that's not sexism, that's perfectly fine.

EVERYTHING portrays EVERYONE as a sex object.

That's how human sexuality works. There are gay sex objects, male sex objects, and female ones. It is not only normal, it's healthy and perfectly fine with me.

Look, the same reason I watch WWE Raw to see John Cena (and dream about sheathing myself in his mighty arms) and the same reason I have personally paid to see Twilight (that reason would be Taylor Lautner's bazillion ab muscles) is the same reason DOA sells.

Sex.

It's normal, it's natural, it's more than that, IT'S RIGHT.

If a guy wants to buy a DOA game, or a Lara Croft game, to look at huge jugs then my God let him! It's a perfectly normal outlet, it's not "immature", it's the opposite of that actually (and I also notice a lot of the people calling it immature are, frankly, not in a place to talk). It's more than fine, it's great.

But sexism and sex selling are two different things.

Kasumi and Tina Armstrong and Alyx Vance and Lara Croft et al are all sex objects. They're perfect, skinny, big chested babes with great tans and perfect skin and tight jeans and all that good stuff. But they're also strong, assertive, powerful women who are independent and lead their own lives and have their own minds.

NO ONE would ever fuck with Tina Armstrong. She's a pro wrestler who also happens to be a mixed-martial artist and can pick up men three times her size and body slam them. She's not just gorgeous, she's a fucking BEAST (and, honestly, a bit of a hero of mine when I was a young girl). She's strong and brave and ferociously independent and strong willed and would tear the limbs off anyone who disagrees.

Lara Croft is all this...PLUS a brilliant archeologist, and richer than god, and an expert sharpshooter you get the drift.

These women are sex objects for the same reason ALL female characters are to some degree: because it sells. But they're also incredibly sterling examples of how you can do it right.

Samus used to be. She's a beautiful, feminine woman who also happens to be a fucking TERMINATOR who grimly kills monsters with the same enthusiasm I clean out my garage. I always imagined her as this hard-as-nails, girl-jock kind of like Vasquez from Aliens but bustier and fake-blonde, who wins fights so hard the scoreboard turns into solid diamond. I imagined her being played by Michelle Rodriguez in the movie, snarling one-liners while almost casually blowing Space Pirates new orifices.

Or I did until Other M, which decided she was a whimpering girl-child obsessed with her fake-daddy who chokes in the middle of a battle against an enemy she's won so many fights against she shouldn't even notice killing him. That is sexism.

Sexism is taking a formerly strong willed, silent protagonist and turning her into a character that needs a man to tell her when to fight for her life, or cowers before an enemy instead of fighting back. Sexism is making this deliberate choice when a dozen others were available.

DOA: sexy.
Other M: sexism.

World of difference.

Jannie said...

Ghetto edit:

Samus' character is well established I may add, and while I embellish it I was not really exaggerating.

She is portrayed, in media, cutscenes and story as being something of a hard bitten mercenary, rather more concerned with getting the mission done than anything else.

She cares about other people and goes out of her way to save them even if it means endangering herself needlessly (NOT just standing then and letting them die!)

And she's portrayed as being an almost kind of hard boiled character in the few times where we hear or see her speak. Frankly she's closer, in canon, to someone like (using an American character) someone like the character from Prime Suspect played by Maria Bellos than the way she is in Other M.

OR SHE WAS IN EVERY OTHER GAME! HINT HINT!

Spongey Blob said...

@ Jannie

The problem with the abstraction argument is that a lot of people attribute to imagination what was, in reality, necessity. Megaman was a game about a robot attacking cartoon frogs with guns that shoot bees because they just couldn't DO realistic graphics or physics, so they made it so detached from reality that no one would care. I've said it before and I'll say it again; if you went back in time to 1985 and gave someone all the modern gaming technology we have today and ask them to make absolutely anything he or she wanted, the final product would look something a lot like Call of Duty. So, yes, abstraction WAS a problem with Other M, but Bob seems to think that's a defence.

"Oh, yeah, the dev team didn't find a better excuse for Samus to not have her powers at the start. Give them a pat on the back!" Why would you ever praise something for failing outside of trying hard, something the Other M dev team did not do at all, otherwise they would've noticed these issues.

I'm still inclined to disagree that the sexism is intentional, but the more and more I think about it, I'm deciding that the laziness argument works less and less. I stand by my argument that the dev team was simply fed up with the split direction, but considering Nintendo's behaviour in the past few years, I'm more inclined to call it arrogance now. People often say Nintendo's really in the shitter, but that's only been brought up recently. Before, they've had a free ride for so long. People have never said anything about Nintendo unless it's been sugar-coated and positive. They didn't set out to make a sexist game but I'm guessing that if someone noticed the sexism (to be honest, while I still think it was an accidental implication it's a damn big one to miss) they didn't bother to change it because they didn't think anyone would care. They thought it'd be alright, or that nobody'd notice, because they're Nintendo and they can do no wrong. The predicted sales were colossal, almost too optimistic even for Nintendo, but when they fell short by a long way, Nintendo clicked and actually asked fans for feedback. Whether they listen or not is a question that might not get answered, but it's been people chanting that Nintendo can do no wrong over and over that's put them in this mindset. In Germany, there's a phrase 'backpfeifengesicht' which means 'a face badly in need of a fist' and Nintendo is a huge backpfeifengesicht. They need to learn humility, understand that the market of their age is gone forever, or fall apart.

Spongey Blob said...

@ Jannie

As for your own interpretation of Samus, I'd probably still be a little annoyed with a few minor details but it's certainly a damn sight closer than Other M was. I still think that my own analysis way above is the closest what Samus actually once; I'm yet to hear any complaints against it, at any rate. Your point remains, however. Samus's character WAS inconsistent, hugely so. And you're correct in saying that, regardless of whether it was intentional or not, Other M was still sexist; you don't defend a particularly bad cake that gave you botulism by saying 'That wasn't the baker's original intent'.

Spongey Blob said...

@ Jannie

Giving Samus weaknesses and flaws is no problem to Other M; it was the weaknesses and flaws themselves that they gave that was the problem, because they were completely out of character, and flew directly in the face of common sense, the tone of the rest of the series and, of course, Samus Aran herself.

Jannie said...

@Spongey Blob

Heh, tryin' to do multi-part posts too eh?

Anyway, I would normally agree with you about it being just laziness or arrogance...if it were anyone OTHER than Nintendo, and any series other than Metroid.

Nintendo is a very experienced company, with layers of dev teams and beta testers and such, who have been making games as long as I've been ALIVE. This isn't just some rinky dink company that sprang up over night to pump out shovelware, we must remember. One thing that Bob got right was that Nintendo is an old hand at this. I just, I don't know, I just can't see them screwing up that badly. And more so...screw up METROID? It's one of their flagship titles, a sure seller, every game previously has been a big hit both with fans and financially. That's a LOT of good will to piss away by simply being too lazy to rethink something or too arrogant to care. That's why I say it was a deliberate choice--too many people, smart people with something to lose, looked at this game and signed off on it for this to NOT be intentional. Obviously this (not the fervor over it but the rather blatant interpretation of the game) was what SOMEONE wanted at Nintendo HQ. Now I can't begin to speculate on if that was Sakamoto or someone else, but I just really can't see this being unintentional.

Also, you're right of course, even if it IS unintentional it was a massive screw up that shouldn't be so easily brushed off and forgiven. Actually comparing it to improperly prepared food and then saying "well, obviously they didn't INTEND to give me a stomach virus!" is precisely what Bob is doing and the defenders of this game (what few there are) as well.

I of course see no problem giving a character weaknesses...but that's not what they did in this game, though. Weaknesses would be, like, if she felt insecure about being around humans because she was raised by aliens (kind of implied in some games) or if she feels more kinship with aliens like the Baby Metroid because of her half-human genetics.

But that's far and away from the kind of shit they pulled in Other M. Though, still, if I had my druthers I'd try painting Samus as perhaps more of a mercenary with a heart of gold, kind of in the Malcolm Reynolds or Han Solo mold, but as a busty blonde female in a mech suit instead of a rakishly handsome space cowboy. I'd love to see her go on some more "illicit" jobs, not always for the Federation. Maybe sometimes she's opposed to them, maybe sometimes she's something of a brigand herself and her dislike of the Space Pirates is mainly personal (they killed her family after all) not professional. I think that could work, and lead to a more palatable flawed heroine than what they did in Other M.

Of course, splicing scenes from Human Centipede into the game in place in cutscenes would have made an improvement to Other M so that's not saying much.

Sylocat said...

@Jannie: Or, perhaps it's not quite as easy to work out such problems in late-stage production as you make it sound.

Jannie said...

@Sylocat

Somehow I don't think this came from "late stage" production. This game had story boards, it had cut scenes, it had people who wrote it.

But even then that is STILL not an explanation. Again, why choose that design to begin with? When there are so many other choices? Or are you going to argue that NO ONE over there thought "Yeah this scene where she cries like a little girl and has to beg Adam to save her life, that will certainly not get people upset".

And don't try some recycled malarkey about people are "overblowing" it. Someone sat down, discarded the usual Metroid formula of "go find your stuff?", and decided, with oversight from their superiors, that it would be best of Samus was basically beholden to a guy who we have never met before who is apparently her fake-daddy and who she apparently is willing to endanger herself for. Even though she doesn't have to. And all of this is to what? Avoid having to slog through and look for stuff? Avoiding having to put in an upgrade system?

If it was unintentional then it was the result of rampant stupidity and deserves all the ire it gets. If it was intentional then it is the result of idiocy and bigotry and deserves all the ire it gets. Your argument, and Bob's, that there is some mitigating circumstance here is irrelevant because either way it was either a case of malice or stupidity and while some say "don't blame on malice what can be blamed on stupidity" I tend to say "why not, they're both pissing me off."

Incompetence is not an excuse, it's a problem. If I build a house and it collapses and kills someone, I don't get off by saying "Well, I figured out it was going to collapse late in construction so...I obviously couldn't go back, or scrap it and start over, I just hoped no one would notice".

Jannie said...

@Sylocat

Oh and one more thing, and forgive me for using more than one post I know how you hate that.

I believe several suggestions as to how to use a less ridiculous system have been offered on this very site on more than one post, if you want to go back. Like I said my preference would be some upgrade system where the stuff is already there but needs to be "rebooted" or "powered up" like Crysis 2, but even then, these are all options that are largely irrelevant because Metroid HAD a perfectly functional upgrade system before.

In every Metroid game before Other M Samus would just go find stuff. Why not now? What made them make this change? Certainly not to try and advance with the times, since the whole game was made to be something of a throwback. And if they wanted to move forward with the design RPG elements like in many modern games (Mass Effect, Borderlands, hell that Scarface game I believe) would have been far more palatable.

So why again do we assume this is unintentional when the only way it could have been thought up WAS deliberately intentional. This wasn't some tiny mistake, this was a mechanic that was worked into the story of the game, it was probably thought up early on in development. So what? They just forgot how the old Metroidvania system works? Just threw it away? For what reason, modernity? Why?

Mads said...

@ Spongey Blob
"
See, if something I just made up in literally five minutes is a better characterisation for Samus than what the Other M dev team sicked up, then I don't think the game's even worth defending OR attacking.
"
I think that's probably oversimplifying it a bit. I mean, it's not really what I said, and I can't really judge your concept based on anything but your descriptions of your experience with the series...

And also, poor games are really, really worth attacking sometimes. Just check the latest extra credits.

But other than that...yeah, the fact that you appear to be able to come up with some easy fixes means the writing team didn't do a very good job.

Sylocat said...

Jannie, you may not be aware of this, but big-budget games are made by more than one person.

And the EC video addresses all your points. Making a game is a hectic process, and with insufficient clarity in team structure (which is a major risk when working with an outside development studio) can lead to major creative blunders that aren't conscious decisions on anyone's part.

Jannie said...

@Sylocat

Well first off, Nintendo didn't HAVE to work with an outside studio. They decided to, and if that IS the cause of all this, it's still their fault. Plus it's shifting the blame, perhaps incidentally but still shifting the blame, to someone else.

But you know what, no, fuck that noise. I made a perfectly valid point and I stand by it: why did they change the upgrade system so much when they had one that they cut and pasted into EVERY OTHER Metroid game previously.

This upgrade system, mind you, they chose to integrate into the plot. So you'd have to do some real mental contortions to say they didn't intend for it to be exactly like it is, since if it weren't then the plot, cut scenes and entire story structure would have had to change. My point is that clearly this was something that was farted out of some guy's brain BEFORE any of that got done since THAT is now beholden to the upgrade system, not the other way around like in most games.

What I'm saying is they spent more money and time on THIS system then reusing an old one...you don't go out of your way to do something by accident.

biomechanical923 said...

Eh, in the grand scheme of the show, this episode was kind of lackluster. I'm glad I didn't pay money just to see it early.

Spongey Blob said...

@ Sylocat

"Or, perhaps it's not quite as easy to work out such problems in late-stage production as you make it sound."

Because, you know, you always work out the game concept, story and script LAST in a game's production.

@ Jannie

To be fair to the writers of Other M (for once) the authorisation was, in essence, NOT a bad idea, just badly implemented because they didn't really think it through. If Adam honest-to-God didn't want to have Samus all-guns-blazing around dangerous chemicals and equipment, then why did he arbitrarily let her use the weapons at all? Even if the game makers were intentionally trying to be sexist, it would simply make no sense, which is part of why I still think it was mostly unintentional; a lot of it was not thinking anything through and Nintendo, Team Ninja and Sakamoto not thinking that it mattered, which is still a slap in the face from Nintendo; just instead of it being 'men are superior to women and we don't care about your opinions, the West' the message is 'we don't actually give a shit about making good products, we know you dumbasses are buying it anyway'

As for why they went for the idea in the first place, I won't pretend to know the answer; it might have been the focus on action over exploration (which was a dumb move in of itself) or it could've simply been ego over the absurdity of the previous excuses of "Yeah, Samus doesn't have all her weapons because she misplaced them somehow". That isn't the important bit. What is important is that, by the looks of it, Nintendo still haven't got the damn frigging message. This, regardless of whether you liked the game or not, or even if you actually LIKED the portrayal of Samus or not, is really, really bad news.

Nintendo have, offically, stopped listening or caring about what you think. They don't give a damn about their Western fanbase, unless you're heaping on the praise of course. They'll harp on and on about the reception of games such as Super Mario Galaxy and the like, but the moment you mention 'Metroid' now the room goes quiet. Because they know it was all them.

That, right there, is what kills me about Other M more than anything else. The lazy, apathetic-to-the-point-of-cold, don't-give-a-shit attitude. I'm going to say this up front; just going by the original concept of Samus going onto a mission and being forced to face the loss of the infant metroid, Metroid Other M could've had, should've had, the greatest story ever told in a game. Without the need to explain Samus's backstory, changing all of Samus's lines to fit her actual personality, and almost nothing else, it could've been brilliant, and it's a few easily fixed problems and lazy choices that made it the stinking, foul, offensive, miserable, stupid, series-killing, legacy-destroying wretched puddle of bile that we fucking paid full money for despite it being a half price fucking game. I take my own words back; it isn't just worth attacking, it's worth having every single copy of the game smashed on a railroad track, save enough so that one disk would be stapled onto Sakamoto's balls so every time he took a piss he'd look down and remember just what happens if you think you can get away with lazy writing.

Andrew said...

Yeesh, bob, cut back on the bostonian accent. I know it's natural and all that, but it's . . . kinda grating for us mid-western types.

Good episode otherwise. As corny as it is, I'm starting to dig the story bits.

Exploder Blade said...

To MovieBob: I am going to assume you haven't played many Metroid games, because this is the ONLY Metroid game where you are required to go thru the typical "lava/fire" stage almsot through it's entirety without the Varia suit. I do remember you saying you played the Prime games, but Prime One is the only game where this happens and it's only briefly. Metroid one: the Varia just reduces damage, so it's not even needed to complete the game, but it helps quite a bit.. Metroid II: same thing. Super Metroid: You do not have to go thru Norfair, the fire stage, to get the Varia suit. You can just find it on your own without too much trouble.

So, yes, it is actually a bad game decision as well as bad story telling that Samus walks thru a fire stage without an upgrade.

Generally, this video was a lot better than your last one. Episode 40 was just horrid in terms of defense of the game. All you did was insult gamers that didn't like Other M. Bad Form. In this episode you stilpull out that strawman of japanophobia. Ok, I have never, ever, yet and stilll hard anybody talk about this game in either a postive nor negative light in regards to "of course it's sexist, it's Japanese" in any forum, conversation, or discussion of any kind. I have to say, YOUR SHOW is the only one I have heard use this argument. I am not saying at all you are racist or japanophobic, that would but stupid of me, but stop with that strawman. I don't know what forums you prowl, but no intelligent gamer that I know of has said this.

Most of us Metroid fans hate this game for the following reasons, only two of with you ever seem to address.

