I was just rereading some of your old posts on the connections between video games and ancient mythology when I found a post were you made a connection between the name “Metroid” and the Greek word “meteõros”.
What I find extremely important is that young kids who grow up with Nintendo games don’t just have Nintendo provide their first video game experience, Nintendo provides their first mythological experience. Kids will first learn of Icarus not through the Greek myth involving Icarus who flew too close to the sun but through the video game of Kid Icarus. Obviously, the game’s charm is borrowed from that great well of mythology.
What the makers say of the game doesn’t matter. I’m more interested in the relationship between the gamer and the game. The developer is irrelevant to me. Gamers may take things from games that the developers never even knew that were in there. This is the magic of music, literature, and everything else. Miyamoto apparently got unhappy when I was linking Super Mario Brothers’ strength with Alice in Wonderland. There is a TON of Alice in the Mushroom Kingdom. I find it strange he got all offended as I would have taken that as a compliment. In the late 1980s, a book that became very famous was called “The Closing of the American Mind” that said what universities were doing and what pop culture was doing was making it impossible for youths to bridge themselves into actual culture (the great literature, music, and mathematical thinking of the past). A common line was “Would this lead children to Alice in Wonderland? No.” But in the late 1980s, something else happened. It was Mario Mania. I could hold up the Super Mario Brother cartridge and say, “This will lead these kids to Alice in Wonderland.”
What differentiated video games from other mediums then was their links to culture (and by culture I mean actual culture, the stuff that people have gone to college for centuries to learn). History? Civilization. Oregon Trail. Management? Countless management games like Rollercoaster Tycoon. Competition? Games love being competitive. Literature and plays? Countless adventure and RPG games including Ultima. (If you’ve played Ultima VII, you have consumed writing from a Broadway Theater play writer.) Math and science? Too many video games use physics. And you need to learn math in order to program and manipulate the computer. Business? Just pay attention to the selling and marketing of video games. In the 1980s, all politicians attacked video games (some because they wanted to attack the Japanese). One, and only one, politician defended video games and their future impact on society publicly.
Back to Metroid, there is a reoccurring element in people’s imagination of the heavily suited Samus Aran popping off her helmet and luscious full blonde hair falls out. This image dominates fan art.
There is a popular literary character of a woman warrior in a suit of armor that emphasizes her pulling off her helmet and all this blonde long hair falls out. I am sure all the readers here are familiar with the poet Spenser and his Fairie Queen. The character is Britomart.
Barbie in a suit of armor is the best way to describe Britomart as well as Samus Aran.
Spenser’s literary character is highly likely to have roots in other mythologies, most modernity probably will never know, in the deep past. Poets always did things like that.
The reason why I think Samus Aran remained a popular character in the imagination is for the same reason that Britomart did. What these reasons are more specifically, I do not know and you do not know. It is like asking why dragons remain popular in the imagination. All this science, and we still don’t understand how imagination works.
Sakamoto probably saw all this fan art and thought people wanted to ‘get to know’ Samus Aran. His response:
I remember Sakamoto or Sakamoto Cultists dismissing the role of her suit. As you can see with the fan art, Samus Aran is fascinating because of her suit. Her suit is saying she is a warrior. Without the suit, Samus is just a blonde bimbo no different from any other blonde bimbo. Sakamoto seemed interested in removing the suit and turning her into a ninja instead. Aside from people interested in Nintendo softcore porn, zero suit samus never lived in the imagination as did a battleworn Samus Aran taking off the helmet of her suit and blonde hair spilling out.
Of course, Sakamoto did not bother to investigate what elements are causing that image of Samus Aran to live in the imagination. He just assumed he was a creative genius and did what pleased him: anime storytelling. Sakamoto is an example of many things, but the one most prominent is that he is a man who has no culture. How he imagined Samus Aran as a blue porn girl spandex caricature certainly confirms he has an engineering mind and not a cultured mind.
You can find much mythological power in the old games. In the newer ones, it seems forced and doesn’t work well. It works in the older ones because I don’t think the developers intended to put them in. They used their own imagination and their imagination has these mythological elements living in it. The image of Mario and the vine that goes up to the sky. That is Jack and the Beanstalk. We’ve all grown up with it. We may not think that when we see it in the game, but we do think how wondrous and magical it all is because the Jack and the Beanstalk is still wondrous and magical.
I remember when Zelda 2 was released, newspapers described it as “Nintendo’s take on Sleeping Beauty”. Even adults back then could see the powers of mythology reflecting from the games.