Metroid: Other M
Story Analysis: Why Other M Fails to Deliver. (SPOILERS)
WARNING: This is a long, rambling, 6 post analysis. I did not edit it, I did not proofread it. You have been warned.
Do not post until all 6 are up. Posting them will take a few minutes. I will give a notice at the end.
People keep referring to Other M as a character driven story, like thatís a point in the gameís favor. The implication is that this somehow excuses both the gameplay and the story itself, and furthermore that it makes it a ďMetroidĒ game. Let me ask you something: What does that mean? What is a Metroid game? Do I buy games just because thereís a Metroid label on it? Of course this is a Metroid game, as much as Halo Wars is a Halo game. Petroid Prime, FAR removed from the series up to that point, was a Metroid game. It carries the label, features the characters and takes place in the same universe. What people mean by this is that a long standing label carries with it expectations. In that regard, just because Other M is a Metroid game does not mean itís a good game..
In my review (found here: http://www.gamefaqs.com/wii/960554-metroid-other-m/reviews/review-142955), I couldnít delve into a lot of stuff because of spoilers. Iím going to do that now, and put the characterization excuse to bed. To do that, lets analyse every character the way this board picks apart Samus herself.
They ****ed Ridley up. Just like Samus, Ridley had established character; he was a fearsome space dragon, but at the same time he was highly intelligent. Heís not like Kraid, where Kraid is a monster to be vanquished. Ridley holds a leadership position amongst the Pirates, and commands an untold number of them in combat. Heís always been the head honcho of what is, in all intents and purposes, an intelligent army not much less monsterous looking than he is. He doesnít have that here. Heís alone. Heís just a wild card running loose on the ship with no input besides killing things (Or, more precisely, two guys) or failing to kill things (Anthony and Samus). Heís an enemy to 7th Platoon and MB, and he cannot contact the Zebezians running loose as they are both cyborgs and he doesnít have his skull implant to do so. Even if he did have some means of organizing the Zebezians, he never does so in the story. The most he does is knock Anthony off the edge of the platform (a feat that could have been equally accomplished by a spilled bottle of shampoo) as to render him absent until the end of the game.
The other major issue here is that Ridley is a clone. The rivalry between him and Samus is now gone as Ridley has no idea who Samus is besides the fact that she is obviously the most dangerous thing walking around the ship. The only hint of Ridley ever recognizing Samus isnít far off from what a wild animal would do; his baby form (which will henceforth be referred to as Furby) crosses paths with her twice, and both times shows no interest in her beyond what one should from a red and orange robotic figure walking around the jungle. Samus identifies Furbyís behavior as being that of a scavenger (and disapproves of it, despite this scene CLEARLY being an allegory for Samusís continued reliance on others for strength in the plot) and from this we can assess that it would naturally follow her and feed on the genocidal path she cuts everywhere she goes when he can.
As a purple lizard monkey thing (henceforuth referred to as Liz...yeah Iím not a fan of the idea of Ridley evolving from a mammal to a reptile via an insectoid metamorphisis process) the only scene of him in action has him attacking Samus in the middle of a battle. You can cite this as Liz singling Samus out due to their rivalry, but again there is little reason for him do do anything other than what it did here. Samus was the closest to the door, and the rest of the soldiers were pre occupied. Thereís no reason to think Liz was waiting for Samus just to strike at the worst possible time he could (when thereís a fistful of other armed soldiers nearby to attack him while heís preoccupied, which is what happened) as he has no reason to think sheís in there with them. Unless the implication is that Furby somehow followed Samus at a pace the entire way to pinpoint this, he has no way of knowing Samus is in that building from the outside when he kills Lyle. As such, when we see Samus traumatized by Ridleyís appearance (probably because Ridley is now way, way more buffed up than his regular skeletal appearance) what can we deduce from Ridleyís end? To him, Samus is a predator, and a threat to himself. Thereís no personal rivalry between the two like any other incarnation (the recurring excuse is that Ridley is either rebuilt or feeds of the dead to regenerate) besides Samusís animosity because his namesake killed her parents. Iíve heard people propose a genetic memory theory, but then why does the Queen (a clone of Baby) not recognise Samus? Or the Metroid Adam kills? Is it a traight unique to Ridley? Thereís no evidence to suggest he posesses such memories other than to favor the otherwise non existing rivaly. No matter how you spin it, the result is bad writing when the animosity between the hero and the villain isnít even established clearly.