-Weapon switching to missiles: It breaks the game flow. Bad mechanics. I'm not the only one saying it: http://www.examiner.com/game-lifestyle-in-denver/metroid-other-m-review-part-one-combat-mechanics

-No backtracking and complete linearity: Even Metroid II was more open ended than this game. I mentioned this before, but this game BROKE if you tried to backtrack once you got a power-up and wanted to go to another section. Then the SD card had to be mailed to Nintendo to fix you file. Think about that....this is the only Metroid game where the game punished you with its bad coding and scripting if you wanted to explore the game. You had to COMPLETE the game to explore the ship. Now other Metroid game did this, and it's still a poor design choice.

-Samus' personality portrayal: This has been addressed, no one likes it. Enough said.

-Having to have weapon authorization- As opposed to finding the weapon, or shouting it out of a bosses face, the game takes it a step further and makes it so you "have" all of your abilities and Adam gives them to you when he feels generous. You said you don't mind it, I personally despise it. Bad writing, I think we can both agree upon.

-The Ridley freeze- All artistic direction and Samus portrayal f how this seen should be taken aside, it was bad. No one I knows that played this game liked that seen. Samus is allowed to have emotion, but the way you interpreted it is way over analyzed. She saw Ridley, froze, "got scared like a little girl, the way she was scared when Ridley killed her parents (mine and the general consensus interpretation), and then somehow she must have remembered that she has killed/defeated him 4 times up to this point. Once again, bad storytelling.

-Sales- After one year, this game never sold one million copies worldwide. That's really saying something for a big budget NINTENDO title. This game retails, brand new for $20, which it slightly more expensive than the completely forgettable but still passable Metroid Prime: Hunters ($17) and it's a 5 year old game on the DS. So, because the fans obviously didn't like it, it will not get a sequel. If it does, everything would have to be changed before anyone would buy it.

Sylocat said...

Sooooo, Jannie and Spongey Blob, are you two just getting into a one-upping contest over which one of you can be the most juvenile and offensive, and which one of you has even less knowledge of how video games are created?

You're both doing splendidly in that department.

Aiddon said...

they're both a couple of petulant, spoiled dipshits, that's all we need to know. My only hope is that they're both rendered sterile

Spongey Blob said...

@ Sylocat

I think I could've reworded myself a little better. I'm certainly not denying your main point; that the project's multiple developers had pulled the game in several different directions at once and it caused the dev team to be completely unfocused. What I took umbrage at was that you firstly seemed to think that they made the story last (they didn't. Sakamoto has said as such, and Team Ninja have since said that they had nothing to do with the story) and that you, at least by the way you worded it, seem to say that it's some kind of defense. This might be hindsight talking, but these problems were easy to fix, and the Other M team didn't even bother, but even if they weren't easy to fix, it's still not an excuse. Plenty of games have been made with different companies on hand; in fact, with the exception of indie games and in earlier periods when production companies and development houses were one and the same, technically EVERY game ever made had several companies on hand, but Nintendo, the company that has collaborated with different companies multiple times, suddenly dropped the ball big time. Your defense doesn't really change the dev team from incompetent to saints in adverse conditions; it just makes them unorganised and incompetent.

@ Aiddon

How odd that you didn't respond to ANY of our posts earlier, instead waiting for someone to have a jab then metaphorically lean around their back, waving your fist going 'yeah, what he/she said'

To quickly deconstruct your earlier posts, The Ridley scene defense of time compression would make sense, except for two issues; one, even after seeing Ridley for the first time and when time goes back to normal, she's still frozen up. Two, why did they choose to show the viewpoint of Samus as-it-were and pull this technique when it hadn't happened at any point in the game. Three, why did it take so long for someone to notice? Because it was done poorly and, most likely, by accident. Also, thanks for calling everyone who has a problem with Nintendo a racist, I certainly remember saying to myself "Nintendo of America's screwing over it's consumers, well that's the Japanese". I have massive problems with the other big gaming congromerates (forgot how to spell lol) such as Microsoft, Sony, Apple, Rockstar, Square Enix and such the like. Clearly I'm also an anti-American dickwipe if I hate Microsoft's constant technical faults. Maybe I'm self-loathing, too. Eidos is British, and I'm not a big fan of Tomb Raider. It's xenophobic when people hate something because of its origin of country or the creed of the people who make it.

As for story being secondary to gameplay, it depends far more on the game itself than simply 'it's a game, so fuck the story'. Silent Hill 2's story clearly had much more emphasis than the gameplay, but it's widely considered one of the greatest games of all time. Gameplay and story aren't always equally important, nor is gameplay always more important or vice versa. It depends on the mood, atmosphere, tone and focus on the game.

Now please wait for someone else to respond before you do; it seems to be a habit of yours. Signed, a guy who knows how to use the correct version of 'spoilt'

Peter T said...

Good episode. I agree, the amount of xenophobia aimed towards Japan by a lot of modern gamers is downright disturbing.

Sylocat said...

What I took umbrage at was that you firstly seemed to think that they made the story last (they didn't. Sakamoto has said as such, and Team Ninja have since said that they had nothing to do with the story)

You're right, Team Ninja didn't have anything to do with the story. You know who did? D-Rockets, the animation company that handles all Team Ninja's cutscenes (yes, the cutscenes were put together by a THIRD studio).

Also, until the game is out of print, I wouldn't put TOO much stock in the "party line," as it were. Right now they still need to sell units, so Sakamoto's going to present a united front to boost confidence, probably even if he wasn't overjoyed with the final product (see also: the Green Lantern movie).

This might be hindsight talking

It is.

Nick said...

Okay, I don't have time to read every post so I'm only going to address some things. Forgive me if I say things that have already been said in other posts.


First a couple of short things.

@Aiddon:
I'm actually astounded that some people think Bob might actually respond to them.
I was at first going to send that thing about Twilight in an email, but then I remembered Bob actually responding in the comments in the "Once more unto the breach"
post. Although he was responding to a comment by Daniel Floyd, so that was probably a special case.

@Chris:
"There is another rather simple explanation for the Ridley scene that I actually haven't seen anyone talk about at all. It could just be that Other M is supposed to
be the low point of Samus' character. The baby Metroid just died at the end of Super Metroid and she's feeling like everything she's sacrificed to further her goal of
protecting other people has been futile. So at the beginning of the game she's feeling defeated, worthless, and self-hating when she arrives on the bottle ship where
she is immediately confronted by the people who represent her second greatest failure, the military unit she deserted after being unable to save her commander's
brother. Of course she isn't at her best during most of Other M, because she's lost the confidence and balance that make her a hero.

Her primary arc in the game is to overcome this crippling self doubt and restore the equilibrium that we see her have at the beginning of Fusion. And a big part of
that restoration is to see that her former colleagues and commander still have faith in her, in fact respecting her more than ever as a grand hero, and Anthony and
Adam are willing to sacrifice their lives to help her get through the pain she's feeling.

So yeah, that would make Other M a story of redemption, which in turn would make Samus the "fallen hero" at the beginning. That doesn't make her weak, or feminine, or
a bad role model, it just makes her human."


This is way up there on the scale of "This probably wasn't what the writers consciously intended, but I wish it was." Awesome.

Nick said...

(cont'd)

Longer stuff...

@Ian:
"Except that the story isn't secondary, nor 'tacked on'; it's the entire focus of Other M."
[...]
"I know later in your post you mention that someone should have noticed that there was something wrong, that they didn't notice because they probably didn't care, but
therein lies the problem; Sakamoto clearly cared, as he actually believed the story was good enough to be a movie"


True, however that argument doesn't extend to the authorization mechanic. Which is exactly that, a mechanic. Yes it was done because they thought it "made more
sense" than Samus just happening to find compatible equipment lying around, but that doesn't mean it was conceived as an [intentional] part of the story Sakamoto was
trying to tell, any more than the visual and gameplay design of the lava monster boss was intended as relevant to the story.

As for how much "sense" the mechanic does in fact make. Keep in mind that Adam did have a supposed reason for telling Samus to not activate certain equipment until
told otherwise; it's supposed to be a safety precaution. The only problem is that that explanation doesn't hold up upon inspection; most of the time it's not really
necessary, there's really no reason at all for Samus to refrain from using the Varia Suit, and moreover she needed the Varia Suit. But I see the failure to
flesh out the explanation as negligence (which is still bad, but in a different way), rather than a deliberate plot point. And if they had fleshed out the
"safety precaution" explanation properly, there wouldn't be a problem. Yes it would still feel a bit odd to see Samus being ordered around by an authority figure; but
as I've said before, the problem isn't Samus taking orders from a man, the problem is Samus taking stupid orders from a man, and the accompanying implication
that she's willing to take stupid orders because he's a man.

There was an existing mechanic that's a staple of the series (equipment upgrades); they came up with a more "realistic" way for this to happen (being authorized, as
opposed to randomly finding items that just happen to be compatible with Samus' suit); they came up with a handwavy explanation for that (safety precaution);
and then they neglected to follow through with making that latter explanation hold up to inspection (which is bad, but not sexist). At no point in that process does
Sakamoto's desire to tell his story need to factor in. If every game maker who wanted to tell a story also thought it was important to integrate that story well with
the game's mechanics, we wouldn't have gotten the last several Final Fantasy games.


As for how Sakamoto's story applies to the rest of the game, you have a point Ian. But I'd like to point out that just because Sakamoto wanted to tell a good
story, and thought the story he was telling was important, doesn't mean he's actually any good at telling it, or that he's able to recognize bad visual
storytelling (on the part of D-Rockets, who made the cutscenes) when he sees it. More on this later.

Nick said...

@Jannie:

"Even if we completely wound the clock back to 1980 and had enemies explode into coins [the authorization mechanic] STILL would not make sense, and it would STILL
be insulting to women. Even if this were a side-scrolling Metroid game it would still require the protagonist to wait for her father/lover/wow-you're-fucked-up-lady to
tell her to activate protective armor IN A PLACE SHE NEEDS IT TO LIVE.

No game would ever do that. In the old days, that'd never, ever fly, and Bob fucking knows it."


In the video Bob said the precise opposite of this. You think the authorization mechanic would still stand out just as much, and look just as bad, in the 8-bit era.
Bob said flat-out that he thinks it wouldn't. That's not "failing to address your argument," that's called "disagreeing with you."

On a similar note;

" The only other possibility is that someone at Nintendo is so completely retarded they never thought about how this would look...and I refuse to believe that
because this went through everything from a design phase to story boarding to game testing to beta and finally sale and, what, NO ONE said "hey this mechanic here and
her relationship with Adam is kind of...stupid and horrible."

No. That doesn't even make sense. It'd have to go past more than a hundred eyes with not a SINGLE dissenting voice."


Quite simply, I for one think that's EXACTLY what happened. Take it or leave it.


"Even if [the time-dilation theory is true] the scene is STILL stupid. Why? Because why doesn't it happen at any other time. Samus has fought Ridley at least twice
by now maybe more, she's fought him since a few more times, so why should she suddenly have flashbacks NOW. Why not in Super Metroid? Why not in the first or second
one?"

There's an answer to this which I thought of fairly soon after watching the scene, but I haven't heard anyone else mention. Maybe it DID happen before, but the games
just didn't depict it.

Yes, yes, this may sound ridiculous, but bare with me.

I don't know at what point in the franchise it was decided that Ridley killed Samus' parents, but I doubt the element was present for the original Metroid game. So
back then they wouldn't have included it because they hadn't thought of it yet. And later, when it was known that Ridley killed Samus' parents, it's still not
surprising that Samus doesn't react at all to Ridley's appearance (not even saying "Hello, my name is Samus Aran, you killed my parents, prepare to die."), for
the same reason why Samus didn't talk before; they simply weren't bothering to put story points like that in the games. But now, with Sakamoto wanting to give Samus
more in-depth characterization, it's understandable for him to want to show that Samus is not so emotionless as to be completely indifferent towards the monster that
killed her parents. And there's nothing wrong with Sakamoto wanting to do that (yes, Samus is shown to react to Ridely too much, more on that in a bit). So
for that reason, Sakamoto could have simply ignored the fact that Samus hadn't been shown reacting before, and the fact that she should be used to
Ridley by now, saying "Hey, it sucks that it appears inconstant, but this is the first time we've bothered to address this aspect of Samus' character." While
jarring, strictly speaking this would be no more inconsistent than portraying that Samus is capable of speech instead of being a literal mute - albeit a much greater
challenge to our willing suspension of disbelief.

But that's not all. (cont'd...)

Nick said...

(cont'd)

First, so that we're clear on how many time Samus has faced Ridley and when, I'll refresh everyone's memory on the chronological order of the games:

Original Metroid / Zero Mission remake -> Metroid Prime series -> Metroid II -> Super Metroid -> Other M -> Fusion

I illustrate this partially because Jannie seem to be unaware / have forgotten that Metroid Fusion is the only game to take place after Other M.

Now then. Even if they had wanted to show Samus reacting to Ridley before, to an extent they couldn't, because, as everybody says, Samus should be used
to seeing Ridley after fighting him so many times, so why should this time be different? The only time when this problem doesn't apply is in the original Metroid
game, which is when they'd have been least likely to have Samus react; because that's when they were least inclined to include story in the game, and they
probably hadn't decided yet that Ridley killed Samus' parents. But, not only is Other M [presumably] the first time the writers have wanted to include this element,
it's also the first time they've been able to other than the original game.

See, everyone keeps saying that Samus has killed Ridley, and seen him return, many times before. But she actually didn't. She's defeated him many times, which
one would expect to desensitize her to him, but she's actually only killed him once; in Super Metroid. Unless I'm very much mistaken, it's been canonically
stated that Super Metroid is the first (chronologically) and only time that Ridley (the real Ridley) actually died. Every other time Samus has defeated him,
she didn't actually kill him. So, while in most cases Samus' reaction to Ridley appearing would be "oh no not you again," in Other M, and ONLY in Other M, she
instead thinks "But you're dead!" The monster that killed her parents has, for the first time, come back from the dead to continue haunting her.

That, I think, is enough reason for Samus to react.

(Whereas in Fusion, apart from it no longer being the first time she's seen Ridley after finally killing him, she also knows full well, beforehand, that the creature
she faces isn't really Ridley, and moreover knows where it came from. She saw the X-Parasite copy the frozen clone - the same clone from Other M, having been
drained by the Metroid Queen.)

Nick said...

(cont'd)

But why does Samus react so much? If Anthony had "died" because of Samus' split-second hesitation upon seeing Ridley, it wouldn't be so bad, and might actually be a good storytelling/characterization moment. But that's not what happens, or at least that's not how it looks.

Jannie said:
"But really even if you take the time compression bullshit and take it as read that it's true, that is literally the only interpretation still. That she's supposed
to look weak and scared because in that moment she's weak and scared. That is the only way to interpret that, time compression or not."


The time compression theory works for saying "Samus isn't really spending that long standing stunned and stupefied. But you're right in saying that the scene
nevertheless makes Samus appear weak; that she is depicted as weak during that extended moment, and that the fact that the moment seems so long for her is itself a
sign of weakness. For that, I think there's a very simple explanation:

They overdid it.

This where I finally get back to what I said earlier, that just because Sakamoto thinks the story he's telling is important, doesn't mean he's any good at telling it,
or at recognizing bad storytelling when he sees it. For the reason I stated above, there's nothing wrong with showing Samus reacting in horror to Ridley's appearance;
and perhaps there isn't even anything wrong with Anthony "dying" because of it (albeit they would have had to execute the latter part A LOT better than they
did in order for it not to reflect badly on Samus' femininity). But then they went and grossly over-dramatized that scene. While the basic premise of the scene was
acceptable, its execution was not; whether that execution was Sakamoto's fault, or D-Rockets'. This, to me, is the visual-storytelling equivalent of "bad acting."


*phew!* And that's all I've got to say for now.

Aiddon said...

@Spongey:

You don't deserve to be taken seriously. Fuck off, you pathetic Berk

Spongey Blob said...

@ Nick

You are undoubtedly correct; the authorisation thing probably was not intended to be as much a story focus as it was in the game. However, it still was a big focus on the story, whether intentional or not. It's why, even though I don't think the sexism is intentional, I still say that it's worth bashing on; it's still there, intentional or not. It's nearly all Adam and Samus talk to each other about until the end, and it's still a bad thing. By the same logic, we should never criticise any game, movie, book, television programme or zoetrope because nobody actually wants to make a bad product. Otherwise, your argument does make sense; the authorisation in of itself was not a bad idea, it was just so shoddily put in that it became a huge detriment of the game, which is still worth criticising.

As for Samus freezing up at Ridley, there were quite a few ways they could've done it in earlier games; Super Metroid yanks the controls out of your hands to show just how weak Samus is during the Mother Brain battle; why didn't they do it with Ridley? Because it's not in character. If Sakamoto wanted to add in as an afterthought "oh, yeah, and Samus is really really scared of Ridley" then tough luck to him; he had that chance and he didn't take it, so he STILL shouldn't have had Samus freeze up to the extent that she did; it wasn't in the character they had, and you can't add in stuff later. Imagine if George Lucas made a Star Wars Episode 7 and said "Oh, and by the way, Luke Skywalker isn't Darth Vader's son at all, he's a werewolf now" everyone on the planet would call bullshit because it wasn't there before. You don't add stuff in to older stuff unless you want to remake that older stuff, ala Resident Evil.

