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Metroid’s Samus Aran

Critical Distance is proud to present this Critical Compilation of Nintendo’s series-spanning heroine Samus Aran, curated by Video Game Heart‘s Grayson Davis.

Since 1986, the Metroid series has received much attention. The NES original, 1994’s Super Metroid, and 2002’s Metroid Prime are often regarded as some of the best games in Nintendo’s catalog, if not among all videogames. Linking all of these games is a character who has transcended the games themselves to become a provocative figure in her own right: Samus Aran.

She is one of the most prominent women characters in gaming, and as such

October 10th

…and the hazards of exploring a new world. The minutes spent moving in and out of ground control to the surface of the planet and into Mei’s Jett are evocative. These details allow for humanity in a story with a grand, cosmic scope. Myth, as usual, is the middleman, the interpretive layer between the two.”


Stories of and around Samus past and present build out our next segment.

  • Metroid Dread: The Kotaku Review | Kotaku Carolyn Petit thinks Metroid Dread is a pretty good time but wonders if the series has lost its spirit.

November 2021

…any favourite pieces from this year you think should be considered (including videos (if there’s a transcript attached)) for the much-heralded annual This Year In VideoGame Blogging roundup, get them in while the submission window is open.

This Month In Videogame Vlogging highlights the most compelling critical videos about videogames from the previous calendar month.

Changers of Course, of course

In this trio of videos, we cast our gaze back to the 1980s to explore the non-linear and messy processes of design evolution.

  • Samus Aran Origins: Metroid’s Influences Beyond Alien – A Critical Hit! |

Kotaku UK archive

…hover over a link to see backup options (this is actually true of most links across the site!).

Community submissions

  • How Manhunt subverts the macho power fantasy
  • Why hard work gets you nowhere in Assassins’ Creed
  • The adolescent male fantasy of DMCs opening act
  • The most influential piece of music in video games was composed in 1888
  • Yokus island express is a delightful open world built around pinball
  • How Zer0ranger assimilates a genre and explodes into space
  • Games workshop on the 21st century
  • Hollow Knight revitalises metroidvania thanks to a

November 28th

…me entertained and engaged and even social in spite of it all. I feel grown in good, hard ways. I feel grateful.”

Hold onto that thread about bodies for a moment. Our next featured piece this week sees Ryan Stevens examine how Samus Aran’s body has been coded for violence over the course of the Metroid franchise on multiple levels, with things coming to a head in the recent Metroid Dread.

  • A Girl is A Gun: How Violence Lives in the Body in Metroid Dread | Fanbyte Ryan Stevens unpacks Samus along axes of violence, expression,…

This Year In Videogame Blogging: 2017

…| Outside Your Heaven – Matthew Weise For Matthew Weise, Resident Evil VII‘s strength is in how it manages to be terrifying, moody and restrained for so long. It ultimately disappoints, but he wishes more games disappointed like this.

  • How AM2R and Samus Returns remade Metroid 2 – Game Maker’s Toolkit | YouTube – Mark Brown – Mark Brown Mark Brown compares Metroid 2‘s two modern remakes and how they change it into the mold of Metroid and Super Metroid in the name of “fixing it” making it lose its own original identity.
  • In Defense of Yooka-Laylee |…
  • The Art of Level Design Analysis

    …a lot of level design analysis on his personal blog; one of my favorites is this look at the end level of the original Metroid. Super Metroid is another common target for level design analysis. The best dissection of it I’ve seen is here – although it’s not so rigorous or good, it’s just so comprehensive that it inevitably makes many notable observations (“Metroid fans only”, perhaps).

    Everything I’m linking to here has a critical and analytical element. However, an unfortunately large amount of level design writing does nothing but describe levels, which is boring and pointless. It’s also…

    February 15th

    …talks about the documentary Atari: Game Over covering the 1983 industry collapse and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, the game that is, perhaps wrongly, given the blame for it. A movie about a movie-themed game then. Double whammy!

    On Kill Screen, Andrew Yoder talks about Andrei Tarkovsky’s Nostalghia and how exploration tends to kill videogame spaces. Meanwhile, Zach Budgor examines perspective and movement in Metroid Prime, the first in a series of three articles devoted to the series. See also Metroid Prime 2 and sequels by Gareth Damian Martin and Metroid Prime 3 and loneliness by Levi Rubeck.


    Kill Screen archive

    …and riot grrrl feminism 90s

  • dragon ages post racial high fantasy
  • quiet year tabletop game building communities
  • science behind real life invisibility cloaks
  • darkest dungeon explores psychological horror dungeon crawl
  • donut county turns los angeles sprawl delicious pop art fantasia
  • behind scenes lost constellation our god less world
  • holy fools belief designed spaces
  • metroid prime 3 samus more alone ever
  • metroid prime 2s finest hour
  • metroid prime used gamecubes wonky controller cinematographers camera
  • history arcade and arcade goer
  • what computing loses when it forgets its feminine history

  • October 1st

    …these three articles give us insights into how our own physical actions could be part of the text of a game.

    • How AM2R and Samus Returns remade Metroid 2 | Game Maker’s Toolkit – YouTube Mark Brown analyses the design strategies used in AM2R and Samus Returns to modernise the player experience of Metroid 2.
    • How Dishonored: Death of the Outsider makes rats of us all * Gareth Damian Martin cites urban historian Robert Sullivan’s book Rats in his reading of the architectural design of Arkane’s latest release.
    • A Football Spiral Universe: What 17776 and