Crash log of the Singularity

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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.


  1. Froborr
    June 16, 2017 @ 2:42 pm

    Speaking as someone with PTSD, nothing you say about Other M could be remotely as offensive as the way the Ripley encounter in that game sexualizes Samus’ trauma.

    re: Miyamoto’s fingerprints being all over the first Metroid Prime: I recall reading an interview years ago with somebody from Retro where they said they got badly stuck at one point in the design process, Miyamoto came out to visit them, and solved their problem by suggesting the Scan Visor.

    You are far more forgiving than I–I will not consider forgiving Sakamoto for Fusion and Other M until after I play Metroid Prime 4 and the Metroid II remake. But then I think he does hate women, or at least intensely fears their power.

    Also: Yay, new Kirby! I love Kirby games, because they are cute, fun, and easy, and I am really bad at video games.

    As for Mario Odyssey, what do you think of the idea that the possession mechanic is about not just adopting new perspectives, but looking at things from the perspectives of others? That is, perspectives which are already extant, but just new to you? In which case, borrowing very specific elements of past games might make sense if they’re about that shifting into extant perspectives? (Yes, I’m reaching, but only because I really, really like the idea of the possession mechanic.)


    • Josh Marsfelder
      June 16, 2017 @ 9:03 pm

      Of course no sooner than I get this to press then there’s an interview with Yoshio Sakamoto and MercurySteam that at once seems to confirm my suspicions about how the project came to be and give me great concern because of how fixated Sakamoto still seems to be on the Baby Metroid plot:

      I want to like this game. I really do. I really want to give everyone and everything involved another chance. But I need some help here.

      At least Prime 4 will be more or less its own thing, whatever that may be.

      As for Super Mario Odyssey I really like that reading. For it to fully take, though, I think the entire game’s structure, from aesthetic, thematic and mechanical angles, needs to reinforce that. And I haven’t seen enough of the game yet to be able to say whether I think it does or not.


      • Sarracenian
        June 18, 2017 @ 11:48 am

        I’ve always been of the opinion that, while no doubt Sakamoto was the writer of the story, a lot of the issues execution-wise Team Ninja should also share equal blame despite their pleas of innocence.

        Majority people didn’t take offense to Fusion’s story after all (except on a conceptual, “Metroid-games-shouldn’t-have-a-narrative” level maybe) before Other M brought all its baggage along and effectively told the same story as Fusion.

        A good director can save a bad script, but Team Ninja’s notorious for badly-told & badly-written stories after all (not to mention their /issues/ with women).
        And Other M do exhibit those bad impulses, especially its take on Samus, with its leering shots of her body at every possible turn & insistence on making every body-language and facial expression she has as demure & waifish as possible (notice how much they purposefully make Samus as “prettied-up” as possible even in scenes supposed to be moments of distress & high emotion).

        Not to mention the heavily sexualized, post-Smash Bros Brawl design that’s also reminiscent of Team Ninja’s other games, and let’s not forget the second time they were brought along for a Nintendo project, we got the laughably bad “woman-scorned” femme fatale stereotype of Cia in Hyrule Warriors.

        Just sayin’, there’s a lot of evidence stacked against Team Ninja.
        Time will tell if same mistakes will be repeated by Sakamoto solo…


        • Josh Marsfelder
          June 18, 2017 @ 9:11 pm

          I’m not a fan of Team Ninja.

          That said, I distinctly remember them immediately issuing a statement after the shit really started to hit the fan vis a vis Other M‘s returns that they had nothing to do with the story, and all the directorial and script stuff came directly from Sakamoto himself. Because they knew they were the first ones who were going to get blamed for that shit.

          I didn’t like Fusion‘s story, but it’s made markedly worse retroactively due to Other M. And Super Metroid was always about a woman’s primal directive to be a maternal caregiver.

          Zero Mission is the better point of comparison I think. Which features a whole level where a sexualized and defenseless Samus in her “Zero Suit” (debuting in this game) literally crawls around on her hands and knees. Team Ninja had nothing to do with THAT. That was all Yoshio Sakamoto.


          • Sarracenian
            June 20, 2017 @ 7:23 pm

            I always found that statement a bit suspect. Seems a bit sleazy esp considering its a studio with a sleazy history to begin with (besides it still doesn’t excuse the male gaze problems and bad character animation on Samus).

            Have to wonder whether Other M was either the result of Sakamoto going too far or Team Ninja making bleh implications into actual text.

          • Josh Marsfelder
            June 20, 2017 @ 11:36 pm

            Can’t see why it can’t be both.

  2. SamusAran
    June 16, 2017 @ 11:39 pm

    Another thing about the Metroid II remake is the terrible stance Nintendo took on the fan remake of the game. Their repressive insticts towards fan production while at the same time trying to do stuff like the Odessey fanservice is the worst ofense.


    • Josh Marsfelder
      June 17, 2017 @ 12:12 am

      Actually, I think Metroid: Samus Returns is specifically the reason AM2R was sent a cease-and-desist.

      Nintendo has a bad reputation for being Draconian and litigious and people throw a fit every time a high-profile fan game gets their lawyers’ attention, but I actually think they’re one of the more lenient and supportive video game companies when it comes to transformative fan works. Compare this to, for example, Take-Two sending illiterate notices to GTA modders doing perfectly legitimate and legal work and threatening them by literally sending private investigators to their houses.

      The ROM hacking community has existed fully openly for decades. Nintendo doesn’t seem to care. And why should they? It poses no threat to them. In fact, I think Nintendo secretly supports this creative work behind closed doors. They just can’t say that publicly like Bethesda and SEGA can. It just came out from the author of Power Up that Shigeru Miyamoto and Perrin Kaplan were positively tickled to see him playing a Game Boy emulator running on the PSP. They totally geeked out over it.

      I think, if you actually look at Nintendo’s legal team’s history of action, you’ll find they only step in when the fans end up making something that would directly compete with a specific upcoming product of theirs. So a new Mario game based on the Super Mario Bros. 3 engine? No problem. A ROM hack that tweaks one of the old Game Boy Pokémon games and adds new features? Also A-OK. But a big budget fanmade Pokémon game with new monsters, new characters and a new region that’s not building off a prior work like what Pokémon Uranium was doing? Now that’s going to be iffier.

      Same goes for a from-scratch Metroid II remake when Nintendo themselves are working on the exact same thing. Sorry, but I can’t be anti-corporate in this case.

      Also, please remember that while we’re compelled to treat companies like “Nintendo” as one discrete person, they are in truth huge conglomerates of wildly different groups of people with different agendas doing different things. The legal team and the developers are not the same people, and they do not have the same goals.

      Nice user name, by the way. I get you.


  3. Chris C
    June 17, 2017 @ 4:32 pm

    I was quite compelled by Mario abandoning physical form entirely to become more of a conceptual parasite. Was a nice reminder that Mario (at his best) is actually capable of being bizarre and alienating, and his long-entrenched set of signifiers are valuable for their ability to be violently contravened or remixed.

    Also encouraging is the tossing out, at long last, of the desperately outdated lives counter and game-overs (in favour of a small money penalty upon death, now that coins are also actually worth something).


    • Lovecraft in Brooklyn
      June 18, 2017 @ 11:52 pm

      As many have pointed out, Super Mario Odyssey is like a big budget version of David O’Reilly’s art game Everything. Which is certainly interesting.


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