As for Samus having 'not killed Ridley' any of the other times, how on Earth was she to know that she hadn't killed him all those times? Hell, in Metroid 1, the dragon exploded and in Prime he was back for more. She has no reason at any point she defeats him to think he's getting back up, and this is the one time she actually freaks out in the way she did. We had her go into a flying rage in Prime 3, and her reations in Super Metroid are suggested to be pretty similar, but not this time, so why? Maybe the reaction might have, might have, worked if someone showed her his dead body, kicked him a few times and said "Yep. That guy is definitely dead. Not coming back. No ma'am." But no, it was still done poorly, the reaction is still out of character and it is no different to any other encounter she has with him.

@ Aiddon

You're right, I probably don't deserve to be taken seriously, and neither are you or, in the grand, scheme of things, is any single person, but we do anyway because it's polite. I've just whistled Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture through a flute made of a drinking straw and it still made more sense than your hostility. Whenever I disagree with others, at least they and I have the maturity to engage in a debate and argument, but then again you are unable to use grammer (capital letters don't go in the middle of sentences unless they are proper nouns, and 'berk' is not a proper noun) so why should I expect you to know anything about common courtesy or manners?

Spongey Blob said...

@ RocMegamanX

To be fair, I'm actually really happy that one less person is buying Other M, but I'm not the boss of you or anything, if you're implying that the negative feedback is putting you off... it should, that's the point of negative feedback, but I'm not certainly not calling anyone an idiot for liking the game. People should be allowed to like whatever they like; I just don't think Other M should be objectively called a 'good' game... or adequate, or anything close to positive. If you want to play it, all the more power to you; just don't expect it to be worth the money, mate.

Nick said...

@Spongey Blob
"It's why, even though I don't think the sexism is intentional, I still say that it's worth bashing on; it's still there, intentional or not."

I don't think there's such a thing as "accidental sexism." Unconscious yes, accidental no. If it was an accident then it's not sexism; what it is is stupidity.

"By the same logic, we should never criticise any game, movie, book, television programme or zoetrope because nobody actually wants to make a bad product."

I never said that stupidity was an "excuse," or that the game isn't worth criticizing. In fact I said twice in my above megapost that it IS still a bad thing. Feel free to bash them for it. But it's a different crime, and [comparatively] LESS of a crime, than if they had done it on purpose.

"Super Metroid yanks the controls out of your hands to show just how weak Samus is during the Mother Brain battle; why didn't they do it with Ridley?"

Honest question: Did they know when they made Super Metroid that Ridely killed Samus' parents? I'm asking, I don't know.

Rhetorical question: If the controls had gone dead when Ridley appears and roars at you in Super Metroid, would players have understood what was going on; that Samus was afraid of him, and why? I don't think they would have. Sure it would have been easier if Samus had spoken in text boxes in that game, but she didn't. The entire game, like most others in the series, simply didn't include that level of story detail.

"you can't add in stuff later."
You can when, again, earlier installments simply didn't have that level of story detail. But to an extent you're right, it would have been better form if Sakamoto had included some kind of reference to Samus and Ridely's relationship in earlier games, instead of busting it out here for the first time.

But bad form is not the same as sexism, or even "changing" the character. I really don't think that the developers deliberately didn't have Samus react to Ridley before, in spite of their past relationship, as a statement about Samus' character. I think it's just because they didn't bother putting stuff like that into the games before.

"As for Samus having 'not killed Ridley' any of the other times, how on Earth was she to know that she hadn't killed him all those times? Hell, in Metroid 1, the dragon exploded and in Prime he was back for more."

My answer to this is abstraction. By saying that Ridley didn't actually die until Super Metroid, they're effectively retroactively saying that he didn't actually "explode" the first time, it just looked that way to the player because hey, that's the way we do things in 8-bit video games. Heck, there are plenty of times in the Mega Man Zero series (GBA) where a boss explodes upon defeat, only be be shown immediately afterwards as still alive and talking. What's more, in the original Metroid, they probably didn't know or care whether he was actually dead.

Stating that Ridely only died once may seem odd, and boarding on a retcon; but it's still a canonically stated fact, unless I'm simply misinformed about this. Given that, it's reasonable, even intuitive, to assume that Samus was aware of it.

Rusty said...

I completely agree with you on visual style and lack of story of the older games being indivisibly tied to the suspension of disbelief. Games of that generation are iconic and "classic" and "the best" because everyone just put their own thoughts and voices (and sometimes story) into the game that lacked all of that.

The move into this gen where everything is looking more realistic and everyone has voice actors, those feelings can't really be had again.

I take this notion one step further and put forward that games like FF6 can't be remade with FF13-esque graphics would be terrible. Fans bitch and moan everytime Squeenix announces a game that isn't a remake of 6 (or sometimes 7) but can you imagine all those memorable scenes done with today's production? Ultros, a giant octopus, pushing a 4 ton weight off a wooden catwalk and complaining to no one that it would take exactly 5 minutes to push? Or Sabin and Co. running ahead of undead train and PUNCHING it until it explodes? It just cannot be.

So back to M:OM I the game's story IS terribly lack luster and unfortunate, but it does not shove Samus in fridge or assinaet her character since SHE NEVER HAD ONE.

RocMegamanX said...

@Spongey Blob

I just hate all the hostility surrounding that game. I, like Bob, thought that maybe people were a bit too harsh on the game. The controversy just frustrates me to no end. And I get the feeling that guys like you and Jannie think that I AM a moron for thinking Other M could have SOME positives in it, judging from the aggressive comments you had left thus far.

It's times like this that I wish we were stuck in the 16-bit era, at least, back then, not many people frothed at the mouth over a video game. At least in the 16-bit era, Gunpei Yokoi was still alive. And this stupid Other M war wouldn't have happened.

Also, people are saying you don't have to have emotions or personality to be a good character. But how would you even be able to RELATE to the character? This is highly confusing.

Jannie said...

I'd like for Aiddon and Sylocat to present one coherent argument before either of them start yelling petulantly, plz? Or are you just admitting you HAVE no counter argument?

Or maybe you're just trolls. That's possible. Frankly I don't think you actually care you're both just angry someone actually disagrees with Bob, I could say anything and you two would scream and pout about it. You're both being incredibly childish, especially towards Spongey Blob who said and did nothing to you. If you have some misguided beef with me fine, but don't be assholes to other people JUST BECAUSE.

Jannie said...

Now for some actual dicussion...

@Nick

See, I don't really totally disagree with all of that, but the thing is there is little evidence for any of this. I mean, I understand kind of what you're saying, maybe Samus did "freeze up" before and it was never shown, but that's impossible to prove.

So far, we have ONE actual case that we can PROVE this happened, every other case would be pure speculation, just like the time compression thing is pure speculation. It all depends on a whole bunch of stuff being assumed with no evidence...the actual visual evidence, and canon, we have suggests this happened this one time, and it happened in real time from the perspective of Samus. And while I can see what you're talking about, and I'm not completely opposed to it IN THEORY, the thing is we have no evidence of it IN FACT and all we have to go on is what we see...and what we see doesn't really fit with that.

Also the "it was added later so it didn't happen in the original" doesn't really fly either. If we argue it's a retcon, and this is the NEW current Samus, that's ok, but that still doesn't change the fact that this wildly contradicts the previous events seen so either those events didn't happen (what happens with most retcons is those past events kind of cease to exist) or they happened now in a very different light. And so far that's impossible to prove.

But I think that your argument about her only having killed him once again kind of doesn't gel per se. Hold on...

Jannie said...

@Nick

See even though she only killed him ONCE (depending on your definition of "killed" and "him") the fact is that by now she's fought some variation of Ridley before. Even if it wasn't the "real" one it didn't offer some wildly different incarnation from the others. Ridley is still Ridley, real or not.

Now you can maybe argue she expects him to be dead, ok, but that still doesn't really make sense because how could she know which one was real or not? For all she knows she killed the real one all those times..or does she? I think so. I don't believe it was ever explained and I don't think it is right to assume she's privy to this information just because we are, a lot happens that the characters are unaware of that we're well versed in after all.

But even if not, like I said, Ridley is always the same. He always looks the same, he always dies, or seems to die, and Samus so far has never reacted to that UNTIL NOW. So unless we just dismiss the narrative entirely (and that's what saying "they couldn't do this before" is, really) and just start looking at this from a technical standpoint...it still doesn't work.

BECAUSE...even from a technical standpoint it still makes no sense to have this scene here. It doesn't show Samus as having "emotions", it shows her being afraid, which wouldn't go with her character EVEN IF you completely dismiss the other games. Because she's still supposed to be a trained soldier, a mercenary, with super-bird alien DNA, wearing a Transformer loaded with nuclear bombs.

My point is, that if anything she should react with anger, go into a rage, not freeze up. But even if she did, and if this were the first game, it still would only serve to make her look weak. Now if you want to say they overdid it, agreed, but that only goes to show just how pointless and stupid it was to even go that route. It makes the player character look weak, not emotional but scared and cowardly, and therefore it was a boneheaded move EVEN IF you take away how wildly out of character it is.

Nick said...

@Jannie

I'm not suggesting that Samus "froze up" every time she meets Ridely. That wouldn't make sense; you'd expect her to become desensitized after a while, ice queen or not. If she froze up in Super Metroid, it would be perfectly valid to ask why when she had defeated Ridley five (?) times before. I only think it makes sense for her to freeze up in Other M, because this time she really thought he was dead (I'll get back to that).

No, what I'm suggesting is simply that she's reacted to Ridley in some capacity before, even if it's simply to yell "you bastard I'll never forgive you!" You seem to be interpreting her lack of any reaction at all as characterization ("this is the new Samus which contradicts the old Samus"), but I don't. While I agree that some aspects of Samus served as subtle characterization before (such as her repeated choice to work alone), I see her failure to treat Ridley any differently than any other boss as simply a symptom of the games' abstraction and general lack of story detail.

"So far, we have ONE actual case that we can PROVE this happened, every other case would be pure speculation, just like the time compression thing is pure speculation. It all depends on a whole bunch of stuff being assumed with no evidence...the actual visual evidence, and canon, we have suggests this happened this one time, and it happened in real time from the perspective of Samus. And while I can see what you're talking about, and I'm not completely opposed to it IN THEORY, the thing is we have no evidence of it IN FACT and all we have to go on is what we see...and what we see doesn't really fit with that."

I should probably explain that as a Mega Man fan, I am very accustomed to drawing conclusions based on reading between the lines with little or no direct evidence, and/or what evidence there is being rather subtle.

Bottom line however, is that I agree with Bob that there is in fact visual evidence - subtle though you may find it - that we're seeing time compressed from Samus' perspective, to show how long the moment feels for her.


With regard to Ridley "only dying once," to clarify I am assuming the following three points as given:

1 - In every game except Other M and Fusion, Ridley is simply Ridley; only in those two games is it "not really him." (In Other M it's a clone, in Fusion it's an X-Parasite copying DNA from the Metroid-drained husk of that same clone.) This is a canon fact unless I'm mistaken.

2 - In every game taking place prior to Super Metroid, when Samus defeats Ridley he doesn't die. This, too, is a canon fact unless I'm mistaken.

3 - Samus is aware that Ridley died in Super Metroid but didn't die before; regardless of how Ridley's defeat was presented to the player (explosions etc). This is something which I think we have to assume, or at least entertain, in light of #2.

This doesn't have to mean that in every game prior to Super Metroid she saw him fly away. It could simply be that in most cases his survival was left ambiguous from Samus' perspective, but in Super Metroid she saw his dismembered body and thought "Thank God, I've finally killed him, my parents can rest in peace now." And then in Other M it's like OMG NO HE'S NOT!!!

And no, I don't have a problem with characters in video games exploding without actually dying. Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tMlElZ73Flk

Spongey Blob said...

@ Rusty

But Samus did have a character earlier. Consider how many people are offended of Samus's portrayal in Other M; if Samus didn't have a character earlier, what are they complaining about? If Samus didn't have a character before Other M, why did so many people have such a good idea as to how she acted? What she was like? The Wikipedia page for her was huge, and a large bulk of that was personality. Where did that come from?

From the other games, that's where, because Samus had a fleshed out personality.

The dev team of Other M assumed that speech = personality, and therefore Samus was a blank slate. She wasn't. This is like saying deaf people can't eat beans. They are completely unrelated. The idea that she has no personality is a lie; the first three Metroid games are the best example, though you can look to the monologues in the Gameboy games and her body language in the Prime trilogy for more recent examples.

The reason that Samus endured the N64 gap was that she was, compared to other character of the time, such a strong character, full of humanity and emotion. How? The game developers, lacking any way of telling the players what she was like, actually used the gamer's input as part of her character.

The gamer is alone in the journey and must become used to this solitude, and so must Samus. The game's atmosphere and style can very easily make the player feel lost and scared, but they eventually conquer these anxieties through perseverance and bravery, so Samus too is relentless and brave. We have to stop to consider our route through Zebes, and we search like bloodhounds for items, making Samus smart and methodical. We spare the infant metroid at the end of Metroid 2 because it helps us win, and thus Samus is not ruthless but, in fact, has a human heart. And she even has strong morals and ideals in her character; she holds her own duties and responsibilties highly and personally. In the beginning of Super Metroid, no one asks her to go back to Zebes. She isn't getting paid for it, and she could've let anyone else save the infant metroid, but instead she leapt at the chance to save it herself because she felt that it was her responsibility.

CONTINUED BELOW

Spongey Blob said...

FROM ABOVE

And, on a slightly more personal note, the reason that the ending of Super Metroid is considered by many to be one of the strongest emotional experiences in gaming is that we care about the infant metroid; it was our goal, and to see it destroyed both saddened and angered us, and thus Samus is hugely protective and considers her own responsibility highly, and she continues to assault Mother Brain despite the fact that she's already lost once. It's not a smart thing to do, so why does she try again? Because the player's renewed attack on Mother Brain gives Samus an air of reckless desire for revenge. She has weaknesses as well as strengths because we have weaknesses as well as strengths. She's a three-dimensional human being, because we the player make her one.

It's why Link is so brave and James Sunderland a weak coward, and why RPG characters change personality even in the same game; because the players make the character as much as the developers do, and the team of the original Metroid games knew how to steer us into thinking of Samus as how we do. It's practically game-story telling rule number 1. It's why people have a hissy fit when something they can't do in the game isn't done in cutscene or vice versa. The games used player input as part of Samus's character, and the game creators, for lack of a better word, manipulated our quote-unquote 'projections' to make Samus the character they wanted to portray. Samus didn't really have anyone to speak to, so this was the way they gave her character and a personality.

The Samus of Other M showed none of these qualities. It would've been just as annoying to people who disliked Other M if Samus was a violent bitchy ice queen, or a comedic slapstick character, or a friendly and shy demure woman, because that isn't what she is.She's methodical, brave and wrathful, refusing to give up in the face of impossible odds, and with a great rage as her greatest flaw. This is why, at least as I see it, why people hated Samus so much in Other M. It wasn't the Samus we had been steered to making. It wasn't the Samus we knew and loved. It wasn't OUR Samus Aran.

So, no, Samus Aran did have a character, and people have every right to be offended by Other M for ruining her character by replacing her with almost everything the actual Samus was not.

Spongey Blob said...

@ RocMegamanX

"I just hate all the hostility surrounding that game. I, like Bob, thought that maybe people were a bit too harsh on the game."

Forgive me if I'm incorrect, but didn't you say that you hadn't played it? I'm not sure that you can truly judge on how harsh the criticism on the game without first-hand experience, unless you saw it on a let's-play or something.

And keep in mind, it's MovieBob himself that's brought this game up again. It's MovieBob that said he'd give his opinion again and, by extension, it's MovieBob who's invited others to voice their own opinions in response. No one had talked about Other M for long after the fact seeing as Nintendo themselves said that they were disappointed by the response and asked for direct feedback for what went wrong. Nintendo admitted that Other M was a disappointment. Personal opinion aside, the argument of whether Other M was a good game objectively has been solved long ago, and we had no reason to speak of it again until MovieBob made another video. I can't stop you buying the game; I don't think you're wrong for wanting to try something out, I just don't think Other M's a particularly good choice. If it's what you're into, that's your own opinion, and neither I, Jannie, MovieBob or anyone on either side should force you to buy it or not buy it or whatever. Suggest and influence, maybe, but force? No. That is neither my intent nor something I should be allowed to do. Apologies if I came across as such.

"Also, people are saying you don't have to have emotions or personality to be a good character. But how would you even be able to RELATE to the character? This is highly confusing."

