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Who Is Samus Aran?

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Modern Warfare 2
Even if you don't follow video games, you've probably heard of Metroid, or seen the intimidating orange power-suit worn by its protagonist. But did you know the bounty hunter inside is a woman named Samus Aran, one of the first heroines in the history of video games?

Created by Makoto Kano in 1986 for his action video game Metroid, Samus was originally intended to be a man -- until someone on the staff noted that it would be interesting to have players discover that they'd been playing as a woman the whole time. A vote ensued, and the “he” became a “she.”

A tough, alien-fighting heroine. Sound familiar? Metroid co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto took much inspiration from Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi classic Alien, even going so far as to name a recurring Metroid villain, space pirate Ridley, after Scott himself. Later, he’d compare Samus’s blonde-bombshell appearance to Kim Basinger’s strong good looks in movies like 9 1/2 Weeks and My Stepmother Is an Alien.

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Samus in costume

But who, exactly, is Samus? According to Metroid lore, she began life as a child on the mining world of K-2L when space pirates swooped in, killed nearly everyone, and destroyed the planet. The young Samus was rescued by an alien race known as the Chozo, who spirited her to their planet where they trained her into a great warrior and gave her the game’s iconic power suit. 

From there, Samus briefly joined the Galactic Federation Police, though that story has yet to be told. After leaving the force, she only went on to become the most formidable freelance bounty hunter in the galaxy. Listed at 6'3" and 198 lbs (in her suit, of course), the formidable huntress splits her time between thwarting space pirates, combating mysterious aliens known as Metroids, and her ongoing pursuit of Ridley, the pirate who destroyed her world.

Along the way she somehow found time to fight in all three Super Smash Bros. games, and made cameo appearances in Super Mario RPG, Kirby Super Star, and Kirby's Dream Land 3. Her eleventh game, Metroid: Other M, arrived on August 31 for the Nintendo Wii -- and it’s the first in the line to be developed outside of Nintendo.

Other M, developed by the team behind the Ninja Gaiden series, places a unique focus on Samus's hand-to-hand fighting skills. The game also promises to delve ever deeper into its heroine's fascinating past, while paving the way for tomorrow's legendary exploits.

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