Samus Aran

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Samus Aran
Metroid character
A person in a big, futuristic-looking powered suit with a helmet. The right arm is a large firearm. The shoulders are particularly large, bulky, and rounded.
Samus Aran from Metroid Prime Remastered
First appearance
Created byMakoto Kano
Designed byHiroji Kiyotake
Voiced by
In-universe information
SpeciesMetroid and Chozo-infused human
WeaponPower Suit
OriginColony K-2L, Earth
Raised on Zebes

Samus Aran (Japanese: サムス・アラン, Hepburn: Samusu Aran) is the protagonist of the video game series Metroid by Nintendo. She was created by Japanese video game designer Makoto Kano. She was introduced as a player character in the original 1986 video game Metroid. Raised and infused with the DNA of the Chozo, Samus Aran is an ex-soldier of the Galactic Federation who became a galactic bounty hunter, usually fitted with a powered exoskeleton that is equipped with weapons such as directed-energy weapons and missiles. Throughout the series, she executes missions given to her by the Galactic Federation and the Chozo while hunting the antagonistic Space Pirates and their leader Ridley (and his robotic duplicates), along with the manipulative cybernetic supercomputer Mother Brain, the energy-draining X Parasites and Metroids (with Samus adopting one of the latter), as well as rogue Chozo Raven Beak.

Samus is the protagonist of several Metroid games, including the Metroid Prime series. She also appears in other media, including films, manga series, and a comic book continuation of the TV series Captain N: The Game Master. She also appears in several other game franchises, including as a playable character in every installment of the Super Smash Bros. series.

In terms of gender representation in video games, she has received largely positive reception. She is also recognized as one of the earliest female video game protagonists and has remained a popular and well-received character. Her role in Metroid: Other M was less well-received due to how she was portrayed.

Concept and creation[edit]

Hiroji Kiyotake designed Samus Aran. Series co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto conceived of the idea of making Samus a woman midway through the first Metroid's development, which the development team voted in favor of.[8][9][10] The game's instruction manual refers to Samus as if she were male to obscure her real sex until the surprise reveal at the end of the game.[11] Her appearance outside of her suit was based on actress Sigourney Weaver in her role as Ellen Ripley from Aliens, and actress Kim Basinger's roles from 9½ Weeks and My Stepmother Is an Alien.[12] Sakamoto noted that during the course of the Metroid series, developers constantly try to express her femininity without sexually objectifying her.[8] Her signature ability to collapse into a ball to travel through tight areas was initially called the Maru Mari, meaning "round ball" in Japanese, and was rechristened as the Morph Ball in Super Metroid. The Morph Ball was conceived by the developers because it requires less effort to animate than "a cyborg crawling on all fours", and the producer for Metroid, Gunpei Yokoi, took advantage of this shortcut.[9] Sakamoto and Kiyotake said that the character's last name "Aran" was taken from Edson Arantes do Nascimento, the birth name of the famous football player Pelé.[10] Despite Samus being identified as a bounty hunter, Nintendo later admitted that the occupation was initially chosen because they did not know what a bounty hunter was and simply liked the title, seeing her as an "altruistic" and "motherly" adventurer.[13]

She did not speak in the original NES games, and in Super Metroid, she only spoke in the prologue. Samus broke her silence further in Fusion and Other M, although the latter received criticism due to poor character development and bad voice acting.[14] The developers decided to revert to Samus' original concept in later games. In October 2021, producer Yoshio Sakamoto explained the reason why Samus barely speaks in Metroid Dread is "to convey the current situation of Samus or what Samus is thinking right now, this would be better conveyed to the player not through actual words or actual voice, but more with acting or visuals. I want the player to think, 'What is going on? What is Samus feeling right now?' That is why I decided to go this way for this game".[15]