I'm... not sure where you've got that from. I certainly never said that giving Samus Aran emotions and weaknesses was a bad thing, and I haven't heard anyone else say similar. As for the personality, as I explain above, she did have one. It's just that Other M gave her the wrong emotions and weaknesses. It was completely inconsistent with the rest of the series, and Samus's character, to go with what they did.

Spongey Blob said...

@ Nick

"If it was an accident then it's not sexism; what it is is stupidity."

I think it's more simply a way of putting 'This scene gives off iffy vibes' but I think that you can call a game 'sexist' but it's creators not. Nintendo isn't sexist, but the game is. When I studied film, I was taught that you should always assume that what's been put on screen is exactly how the creators intended for it to be; it's the classic way of making an objective critique without involving the creator's own personal views. However, as I said, this is mostly a disagreement on how you say 'This scene is demeaning to women without the creator's intent' which I at least hope is something you think.
"I never said that stupidity was an "excuse,""

Well, forgive me then, it was an impression I got; I've heard similar arguments before that said that just because you didn't mean to do something means that it's all ok.

"Honest question: Did they know when they made Super Metroid that Ridely killed Samus' parents? I'm asking, I don't know."

To be honest, I'm not totally sure. I remember plenty of mentions that Samus and Ridley were very much at each other's throats for more personal reasons in outside media and I think in the game manual as well, but I don't remember if they said what it was or not, and it was a long time ago; someone will have to prove me wrong on that one.

As for if the players would've understood what was happening, I think that they at least would've understood that this was a moment of weakness, if not for specific reasons. They understood that, when Mother Brain hit them with the lazer and Samus didn't get back up, that it was a moment of weakness for Samus. The scenes of Ridley's entrance may have required a bit of an adjustment; maybe when he roars the player's literally forced backwards or something, or even a second-long cutscene of Samus's reaction, like a close up of her eyes closing steely or her teeth gritting something.

Still, I think that a retcon on this level was very unprofessional of Sakamoto. It might've flown if he had changed the pre-battle cutscene to show Samus freezing up in every instance she had faced Ridley, showing that this indeed had happened before, but it still goes against what we already knew about Samus; this is again assuming Samus had no character when she did, so the scene would still go against her character; it just makes the scene longer, and the less I need to see of it, the better.

Spongey Blob said...

"Stating that Ridely only died once may seem odd, and boarding on a retcon; but it's still a canonically stated fact, unless I'm simply misinformed about this. Given that, it's reasonable, even intuitive, to assume that Samus was aware of it. "

Again I have to repeat my argument; why would Samus had any reason to not believe that every fight with Ridley would be the last. The player might know that he's coming back, but Samus is never given any reason to think that he's coming back at all in just about any of the fights that I can remember. In Metroid 1, while Ridley probably really didn't explode into a million pieces, the abstraction still serves as a metaphor to say that Ridley's not getting back up. And again, the idea of Samus reacting is perfectly fine; it's just that she gives the wrong reaction. That's the problem with Other M in a nutshell; a good idea executed so badly with relatively easy-to-fix problems. It's lazy, stupid, and it only serves as a message from Nintendo to me saying 'You're not worth the time and effort we should put into making a good game.' THAT is my beef with Other M, and Nintendo's modern business practices on the whole.

As for the reaction itself, I still say it should've been rage, or, if she did need to have a Blue Screen of Death, then simply having her screaming "WHY WON'T YOU JUST DIE?!", then maybe have her panic at her own skills because it's something she's actually failed to do. You could even incorporate that into gameplay; instead of having a cutscene of Ridley thrashing her around while she stood still like a wooden duck, have gameplay continue, but make Samus slower, her weapons weaker, and have Ridley impossible to beat, and then when Anthony dies saving her, it motivates her even harder with her shouting something like "NOT AGAIN RAAARGH RAGE NOW!" and possibly a flashback to the infant metroid dying to save her. Cliche? Definitely, and it's still crap, but considering I made it in the space of five seconds and, if I say so myself it makes both more sense and fits Samus's earlier personality, I think it's far better than what the Other M dev team sicked up.

Sylocat said...

I'd like for Aiddon and Sylocat to present one coherent argument before either of them start yelling petulantly, plz? Or are you just admitting you HAVE no counter argument?

I've presented my counter-argument, and you've ignored it and then misrepresented it.

Or maybe you're just trolls. That's possible. Frankly I don't think you actually care you're both just angry someone actually disagrees with Bob, I could say anything and you two would scream and pout about it.

I don't mind you disagreeing with Bob (I disagree with him myself, on occasion). What I mind is you hurling vicious personal insults at him because you disagree with his interpretation of a video game.

Oh, and for the record, I don't mind you taking more than one post to say something. What I mind is every single one of your posts saying the EXACT SAME THINGS over and over again with marginally different phraseology, and the only significant difference between them being the specific choice of insults you vomit at Japan, at Bob, and at everyone who disagrees with you.

Aiddon said...

@RocMegaman

Thing is Yokoi was actually a bad thing for the series; he barred any further games in the series after Super Metroid so his resignation and subsequent death actually brought the series back. Weird, huh? Plus Yokoi never actually designed many games, he merely produced them.

Nick said...

@Spongey Blob:
"They understood that, when Mother Brain hit them with the lazer and Samus didn't get back up, that it was a moment of weakness for Samus."

Yes, but that was physical weakness, and the laser was an obvious cause of it. If the same had happened with Ridley, I think that at best players would have concluded that Ridley's roar contains supersonic sound waves capable of inducing paralysis.

"maybe when he roars the player's literally forced backwards or something, or even a second-long cutscene of Samus's reaction, like a close up of her eyes closing steely or her teeth gritting something."

That works.

"Still, I think that a retcon on this level was very unprofessional of Sakamoto. It might've flown if he had changed the pre-battle cutscene to show Samus freezing up in every instance she had faced Ridley, showing that this indeed had happened before, but it still goes against what we already knew about Samus; this is again assuming Samus had no character when she did, so the scene would still go against her character; it just makes the scene longer, and the less I need to see of it, the better."

Again, I'm not suggesting that Samus froze up every single time she encountered Ridley; and looking back, what I originally said gave that impression, and I apologize for that. If Samus froze up EVERY TIME, there would STILL be a problem, because you'd expect her to get used to him. The "I thought I'd finally killed you" angle is necessary for freezing up to make sense (except in the original game). What I'm saying is that you shouldn't take her lack of ANY reaction as characterization which can be contradicted. In the other games, I don't think the animators were making a statement about Samus, that she's so badass as to not even flinch at the sight of a big honkin' dinosaur - childhood trauma or no - or a giant one-eyed tentacled ghost. They were simply continuing the trend of Samus not reacting to ANYTHING; not because she's stoic, but because that's the level of abstraction the games had.

In fact, even if Ridley hadn't killed Samus' parents, I'd still expect her to make some kind of comment about their recurring rivalry if she were capable of giving voice. I mean, do you really think that Mario never, every has anything to say about the fact that Bowser simply won't give up? Shigeru Miyamoto isn't saying that Mario "doesn't have a sense of humour" to never make a crack about this. It's just that, as everybody knows, Mario doesn't talk, and he doesn't see fit to break that trend even in a situation where you'd really expect a real person to say SOMETHING.

"Again I have to repeat my argument; why would Samus had any reason to not believe that every fight with Ridley would be the last. The player might know that he's coming back, but Samus is never given any reason to think that he's coming back at all in just about any of the fights that I can remember.

Ultimately, I personally think that this is something that we just have to take on faith; even if it involves imagining the fights in previous games playing out slightly differently.

Nick said...

(cont'd)

"That's the problem with Other M in a nutshell; a good idea executed so badly with relatively easy-to-fix problems. It's lazy, stupid, and it only serves as a message from Nintendo to me saying 'You're not worth the time and effort we should put into making a good game.' THAT is my beef with Other M, and Nintendo's modern business practices on the whole."

Agreed. In fact, this is another problem with the "they can't possibly be that dumb" argument. Even if the sexism had been intentional (which I still don't think it was), I would STILL expect somebody somewhere at Nintendo to stand up and say "Mr. Sakamoto, with respect, people are going to want to burn you at the stake for this." But they didn't, or else they weren't listened to; and the only conclusion we can draw from that is, that while Sakamoto may have felt the story was important to HIM, he and Nintendo in general didn't care enough about how the fans would react to it.

"As for the reaction itself, I still say it should've been rage, or, if she did need to have a Blue Screen of Death, then simply having her screaming "WHY WON'T YOU JUST DIE?!", then maybe have her panic at her own skills because it's something she's actually failed to do. You could even incorporate that into gameplay; instead of having a cutscene of Ridley thrashing her around while she stood still like a wooden duck, have gameplay continue, but make Samus slower, her weapons weaker, and have Ridley impossible to beat, and then when Anthony dies saving her, it motivates her even harder with her shouting something like "NOT AGAIN RAAARGH RAGE NOW!" and possibly a flashback to the infant metroid dying to save her. Cliche? Definitely, and it's still crap, but considering I made it in the space of five seconds and, if I say so myself it makes both more sense and fits Samus's earlier personality, I think it's far better than what the Other M dev team sicked up."

Me likey.

Actually, you know what? If Sakamoto is so keen on having Samus deliver long emo monologues, why not have her talk about Ridely?

"He came back to haunt me again and again, and then, when I finally thought I'd laid that demon to rest... this happens. And now another friend died because of my failure."

See, that's not even feminine and weak. Heroes of both genders make lamentations like that all the time.

Nick said...

Sorry, I should explain that last point a bit more. I'm aware of "show don't tell," which the game is following for once; but in this case, the idea was shown poorly, and unclearly. If Samus had said something like that, then at least we would have understood why she reacted so strongly to Ridely, instead of thinking it was supposed to be because she's just weak.

Spongey Blob said...

@ Sylocat

Sorry about not responding earlier, your post passed my eye.

"You're right, Team Ninja didn't have anything to do with the story. You know who did? D-Rockets, the animation company that handles all Team Ninja's cutscenes (yes, the cutscenes were put together by a THIRD studio)."

To shock the world slightly, yes I saw the Extra Credits video too. I get it; having three companies on board is a logistical nightmare. However, there are three flaws in your argument;

1)Again, I say that it shouldn't have been a problem. There are tons of games that have had a company for cutscenes, a company for gameplay, a company for rendering, and this isn't counting freelance artists, writers, programmers and such. Nintendo are and have done better than this. Why now did they mess up so bad? Who knows; all I know is that they did, and it's still not an excuse.

2) It was probably a stupid idea in the first place. This isn't like out-sourcing where you might ask a company to do a small bit on a project; this was a major collaboration and Nintendo, Team Ninja and D-Rockets all should've been prepared for the workload and know exactly what they were getting themselves into. They should've either extended the development time to account for the amount of hands on deck, or they shouldn't have over-stretched their workload. It's still a huge problem with Other M however you slice it.

3) The impact D-Rockets had on the story is still minimal. As I said, Nintendo did all of it; they wrote the script, they drew up the storyboards, they designed the models. D-Rockets just made the models, animated it and rendered it; they certainly didn't write anything. The biggest influence D-Rockets had was to say 'Well, we can't render that, could you make something else?" Otherwise, it was all Nintendo; for the game's lack of focus, the absurd cutscene length, the stiff-arm gameplay, the lack of new ideas to the Metroid series; fine, that's all of their faults on the whole. The story? No, that's Nintendo's fault.

Jannie said...

@Sylocat

I didn't "ignore" your argument, because frankly I wasn't aware you MADE one. All you did, that I know of (it's a long discussion so maybe I missed it) was post an Extra Credits video and then say "It's harder to make games than you think!" without actually explaining WHAT that means or telling me why I should take anything they say in Extra Credits to directly effect this. And frankly, I did respond to that even, I said that I believe that reasoning to be faulty and insufficient in lieu of any actual evidence for it.

But you know what, if you're going to DISMISS my arguments because I "vomited insults" at Bob and Japan, then I have to just say you're committing a serious logical fallacy here. It doesn't matter if I'm being all nice or not, I can be as insulting as I want, and by the way I've not said anything insulting about Japan. I called Bob insufferable because that's what he is to me, and I called him an asshat because he's using racism (something VERY touchy for me) as a shield to protect his favorite game company. He pissed me off and I REFUSE to pretend he didn't. If you think that immediately makes me wrong you're absolutely full of it--you have never shown one way or the other if I'm right or wrong you're just dismissing an argument out of hand based on the context and not the content. And I don't give a good God damn what you think of me, you attacked Spongey Blob for NO reason when he said NOTHING to you before, and that is unacceptable. As far as I can see, you're just angry because I said something you THINK is mean to someone who has been subtly insulting people like me for more than a year. If you have a problem with that, keep it between us, but you and Aiddon don't bring other people into this on some guilt by associating trip. This whole "waaah, you're mean and therefore I don't have to actually rebut any of your arguments!" crap is juvenile enough without you bullying other people simply because they're there.

And the reason I said the "same things" over and over (according to you, I disagree but whatever) is because I feel it's a valid argument. Though I find it ironic you have a problem with that when Bob basically repeated his same argument from before but more sarcastic, less evidence and more hateful accusations of racism (which doesn't AT ALL blatantly insult minorities like me who actually HAVE experienced racism and understand it's more than simply not having some deep, misguided "kinship" with Japan...no sir, he's not being offensive AT ALL /sarcasm)

Spongey Blob said...

@ Jannie

"... you attacked Spongey Blob for NO reason when he said NOTHING to you before..."

Actually, I had mentioned that he seemed to imply that you make a game's story and write the script last, so I get his response. What I don't get is that people seem to mistake not liking something that came from another culture or country for not liking something BECAUSE it came from another culture or country. Nintendo is not a lazy, arrogant, stupid company because it originates from Japan, nor is every Japanese game company lazy, arrogant and stupid. Plenty of Japanese companies are brilliant; Nintendo used to be pretty damn swell in my book, and plenty of the Nintendo workforce come from other countries. It's like accusing somebody of being racist towards Indian people because they don't like chicken korma; Nintendo'd be just as stupid if they were French, British, American or from the planet Mars. Give me a single example of somebody saying 'Nintendo goofed up with Other M; that's the Japanese for you' and maybe we can talk about racism; until then, don't change the subject or don't say anything at all.

Spongey Blob said...

@ Jannie

Also, noticed something about your first post;

"Let me just say two things:" ... then you go on to say five things.

Problem, basic arithmatic? ;D

Jannie said...

@Spongey Blob

Yeah I should have said "a few" things but I was pissed off and sleepy. What I took offensive with is he kept trying to conflate your arguments, which have been quite civil, with mine, which admittedly get rather heated when I'm angry...it's guilt by association and it's absurd.

I don't care really what Sylocat thinks about ME though I'm just pissed he keeps saying he doesn't have to form a real argument (e.g. not an Extra Credits link) because I'm being "mean" or whatever. I just get tired of that shit. I get it all the time, about how suddenly if you're being "mean" (whatever definition that is) you're immediately wrong or something. It's immature and reeks of some kid who doesn't know how to take it on the chin.

I've been called worse than "mean" though...which is why Bob irks me so by accusing his detractors of racism, using it an excuse to dismiss arguments, because I can tell you right now Bob has NEVER experienced ACTUAL racism. He's got no idea what that means, and the fact he has the unmitigated GALL to pull the race card, as some white layabout from Boston, just pissed me off beyond all previous levels of pissidity. Especially about something as idiotic as defending Nintendo, a company that has openly practiced bad business and tried to monopolize gaming for years, i.e. the last people you want or need to defend let alone do so by pulling the race card.

I'm frankly shocked that everyone seems to be buying it though, and it's completely derailing the argument into territory Bob probably wants: as far away from actually discussing what's wrong with Other M as possible, since he has no counterargument other than "LEAVE NINTENDO ALONE!"

Jannie said...

Also...

I almost forgot because I'm repeating this until someone answers me with something other than a link.

WHY did Nintendo toss the old upgrade system when it would cost MORE to do this new one? WHY would they then integrate this into the story when even IF it worked it would not be necessary to do so? WHY didn't they do this with any other Metroid game?

Anyone? Anyone? Beuler?

Sylocat said...

1)Again, I say that it shouldn't have been a problem. There are tons of games that have had a company for cutscenes, a company for gameplay, a company for rendering, and this isn't counting freelance artists, writers, programmers and such. Nintendo are and have done better than this. Why now did they mess up so bad? Who knows; all I know is that they did, and it's still not an excuse.

Well, the fact that they'd never worked with Team Ninja before is a red flag. Nintendo has done a massive amount of their work entirely in-house, and they're not used to BEING a company that subcontracts this kind of thing.

Give me a single example of somebody saying 'Nintendo goofed up with Other M; that's the Japanese for you' and maybe we can talk about racism;

Again, head over to The Escapist and check out the comment threads on Yahtzee's ZP episode on M.O.M., and you will see a litany of examples.

this was a major collaboration and Nintendo, Team Ninja and D-Rockets all should've been prepared for the workload and know exactly what they were getting themselves into.

