Arguments in Other M's Defense (And Why They Are All Bullshit)
Metroid Other M sucks.
I know what most people reading this title are thinking, "Lousy, do you really think bitching about a game that has been out for well over a year will make any real impact on main-steam audience's overall opinion of the game? Better yet, given the mediocre sales and lukewarm reception the game has received, do you really think that Other M is going to go down in history as anything other than the biggest misstep the franchise has ever taken regardless of the bullshit excuses fans make in its defense?"
My answer is "No, and not really. But I'm tired of hearing arguments, and theories that have been disproven by MUCH more well written articles and blogs, I've grown frustrated by how accepting some people have become of these theories, despite the strong evidence that points to them being half assed excuses crafted by fans to act like Other M wasn't a MASSIVE misstep in Metroid franchise (not that I think it'll be the series' downfall or anything like that), and I think writing this will help me vent some of my frustration I have towards Other M. Tust me, I have a lot of that".
If it isn't already obvious, I'm a massive fan of the Metroid series. With the exception of Metroid Prime Pin Ball, which, and forgive me if this sounds presumptuous, I don't think has a massive impact on the narrative of the series, I've played every single officially released Metroid game to date. I've been playing the games since I first played Super Metroid when I was 4, I've read through every translated issue of the Super Metroid, Metroid Prime 2, and most of the other visual novels currently available to read at the Metroid Data Base, and it's the only game franchise to have two entries in my top 10 games of all time.
I think it's pretty obvious how I felt about Other M's badly remixed music, mediocre combat, unsatisfying boss fights, dreaded voice acting, even worst writing, irritating characters, and worst of all incredibly linear, unimaginative level design. I don't like being negative, hell, just about every blog I've written so far has been about the games I love, but I can safely say the game was one of, if not the most disappointing game I've played this decade so far. Especially after the EXCELLENT Metroid Prime reboot. Maybe I am being nothing more than a fan-boy here, maybe I should just be happy that Other M sold as badly as it did (I still can't believe I'm happy a Metroid game sold badly), and look forward to what will hopefully be a vastly superior reboot Nintendo is bound to make at some point, but as I've said, I'm tired of hearing these arguments and want to do something, ANYTHING about them.
Before I do that though I want to make clear, that I don't dislike somebody just because they like Metroid Other M or don't think it's as bad as certain critics have made it out to be. I've honestly never hated anyone SOLELY because they liked/disliked something I don’t. HOWEVER, I also cannot fathom how someone can see Other M as a good game or at least something remotely close to being as good as previous Metroid games, I’ve literally looked at the game from every angle and looked at every justification I could find. And if anyone uses ANY of the excuses listed below to defend Metroid Other M or tries to tell me its narrative was anything other than awful, I will not hesitate to debate them, to the death if I have to, and explain why all these excuses are complete and utter bull shit...I'll try to use that word less, but you have to understand it's difficult! Who knows? Maybe some of Other M's defenders will have to make new, even more contrived and half assed excuses in the games defense after reading this. So in no particular order, I'm going to very broadly talk about the most commonly used excuses fans have contrived in Other M's defense that I believe hold zero water.
Let's start with one of the arguments that annoy me the most. The claim that prior to Other M Samus had zero personality. Of all the claims this probably holds the least water, in fact as far as characters who rarely, if ever speak, Samus is easily one of the better characterized silent protagonists in video games. Sure, outside of a few dialogue moments in fusion and the prologues to Super Metroid and Metroid Zero Mission Samus never talks, but someone can characterize a character with more than dialogue. In previous Metroid games especially the Metroid Prime series Samus constantly showed emotion and personality through body language and expressions, not to mention showed it with far more subtlety than in Other M.
I'll just use this video from Metroid Prime 3 that shows Samus reflecting upon her memories as evidence that it's pretty apparent Samus had SOME personality prior to Other M.