Samus Aran is typically seen wearing the Power Suit, a powered exoskeleton which protects her from most dangers she encounters and can be enhanced by power-ups collected during gameplay.[11] She is generally considered a silent protagonist.[16] With the Power Suit's Arm Cannon, Samus can fire various energy beams,[17] charge beams to shoot an extra-powerful blast,[9] or launch a limited number of missiles. The Power Suit can be reconfigured into a small, spherical form called the Morph Ball, which allows her to roll through tight areas, such as tunnels, and use Bombs. Additionally, its visor can be used to scan objects to learn more about them, a feature that has been used since Metroid Prime. Aside from her Power Suit, Samus is also in possession of a Gunship, which is used in the games to save progress and restore her health and ammunition.[9][18]

Early on, instances of Samus appearing without the Power Suit occur mainly in cutscenes, such as post-game screenshots of her in more revealing clothing, which are unlocked depending on difficulty level, game completion, or play time.[19] Players could control Samus without her suit in the original Metroid using a passcode.[20] Metroid: Zero Mission introduced the Zero Suit, a form-fitting jumpsuit that she wears beneath the Power Suit.[21] In Metroid: Other M, the Zero Suit is capable of materializing the Power Suit from within itself.[22] She is 190 cm (6 ft 3 in) and 90 kilograms (200 lb) while wearing the Power Suit.[23] The Super Metroid Nintendo's Player's Guide describes Samus as 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) tall and weighs 198 pounds (90 kg) without her Power Suit.[24]


She was raised on the mining colony K-2L, and when she was a child, the planet was raided by Space Pirates led by Ridley in an attack that killed her parents and destroyed the colony. The orphaned Samus was then found by a bird-like alien race known as the Chozo, who brought her to their home planet, Zebes. To keep her alive, they infused their DNA into her, granting her superhuman athleticism and a strong resistance to foreign environments. After training her and granting her one of their artifacts, the Power Suit, Samus leaves and enlists in the Galactic Federation. She leaves after a dispute with her commanding officer, Adam Malkovich, but continues to assist them as a freelance bounty hunter afterward.[17][9][25]

In Metroid[edit]

Samus first appeared in Metroid in 1986. The Galactic Federation sends Samus to track down the Space Pirates on their home planet of Zebes. Deep within their base, she battles Mother Brain, and escapes just as the base self-destructs.[26] She appears again in Metroid II: Return of Samus, where she is tasked with exterminating the Metroid species on SR388. After defeating the Metroid Queen, she finds a lone baby Metroid that imprints on her, and she spares its life. This story is retold in the remake, Metroid: Samus Returns.[27][28] Her nemesis Ridley steals the hatchling in Super Metroid, who Samus pursues through Zebes. She finds the baby Metroid fully grown, who sacrifices its life fighting a reborn Mother Brain. She gains Metroid powers and escapes the planet before it explodes.[29] She later appears in Metroid Fusion, where she becomes infected by the X Parasite but is saved by DNA made from the hatchling. She explores a Space Station infected by the parasite and seeks to prevent it from spreading. She discovers Metroids are being grown here, and destroys the space station to destroy both the X and the Metroid.[30]

Metroid: Other M expands Samus's backstory and emotional scope, such as her brief motherly connection to the Metroid hatchling; the deep respect for her former commanding officer and father figure Adam Malkovich; her reignited feud with Mother Brain in the form of the android MB; and overcoming a posttraumatic episode upon once again encountering her arch-nemesis Ridley.[31]

In Metroid Dread, the Galactic Federation receives a video from an unknown source showing an X Parasite alive in the wild on Planet ZDR. To investigate, they send 7 EMMI (Extraplanetary Multiform Mobile Identifier) units. However, after losing contact with the units, they hire Samus once again as she is the only being in the universe immune to the X. Upon arriving on ZDR, Samus is attacked, left unconscious and stripped of her equipment by an unknown Chozo warrior. From there she travels through the planet to reach her ship on the surface, having to contend with the near invincible EMMI and other threats on the way.[32]

In Metroid Prime[edit]