Again, this is hindsight bias talking. Past a certain point in production, you simply can't extend production time. It just cannot happen past a certain point. Financial issues, and internal political pressure, can lock you into choices that you haven't even made. Would I like to see more auteurs in the game industry, rather than bloated corporate productions? Hell yeah I would, but unless gamers get over this obsession with next-gen graphics, games are just going to continue to be too expensive to be produced by small indie teams.

The impact D-Rockets had on the story is still minimal. As I said, Nintendo did all of it; they wrote the script, they drew up the storyboards, they designed the models. D-Rockets just made the models, animated it and rendered it; they certainly didn't write anything.

D-Rockets, by default, would have to do the storyboards and scripting themselves, not that they'd necessarily wrote the story.

But you know what? The basic story concepts weren't all that bad, it was the execution and the subtext that sucked.

What I simply don't understand, is this persistent claim that Nintendo has turned evil or fallen off or whatever. Yeah, Other M had flaws (though the gameplay was awesome), but this incessant rage against Nintendo (not necessarily from you, but from... certain other parties) is just weird.

Give me a single example of somebody saying 'Nintendo goofed up with Other M; that's the Japanese for you' and maybe we can talk about racism;

Like I said before, head over to The Escapist forums and check out the comment threads, both on the Escapist's review and the ZP episode.

Jannie said...

Don't go "certain other parties" dude, if you have a problem with me say it then, don't swipe at me from a distance. And I didn't say Nintendo turned evil or "fell" or whatever, I could give less of a fuck about Nintendo, I simply don't appreciate a game that portrays women as being either whimpering children or submissive idiots getting such a staunch defense from people who obviously don't care one way or the other SIMPLY because it's from Nintendo.

If Metroid Other M had been made by Epic and a FPS, Bob would have ripped it a new asshole, but because it was made by the glorious Nintendo Corporation and had some half-baked retro BS tacked on well then OBVIOUSLY anyone who doesn't like it is a racist. The irony is that Epic could NEVER have made this game the way it was...simply because everyone in the world would immediately call for Cliffy B to be castrated and lynched, but Nintendo gets a free pass because they're the old sweety with a heart of gold everyone remembers from their childhood so fondly. It is perfectly valid to say this could never have been made outside of Japan, not JUST because the Japanese have a very, very negative view of women's rights but because Nintendo, the grand dame of Japanese gaming, is the only company with enough good will and fanatical loyalists to DEFEND this offensive piece of trash.

I mean, I guess Squeenix could have gotten away with it, maybe EA on the far end but I doubt the last one somewhat because EA's most fanatical loyalists are fans of their sports games not their mainstream output. But say, Bungie, Epic, Activision...please!

Sylocat said...

Jannie, just take your toys and go home already.

Nick said...

@Jannie:
"WHY did Nintendo toss the old upgrade system when it would cost MORE to do this new one? WHY would they then integrate this into the story when even IF it worked it would not be necessary to do so? WHY didn't they do this with any other Metroid game?"
Seeing as nobody actually knows what Nintendo was thinking, I or anybody else can only make a guess at this. And my best guess is as follows: Samus finding eqipment that happens to be compatible with her suit doesn't really make sense, while authorizing the equipment due a safety precaution could have made sense if they had followed through with the "safety precaution" explanation and made it hold up upon inspection. And yes, there's really no way that explanation can apply to the Varia suit; they would have had to come up with something else entirely for that.

But really, your question of "why did they do it when they could have done it the old way" is moot at this point in the discussion. YES the authorization mechanic is stupid; NO I don't think it was intentionally sexist; YES it makes them all fucking morons for not realizing it was a problem; and YES it IS possible for them to be THAT STUPID.

I might respond to your comments on the subject of racism later if I have time.

Jannie said...

@Sylocat...since you refuse to actually present an argument, consider this the last time I say shit to you. Unless and until you grow up and stop being such a petulant little boy, I don't have time to deal with your trolling shit.

Now, if I may, let me address the actual adults.

@Nick

I'm not entirely opposed to the idea they're just idiots, I simply, I guess, expect more from people in the industry this long. But I guess I will concede that your explanation is quite logical, in as much as they simply didn't give a fuck, I said that it was perhaps the case before so I'm not really opposed to it.

My thing is this: I'm not the kind of person who assumes other people are stupid really, by default. I tend to assume most people are just fucking with me when they do something like this. If they thought the "find your stuff" mechanic didn't work...well, they were wrong, because that works PERFECTLY with the exploration-based gameplay of Metroidvania type games like...Metrod and Castlevania. So yes I guess they could be just THAT STUPID in the end. I'll concede this, but really, even if that's the case it makes things even worse in a way.

Because really that would imply that even after all these years and all their experience with games and designing game mechanics, apparently they were stupid enough to not just copy paste the same old system that has worked FLAWLESSLY for over two decades and instead throw in some untested bullshit that apparently no one even thought long enough to work out properly.

So yeah...I call bullshit on Nintendo, if they really ARE that fucking stupid then that gives me even fewer reasons to buy their product from now on. But I must say I still in a way hold to my belief it was at the very least deliberate if not intentional...if only because it looks LESS stupid for Nintendo, it just looks horrible.

Aiddon said...

amusingly there as poll conducted in Japan asking students where they would like their future spouse to be employed at. For female students, the #1 choice was Nintendo

Nick said...

*sigh* I really should be working, but seeing as I just recited everything I'm about to say in my head anyway, I might as well write it down.

One:

"I can tell you right now Bob has NEVER experienced ACTUAL racism."

This is irrelevant Bob is refuting what he perceives to be racist arguments directed at Japan. He's perfectly entitled to do that, regardless of what race he himself is. If I were Japanese I'd appreciate him defending my country against racism, just as I'm sure you appreciate white people taking a stand against racism directed at black people.

Two:

Bob is not saying that "I don't like Nintendo" is racist. He's saying that "I read an article about panty vending machines, therefore every Japanese person is misogynist, and that's why Other M happened" is racist. And I agree with him on that.

Three:

"which is why Bob irks me so by accusing his detractors of racism, using it an excuse to dismiss arguments"

As far as I see, he is NOT using it to dismiss arguments, other than the argument I referred to above. At no point in the video does he apply the label of "racist" to anybody EXCEPT people making that particular argument You're accusing him of trying to to pull "guilt by association," but I don't see him making that argument at all; the only people he's condemning are those who are, in fact, guilty of racism. You're correct that their racism doesn't make other people who don't like the game wrong, but Bob isn't claiming it does.

Finally:

Multiple including Exploder Blade said something to the effect of:

"I have never, ever, yet and stilll hard anybody talk about this game in either a postive nor negative light in regards to "of course it's sexist, it's Japanese" in any forum, conversation, or discussion of any kind."

This, too, is irrelevant. I frankly doubt that Bob is making up having seen people saying "all of Japan is misogynist," but even if he is, it doesn't really matter. If he is, all that means is that he's refuting an argument that no one has made, but that doesn't change the validity of anything ELSE he said in the video. It only matters if you buy "guilt by association" as a valid argument, which you obviously don't, AND if Bob were making that argument in the first place, which he is not.

Nick said...

My thing is this: I'm not the kind of person who assumes other people are stupid really, by default."

Well that's where you and I differ. :P

Let me tell you a little story. I once read an interview with Keiji Inafune, Capcom bigshot and chief creative mind behind the Mega Man franchise. In in he made a comment to the effect of the following:

"So then I noticed [so and so plot point in Game X which was made with out his input], and I thought, 'Oh no, now the plot of [Game Y which he was working on at the time] doesn't make sense!' But I'm hoping people won't mind because of how good the gameplay is."

So... yeah.

Popcorn Dave said...

God damnit Bob. Just... god damnit. You know what the worst part of this whole saga is? It's the way that instead of engaging with the debate, you sit in your ivory tower and try and "explain" the controversy as something other than what it is. "Oh, you plebs might THINK you're annoyed because Other M dragged a beloved character through the mud in a deeply offensive way, but if you were smart like me, you'd realise the REAL reason you're angry is this...".

And then you throw out any excuse you can think of... people had a grudge against the Wii, people WANTED to hate the game, people are insecure about Samus showing emotions, people would have reacted the same to ANY attempt to give her a personality, people are just bitter because it wasn't an FPS, the game only SEEMS offensive because it's using an old-school mechanic, people just misinterpreted the Ridley scene. It's coming off pretty damn patronising, as if you think your opponents are lab rats and their arguments are just amusing data to stroke your beard over.

Your way of thinking seems to be that OBVIOUSLY a flagship Nintendo title can't actually be sexist, so there MUST be some other explanation that other people haven't realised! Kind of arrogant, don't you think?

RocMegamanX said...

@Spongey Blob

I need to clear up some things about me and Metroid. I hadn't grown up with the NES Metroid, Metroid II, or Super Metroid.

Thus far, I've played Metroid Fusion, Metroid Prime(which I didn't really like, mainly because it was an FPS), and a glitched out copy of Metroid: Zero Mission that erases its saves every time I turn it off.

Why don't I play many FPS in general, and why don't I like Metroid Prime as much as everyone else?

Let me use a quote from Cracked here:

"There is no possible freaking way to jump accurately from a first person perspective. All of the things that would let you do it in real life (sense of balance and momentum, awareness of your body) are gone. Also, you can't see your fucking feet."

Metroid in the past has relied on platforming, but translating that into first-person made me feel uneasy. I originally wanted to play Other M, mainly because I can actually see where I was jumping to this time, but no. The controls apparently "suck".

I'm basically with Bob on FPS games. He doesn't like them, neither do I, if ONLY for that Cracked quote.

But let's back away from that FPS tangent and talk about Metroid in general. I hadn't grown up with Metroid, so I don't have AS strong an emotional attachment to the "old" Samus as you guys did.

So forgive me if I'm not as eager to hunt down Sakamoto and stab him in his sleep for what many consider a "great injustice" to the series.

But here's the thing. It's just ONE game in a series. ONE game. Are you really gonna let ONE game make you this upset, when all the other games in the series had been getting high praises? Maybe Nintendo will get around to making this "Metroid Dread" game I've heard about. But even if they do release it, I'm worried that you would let your hatred of Other M tarnish your vision of that game, even if it had good intentions in mind.

@Aiddon

If the series HADN'T continued, though, then no one would be making negative noise about this specific Metroid game now. That's the problem.

Jannie said...

I'm going to make this one kind of quick, and I'll expand on it later. Nick, I'd love to address your arguments more expansively and I will, you make some good points I think, but with all due respect...WWE Raw is about to come on and I'm not missing John Cena's delicious wet pectorals discussing something like Other M.

Anyway, I'd like to just shoot this off before tomorrow: I forgot to add to my last post that JUST BECAUSE a game was made unintentionally sexist and offensive because of stupidity or incompetence or simple laziness, DOES NOT mean it is somehow any less sexist or offensive.

The fact remains that the game portrays Samus in an EXTREMELY negative light and makes her very, very submissive to a guy who at best is a tool and at worst is borderline abusive (i.e, "I'll send you into a raging inferno with no armor because...why the fuck not!"). Let's not even get started on the canon problems. This doesn't really change, this salient fact that the game IS sexist and offensive to women and makes a mockery of Metroid games of yore, simply because we maybe accept that Nintendo did it by mistake.

"I accidentally da whole franchise" is a cute meme though, and I can imagine it plastered across the face of some Nintendo head-dude on 4Chan.

I believe Spongey Blob said something to the effect earlier that if you get sick from eating at a restaurant you don't then excuse the improperly cooked food because it was unintentional, and I'm not suggesting anyone is excusing this I'm merely saying that even IF we accept that this was unintentional or somehow at least not deliberate per se, it still doesn't excuse just how incredibly insensitive and offensive this game was or how badly it clashed with previous canon.

At best it simply means they're incompetent, at worst it shows a complete tone deafness to modern audiences and progressiveness in modern societies, to say nothing of what it does to previous games which now have to either be dismissed outright or looked at in a completely different canon situation.

Aiddon said...

We also wouldn't have gotten the Prime series. You have to take the praise with the criticism (even if the majority of this has been screechy warbling)

RocMegamanX said...

@Aiddon

The problem is that, again, the Prime series is in the FPS genre, and I don't particularly care for it, especially when I mentioned the problems with platforming in first-person.

Have you heard of the artist Jollyjack? Because he made a comic that could explain my stance even more.

shadowhikari said...

There is nothing to defend for Metroid other M.

It didn't meet Nintendo's expectations (to outsell the prime series.) with a much large development budget and much larger advertisement budget.

It didn't meet consumers expectations, which is why it sold poorly and has reached bargain bin status.

It didn't meet Metroid fans expectations hence the massive backlash.

Its so bad that the actual developers team ninja at any chance try to pass the blame back onto Sakamoto for every game/script design. They don't want to be associated with it!

Its a complete failure on all fronts. Time to let it go.


Also, the baby the baby the baby the baby the baby the baby the baby the baby the baby.

Smashmatt202 said...

Just wondering... did the game sell well in Japan at least?

Ian said...

@ RocMegamanX

"But here's the thing. It's just ONE game in a series. ONE game. Are you really gonna let ONE game make you this upset, when all the other games in the series had been getting high praises?"

Considering that Sakamoto has said that this was the direction he wanted to take the series... yes, I think people have the right to be upset. Nobody wants to see a series they like take a bad turn.

@ Nick

Fact of the matter is, there are way more arguments and articles that criticize Other M in spite of which country it comes from. I guarantee more people have read the Elephant in the Room article or watched Extra Credits' Learning from Other M video than anything that said Other M represents everything wrong with Japan.

That said, there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to give these comments the time of day. It's a waste of time, it doesn't make the game look better, and even worse, all it does is draw attention to those that make such comments.

Aiddon said...

regardless of your own opinion they are widely regarded as some of the best of the entire series. And we also wouldn't have gotten Fusion or Zero Mission if Yokoi were still around.

RocMegamanX said...
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RocMegamanX said...
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shadowhikari said...

@RocMegamanX

Problematic platforming? To who? People who never played First Person games in the last twenty years? Or any 3D platformers in general?

Also Metroid Prime doesn't have half the issues the mirrors edge comic mentions either. Also no shakey camera.

Even moviebob mentions he doesn't enjoy the prime series because its in first person...Really? I guess the thief series sucked too right all because of a camera angle not the games actual content.

RocMegamanX said...

@Aiddon

Despite the problematic first person platforming?

@Ian

It's still just one game in a series though.

I probably would've liked Metroid Prime, but the platforming was awkward because, to quote JollyJack, I "couldn't see my character in relation to the environment".

I'm sure the backlash will probably help them learn from their mistakes. But maybe that's just my "misplaced optimism and faith in Nintendo".

RocMegamanX said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
RocMegamanX said...

@shadowhikari

"Problematic platforming? To who? People who never played First Person games in the last twenty years? Or any 3D platformers in general?"

I guess that's the problem with me, because I HAVEN'T played that many first person shooters over the past 20 years. So forgive me if I don't understand how platforming is supposed to work in first-person shooters.

"Also Metroid Prime doesn't have half the issues the mirrors edge comic mentions either. Also no shakey camera."

I'll give you the "no shakey camera" bit, but "not seeing your character in relation to the environment" isn't a flaw?

"Even moviebob mentions he doesn't enjoy the prime series because its in first person...Really? I guess the thief series sucked too right all because of a camera angle not the games actual content."

I haven't played Thief, so I wouldn't know. But why are you implying that people who don't like the first-person view are "close-minded idiots"? Was it that offensive to not like first-person shooters because of the view itself?

shadowhikari said...

@RocMegamanX

""I guess that's the problem with me, because I HAVEN'T played that many first person shooters over the past 20 years. So forgive me if I don't understand how platforming is supposed to work in first-person shooters.""

Understandable most people complain about games they haven't played on the internet, which then they try to argue like they know what there talking about based on a comic, not from ones own experience.


""I'll give you the "no shakey camera" bit, but "not seeing your character in relation to the environment" isn't a flaw?""

Again, Mirrors Edge, different game. Metroid Prime series have being a lot of interacting with the environments (data collecting, scanning enemies, expanding the game world.) even in Metroid prime 3 Samus reaches out and interacts with the ship, door panels.


""I haven't played Thief, so I wouldn't know. But why are you implying that people who don't like the first-person view are "close-minded idiots"? Was it that offensive to not like first-person shooters because of the view itself?""

No I don't claim people are being ""closed minded idiots"" (which I never wrote at all.) for not liking games that are set in first person. I judge a game based on content, the thief series, deus ex series,Metroid prime series. All great games. In first person.

Yet Moviebob makes a video saying the FPS genre is the most creative bankrupt in all of gaming and the cause of all the worst aspects in gaming today.

So who is being closed minded here?

RocMegamanX said...

"Understandable most people complain about games they haven't played on the internet, which then they try to argue like they know what there talking about based on a comic, not from ones own experience."

But I have played Metroid Prime, and I hadn't even finished it. I didn't really like it that much, again, because of the platforming.