It's not like Samus is Gordon Freeman, where he has never spoken, you've never see his face within Valve's official games, and you are only given the smallest of details as to who he is. Yes, Samus' backstory is not fleshed out in incredible detail, yes the stories in previous Metroid games were very minimalist, but the stories were THERE. Besides, sometimes less is more. You can argue HOW MUCH personality she had prior to Other M, but to claim that she was a blank slate with zero personality is complete bullshit. And let’s suppose she had literally no character traits in the past games. If that were the case, I'd much rather play as a blank, emotionless character, whose personality I can make my own rather than an annoying, whiny, badly voiced, idiot, who never shuts up. Even if you do flesh out a character it doesn’t matter if you do it badly.
"Other M's Samus is just an extension of Fusion Samus and/or it's the same Samus we've been playing for two decades only now she can talk. (I really hate this video)"
Of course there are also fans who do agree that Samus had a personality in the past and was fleshed out to some degree prior to Other M and that there is no difference in her personality then and now. I'll grant that it's a better excuse than the claim she had no personality at all prior to Other M, but if you believe the Fusion Samus who only reluctantly followed the orders of the ships computer AI, flat out disobeyed orders it gave later on (which saved her life by the way), jammed Ridley X's tail up his un-killable ass, and openly said in the game "I don't like taking orders", is anything like the overly compliant Samus who endangers he very life for the sake of following orders, and freezes right in front of Ridley in Other M, you're being silly. You just are. Let's just do a little comparison.
I'll admit this is one of the more subjective excuses. Even a lot of people who despised Other M claim to have found the gameplay passable, but I have 2 problems with this claim.
1. YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO SKIP THE CUT-SCENES!
Maybe I could understand someone ignoring the story if that were at all possible, but it isn't! Looking at how long the cut-scenes are on average, the only way I can see someone doing that is by: muting the volume, whipping out a handheld, and tilting your chair away from the TV for 10 minutes every time a cut-scene began. And even then you'd have to make sure you check to see if the cut-scene is over regularly, lest you want to find the cut-scene to have ended 5 minutes ago and that you are now getting stomped on by enemies. If a game has the audacity to put un-skippable cut-scenes in front of my face, they had better be damn good, well-paced, and well written cutscenes, something Other M's cinematics are not! Giving absolutely no mention to the cut-scenes, and story in Other M, and just saying, "eh ignore it" when they so blatantly play a big role in the game feels disingenuous in my eyes.
2. THE GAMEPLAY (in the opinion of this blogger) SUCKS ASS!
I’d honestly argue there are points in the gameplay worse than anything in Other M’s story. For the sake of comparison, I'm going to recall a memory from Super Metroid when I fought Kraid. I was low on health, on the verge of death, with 7 standard missiles, and 1 super missile left; Kraid was in the red. I make one well timed shot with a standard missile and follow it up with the super missile praying it hits. You would not believe the satisfaction I felt when I precisely aimed that super missile directly into Kraids exposed mouth bringing the giant down instantly.
I got none of that satisfaction in Other M, because combat is far too easy. Quick dodging is easily abusable, gives you WAY too many frames of invincibility and fully charges your gun immediately, letting you obliterate just about anything in your path with one simple motion. The levels are probably composed of the blandest and most uninspired set pieces in any Metroid game and the game itself is linear as hell.
You rarely need to conserve your energy and ammo since you can recharge your weapons/health whenever you land in the red, making power ups worthless and exploration even more heavily discouraged, and it turns every boss fight into a game of simply learning when the boss is far enough out of reach that you can recharge once you're in the red. There's also no reason the game shouldn't have utilized a nunchuk controller and allowed you to MOVE in the first person view, which would have made the first person perspective much less frustrating. Don’t think the lack of exploration means there’s little backtracking though, of all the Metroid titles I've played, I never minded the back tracking in them at all prior to Other M, but you better believe it was a problem in Other M.
Naturally some people claim to have not experienced the problems I have and if that's the case, more power to you, but I think I've given some at least somewhat understandable reasoning for hating Other M's gameplay and it certaintly isn't up to the gameplay of other Metroid games.