Samus also appears in the Metroid Prime series, starting with Metroid Prime. She explores the planet Tallon IV, which contains a Chozo colony in ruins and a Space Pirate base. There she learns of Phazon, a mysterious mutagen that can alter the genetic material of any organism. Samus is eventually able to access the source of the planet's Phazon contamination, a meteor impact crater, where she defeats the Phazon-infused creature Metroid Prime. In one ending, the Metroid Prime is shown reforming as a copy of Samus, dubbed in Metroid Prime 2: Echoes as Dark Samus.[33] In Echoes, Samus is sent to the planet Aether, a Phazon meteor-ravaged planet split into light and dark dimensions. There she battles the Ing, creatures that are able to possess other organisms, and Dark Samus.[34] In Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (2007), Dark Samus infects Samus with Phazon, which slowly corrupts her and further forces her to prevent it from spreading to other planets. By the end of the game, she renders all Phazon inert by destroying its original source, the planet Phaaze, and permanently destroys Dark Samus.[9]

Samus also appears in other Metroid Prime games, including Metroid Prime Pinball, a pinball version of the first Metroid Prime game. She also appears in Metroid Prime Hunters, where she is tasked with either retrieving or destroying an "ultimate power" while dealing with other bounty hunters. Metroid Prime Federation Force has her as a non-playable character, where she needs to be rescued from the Space Pirates by Galactic Federation soldiers.[35]

In other video games[edit]

A computer-generated image of a woman wearing a tight-fitting blue suit.
Samus Aran wearing the Zero Suit, as depicted in promotional artwork for Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Outside of Metroid series. Samus appears as a playable character throughout the Super Smash Bros. series, where she can use her array of weapons in combat against characters from other Nintendo franchises.[36][37] She first appears in Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64 in her Power Suit. Starting with Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the third entry in the series, Samus gets a second character in the form of Zero Suit Samus, who has a completely different moveset. Both forms appear in every Smash game afterward.[38][39][40] Super Smash Bros. Ultimate added Dark Samus, whose moveset and model are mostly the same aside from animations and design.[41]

Samus makes cameo appearances in the games Galactic Pinball (1995), Super Mario RPG (1996), Kirby Super Star (1996),[36] and Kirby's Dream Land 3 (1997),[42] and a non-playable appearance in Dead or Alive: Dimensions by Metroid: Other M co-developers Team Ninja.[43]

In literature[edit]

In comic books[edit]

Samus is featured in a series of comic books called Captain N: The Game Master, published by Valiant Comics in 1990, based on the animated series of the same name. In the comic series, set before the events of Metroid, Samus is portrayed as brash, money-hungry, and fiercely independent, and title character Kevin Keene is depicted as her love interest.[25] Samus also appears in various print adaptation of Metroid games.[25][44][45]

In manga[edit]

Samus appears as the main character of the 2003–2004 manga series Metroid, telling her backstory up to the events of Metroid. Adapting Samus' soldier background as previously provided in Captain N: The Game Master, the series was written by Kouji Tazawa and illustrated by Kenji Ishikawa.[46][47][48][49]

Samus is featured as a mentor character in the manga series Samus and Joey and its sequel series Metroid EX. Famous across the universe as the "Guardian of the Galaxy", Samus trains a young boy, frontier planeteer Joey Apronika, as her successor.[50]

In other media[edit]

In the 2015 short fan film Metroid: The Sky Calls, Samus is portrayed by actresses Jessica Chobot and America Young.[51]


Various figures based on the character were produced by various manufacturers. Samus is one of the twelve original amiibo in November 2014.[52]

Reception and legacy[edit]

