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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 her portrayals have

This Year In Videogame Blogging: 2017

…Budgor Astrid Budgor finds that in not fetishizing the cyberpunk milieu, Observer manages to remain true to the themes of the genre in a modern context.

  • How ‘Resident Evil’ Finally Lived Up to Its Title | 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…
  • The Art of Level Design Analysis

    …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 complacent. The sad fact is that, even in many above-average games, the game design you encounter is at…

    February 15th

    …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.


    Cara Ellison’s visit to Marigold Bartlett and Christy Dena marks the end of her magnificent Embed With series, which will…

    Kill Screen archive

    …alone ever

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  • October 1st

    …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 David O’Reilly’s Everything tell us about art | ZAM – The Largest Collection of Online Gaming Information Eron Rauch

    September 26th

    …‘Do You Speak Game?’ [mirror] and reminds us of the value of the outsider’s perspective.

    David Carlton at the Malvasia Bianca blog asks why Cow Clicker users are more likely to post game messages than other Facebook gamers, and concludes that it may be because those of us who play cow clicker for the puns are “weirdos”. Guilty as charged.

    Michael Clarkson at Discount Thoughts writes at length about Mafia 2 and the absence of the sense of power he feels should be driving a mob story like this.

    The Game Overthinker posts Episode 40: ‘Heavens to Metroid’.

    Denis Farr…

    Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

    December 2nd


    Of course, that’s far from everything happening in the discourse right now. I’m always on the lookout for work reaching beyond the chart-toppers of the moment, and there’s an excellent piece this week on 2014’s Sunset Overdrive, which in a total coincidence I played for the very time this week. With whispers of Metroid making some kind of appearance at The Game Awards, now’s also a great opportunity to remind readers that the series absolutely supports a trans reading of Samus.

    So dive in, readers! This Week in Videogame Blogging is a roundup highlighting the most important critical writing…

    August 3rd

    …they intend to make Metroidvanias. It’s not enough, she argues, to borrow mechanical tropes and conventions, or even to feature a playable woman protagonist in your winding space platformers without also acknowledging the “aesthetic and tonal success” of Metroid’s and Alien‘s universes respectively. (Content warning: discussion of rape.)

    Show, Don’t Tell

    Katherine Cross challenges the hostile anxiety surrounding criticism in videogames, calling it a cultural “terror dream” that games are going to be censored or taken away by nagging parents and moralistic lobbyists. Or just as well, perverted so much by the inclusion of different audiences that the traditional…

    Abstract image evoking bird silhouette

    May-June 2013 Roundup

    …Howling Dogs is much closer in its world building to a novel than the other games discussed in this roundup. It is imagination fuel. Hopefully it is never adapted to another form, since graphics never seem to live up to the possibilities of the imagination.

    Finally, Sebastian Atay takes a deep look at the Ruined Fountain in Metroid Prime, which is great because I love Metroid Prime. It’s not just the visual detail of bugs scrabbling around the rocks and slime oozing from walls that separates Prime from its contemporaries: it’s the attention to detail in the placement of…