"Other M haters only hate it because they want Samus to be a generic badass"
(I'm not even giving The Overthinker's 'Heavens to Metroid' episode the dignity of a link, go find the video on this site if you want an example of the argument. Besides, Extra Credits video on the matter pretty much shattered any argument MovieBob made)
All the excuses I've talked about so far have slowly become more and more reasonable, let’s change that. Of all the Metroid fans I know, of all the rants about Other M's terribleness I've read, I have never heard any of them say that Samus should be a generic, emotionless badass and nothing more, nor have I heard any of Other M's critics say that's all they believed she was in the non-Other M Metroid games. I'm sure there are some people who want Samus to be nothing more than a badass, but they're in a very small minority.
I've already covered how Samus is far more emotive throughout the series than people give her credit for, so I won't spare analyzing her personality and simply say this. Do I, or any other Metroid fan want Samus to be nothing more than a generic badass? No, of course not! do most people expect her to be a competent, independent hero? Yes, because SHE KIND OF WAS EXACTLY THAT IN EVERY OTHER SINGLE METROID GAME EVER MADE! And really, are you trying to convince me a 1 dimensional, whiny, idiot is somehow and improvement over a cold hearted badass? You're going to get an equally bad character either way, if I was absolutely forced to pick one or the other I'd gladly take the latter one. Cold hearted badasses at least know when to not talk.
No it wasn't, even people who like Other M have admitted that it was annoying to be authorized the varia suit AFTER going through the lava level (understatement of the decade) in what is now infamously called the 'hell run'.
The game supposedly justifies the authorization system on the premise that some of Samus's weapons could damage the interior of the ship they were on and were therefore unsafe to use. This falls flat because.
A. Even your PROTECTIVE items like the varia suit, the gravity suit, and abilities that are meant to PROTECT you from harm, not cause harm and improve your mobility are restricted until they're needed. Why? It makes sense from a gameplay standpoint, but there’s no narrative justification to restrict a character from having as much protective armor as possible in a dangerous situation.
B. When you do gain access to more destructive weapons like power bombs and super missiles, they do absolutely nothing to the ship's interior. Even when I backtracked to the earlier sections of the game where said weapons were restricted. There are plenty of ways they could have worked around this. De-authorizing power-ups when returning to the earlier parts of the ships, or making it so using your more dangerous weaponry could actually damage certain terrain and cause a game over (Something I think would be very clever) are just a few examples.
C. YOU STILL NEED TO COLLECT MISSLE EXPANSIONS AND ENERGY TANKS, defeating the purpose the authorization system was supposed to fulfill I.E give a more realistic reason for why Samus doesn't have access to all her upgrades.
D. Even if someone is willing to ignore how badly the authorization system blends the game’s story and gameplay, the system is another one of the culprits that adds to the game’s linearity, makes getting upgrades nowhere near as satisfying as getting them in other Metroid games, and takes away that much more of the exploration that I want out of a Metroid title.
How are those NOT enough valid excuses to believe the authorization system is bullshit? The "and then she randomly lost all her power ups" excuse that's been used in every other Metroid game might be half-assed and not the most realistic excuse, but it's plausible given the series' fantasy setting.
How do you know what that normal looking wall that took all of Samus' power ups in Prime was made of? For all we know it's made of energy sucking radiation, the game's asking you to suspend your disbelief here people and I personally find it easier to do in Prime than in Other M!
Call it lazy all you want! I'll take a simple and lazy, but plausible excuse for something over an elaborate, but contrived excuse that follows no logic any day, especially if it lets me explore and manage my power up how I WANT TO!
In case you haven't heard one big criticism towards Other M is how the story and characters portrayed in it, particularly how idiotically submissive Samus is to Adam can easily be seen as sexist. As much as I hate partly siding with this game's defenders, I'll admit, I don't personally think Other M is intentionally sexist, just really REALLY badly written, however, I've read plenty of articles that give a convincing argument otherwise and I honestly cannot counter the accusations with anything other than, "Or....Maybe the writing is just really shit", and I haven't seen a decent counter-argument against these accusations anywhere in the vast sea of internet.
Don't think I haven't tried to find one either, when I searched up Other M I was bombarded with an inferno's worth of flame wars and a good supply of respectful arguments on both sides of the fence that I read/listened to. I'm going to have to listen to the opposing side's argument regardless of whether or not I want to, so I really did try to search out as many counter-arguments against the sexist accusation as I could, but I honestly couldn't find one that came close to trumping Tuvia Dulin and MenTalguY's 'Metroid Other M- The Elephant in the Room' blog.