"Again, Mirrors Edge, different game. Metroid Prime series have being a lot of interacting with the environments (data collecting, scanning enemies, expanding the game world.) even in Metroid prime 3 Samus reaches out and interacts with the ship, door panels. "

They're still both within the same genre, though. Even if Metroid Prime did have those things, I'd still have to contend with the platforming.

"No I don't claim people are being ""closed minded idiots"" (which I never wrote at all.) for not liking games that are set in first person. I judge a game based on content, the thief series, deus ex series,Metroid prime series. All great games. In first person.

Yet Moviebob makes a video saying the FPS genre is the most creative bankrupt in all of gaming and the cause of all the worst aspects in gaming today.

So who is being closed minded here?"

He was referring mainly to Halo, Call of Duty, and Xbox Live. I didn't interpret that as malice.

It's just that my main problem with the first person genre is the platforming. I'm sounding like a broken record, but to me, unless the game is a puzzler, strategy rpg, racing game, or shmup, being able to land on a platform when jumping is very important. In first-person, however, to me, it's a leap of faith. You don't know if you're going to make the platform, because you don't see your feet touch the platform.

Aiddon said...

you're projecting your own opinions onto others' again. Yes, despite your own grievances with the platforming the Prime games are still widely considered some of the best of the series.

RocMegamanX said...

@shadowhikari

But I'm worried about getting frustrated by that type of practice.

Why can't I play games to have fun? Even if I get past the platforming problem, a majority of the FPS games are still kinda "grim and gritty" like Deus Ex, for example. I don't exactly like "grim and gritty" games.

First person games just kinda confuse me.

I'm not trying to punch you in the jaw or anything. I just didn't understand why people liked first-person shooters...OTHER than that some people consider them fun.

I feel like I'm alone in not liking first-person shooters as much as the next guy. I also feel like I'm alone in liking Bob's videos. That also frustrates me.

@aiddon

I know, but the problem is: I just didn't get the "Prime" series. I wanted to get into it, but I just got very frustrated.

I feel like I want to pull my hair out, because all this controversy surrounding Bob and surrounding this series is making me tear out my hair.

I didn't think people took video game franchises THIS seriously.

Nick said...

@RocMegamanX

"I didn't think people took video game franchises THIS seriously."

In light of your username, here's a good litmus test for how much you know of such matters: Do you know the name "Zan Sidera?"

If not, then you have MUCH to learn, young grasshopper. ;D

Spongey Blob said...

@ RocMegamanX

"But here's the thing. It's just ONE game in a series. ONE game. Are you really gonna let ONE game make you this upset, when all the other games in the series had been getting high praises?"

In a single word, yes. Yes I am. It is ONE game; it's a very bad, poorly-made, lazy, stupid, foul, offensive, trite ONE game. It is ONE game that suggests to set the pattern for the next Metroid games. It is ONE game that was called a 'series-killer' not long after its release. It is ONE game that insults my intelligence and completely ruins one of my childhood icons. So, yes, I am going to let this game upset me so much.

As for FPS's, while not to change the topic, allow me to chip in with my own thoughts. Yes, there are plenty of things about modern FPS's that grind my gears, and they ARE stagnanting in the market. Because apparently there has never been a point in gaming history were there has been a stagnation of a particular genre...

... other than points-based arcade ports in the Atari and British home-brew era, side-scrolling platformers in the NES era and 3D platformers inbetween the release of the PS1 and the modern console generation. Quick question; for all everyone says about how good gaming in the 80's was, why is it that some of the most infamously bad games are from this era? Why are there so many broken, dodgy knockoffs? Why is it that no one can genuinely name ten good games from that era, and I can name ten good games that came out this year? Just a thought; FPS's are stagnant, yes, but gaming's survived worse states of stagnation. In fact, considering the wide variety of gaming platforms, and even differing industries within the industry itself, FPS's take up a very small fraction of the games that are made; covered by the media less so, seeing as they're the ones with huge budgets, but still.

Jannie said...

@RocManX

Well, I like FPS games for the most part. I never really understood why people consider them "grim and gritty", but then I never got the "EVERYTHING IS GRAY!" stuff either.

No offense, but how bright and happy do people expect ANY conflict to be? That's kind of what always made Mario silly to me when I was a girl because it was this bright, pastel world where everything smiles and sings...while a horrible civil war is raging? Huh?

I guess I just always wanted Battletoads to take off is what I'm saying, THAT was a more logical extension of many platformer concepts I think: the aesthetic was almost ind of a parody of mascot games, where the cute animal characters are all huge hulking warriors who brutally kill each other. When they stomp on the rat peoples' heads, they drive them into the ground, and in one version of the game they could even violently kill them, and when I was a kid I looked at that and went "That's why a violent insurgency looks like."

Because at the end of the day no matter how bright and happy and pastel they make it, the Mario games are asking you to fight a violent uprising where a dragon has kidnapped the princess of your country and intends to sexually assault her ("make her his wife" or whatever euphemism you want to use), and oh by the way, you win this war by crushing yoru enemies beneath your own body weight or beating them to death with hammers or burning them alive.

The combination of cutesy mascots and what was obviously violent war just always made me wonder "What the fuck" and I thought Battletoads was almost iconoclastic in how it kind of out and out said "No, this shit is horrible, it's bloody and violent and horrible".

I'm not really going to go into how FPS games are "stagnant" or not but I will say this: anyone who claims that FPS games are stagnant with the wild variety of them available from futuristic sci-fi (Deus Ex, Halo, now Syndicate) to modern warfare games (Bad Company, MW2) to RPG-styled games (Borderlands, also DX, Rage), needs to examine how many old mascot platformers were just some variation of "cute animal kills people with his feet".

There is a REASON Sonic was considered "rebellious" at one time. In fact his cartoon, the SatAM version, and the Archie comics were perhaps the only one to explore in ANY capacity how horrible and violent a worldwide civil war between cyborg monsters and cute animal-people would actually BE. Spoiler warning: PTSD, war orphans and broken families all around.

Spongey Blob said...

If I may quickly address something that Sylocat said way back; when I said that I thought the problems in Other M were easy to fix, I prefixed it with the qualifier "This might be hindsight talking but..." and Sylocat said it was (with a link to a completely unrelated article on Cracked, no less). In fact, he/she and several others have defended the game by saying that the problems would be incredibly difficult to solve, and that if it was anyone else they would've made the exact same mistakes.

Ok. I'll play. Anyone here want to play a game? It's called 'Sitting in the corner at the brainstorming session for Metroid Other M' and here are the rules; it's 2008, and everyone's completely out of ideas. Even Sakamoto hasn't a clue what to do. They all turn to you, and you say...

Well, for one, I personally think that'd you'd either need a full-on lobotomy or an intense fear of money and success to go "well, that Samus Aran chick, the one who's defining trait was her individuality and strength; let's make her weak and super-dependant on some dude in a sailor's costume that'd get laughed out of a My Little Pony Halloween special who physically can not stop scowling. And that dark, grimy horror-esque atmosphere and exploration theme, who cares about that, let's make it a railroad that's about as dark as a vanilla ice cream in a spotlight."

Not hard to see the problems coming. They could've, I don't know, do product research, or audience research to find out what people thought Samus Aran was like or wanted from her, you know, like every video game company that gives a damn does. No. I don't call that a historian's fallacy on my part, I call that laziness on Nintendo's part, but I'm asking for your opinions. Forget Other M ever happened; in that brainstorming session, what would you say?

RocMegamanX said...

@Nick

I looked up his name, but I don't go to the MM Network, so I don't know him. And I have the username because it just stuck with me for as long as I can remember. Maybe since I played Megaman 8, Megaman X4, and Megaman Legends as a kid. That's why I was so enamored with it. I just couldn't think of another one to represent me. That doesn't mean that I'd do stuff like self-insert fanfiction, or anything of that.

@Spongey Blob

Like I said though, I hadn't played Metroid as a kid before Fusion, so I can't really get outraged at this. I still think you're kinda acting a bit too rash on this, but it's whatever. Let's please stop this.

@Jannie
So you want video games to reflect reality? Aren't video games supposed to be escapism FROM reality?

And WTF? I had to draw the line at you essentially calling Mario a selfish, cold-blooded killer and a rapist. I suppose you think that "Super Princess Peach" is sexist, misogynistic, and actually sets the Feminist movement back a hundred years. It's a VIDEO GAME at the end of the day.

And Mario is MEANT to be silly. You're talking about a world in which plants come out of pipes, sentient mushrooms, and giant fire-breathing turtles.

Why do video games have to be darker than they need to be? Do I really need to see someone cope with something like rape or abusive parents or significant others in a video game?

We already deal with stuff like death, orphans, and war in series like Final Fantasy. Do we really need that stuff to seep into youth-oriented games like Mario or Sonic? Also, games like this made you go "WTF"...AS A KID? Really?! What kind of kid thinks this deeply about video games meant for a kid-friendly franchise?!

Sidenote: Other people on the Internet have stated that Peach actually has a fetish for getting kidnapped and rescued. Either that, or Bowser and Peach are trying to screw around with Mario.

Anyway, guys, fine, I don't "get" First Person shooters or their appeal. I suck at them. There, are you happy? I admit it. I'm downright scared of those games. If these games didn't rely on platforming as much, I might have been fine with this stuff and I might actually play the Portal series.

To me, as long as I can see the character in a video game in relation to his or her environment, that's fine. I can make an exception for light-gun games, as they don't rely as much on platforming.

It's just that, now, I'm "uncool" because I don't play first-person shooters or the "grim and gritty" like most everyone else does.

I just want to end this argument now. Debates like this are emotionally exhausting for me. I don't want to keep thinking about this anymore. I don't care if you hate or like Other M anymore. I just give up.

Jannie said...

Jesus RocMan lighten up. Don't be so upset about it, it's fine to not like FPS games and if you suck at it ok, I suck at RTS games (despite the fact I love StarCraft for some reason).

I think you're kind of blaming the way the game is designed for that though, especially since most FPS games don't even require you to JUMP let alone jump with precision (save for maybe Half-Life).

I didn't call Mario a selfish rapist, I called Bowser that and, frankly, I stand by that. Bowser is a ten foot dragon who regularly kidnaps and attempts to force himself upon a teenaged girl because he wishes to rule over her kingdom...yeah, so, not a nice guy.

And that's really why I always never got into mascot games and Mario. As a kid, I looked at this situation and it never quite made sense to me. No video game reflects reality, AT ALL, and I said that before: it's why you can get shot with a 20mm Vulcan in MW2 and not instantly die even though in real life you would become a cloud of red mist. Unlike Bob I recognize that modern games, and especially FPS games believe it or not, depend HEAVILY on abstraction to function from everything from the health system to how EVERY enemy just HAPPENS to have a full cache of magazines on him so when you walk over his corpse somehow you "reload". And that's fine.

But when a game is all smiles and happiness and pastel colors and the clouds are singing and dancing and then it asks me to beat a monster to death with a hammer or stomp on another monster to death, it becomes farcical to me. As a kid I was a huge history buff and loved military tech, so I knew a lot about war and conflict even then, so I would immediately and subconsciously dissect stuff like Mario and it became rather ghoulish by default to me because...yeah basically Mario is a mercenary working for Princess Peach who stomps people to death trying to save the teenaged monarch of an alien world from a giant, power-hungry dragon and his army of lizard men. And no matter how cute and cuddly and brightly colored it is, that's EXACTLY what Mario is about.

But that's never how Mario ever played or looked, and that disconnect always seemed laughable to me as a kid and more so as an adult. And again, THAT was what made Sonic stand out so much--between the faster, more flippant character and the comics and tv show portraying a much darker and more hopeless war (in the comics I believe even Sonic admits this war against Robotnik is unwinable at one point) it struck me as a more LOGICAL if not realistic game. And that's why I was always a Sonic fan because he acted and looked like what a mercenary guerrilla fighter would be (if they were a cute hedgehog) and especially in the comics you get a real sense of how hopeless and grim their situation is.

Take for example Bunnie Rabbot, kind of a spokes person for "Sonic is Srs Biznis!" She's a teenaged war orphan who was mutilated and turned into a half-machine monster by the enemy, and now suffers from body image issues due to her inhuman (inanimal?) appearance.

Well anyway, that's just my two cents, I don't begrudge anyone who doesn't like FPS games I just get tired of the way Bob (and other retrogamers) tend to overlook their contribution to gaming and how they portray them as some kind of "fad" or only "stupid people" like them.

Jannie said...

And if I were in that brainstorming session, Spongey Blob, I'd probably just say what I've been saying since Other M came out.

The upgrade system is fine, no need to change it. IF we MUST change it, I would suggest the rationale that they confiscated Samu's weapons but the Pirate attack caused them to be scattered across the ship so she must go and find them. Also I would downplay Adam's control considerably as Samus is a mercenary and no longer under his command, plus they seem to have been an item once but broke up rather acrimoniously so at the very least she should be somewhat angry and less likely to just do what he says.

If we must make some change to Samus' personality, maybe explore how she feels as a half-human and half-alien. Maybe she faces prejudice because of her alien DNA, something rare and creepy to the Federation civilians. So she always travels alone, locked in her suit, the only place she really feels home since its her one real reminder of the Chozo. Maybe that's why she and Adam split apart over the years, like at first it seems like because he was a tool but maybe he did try to make it work and she couldn't let go of her need for revenge or her feeling of alienness.

It frankly wouldn't be that out of place with the previous games. She'd still be an independent and strong-willed person, but have serious flaws too and maybe even ones that shoot her in the foot with regard to interpersonal relationships, explaining why she chooses to be a loner and mercenary.

This all requires the smallest possible deviation from previous Metroid games, and combined with perhaps an open world environment of sorts would allow the player to explore and travel around in the ship much more than the rigidly constrained game we got.

Nick said...

@Jannie
"Mario games are asking you to fight a violent uprising where a dragon has kidnapped the princess of your country and intends to sexually assault her ("make her his wife" or whatever euphemism you want to use)"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9iNs5iG2h34

The part which directly addresses that arguement begins around 4:50. Note that in the segment immediately preceeding that, he admits that yes, video games in general are somewhat dated in their portrayal of women.

For those who don't want to watch, the short version is: Yes, Bowser kidnaps Peach, but he doesn't want to rape her.

And no, "Japan is odd" is NOT the same thing as "Japan is misogynist," kthxbi.

@RocMegamanX:
"I looked up his name, but I don't go to the MM Network, so I don't know him. And I have the username because it just stuck with me for as long as I can remember. Maybe since I played Megaman 8, Megaman X4, and Megaman Legends as a kid. That's why I was so enamored with it. I just couldn't think of another one to represent me. That doesn't mean that I'd do stuff like self-insert fanfiction, or anything of that."

While the fellow does do fanfiction times (although not of the self insert variety as far as I'm aware), that isn't what I was referring to. I was referring to theory discussion; the extent to which Mega Man gets analyzed to death.

RocMegamanX said...

@Jannie

Oh, shoot!! I misread your comment. I'm sorry. I thought you were talking about Mario there, not Bowser.

Again, I apologize for making that error.

And I'm kinda on the same boat with RTS games as well. They look overly complicated, as do games like World of Warcraft from videos I've seen of it.

I just feel like an outsider or worse, "the bad guy" at times whenever it's popular to attack someone or something that I like or if they might be over-exaggerating about something that might not been that bad in the first place.

If you want to talk about insults to gaming franchises though, I DO consider Contra: Shattered Soldier in some ways as insulting as you find Other M, because:
1. They added a hitrate system. Now this would be fine if the system depended on whether you hit every hidden enemy, but they penalize you for losing a life or continue. So even if you get 100% of the enemies, if you lose ONE life, you're SOL.
2. The game depends on how you're graded on your performance. That's right: you get GRADED on your performance. On a Contra game. Actually, you shouldn't need a hitrate system. How much of the game you access/unlock should've just depended on difficulty:

Play a few levels on Easy.
Play more levels on Normal.
Play the full game and get the real ending on Hard.

3. It's a gray, brown, and gritty game where Bill Rizer had become a Snake Plissken clone(criminal, former war hero, forced into saving the world by a totalitarian government). Only difference being that Bill Rizer isn't a complete and utter heartless jerk compared to Plissken. Yes, I used one of Bob's points. That had stuck with me all the way from episode 1.

I feel Contra 1, Super C, Contra 3, Contra: Hard Corps, and Contra 4 are better than Contra: Shattered Soldier.

They may also be militaristic action, but at least it's the over-the-top, macho, Rambo-style, guns blazing, type of "militaristic", which, IMO, evokes more of a "fun action movie" appeal.

Also, I hate having to restart this stupid comment form whenever there's a broken image in place of the Captcha code.

Hopefully, we're cool though.

Sylocat said...

In fact, he/she and several others have defended the game by saying that the problems would be incredibly difficult to solve, and that if it was anyone else they would've made the exact same mistakes.

