Metroid: Other M: “The whole mess smacks of sexism”

Posted: October 23, 2010 in Uncategorized

Metroid: Other M was released as the next game in the popular Metroid series. The game was widely praised and topped the charts for Wii Sales. However, Xplay, a game review show on G4TV, gave the game a score of 2/5. The reviewer, Morgan Webb, accused the game of being sexist because of the portrayal of Samus, the main female protagonist of the series. Before I go into detail about the issue, I want to add that I have never played the Metroid games so this is my complete objective opinion.

Let’s start off by actually watching the video of the review by Morgan Webb, co-host of Xplay.

I found that most other review sites agreed with Morgan Webb about the sexist themes. Giant Bomb admitted,

“This is the first game in the franchise that’s really attempted to humanize Samus and surround her with a supporting cast, but for the most part it does so flatly and without much gravity. Samus’ voiceover is painfully dull at times, and the game introduces some frailty in her character that struck me as out of place for someone who’s exterminated entire planets’ worth of awful monsters.”

Yet, the site still gave the game a 4/5. Similarly, IGN said,

“…She [Samus] decides, out of respect to the commanding officer Adam Malkovich, to deactivate everything and only reactivate them when he gives the OK. While the writers were probably patting themselves on the back for coming up with this plot device, it does not work in the context of the gameplay. You’ll frequently encounter doors that can only be opened with a Super Missile, but Samus respects Adam too much to fire one to open up a chamber? Puh-lease…There is a a story payoff towards the end for Samus’ subserviency but it doesn’t make up for the absurdity of Samus being somewhat of a mindless drone and refusing to activate her normal functions simply because Adam didn’t say it was OK.”

Metroid: Other M Cover

However, the game still got a score of 8.5 (aka “great”) from the site.

The Gamespot review also agrees by saying, “Things become a lot more interesting once Samus shuts her big yap.” They too gave the game an 8.5 score.

So is the game sexist? Morgan Webb both accused the game of being sexist and insulting to her female fans. The reason was that Samus,  was “submissive.” Here’s a look at the written review:

Diary of a Wimpy Bounty Hunter

So, is it all as soul-crushingly terrible as it sounds? Yes, yes it is. There are some great moments in the secondary plotline, if you can turn off the volume and ignore Samus’s voice entirely, but that’s not really the point of the game. The point is to flesh out one of the most iconic (and nonsexualized) female characters in gaming history and yet the outcome is insulting to both Samus and her fans.

When she isn’t submissive and obedient, the flashbacks portray her as bratty and childish and the whole mess smacks of sexism. Almost every other aspect of gameplay including character design, sound and level design is mediocre. I’m sorry Metroid fans, because this isn’t what I wanted either. I also didn’t want to hear the phrase “fledgling girl’s heart” in anything but the phrase “I disintegrated the fledgling girl’s heart with a plasma beam,” but with Other M, no one gets what they want and half a good story with a smattering of acceptable decisions is far below the bar Nintendo has previously established for the series.”

Morgan made some pretty bold assumptions in this review by saying “…the outcome is insulting to both Samus and her fans.” If the other game reviews would have agreed, they would not have given the game such high scores. She also makes that assumption when she goes onto say, “I’m sorry Metroid fans, because this isn’t what I wanted either.”

Morgan Webb & Adam Sessler

Rojek, author of Cultural Studies, talked about organizations “implying we are all in the same boat…” in order to create some sort of relationship with consumers. That is exactly what Morgan is doing.

Morgan puts emphasis on the “sexism” in the game and ignores everything else that is good about it. In the beginning of the written review she says, “Samus has more daddy issues than Montana Fishburne.” This automatically sets some sort of expectations for the readers since Samus has now been compared to a porn star.

The whole thing that confuses me is that Morgan goes on a rant about the  game because of it’s sexism, when she earlier admited, ”

Other M is a bizarre collaboration between the Metroid series co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto and Team Ninja of Ninja Gaiden fame.  Indeed, “odd pairings” becomes the common thread throughout the game and its clashing dualities extend to the storyline, control scheme and onscreen action…”
Team Ninja happen to be the people who created one of the world’s most sexist game, Dead or Alive: Extreme 2. Of course, Morgan doesn’t go on a rant about that game during that review .
Overall, I feel that Morgan overreacted about the game. Do I understand her point, yes? However, the language she uses in her review are manipulative. She deliberately tries to make the creators of the game seem sexist and evil, when none of the other review sites see  it as that extreme. I believe the reason why Morgan Webb (a woman), did the review instead of  the main host, Adam Sessler was to make a connection to the women demographic watching the review, who would be more susceptible to root for her. All in all,  there are more sexist games out there that are worth getting upset over.

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