If someone believes they've made or have found a decent counter-argument against the accusations of Other M being sexist or a justification for all the stuff I had to put up with in the game, I'll gladly read them. Just make sure it's not that god awful article about Post-traumatic stress disorder. Speaking of which...
I'm going to have to take back what I said at the beginning of this blog. I HATE anyone who has tried to justify Other M by making this claim, I wish said people would cease to exist, and I hate wasting my time with people arguing about something they don't know a god damn thing about, because they clearly did not read the actual manga. Why am so sure about this? Because just like everything else in the Metroid series, Other M contradicts the manga too.
Let's right off the bat, ignore the little facts like: none of the creators of Metroid have claimed the manga is cannon and gave no mention of it in any of the interviews about the games development (to my knowledge at least); if Other M is related to the manga it gives zero context about it; and that using an obscure manga that has never been released outside of Japan and that's only available to read in English on a fan site that only hardcore fans would know about as the story basis for a game that was meant to bring non-Metroid fans into the series is all kinds of stupid! For now let's pretend the manga is cannon.
The aforementioned PTSD article argues that because Samus reacted fearfully to Ridley in the Metroid manga and because this reaction is vaguely similar to symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Samus is now somehow canonized to have the disorder.
The only thing this writer conveniently fails to mention is the little bit later on in the Manga series where Samus completely obliterates Ridely to ashes and openly claims (in the translation at least) to have conquered her fear of him.
Knowing that canonically this is supposed to be what happened during Super Metroid the events of Other M should take place right after this, making the triumphant moment in which Samus decimates Ridley lose all dramatic value. No matter what way you look at it Other M either completely contradicts the events from the Metroid manga in which Samus conquered her fear of Ridely or at least takes away the emotional impact it might have had by suddenly making her fearful again.
Not that it matters, because I don't buy into the PTSD claim to begin with. There were things in the manga that vaguely hinted at it at best and those vague hints were immediately gone by the end of the story when she conquers her fear of Ridley (PTSD is not something someone can magically overcome). None of the game's creators have ever openly claimed Samus to be suffering from PTSD, and the actual games, which both Western and Japanese gamers are far more familiar with, give no hint of PTSD period. Look over any other Ridley boss fight that canonically takes place before Other M or even the fight against Ridley X in Fusion, the way she responds is nothing like the way she responds in Other M.
That's about all I have to say on the matter. I could go on about how full of shit this game’s fans are in claiming Other M is somehow better than the Prime trilogy because it isn’t mainly played from a first person perspective (cause as we all know badly written, cinematic, third person action games are a criminally underused genre, anything played from a first person perspective is generic and the offspring of Satan, and judging a game based around the view it's played from is a perfectly sane thing to do), but most of the other arguments I’ve heard is just stuff spewed out by The Over-thinker and there are more than enough people who have made blogs/videos counter-arguing his (terrible) video, so continuing would make this feel even more redundant than it already was.
Once again I'll reiterate I don't hate anyone solely because they like Other M, but I honestly haven't seen any real justification for what I had to put up with in the game, that didn’t make me respond with, “you’re argument is unbelievably flawed because of *blank*”. It's not like I think the Metroid series is dead, one mistake hardly means the end of a franchise. I just hope the next Metroid title made takes a very, very different approach to the series or just goes back to the Prime or Metroidvania formula (and no, Other M did NOT return the series to form). If anyone here truly believes they have legit arguments in defense of the game or can at least give some decently formed reasoning that will make me say, “I might disagree with these people, but I can see why they think that” feel free to give it a shot. My opinion of the ‘reasoning’ used by the people who like Other M is about as low as it can get, so it’s not like you’ve got anything to lose.
EDIT: It's been a long time since I posted this article, but by the off chance any random internet stragglers come across this, I highly recommend watching Eclipse Studio's 5 part rant on this topic. If Extra Credit's video shattered the arguments made in Other M's defense, this video demolishes them to dust.
*Phew* It feels good to have written all of that. Feel free to comment about where you'd like the Metroid series to be taken to next or your opinion of the series' current direction.