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VGChartz recently ran an article on the infamous sequence from Metroid: Other M where Samus locks up, unable to fight Ridley (spoilers galore in the link). The scene has garnered LOTS of negative comments from fans of the series, who can't believe that their hero is unable to cope with a monster she has fought - and defeated - multiple times in the past with barely a shrug. What many players might not realize is that Samus is suffering from PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, a very real illness that affects millions of soldiers, accident survivors, and rape victims.
Part of this can be blamed on the game's backstory: many people are simply unaware of the history between Samus and Ridley, believing only that she defeated him on Zebes twice (as well as twice more in the Metroid Prime games). Fewer players realize that Samus' parents were killed in a Space Pirate attack on Colony K-2L, though this has been canonical since the days of the Super Metroid comic and Super Smash Bros. However, what many people do not realize is that the raid was lead by none other than Ridley, who killed Samus' mother before her very eyes (this was written into the Japanese manga and while it is never stated in the games, the attack WAS depicted in the live-action commercial). This traumatic experience scarred Samus deeply, and while she was able to overcome her nightmare on several occasions, Ridley's sudden and horrific reappearance on the Bottle Ship from what Samus had thought was total obliteration was enough to trigger her PTSD, making her unable to cope with the situation. Without this prior knowledge, it is easy to see how a player could have been shocked and confused by this otherwise inconsistent scene, illustrating, if anything, a hole in the narrative that badly needed filling.
To confirm this theory, Stephen Kelley of VGChartz asked two experts on PTSD - one, Darian Koehne, a US Marine who is suffering from the disorder, and Dr. John M. Grohol, a medical expert - whether or not the scene was depicted accurately. Their conclusions are revealing and highlight many of the problems that plague those suffering from PTSD. Let's give Samus - and real people with PTSD - a little more respect, shall we?
Until next time...