Going back to the Ridley life cycle, I should also point out that Furbyís capabilities are all over the map. All of Ridleyís kills in Other M were accomplished in what is, again, a scavenger oriented form. Furby has no forearms, no fangs, a small mouth or even a god damned neck:
How is he supposed to subdue a 6 foot tall human? Thatís not the kind of creature that can menace something 20 times itís height. Think about his anatomy here: would he somehow latch onto the human with his tiny chicken legs and bite them? How is he going to do that if he canít turn his head and mouth to apply the bite? Maybe heís venomous, you say, or can deliver some kind of paralyzing agent. But then how did he kill Lyle? Heís covered in head to toe in hard plated armor that Furby canít even get itís mouth around, and yet he somehow not only killed the armed and armored solider but shredded him? He then proceeded to shed his skin and grow to just about 300 times his old size off the bioavaliability of exactly one human being. And why did they clone him to begin with? The clones were made from remnants of the splatter mess on Samus, who had just finished a one horse genocide campaign on Zebes. Practically everything on the planet is hostile, and yet they just figured ď**** itĒ and cloned things at random based on what they scraped off the power suit? Isnít cloning too expensive to be making crap shoots like that? Whatever it was, they had good authority to believe that it was going to grow into something Samus had to slaughter (unless they suspect she stepped on a Furby while she was there, but I kind of doubt they were going to clone whatever crap they found on her boots) and as such was going to grow into something incredibly dangerous. And, of course, thatís exactly what happened despite the scientistís baffling lack of common sense.
Ridley ultimately dies in a cutscene. After the initial battle with Samus, he proceeds to exit the plot until time comes that he must be reduced to a mere demonstration of the Queenís power (a fruitless demonstration gameplay wise; Ridley is a far harder boss fight than the Queen). Itís a plot thread resolved outside of Samusís influence or knowledge. So much for your suicide, Adam.
7th Platoon and The Deleter
The problem with the whole Deleter thread is that out of 6 guys, only two have any sort of actual character. The other four are the Metroid equivalent of this:
The one on the left is named Larry. The other is Steve.
Tell me people, do those names jack **** to you at all? No? Thereís nothing offered with the rest of 7th Platoon that makes us care about them either besides this. Theyíre four generic looking guys in body armor. If I lined up all four of their faces, would you even be able to tell them apart? Tell me anything about each? Yeah, I know James was the Deleter, but Iím saying that it doesnít matter. It could be any of the other three guys, completely swap them up in their roles in the plot, and it wouldnít matter in the slightest. They are equal characters in that they all lack character. The only thing the Deleter thread offers is mistrust of Adam and Anthony, and the game botches both. We get constant reassurance from Samus that Adam is a good guy. This is the kind of classic unreliable narration that ultimately leads to a big twist betrayal, but it comes across as meandering and pointless without the twist. Furthermore, Adamís reference in Fusion, for those who played it, means that him and Samus were on good standing by that point, further killing him as a suspect. The idea that Anthony is the Deleter lasts for just about 4 seconds, and he is ďkilledĒ 2 minutes later.
And thatís not even the biggest issue. The real issue with the Deleter is that, like Ridley, it is resolved outside of Samusís knowledge or input. Hell, we find out James is the Deleter before Samus does; Samus doesnít see the cutscene from Jamesís angle that leads to his death. She knows now that Madeline is not to be trusted (not that sheís MB) and finds a dead ally where she used to be. Thereís nothing to draw a conclusion from here besides process of elimination, and she doesnít even have that as she doesnít know that K.G. is dead. You can cut out all mention of the Deleter, as well as the boss fight from where you found out the Deleter exists, and the plot would march on unhindered without needing to change a word of remaining dialogue.
And finally, the Deleter? Why did she bother to title him? Could she not just refer to him as an assassin with no issue in identification? Remember that this title only exists in Samusís head; she uses it to label the assassin, and at no point does she ever bring the issue of an assassin up with anyone else.
Adam is barely a character in his own right. Most of his dialogue is in regards to authorization (a terrible idea as covered in the review) and whatís left is just a stereotypical duty officer. Adam mainly serves to exist for Samus to think about, and itís from this we learn everything we know about Adam. We donít learn about Adam though Adam, but rather though the tons and tons of exposition about Adam delivered by Samus. The only thing we see him do of note is commit a pointless suicide.