Ok. I'll play. Anyone here want to play a game? It's called 'Sitting in the corner at the brainstorming session for Metroid Other M' and here are the rules; it's 2008, and everyone's completely out of ideas. Even Sakamoto hasn't a clue what to do. They all turn to you, and you say...


And once again, you are mischaracterizing and strawmanning my point.

There was probably never a point, anytime during production, when "everyone was completely out of ideas," and there was no one person sitting in the corner that "everyone turned to."

Spongey Blob said...

@ Sylocat

And you've completely missed the point of the actual question; the brainstorm at a table was more of a framing device and metaphor. My actual question is, even without hindsight, would you have honestly thought that the decisions that they made and the things they did were the right thing to do, and didn't have any problems? I highly doubt that you would; I don't think you need hindsight to tell that the problems were coming; Nick brought up the point that if somebody did notice something was going wrong, they'd probably either be ignored or simply not bother themselves. Other M had a very lazy (and I'd also argue closer to weary and fed-up) dev team that didn't consider pretty much any of the implications of their own design choices and writing. I certainly think it takes a special kind of arrogant idiocy to make that big of a blunder, but I'm asking other people what they think.

Nick said...

@Spongey Blob:
Anyone here want to play a game? It's called 'Sitting in the corner at the brainstorming session for Metroid Other M' and here are the rules; it's 2008, and everyone's completely out of ideas. Even Sakamoto hasn't a clue what to do. They all turn to you, and you say...

Well, for one, I personally think that'd you'd either need a full-on lobotomy or an intense fear of money and success to go "well, that Samus Aran chick, the one who's defining trait was her individuality and strength; let's make her weak and super-dependant on some dude in a sailor's costume that'd get laughed out of a My Little Pony Halloween special who physically can not stop scowling."


I really, really want to respond to this, but I also really, really don't have time. Hopefully I'll be able to say what I want to later or in the next couple of days.

In the meantime, I'll say this. The arguement I'm currently sitting on has to do with Samus' characterization, rather than Adam's; what it ultimately comes down to is that the "changes" Sakamoto made to Samus could have been okay if they had been executed better, and if Adam had been... well, somebody else.

If that sounds outrageous to you, please just wait until I actually have time to spell out said arguement (it'll be rather long and I want to do it justice). For now, consider how Samus' portrayal in Other M would have come across differently, indirectly, if Adam's portrayal had been directly changed. If Adam hadn't been cold and emotionless and, as you say, a perpetual scowler; but had instead been portrayed, sucessfully to the players, as the father figure that Samus sees him as.

I point this out for two reasons, both relating to the tentative theory that Adam was meant to be portrayed the way Samus sees him.

First, genrally, I think it matters that part of the problem with Samus' portrayal is the result of a failure to accurately portray another character. Not that it's an "excuse," but it still matters and is worth noting.

Second, while I still don't buy the "Japan hates women" argument, at this moment in time I'm willing to entertain the notion that Adam's portrayal - not in terms of his actions, but in terms of his demeanor and the way he speaks to Samus - may in fact be the result of differences between Japanese and Western culture. To quote the Elephant In The Room article, Sakamoto thinks this is what caring looks like.

I'm not sure I want to go on record as saying I think this is the case, but again at the moment I'm willing to entertain the notion. So chew on that, guys.

Nick said...

Sorry, an additon to that...

When I say "the way Samus sees Adam," I mean both the way she talks about him in Other M, and, perhaps more importantly, the way she talks about him in Metroid Fusion.

I haven't played through all of Fusion, but I'm under the impression that there's a large difference between the Adam that fans were led to expect based on Fusion, and the Adam they actually saw in Other M.

jackspicer88 said...

This is where I differ from other gamers. I just grew up with a different perspective with the metroid series. (This doesn't make me right or wrong, it's just my opinion. I really shouldn't have to say this repeatedly, but since this is the internet as Moviebob said, I have to. Unfortunately.)

I actually started late to the metroid franchise. My first game was Prime and slowly worked through the rest of Retro Studio games. Don't get me wrong. They are great games. They should have been incredibly immersive due to the games playing through the eyes of the famed bounty hunter herself. The environments, enemies, music, the first person perspective should have reeled me in completely, but there was one factor that ultimately broke the metaphorical fishing line pulling me in. And that was, Who exactly is Samus Aran? And I spent the entire time asking this question to myself why playing through Primes 1-3. And all I got was a visual "you are a bounty hunter. Now shut up and start killing." That paradoxically pull me out completely. I like connecting with my characters. And if next to no information about the character is given, I tend to not care about the character at all.
I virtually had no opinion of who Samus was at the time.

So I tried an experiment. I bought and played through the trilogy disk for the wii and imagined if I replaced Samus with a toaster with a gun attached to see if *my* perception of her would change at all. Humorously, yet sadly, it didn't.

So I played through the rest of the games, pondering who Samus is as a character. The Return of Samus and Super Metroid gave mere flickers of what Samus was, but it was not not enough for me to go on. Fusion was the first to really break this pattern for me. It gave me some insight on who she is, but it was still fairly limited.

Other M was the second game to break this pattern completely. I was finally able to see how Samus thinks as a character. She was finally, in my eyes, able to transcend past the other video game characters I have played in the past. I was finally able to connect with Samus. Another example? The little scene where Dom shares one last moment with his wife in Gears of War 2 was something I really liked because I was able to connect and empathize with Dom, but that one little scene was just choked out by the rest of the game going "GRRRR KILL THEM GRUBS ROAR BLOOD FUCK!". Mind you, I did wish that Sakamoto had someone looking over his shoulder to help move the story along a more smoothly , but *I* didn't mind it as much and had a lot more fun playing Samus now then I ever did playing through the prime games.

I think it just boils down to what *I* wanted from the franchise in particular. To me, the games, save for fusion and Other M were "a story WITH a character named Samus" while Other M and Fusion had "a story ABOUT a character named Samus." The latter is what I wanted out of the series. Personally, I'm not really impressed with characters that ONLY muscle and physically blast through obstacles because I've seen it a hundred times and it gets boring really fast. I'd prefer seeing a character that is able to confront and overcome challenges both inside and outside themselves. I'm not impressed by physical accomplishments, trophies, victories, the number of scars the character has received. I am however impressed by a character's humanity. That is the thing I want to relate to.

Wow, that was a mouthful. Mind you this is just how I in particular looked at the metroid series up until now.

Spongey Blob said...

@ jackspicer88

In some ways I can see where you are coming from and in others ways I don't. I personally think that the silent Samus of Super Metroid and even earlier had plenty of personality, but she had nothing to project her personality onto other than game enemies, which generally got blown up; to gamers with less experience with the series such as yourself, it's an (in my opinion) incorrect but not unreasonable assumption to make that Samus Aran is simply a particularly murderous and energetic brick wall. Where I don't get you is when you say that Other M's Samus is any deeper than a blank slate.

The Samus Aran of Other M is as flat and boring a character as can be, and solely because her only character trait is self-doubt. She's confronted by her old officers with whom she had guilt of failed missions with, her only reaction is to doubt herself. She is forced to contemplate her own past, her failings as well as her successes, and see just how far she's come or fallen back, she can only doubt herself. She is attacked by the murderer of her family, her adoptive family, her oldest nemesis Ridley, her reaction is to doubt herself. I honest to god do not understand people who defend Samus' character in Other M by saying that the older Samus was one-dimensional; not only is that a gross misrepresentation of the Samus of earlier games, but the Samus of Other M is no more three-dimensional than a rag on a stick; she has one reaction to any given situation, one personality trait, one dimension to her character. In earlier games, she had many more facets to her character, but even if you couldn't see them, I honestly doubt 'sentient brick wall' is any less deep and interesting than 'sentient self-doubting doormat'

The idea that she has no personality is a lie; the first three Metroid games are the best example, though you can look to the monologues in the Gameboy games and her body language in the Prime trilogy for more recent examples.

The reason that Samus endured the N64 gap was that she was, compared to other character of the time, such a strong character, full of humanity and emotion. How? The game developers, lacking any way of telling the players what she was like, actually used the gamer's input as part of her character.

The gamer is alone in the journey and must become used to this solitude, and so must Samus. The game's atmosphere and style can very easily make the player feel lost and scared, but they eventually conquer these anxieties through perseverance and bravery, so Samus too is relentless and brave. We have to stop to consider our route through Zebes, and we search like bloodhounds for items, making Samus smart and methodical. We spare the infant metroid at the end of Metroid 2 because it helps us win, and thus Samus is not ruthless but, in fact, has a human heart. And she even has strong morals and ideals in her character; she holds her own duties and responsibilties highly and personally. In the beginning of Super Metroid, no one asks her to go back to Zebes. She isn't getting paid for it, and she could've let anyone else save the infant metroid, but instead she leapt at the chance to save it herself because she felt that it was her responsibility.

CONTINUED BELOW

Spongey Blob said...

And, on a slightly more personal note, the reason that the ending of Super Metroid is considered by many to be one of the strongest emotional experiences in gaming is that we care about the infant metroid; it was our goal, and to see it destroyed both saddened and angered us, and thus Samus is hugely protective and considers her own responsibility highly, and she continues to assault Mother Brain despite the fact that she's already lost once. It's not a smart thing to do, so why does she try again? Because the player's renewed attack on Mother Brain gives Samus an air of reckless desire for revenge. She has weaknesses as well as strengths because we have weaknesses as well as strengths. She's a three-dimensional human being, because we the player make her one.

It's why Link is so brave and James Sunderland a weak coward, and why RPG characters change personality even in the same game; because the players make the character as much as the developers do, and the team of the original Metroid games knew how to steer us into thinking of Samus as how we do. It's practically game-story telling rule number 1. It's why people have a hissy fit when something they can't do in the game isn't done in cutscene or vice versa. The games used player input as part of Samus's character, and the game creators, for lack of a better word, manipulated our quote-unquote 'projections' to make Samus the character they wanted to portray. Samus didn't really have anyone to speak to, so this was the way they gave her character and a personality.

The Samus of Other M showed none of these qualities. It would've been just as annoying to people who disliked Other M if Samus was a violent bitchy ice queen, or a comedic slapstick character, or a friendly and shy demure woman, because that isn't what she is. She's methodical, brave and wrathful, refusing to give up in the face of impossible odds, and with a great rage as her greatest flaw. This is why, at least as I see it, why people hated Samus so much in Other M. It wasn't the Samus we had been steered to making. It wasn't the Samus we knew and loved. It wasn't OUR Samus Aran.

Spongey Blob said...

@ Nick

I should wait until you post a larger answer as you said you would, but I couldn't pass up the chance to play devil's advocate and really shock people; as a character, Adam Malcovich was NOT at all a problem with Other M in any way, shape or form. With a few exceptionally poorly written scenes (the scene in which he shoots Samus in the back of the head, to clarify, is BULL-FUCKING-SHIT) Adam is close enough to every typical hardened general in Hollywood; nothing more, nothing less. He was, in the end, compassionate enough to tell right and wrong, but he was stern and strict, making sure his soldiers followed orders to the letter, and he's willing to make tough decisions. Samus in Metroid Fusion says that she 'respected', not loved, RESPECTED him, and I can see why; she might not even like him that much, but she understands that he's a competent commander and ally.

No, it's all Samus herself for me.

As you say, Nick, it's Samus' portrayal of Adam as some perfect diamond-eyed magic man from Mars who farts love and hears rainbows. She idolises rather than honestly respects him, and we see no reason as to why she respects the guy. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that if Nintendo changed Samus's lines AND ONLY SAMUS'S LINES we'd all have nothing but praise for Other M's story;

I would personally suggest that she instead becomes completely and utterly reckless during missions. Fuelled by rage and colossal hatred, she would be too dangerous for the Galactic Federation to have as a bounty hunter but too precious to throw away. The bottle ship mission? A test to Samus to prove that she is still worth having. If asked about the infant metroid, instead of harping on and on she simply avoids the topic and pretends that she doesn't care, even though it's clear that she does, and the game ends with Adam teaching her to learn to accept her mistakes rather than ignore them, to admit that, yes, she had a soft spot for the infant metroid, and learn that to simply mope and whine about the death is to let it be in vain, and she should instead make sure that the infant metroid's sacrifice is ho noured. The game would end with Samus returning to form triumphantly and earning the respect of her peers. BAM; three problems solved in one:

1) It justifies the authorisation without a change of dialogue. No one wants loose cannon Samus running around firing missiles everywhere, so she must earn the trust to keep those items. You could even incorperate that into gameplay; the more pointless kills and ignorance of orders the players make, the less likely they are to get new weapons.

2) It gives Adam reason for being there other than tying the game to that fucking awful backstory. Seriously, THAT was the root of the problems even if it wasn't the biggest of the lot; the dev and writing teams were unfocused on whether to write Samus's backstory or about where Samus was now, and the whole plot became a mess as a result.

3) IT'S STILL IN CHARACTER FOR SAMUS! It builds on what we already had, rather than slapping random character traits together and calling that Samus. Hell, it'd be consitent with Other M's more action-focused gameplay over previous more methodical games, with Samus basically killing more than she ever has done in any other Metroid game in a hyper-violent rage.

Giving Samus weaknesses and flaws is no problem to Other M; it was the weaknesses and flaws themselves that they gave that was the problem, because they were completely out of character.

Spongey Blob said...

If I may make a slightly more offensive and probably easier to disprove hypothesis that I've already made in the 'Once More Unto the Breach' post, note that exactly 91.27% of people (yeah, exact figure right there) who defend Other M are NINTENDO fans but not METROID fans. Let's say Metroid Other M was just called plain old 'Other M' and was about 'Asmus', a female warrior with huge daddy issues with her superior-but-not-really 'Dama', who tries to stop the evil 'void bucaneers' and the murderer of her parents 'Dirley', and was available exclusively on the Xbox 360. Would MovieBob's video 'Heavens to Asmus' really be as positive, or indeed anyone's opinion? I doubt it; he would've called it a poorly made globule of bile, and no one would doubt that fact. Again, this is my own opinion, but tell if I'm wrong; simply the name Nintendo is giving Other M a free ride, and that is no good thing - true or false?

Nick said...

@Spongey Blob
"If I may make a slightly more offensive and probably easier to disprove hypothesis that I've already made in the 'Once More Unto the Breach' post, note that exactly 91.27% of people (yeah, exact figure right there) who defend Other M are NINTENDO fans but not METROID fans. Let's say Metroid Other M was just called plain old 'Other M' and was about 'Asmus', a female warrior with huge daddy issues with her superior-but-not-really 'Dama', who tries to stop the evil 'void bucaneers' and the murderer of her parents 'Dirley', and was available exclusively on the Xbox 360. Would MovieBob's video 'Heavens to Asmus' really be as positive, or indeed anyone's opinion? I doubt it; he would've called it a poorly made globule of bile, and no one would doubt that fact."

Bob would probably have said that the dialogue, the voice acting, the execution of the authorization mechanic, and stuff like "Baby's Cry" and "Bottle Ship" were abysmal. None of which has ever been in dispute; by Bob, or by anyone else that I'm aware of. Bob and others would have said "Asmus" was a poorly constructed and [seemingly] dated female character. But nobody would really care, and The Internet would not be throwing the fit it is; since what people are actually up in arms about is the fact that this character profile is being applied to the existing character of Samus.

Furthermore, I'd like to make it clear that I, for one, have no (well okay, very little) interest in defending Nintendo for the sake of defending Nintendo; and my defense, such as it is, of Other M has nothing whatsoever to do with it being a Nintendo game.

Nick said...

Still @Spongey Blob
" She idolises rather than honestly respects him, and we see no reason as to why she respects the guy."
That's just it; what if we could see reason why she respects him? Bad dialogue and voice acting aside, what if Adam were deserving of Samus' idolization of him, and her view of him as a surrogate father figure? That's what I was getting at.

Nick said...

I'm going to give you the "header," as it were, to the "long argument" I referred to before. I suspect you'll still disagree with my basic point; but your last post directed at me makes me think you might be slightly more open to the idea than I first assumed, and we might be able to do without my "proving it" with the long part.

First, a couple of things I need to get out of the way.

One, I haven't actually played Other M. I don't think this "invalidates" anything I've said so far; up till now I've mostly talked about the authorization mechanic, which is easy enough to understand (and yes, I'm aware, albeit in the abstract, of what happens in the "fire level"), and the "Ridley freak out" scene, which I have watched (the entire cutscene, not just the bit Bob showed). But, while I've seen other cutscenes and segments of the game as well, I haven't seen every scene, so it's possible I'm missing or falsely assuming some things about the way Samus is portrayed. I've read the entire Elephant In The Room article though, so I think I get the gist.

Also, while I agree that Samus has had some degree of characterization in previous games, I think there's a difference between drawing conclusions based on what we saw (subtle though it may have been), versus drawing conclusions based on what we didn't see. For example, as I said before, just because Samus was never shown reacting in any way to Ridley before, doesn't mean she was characterized as being so stoic as to be completely indifferent towards him; her lack of explicit reaction can be attributed to the games simply not having that kind of story detail. Likewise, although Samus has previously been shown acting alone (from which we can conclude that usually she prefers to operate that way), just because we've never before seen that she's capable of being emotionally dependent on someone doesn't mean she isn't.

