Ever since I was a little kid, video games have helped me get through difficult times. Whether I was moving to a new town, sick, or dealing with mean teachers at school, my games made the situation bearable. So let’s go back in time to high school Amanda. I know, it’s not really a time anyone wants to revisit. Back then, I did a good bit of community theatre, and let’s just say that some of the theatre groups I worked with were better than others. This story involves one of the “others.”
On my way to the first rehearsal, I stopped by Toys R Us to pick up a cool new game for my Game Boy Advance: Metroid Fusion. I had never played a Metroid game before, but it was a series I wanted to try, having enjoyed playing as Samus in both Super Smash Bros. for the N64 and Super Smash Bros. Melee on the GameCube. Besides, I needed something to keep me occupied while I waited backstage. Arriving at the theatre, I was greeted by a catty group of teenage actors who were “so happy to see me”, but I also knew the rumors they were spreading about me. So rather than joining the gossip squad, I cordially said my hellos and made my way to the couch with my Game Boy Advance in hand.
The moment the load screen came up and I heard the opening music, I was no longer a vulnerable teenage actress. I was Samus Aran, a strong and powerful bounty hunter. Arriving at the first boss Arachnus, the stakes felt much higher than a typical boss battle, as I was channeling all the negativity into fighting. From that moment on, the Biologic Space Laboratory was the theatre, and the actors were infected with X Parasite.
After the third rehearsal, I received a phone call from the Artistic Director of the theatre, informing me that I deeply upset the show’s Director for being unable to attend the next rehearsal because I was already scheduled to work my after-school job. When I was personally asked to join the cast, everyone in charge was aware of my after-school job, so this should not have been news to anyone. According to the Artistic Director I was not dedicated enough (even though I skipped seeing my favorite band perform in favor of that night’s rehearsal), nor did I understand how “critical” these rehearsals were. For those reasons, I was kicked out of the show.
Was I disappointed? Absolutely. But looking back, even though I was forced out of the show, I’m very grateful. Every rejection I’ve faced — and being in the arts I’ve faced quite a bit of it — has set me up for something even better. Staying in the production would have left me completely miserable. Knowing that I needed to immerse myself in something fun and positive is the reason I got Metroid Fusion in the first place. So if it wasn’t for that awful theatre, I might never have learned how great it is to be a bounty hunter. Besides, this meant the time I would have spent learning lines and performing was now open for more Metroid, and I could play it by the pool instead of in between scenes!
Filled with a new sense of rage-fueled determination, I immersed myself in Metroid Fusion. After the theatre ordeal, the plot of the game felt more personal. I could have easily fallen in with those X Parasite-infected actors. I was even friends with them at one point. At the time, I was mostly angry for letting myself become vulnerable. I should have seen these people for who they really were. Like Samus, I had no idea of the affliction at hand, but learning of their true nature was my vaccine. As I fought my way through the game, I gained more strength in real life, and got to a point where I could forgive myself. Knowing that someone as strong and independent as Samus could be affected by the X, allowed me to see that it can happen to anybody and doesn’t make me inept, nor does it mean I have to stay a victim. Metroid Fusion served as a reminder that even though “parasites” can be anywhere, I don’t have to let them take over.
I won’t deny that I’ve been known to hold a grudge. So it would be easy to get angry every time I see something related to Metroid Fusion because it brings back bad memories. But what good would that do? If Samus can get through the X infestation then so can I. Instead of dwelling on the negative, I look at Metroid Fusion as a source of inspiration. Sure, that was a difficult time in my life (the theatre situation was just one of many things going on), but I got past it.
Be fierce like Samus. That is my goal. She overcame the odds when female protagonists were a rarity, and her relevancy only increased since the initial Metroid launched in 1986. With her unwavering capability, she fights to protect others, but perhaps more importantly, she doesn’t let anyone take advantage of her. Advocating for myself is something I’ve always struggled with. As I did theatre growing up and all through college, there were so many instances in which I should have stood up for myself. I rarely turned down roles or tech jobs out of fear of disappointing someone, got yelled at for practically existing, and worked myself sick. If Samus were in my situation, well, she would never let it get to that point. Bounty hunters work on a system of mutual benefit. Samus wouldn’t take on a meaningless mission just because she doesn’t want to let her friends down, and she certainly wouldn’t just stand there and take it while being berated. Samus does what is best for her, and that is the kind of mindset I hope to achieve.
Written by Amanda VanHiel