Ok, what possible reason did Adam have for his hilariously over dramatic death? His plan was this: Walk into Sector Zero (which, on a related note, is apparently the only part of the ship relevant to the scientific research the entire ship was dedicated to by this point; Metroid weaponization) blow **** up until a built in detachment system kicked in, and die? Could they not secure an access code to detach the sector manually? How about take off in either 07thís or Samusís gunships and fire upon the sector from the outside? You can probably dish out a lot more damage like that then one guy with an exposed head and an assault rifle bearing down on nearly invincible killing machines inside it. The entirety of the ship was destroyed later on anyway, a feat that needed an 07th still alive to accomplish. At this point, Adam has no reason to suspect anyone else from his Platoon is alive; what did he POSSIBLY think made suicide to blow up one sector of the ship better than his survival lending him authorization to detonate the WHOLE DAMNED THING?
And remember why he did this. Samus is the kind of hero he feels sheís the only one to stop the Bottle Ship from reaching Federation Space and defeat Ridley. She didnít do either.
All things said, Anthonyís a pretty harmless character. Unlike everyone else, most of (even if itís little) what we know of him comes from conversation and his actions, rather than Samusís unrelenting monologue. What we do know, however, isnít much; all we know is his weapon proficiency, some basic personality (I dare you to try and write up a description of Anthonyís personality, because I sure as hell canít do it) and his standing relationship with Samus. This just barely elevates him from the name tag grunts in the Platoon in terms of plot device. Anthonyís entire purpose in the plot is his fake-out death and subsequent intervention at the end of solve all loose ends from behind the scenes that Samus herself couldnít deal with. He ultimately contributes nothing that makes you think of him as a standing character in his own right.
And Iím not going to get into how his survival (shooting the creature in the mouth) makes no sense as he would have had nowhere to go after that. Or how he had no reason at all to maintain radio silence with Samus, or not meet up with her directly, after said survival.
Weíre told MB develops a personality, but she still behaves like an android. She, too, is more device than character, as this girl is both the goal of most of the plot or a source from which big piles of story exposition are given (Sector Zero, the Deleter, etc). Otherwise, she spends a lot of time running away; too much for us to establish her as a real character as we spend no time with her when sheís not just monologing.
The real flaw in MB is her plan. After Babyís Cry was dispatched, MB spends most of the plot doing nothing to further her goal of ďjudgingĒ the humans. In fact, all of the opposition Samus and 07th Platoon meet for most of the game are either wild animals, the disorganized efforts of the Space Pirate clones (what THEY are trying to do is never revealed) or Ridley. None of this is within MBís control or influence, as proven by their continued behavior uninterrupted after her death. She only has control over the Metroids, who only play a role in Adamís suicide and the final boss. She can activate the Desbrachians too, but her control in that regard appears to be limited to the room she is in.
That is until she decides to fly the station to Galactic Federation space and...do what, exactly? What is she going to do with a run down space station and a small guerilla force of Metroids? Once she got to Federation space, she had no way to deliver the Metroids in any significant quantity to the entirety of Federation planets. The most she would be able to do is crash the station into one and hope she and the Metroids survive to do their thing. Metroids donít have appendages to work ship controls and MBís knowledge is likely limited to the station, so hijacking other ships (or ship, due to the limb problem) is out of the question.
Itís not like she would have had time to contemplate it either. MB ultimately dies to a barrage of gunfire from a platoon of Marines, making her plot thread #3 resolved largely outside of Samusís actions (defeating the Queen is moot since it was contained entirely to a different room, regardless of that big door being opened or not). If Anthony had not stopped the ship or Samus was not present, chances are a marine force would have still gunned her down with a barrage of ice and plasma fire. If they had failed, the Bottle Ship would have been destroyed. The corruption in the Federation means nothing here: Either the clean hands will destroy a threat or the corrupted ones will realize the corner this puts them in and blow it up themselves, both to cover the evidence (as is their plan by now, hence the Deleterís presence) and because an army gone rogue is not exactly useful.
And no, even if she does have control over every single organism on the ship, it doesnít change this. The entirety of this force is confined to said ship, leading to the same ship destruction issue as MB has no means of effectively launching an invasion on a galactic superpower from it.
Madeline is as much a source of exposition as Samus herself. Sheís a device to unload the plot onto your lap, which, as I said before, is terrible storytelling. Hell, most of what Madeline doesnít tell you at the end, MB posing as Madeline reveals earlier. The only characterization she gets is regret for what she did. This is one of the gameís few examples of actual characterization, but suffers as being during the end god damned cutscene. Madeline also joins the roster of characters who had a plan that made no sense. The idea was to control Metroids through MB, right? Even without a personality, what kind of insurance policies do they have with this control mechanism? Does MB need a personality to go rogue or defy someone when they just ask her to carry out an order? Hell, what if MB was damaged or destroyed right in the middle of, say, a Metroid invasion on a planet? Theyíre screwed, as they now have a rampaging army of unfreezable Metroids off the leash feeding on whoever the hell they wish.