(cont'd)

Nick said...

(cont'd)

Okay. Now then:

Well, for one, I personally think that'd you'd either need a full-on lobotomy or an intense fear of money and success to go "well, that Samus Aran chick, the one who's defining trait was her individuality and strength; let's make her weak and super-dependant on some dude in a sailor's costume that'd get laughed out of a My Little Pony Halloween special who physically can not stop scowling. And that dark, grimy horror-esque atmosphere and exploration theme, who cares about that, let's make it a railroad that's about as dark as a vanilla ice cream in a spotlight."

I have two objections to this. My first and possibly redundant point is, to quote David Spade, "Well yeah, anything sounds bad when you say it with that attitude." :P

Seriously though. You're starting from the premise that what they did with Samus was a bad idea, and having that colour your depiction of how it began, making the pitch sound stupid. That's circular logic. Of course no one thought it'd be a good idea to have Adam "in a sailor's costume that'd get laughed out of a My Little Pony Halloween special." It probably sounded something more like this:

"Let's have Samus show weakness and doubt; emotional dependence on one male character with whom she has a special relationship and sees as the father she never had; a desire to lend her strength to that man's beliefs and goals; maternal instincts regarding the infant Metroid; regret and a desire to fill the void regarding the same; and a willingness to work alongside a group of men who have been her comrades in the past."

These elements were, of course, executed badly. What's more, bad dialogue and voice acting would still be bad dialogue and voice acting, regardless of whether or not we agree with the principles in play or with the implications of their execution. (In other words, even IF we thought that the so-called sexism were a good thing, "Baby's Cry Distress Signal" is still stupid, and still makes the character talking about it look stupid.)

Now, you may, and probably will, say that those character traits I outlined above are still inconsistent and incompatible with her existing characterization as a take-no-prisoners badass who previously acted alone. Which brings me to my second point:

No. No, they aren't.

I was planning on backing up that statement with an extensive comparison (or at least description; I was hoping the parallels would be apparent) with another female fictional character. For now I'll leave that out as I still don't have a lot of time on my hands. I'll use a shorter example though, one which hits some of the marks but not all of them: Zero, from Mega Man.

Zero almost always has someone in Mission Control telling him where to go and what to do. He seldom states his own personal views on anything, instead routinely explicitly fighting for the beliefs and goals of others; most notably X and Ciel, essentially becoming a blunt instrument for the latter. And yet, he's totally a badass, and never looks like anything else.

Well, except for that one time, in X4.

Or should I say, X FOOOOUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRR!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IPIPLM8ELY

Now, while that scene is obviously terribly acted and full of narm (of the so-bad-it's-good variety, mind you), on principle I for one have absolutely NO problem with that being the one time that Zero loses his composure and gets emotional. He's never been in love before. Or since.

That doesn't hold up nearly so well as the longer example but it sort of shows what I'm getting at.

Thoughts?

Spongey Blob said...

@ Nick

To be fair, the majority of the problems with Samus's character in Other M are in the story segments and the cutscenes. If, as you say, you've seen the majority of them, then I don't think you're invalidated to talk about Samus's character, though I think you might miss on another problem with Samus's character, or at least the writing; Other M's story is inconsistent with the gameplay. Samus is portrayed as being so weak, so dependent, wide-eyedly looking around for someone to tell her what to do... then the cutscene ends and she's right back to murdering shit left right and centre with ne'er a care in the world, then she gets to the next cutscene and it's right back to Bella Swan mode as if it's a on-off switch. If you're going to go the weakness route, don't make the player strong as well. I've said it before and I'll say it again; the reason lots of people had a strong idea of what Samus was like before Other M is that gameplay and player input are just as important to the build-up of a character as anything else; if James Sunderland whipped out an uzi in Silent Hill 2, the game probably would've been laughed at rather than beloved like it is today.

"Let's have Samus show weakness and doubt; emotional dependence on one male character with whom she has a special relationship and sees as the father she never had; a desire to lend her strength to that man's beliefs and goals; maternal instincts regarding the infant Metroid; regret and a desire to fill the void regarding the same; and a willingness to work alongside a group of men who have been her comrades in the past."

In all honesty, I don't think that, in its entirity, that angle for Samus is in character. The difference between that idea and your example of Mega Man X4 is that it was a singular moment of weakness; if Samus had become so broken down by a particular event or a string of events in-game and felt that she needed Adam's guiding hand, that I'd understand. The problem is that, in Other M, that's all she is. She doesn't even have that much excuse; she explictly says in the beginning that it's been long enough since Super Metroid for most people to have forgotten the metroids and space pirates... no, seriously. She might still feel guilty about the infant metroid, but I doubt she'd dwell and dwell and dwell for that amount of time. Maybe if a villain brought it up again to taunt her and bombarded her with verbal abuse through comm-chatter or something until she finally broke down, maybe that'd work, but that self-doubt is all there is, which oddly enough is far more one-dimensional than the Samus who was in the earlier Metroid games, the Samus who was methodical, indepedent and strong, with a kind heart and a terrible rage. I've said it again and again; giving Samus weakness was a good idea, but in Other M, she was given the wrong weaknesses and even they were mishandled.

I put my own analysis of how I feel Samus should've acted somewhere in the comments above; I'll copy-paste it below so you don't have to go trapsing through for it.

"I think there's a difference between drawing conclusions based on what we saw (subtle though it may have been), versus drawing conclusions based on what we didn't see."

You have to remember that a lot of Samus's character, and indeed any game character in general, came from the player input itself, and in my opinion Super Metroid is a game that's up there with some of the best character-driven plots in gaming in terms of incorporating player actions into a character, and I'm not talking about stuff like moral choices or likewise in RPGs. While not quite on the same level as the aforementioned James Sunderland, the game makers used similar methods to make Samus Aran a distinct character, whether on a conscious effort or simply by accident.

CONTINUED BELOW

Spongey Blob said...

The gamer is alone in the journey and must become used to this solitude, and so must Samus. The game's atmosphere and style can very easily make the player feel lost and scared, but they eventually conquer these anxieties through perseverance and bravery, so Samus too is relentless and brave. We have to stop to consider our route through Zebes, and we search like bloodhounds for items, making Samus smart and methodical. We spare the infant metroid at the end of Metroid 2 because it helps us win, and thus Samus is not ruthless but, in fact, has a human heart. And she even has strong morals and ideals in her character; she holds her own duties and responsibilties highly and personally. In the beginning of Super Metroid, no one asks her to go back to Zebes. She isn't getting paid for it, and she could've let anyone else save the infant metroid, but instead she leapt at the chance to save it herself because she felt that it was her responsibility.

And, on a slightly more personal note, the reason that the ending of Super Metroid is considered by many to be one of the strongest emotional experiences in gaming is that we care about the infant metroid; it was our goal, and to see it destroyed both saddened and angered us, and thus Samus is hugely protective and considers her own responsibility highly, and she continues to assault Mother Brain despite the fact that she's already lost once. It's not a smart thing to do, so why does she try again? Because the player's renewed attack on Mother Brain gives Samus an air of reckless desire for revenge. She has weaknesses as well as strengths because we have weaknesses as well as strengths. She's a three-dimensional human being, because we the player make her one.

That, right there, is Samus Aran to me, and considering most people's opinions prior to Other M, and complaints since, I don't think I'm that far off the mark, save for minor details. That character can and should be weakened in moments of true anguish, but Other M has no real one moment where all hell breaks loose and Samus is finally worn down and broken like your Megaman X4 example; she starts out like that and never gets out that mindset, which is stupid even if that was her character earlier; it defies a classic character arc anyway.

Spongey Blob said...

CONTINUED FROM ABOVE

As for my thoughts on how Samus should've been, and the weaknesses she could have.

As for how the actual Samus would've acted in Other M had she been more consistent with the rest of the series, I would suggest that she instead becomes completely and utterly reckless during missions. Fuelled by rage and colossal hatred, she would be too dangerous for the Galactic Federation to have as a bounty hunter but too precious to throw away. The bottle ship mission? A test to Samus to prove that she is still worth having. If asked about the infant metroid, instead of harping on and on she simply avoids the topic and pretends that she doesn't care, even though it's clear that she does, and close to the end of the game you'd have that breakdown I mentioned, with it culminating in Adam teaching her to learn to accept her mistakes rather than ignore them, to admit that, yes, she had a soft spot for the infant metroid, and learn that to simply mope and whine about the death is to let it be in vain, and she should instead make sure that the infant metroid's sacrifice is ho noured. The game would end with Samus returning to form triumphantly and earning the respect of her peers. BAM; three problems solved in one:

1) It justifies the authorisation without a change of dialogue. No one wants loose cannon Samus running around firing missiles everywhere, so she must earn the trust to keep those items. You could even incorperate that into gameplay; the more pointless kills and ignorance of orders the players make, the less likely they are to get new weapons.

2) It gives Adam reason for being there other than tying the game to that fucking awful backstory. Seriously, THAT was the root of the problems even if it wasn't the biggest of the lot; the dev and writing teams didn't know whether to write Samus's backstory or about where Samus was now, and the whole plot became a mess as a result.

3) IT'S STILL IN CHARACTER FOR SAMUS! It builds on what we already had, rather than slapping random character traits together and calling that Samus. Hell, it'd be consitent with Other M's more action-focused gameplay over previous more methodical games, with Samus basically killing more than she ever has done in any other Metroid game in a hyper-violent rage. And it'd communicate the weaknesses that Samus can and has felt in a way she's never expressed with before.

That's my take, at the very least. It's very cliche anyway, but I certainly think it's better than Other M itself, and considering I made that up in five minutes and it took Sakamoto almost two years to mess this up, I think it illustrates that Sakamoto and all the other writers didn't even think about their own writing in the slightest, and at this point of laziness from Nintendo I wouldn't be surprised.

Anonymous said...

The problem with your "These games seem insane when they're brought into modern times and can't be abstracted as much" argument, Bob, is that Metroid Prime happened.

As much as you like to dismiss the Prime trilogy out of hand as HURR DURR FPS GARBAGE, the fact remains that they exist. They bring Metroid and all of its familiar mechanics into this newfangled, fully-fleshed 3D world of ours, and they have plots that are at least as complex as Other M attempted, though on a more subtle scale.

And they didn't have to turn Samus into a simpering submissive to do it.

Other M is not the way it is because Nintendo is incompetent and just "oopsied" all those unfortunately convenient "failures of execution" in there. It is the way it is because they wanted it to be that way. They already had a template for how to tell a Metroid story in the modern age to go from -- three different revisions of it, in fact. They deliberately chose to portray Samus the way they did.

WebDevHobo said...

Bob, you're really holding back here, either because you don't want to bother with the backlash, or you don't want to do the research.


See, using "Japanophobia" as this umbrella to gather all the haters of this game under, is intellectually dishonest.

While it is true that the majority of Japanese people are all for sexual equality, you can't use them as a shield for the mistakes of the game-makers and other people whom write these games and make decisions on them.

A lot of these fat cats at the top of the Japanese gaming industry are well known to consider gamers as either children or degenerates.

They hate adult gamers' guts, but they don't feel bad about making money off them. And a lot of decisions on how what characters should be like, come from them. Because they think they know what will sell and will only let exactly that pass.

Let's talk about story for a minute. You mention some games from the NES and SNES are real quick and mention how stories were made afterwards mostly. Why are you not mentioning the N64 and the Gamecube? They had loads of games that tried to have a story, and they all basically sucked.

Why are you leaving that out?



Western games are focusing on graphics and more recently also on story. Great example is the Mass Effect series. Those are good games.

If you haven't played them, do so. On the PC. *Not* on any console. On the PC. It's the best platform for it.

Seriously, the critique that you always mock and ridicule western games is a fair one, because you do. And saying "some of them are good", isn't enough to excuse yourself on that front. It's like you're actively going out of your way to having to call a Western game good. And it may be a subconscious thing.

Therefor, I recommend: go play the Mass Effect games, on PC. They're awesome. It'll be a good experience.

Smashmatt202 said...

This guy made a good retrospective video about Metroid: Other M and about Samus's character in the game:

http://blip.tv/what-the-egad/metroid-other-m-the-other-mouth-5690080

Also available in two parts on YouTube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EDZm4wPeu6A

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Iht_AoJe5_k

jackspicer88 said...

@Smashmatt202

I watched videos all the way through and to be quite honest, it is very VERY difficult for me to take this person seriously if his beginning video claims "OTHER M RUINS SAMUS AND THE ENTIRE FRANCHISE OF METROID!"

Seriously? That alone would have made me stop the video completely.

Spongey Blob said...

@ Smashmatt202

Oh god, that video reminded me of Ridley. I wish you hadn't put the link up now. How has it that everyone's been talking about Samus and we've completely forgot about him?

Besides the first game, Ridley has always been such a strong presence in the series because he haunts Samus so much; in Fusion, Samus sees an icy husk of him fall apart before her eyes. In Prime, we often catch a fleeting glimpse as he flies by, destroying our efforts out the corner of our eye. In Super Metroid and Zero Mission, his face is literally burnt into the scenery itself. Even without knowledge of Samus's backstory you know just how tied he is to Samus. He is literally her shadow, following her wherever she goes, never being rid of, never stopping.

And they turned him into a Furby.

No, really, look back at the footage, then look at this picture of Baby Ridley then look atthis picture. Or how about this one? You know what Other M's Ridley isn't? It isn't this!


Ridley was a MENACE! He was MENACING! He was a powerhouse, usually the hardest boss in the game. He was quick, strong and brutally efficient. His sub-ordinate space pirates were clearly elite amongst the pirates, and he clearly had a hefty understanding of bio-mechanics considering Meta-Ridley and Omega-Ridley, and he's a fast healer if you remember Super Metroid. He's also pretty smart; Metroid Prime could be equated to the Batman story Knightfall in that, rather than attacking you at once, Ridley simply stays in the shadows and sabotages your every move, wearing Samus down until she is weak enough to kill. Granted, it doesn't work, but you can see the higher thinking; it's even incorporated in the games that he does this; why is he always the second to last boss, and why is he always a million miles away from a recharge station or even a save-point? Because he's an intelligent beast. It makes the players fear him even if only because of difficulty. Ridley is MENACING!

The Ridley clone in Other M was a moronic beast, essentially stumbling about and attacking like the dumb animal it was; it wasn't even a good example of this kind of monster? It gets repeatedly handed to by not even Samus, but just some standard marines with no experience of him like Samus does. It doesn't even seem capable of higher functioning thinking. Geez, why was anyone even bothered by his presence? And lets not forget he had fur. White fluffy fur, the same colour as snow and ice cream and bunny rabbits. He looked silly, and the original Ridley could have that clone in a second. This is bullshit I'd expect from someone who has never heard of Metroid, not the director of Super Metroid.

@ jackspicer88

I think as to whether or not Other M ruined the Metroid series has to be answered in the future of the Metroid series itself; I think it actually could ruin the Metroid series, especially if Nintendo doesn't listen to the complaints about Other M. It might not, but I'm not a fortune teller.

Anonymous said...

I still think that the Metroid controversy was one of the most interesting ones because here gamers were putting up criticism over the portrayal of a female character rather than poo-pooing such criticism which is much more frequent (see the Arkham City discussion).

I really think that this doesn't have anything to do with Japanophobia, but instead showcases the unique status Samus has to players.

I argue that there is a big difference on whether you have an outside POV (oogling a character) or an inside POV (wanting to identify with them, being them). Samus is one of the few characters that apparently has earned the respect as a valid character from male players due to her truly interesting skill set and playing style and which makes her a character you want to be rather than a character you just like looking at. However if you identify with a character then that character being made helpless will upset you. But if you play a character just to oogle her then that character being helpless or badly portrayed won't bother you or affet you personally, in fact, it might even increase the oogle factor.

It's possible that Japanophobia might have increased reactions, but I still think that if it had been an American studio... or a male hero being placed in a position or relationship like that, the feeling of unease would have been there as well.

In such a wonder if whether you like Catwoman and see her as a comic heroine who is admired for her character traits might affect whether her being insulted might bother you more than if you just know her as a forgettable piece of eyecandy you can drive around and oogle for a few missions.

RocMegamanX said...

@Anonymous

Now, I could just be nitpicking, but how is Catwoman a comic HEROINE? If anything, she's a female comic villain. She IS a thief after all.

The only thing I heard that she did that was remotely considered "good" was kill off the criminal known as Black Mask, but that's about it.

imsmart said...

You're totally wrong again, as usual, but it doesn't matter. The issue has been decisively confused once again, something for which yet another franchise will pay its very life, and exist forever after as an IP to repeatedly relive its indignity, to be re-imagined and re-booted and re-hashed after each fresh drag through the proverbial mud. God damn you all.

echoXIII said...

...you were on the pier at the Willows. Holy crap, I never watched this show that much before, but you now have a dedicated fan.