Nate Bihldorff, senior localization manager and primary writer on Metroid Prime, has said Metroid co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto is “the only one who really knows” who Samus Aran is, and that when the character finally gained a voice, she was “always going to be different” from player expectations.
“We’re dealing with a beloved series that’s almost 25 years old, and since Metroid has traditionally been extremely light on exposition, fans have filled in a lot of the blanks with their own imaginations,” Bihldorff told Shinesparkers.
“Samus’ story—her voice, her motivations, everything about her—has largely been a matter of individual perception, especially in the US, where people haven’t read any of the official manga related to her childhood.
“Mr. Sakamoto is the only one who knows who she really is, and his vision for her and her voice was always going to be different than the character people had built in their heads.”
Bihldorff also commented on some of the more controversial plot decisions and story elements of recent Metroid games, which critics felt showed Samus as cowardly and over-dependent on authority. Spoilers ahead.
“For me, Samus’s detached monologue speaks to the reticence of a wounded character, one scarred by the tragic events of her childhood,” he said. “The glimpse of the pain and fear she carries—shown in the flashback scene when she sees Ridley—is not a sign of weakness, but of strength.
“People who call out that scene as anything but empowering are kind of missing the point, in my opinion—she does end up torching Ridley, after all. There is no courage without fear, in my mind, and knowing that Samus overcomes that repressed terror makes her all the more heroic than someone who plods forward without a hint of humanity.
“I do think that Samus’s reliance on Adam’s commands is an important part of her canon as we see later in Metroid Fusion, Samus hates taking orders, and that problem with authority can be traced directly back to the events on the Bottle Ship in Metroid Other M. … the events of Metroid Other M change her.”