This Deus Ex Machina at the end has no characterization for obvious reasons, but he represents the corrupt forces in the Federation. As such, I will use him to raise this point:
What the hell was their overall plan? The planning issues before this were on how characters wer eto meet a specificed goal, but here I have to ask what the goal itself is. They were planning to grow a Metroid army for what purposes? Besides the Space Pirates that Samus actively antagonizes for them, they have no real standing enemy in the series. Why build a secret army if you are not at war? To go to war with the rest of the Galactic Federation? What would that accomplish? Besides the fact that starting an interstellar war is going to run the Federation, corrupt or not, into the ground, they AGAIN reach a point that the GF has no standing enemy. It would be like forcefully taking over the position of the United States President, but with nobody to go to war with: All you earned yourself was the task of administering a nation you just horribly crippled with a civil war.
From all this we come to two crippling issues with the plot. The first is that nobody has a ****ing plan in the wake of this so called conspiracy to breed an illegal army. Nobody has any sort of foresight for unforeseen consequences, and whatís worse they have no long term goals once their short term goals are reached. They do things without purpose.
The second is that Samus has no reason to be here. None. From opening to close, the plot would have marched on to itís conclusion as is if Samus had never answered Babyís Call. James would have still killed Lyle, Maurice and K.G. He may have killed Anthony too, but his mission to destroy all evidence connecting the Federation to the Bottle Ship would have still failed because MB would have still killed him when he made his eventual move on the presumably helpless scientist. Samusís presence had NO BEARING AT ALL on Jamesí chances to kill Adam, so he would have still survived that. Regardless of Samusís presence, Adamís suicide is still stupid, but without her for him to pointlessly declare the hero they need, he probably wouldnít have pulled that stunt off. Ridley would have still gone through his life cycle and amounted to precisely jack ****, as he would have either died with the inevitable ship destruction, still at the hands of the Queen, or even from a ton of ice blasts from the undisclosed number of guys the Colonel brought. The biggest thing he could have done was kill MB or 07th platoon members, but they all died anyway. That wouldnít have been a relevant gesture in the end when comparing to the way things actually turned out. The Queen, being completely confined to one room due to door frames, wouldnít be able to do anything as neither her nor Metroids can open locked doors.
Remember, the corrupt Federation members have abandoned this project by now; they want to cover it up, not salvage it. Regardless on if the corrupt or genuine Federation sides had called it, the ship would have still ended with being blown the hell up. Even if the Federation covered it up (and ďthe bad guys won,Ē as close that option as we have) it wouldnít mean anything AS METROID FUSION SHOWS US THE CORRUPT BIOWEAPON STUDIES ARE STILL GOING ON ANYWAY.
It has nothing to do with Samusís personality in the end; itís that Samus doesnít do anything IN HER OWN DAMN GAME. NOTHING. All she does is MONOLOGUE. Nothing that happened on that ship was relevant. Nothing was learned, nothing was accomplished. All that happened was that characters with no characterization died. And if we donít know who they are, we donít care if they do.
Thatís Jeffery. Heís dead. Do you care?
Now, I donít want to hear people saying itís just my opinion. Of course it is; itís my opinion that the story is atrocious. That up there is why. Itís an analysis. Itís reasons. Opinions are not equal on the virtue of just being opinions, ok? If one guy writes a book on why Citizen Kane is a good movie, and someone responds by saying itís not simply because he does not like it (or just writes a paragraph or two), then the first guyís opinion is superior. Yes, there is a quality over quantity factor, but thatís just the thing; This is as short as I can get this. Finally, I donít want to hear your opinion if you fail to read both this and the review; youíre not qualified to contest something you did not read.
Bottom line: Other M is a bad game. Whether it is a Metroid game or not is completely ****ing irrelevant to this. That scene with Ridley and Samus is completely ****ing irrelevant to this. The sexism is completely ****ing irrelevant to this. Thereís a ton of other problems that make them look like small potatoes by comparison. You have plenty of reasons presented to you, and if you can see quality you should know it is not here.
Heh, story. That's not exactly why people play Metroid anyways.
There you go. There's no excuse for Other M to be like this at all. Stop telling yourselves it's a good game just for the sake of the other title's pride.
Also, I don't want to hear any accusations of over thinking it. The game attempted a serious story and failed, and I'm not going to grant it a handicap.
Heh, story. That's not exactly why people play Metroid anyways.
Gameplay was covered in the review. It has tons of problems as well.
"Twas lengthy, but it's a good read.
These are words which you are reading. Mind = BLOWN