As a woman in a male-dominated role, Samus has been widely considered a breakthrough for female characters in video games,[53] and is one of the most beloved video game characters of all time by critics and fans alike.[54][55][56][57][58][36] Samus is one of the first major female protagonists in a video game.[59][60][61] The reveal in the original game has been regarded as a significant moment in gaming by sources such as UGO Networks, Game Informer, and GameDaily.[62][63][64] However, Rupert Goodwins of The Independent felt that the ambiguity of who might be in the suit made it "hardly a breakthrough for feminism".[65] Various critics have discussed Samus' relation to sexuality; she was regarded as being one of the least sexualized female video game characters in the 2007 book Gaming Lives in the Twenty-First Century: Literate Connections, a belief shared by Steve Rabin in "Introduction to Game Development".[66][58] Justin Hoeger of The Sacramento Bee appreciated that she was not a character who existed for sex appeal, as well as her "tough" personality.[67] A writer for the Toronto Star however, felt distaste for the "sexual politics" surrounding Samus, feeling that she was neither a character created for sex appeal, but was also not a "leader in the struggle for video game civil rights."[68] Featuring her in their 2004 list of "top ten forces of good" (one section on their list of top 50 "retro" game characters), Retro Gamer regarded her as a "distinct female character [who does not rely] on cheap thrills to capture the attention of gamers".[69] Nevertheless, much of Samus' media reception came from her sex appeal, and she has been included in many video-game lists that rank women by their physical attractiveness.[70][71][72][73]

Paul O'Connor, the lead game designer for Sammy Studios and a fan of the Metroid series, remarked that players empathize and identify with Samus because she is often rewarded for indulging in her curiosity.[74] The book Videogames and Art noted that in the original Metroid the player is not briefed on Samus's past or future; the only interaction that they have with the character is by being her through gameplay, while bits of information can be gleaned from the handbook and through concept art, adding, "Samus is very rare for the character intimacy gained solely through game play and for her stasis and then drastic change", referring to the revelation that she is a woman.[75]

Her controversial portrayal in Metroid: Other M received mixed reactions. Unlike other Metroid games, where Samus took full advantage of weapons and abilities available, she deactivated most of them until Commander Adam Malkovich authorized their use.[76] G4 TV considered Samus needing permission to use her equipment and Samus' anxiety attack upon seeing Ridley as "sexist".[77] According to GamePro, though Other M's story and Samus's monologues did not compel them, "it helped contextualize her entire existence" which developed the character to "an actual human being who's using the vastness of space to try and put some distance between herself and the past".[78]'s Justin Hayward found the portrayal "lifeless and boring" and "nonsensical".[79] GamesRadar wrote that Other M painted Samus, widely considered a strong female lead character, as "an unsure, insecure woman who desperately wants the approval of her former [male] commanding officer".[80] The A.V. Club echoed the misgivings about her immaturity, petulant behavior, and misguided loyalty.[81] In Metroid Dread, several people noted that Samus never talks as a protagonist.[82] Alex Donaldson of VG247 has claimed that the game proves that Samus is cooler than Master Chief.[83] However, Ian Walker of Kotaku criticized and said that "Samus doesn't need to be an emotionless robot to be badass".[84]

In his review of Super Smash Bros., GameSpot's Jeff Gerstmann called Samus one of the characters that made Nintendo "what it is today".[85] IGN ranked her as the third-best character for Super Smash Bros.[86] Where Jeremy Parish of Polygon felt her Zero Suit "works as demonstration of the questionable design decisions" for female characters in the Smash series, he regards Samus as "by far the toughest lady in Nintendo’s stable of characters".[87] Gavin Jasper of Den of Geek felt that Samus stood out among the rest of the cast due to concept, design, and backstory. He also appreciated Zero Suit Samus appearing in the game as a nod to the first Metroid game.[88]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Myers, Maddy (November 1, 2021). "How does Samus Aran turn into a ball? An investigation". Polygon.
  • Gilliam, Ryan (March 22, 2022). "Behind the Samus-vs.-Master Chief video that spawned a timeless matchup". Polygon.



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  7. ^ "Nikki García on Twitter". Retrieved October 12, 2021. Samus Aran doesn't say much, but when she does, she really means it. I am so lucky to have voiced such a strong character and I am LOVING your reactions. Thank you, thank you so much for appreciating my work. You guys are the best.
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External links[edit]