Happy Birthday, Samus! Nintendo’s ‘Metroid’ Turns 25

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Metroid came out in Japan 25 years ago. (Yes, that makes us all old. Let that sink in.) A whole generation probably remembers where they were when they found out the shocking truth about the armored bounty hunter starring in Nintendo’s classic.

For me, I was sitting in my next-door neighbors’ basement a few weeks before school started, watching my friends try to make another go at escaping the global self-destruct sequence after the game’s final boss fight. And when my childhood friend Neal finally made it to the surface, we all yelled in awe.

(MORE: Samus Aran Gets Autobiographical in New ‘Metroid: Other M’ Trailer)

High fives might have been exchanged.

We waited for something cool to happen, because that’s what you get when you beat a game, right? When bounty hunter Samus Aran took off that helmet and revealed herself to be a woman, our teenage selves were shocked. Was this something cool?

Year later, it turns out that yes, it was. Samus was gaming’s first female protagonist and one that was never sexualized in the way that characters who followed were. Her coolness was to be found in her adventures and not in how she looked; still a rarity for female video game characters.

There have been 12 games in the Metroid franchise so far, covering everything from pinball to first-person combat. The latest in the series was last year’s Metroid: Other M, a Wii title which showed the early days of Samus Aran’s military career. Other M was the first time that Samus ever spoke in a game, but a mini-controversy emerged over her portrayal.

Nevertheless, Samus remains a beloved character for gamers everywhere. So much so, that there’s a new fan-made tribute called Harmony of a Hunter by ShineSparkers. The songs on HoaH revisit musical themes from Metroid games of the past and might be the best way for fans to remember how awesome it was to beat the Space Pirates.

So, where’s the official party, then? After all, Super Mario Bros got a fancy re-release last year for its 25th anniversary and The Legend of Zelda series saw a re-mastered Ocarina of Time come out for the 3DS, with both a new game–Skyward Sword–and a gala orchestral tour to follow, all in time for the series’ 25th birthday. Nintendo has yet to announce any similar plans to honor Metroid‘s two and a half decades of longevity.

The American release of Metroid followed the Japanese debut by a year, so hopefully Nintendo’s powers-that-be will announce plans to honor Samus by the time 2012 rolls around. Though we understand that they might be busy with other stuff. So, many happy returns, Samus! If Mother Brain sends you a present, you probably shouldn’t open it.

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