Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

One of the first great video game franchises, Metroid has always stood out from similar games because of its female protagonist– Samus Aran. The series is mired in mystery, as every game until this latest edition has had the player searching without much guidance for weapons to use and enemies to battle. Its darkness and depiction of hostile alien environments just add more depth to the enigmatic hero at the center of the story.

Woman Behind the Machine

Samus Aran’s background is fairly Jungle Book in origin. She was orphaned as a child and raised by an ancient, advanced race of beings known as the Chozo. Their training endowed Samus with amazing physical ability, and their technology supplied her with a famous multi-adaptive power suit capable of delivering Samus into a variety of hostile environments. Samus’ modus operandi is fighting space pirates, working as a bounty hunter, and going on missions in service of the Galactic Federation. These altruistic goals generally place Samus in the group with some of her Nintendo counterparts like Fox McCloud, Link, and Mario– other heroes who toil chivalrously simply because it is the right thing to do. Other characters throughout literature, however, are often motivated by personal greed or vengeance. Because Samus is not motivated by these things she becomes an easy target for dualistic storylines.

The Price of Power

As this game’s title suggests, this final installation of the Metroid Prime series involves the corruption of the hero. Infected by a strange material known as “phazon,” Samus begins to exhibit outbursts of incredible power. These bursts come at a price, however, as Samus is slowly being twisted into a monster, motivated by the lust for the power phazon can provide. The allegories to drug addiction are obvious, as Samus and her colleagues are slowly turned evil by the phazon. Every time the player uses phazon to supercharge Samus’ attacks, she suffers considerable damage. Abuse the power too much and Samus dies or is totally overwhelmed by the phazon.

This is what happens to the three other bounty hunters in the service of the Federation– Rundas, Ghor, and Gandrayda. These three are also infected by the phazon and the substance drives them mad. They attack Samus Aran not because they dislike her or because they’re in the direct control of the Space Pirates, but because they do not want Samus’ efforts to succeed in halting the spread of phazon across the galaxy. To them, phazon continually perpetuates power, and all other sense of right and wrong melts away. With justice meaningless, the bounty hunters go rogue, attacking both Samus and the pirates. This, again, parallels drug addiction. The message of this allegory is clearly how negative addiction can be. Where it varies is in the fact that Samus and the others were initially infected without their consent. But yet, who chooses to be addicted to a drug? Second, Samus must use the power of the phazon– she must harness its dangerous properties in order to defeat her nemesis.

Doppelgangers and Drug Addicts

The dualistic undertones of the series reach their height in this game, as Samus fights her evil twin, Dark Samus. Dark Samus is not a human, she is a creature formed the outer coating of Samus’ Phazon Suit and manifested into an organism by the dying creature known as Metroid Prime. The embodiment of both the ruthless creatures known as metroids and phazon itself, Dark Samus survives multiple defeats in Metroid Prime 2: Dark Echoes to face Samus Aran again in a final showdown in Corruption.

Dark Samus doesn’t really symbolize an evil version of Samus, just as Wario and Dark Link don’t really equate to evil versions of Mario and Link. Rather, in continuing the theme of chemical abuse, Dark Samus embodies Samus’ addiction to phazon. Initially, Samus utilizes the Phazon to augment her suit and make it more powerful. She uses the chemical to reach a desired outcome outside the normal boundaries of science. This leads directly to the addiction– the aforementioned creation of Dark Samus. As with most addictions, such as that to alcohol or nicotine, Samus conquers the craving several times only for it to reappear more powerful than ever. Ultimately, the addiction, Dark Samus, infects Samus Aran with a dangerous disease– a tumor-like growth which threatens her life. As the game progresses and the tumor grows, Samus falls deeper and deeper into the addictive cycle. In the final act, Samus rids herself of the disease by conquering her addiction and the monster it has become once and for all.

The Art of Science Fiction

One of the most compelling things about science fiction stories in new media are the art design aspects. Some of the most inspired architecture and creature designs have come from this genre and this game is no exception. The artwork and environments you encounter in this game are often breathtaking. The Wii is not the graphics workhorse its competitors are, but it is capable of producing rich visuals which stem from the development teams’ fantastic imagination.

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