It’s sort of old hat by now to bemoan the story, and yes, the overall quality, of Metroid: Other M. It’s been beat to death; we all know what the issues were, we all have thoughts on the direction, and we all have varying opinions on how offensive, if at all, the game was to Metroid fans.
It’s pretty easy to complain about something and pick out the areas a story stumbled, but what’s more difficult – and what I’m interested in today – is making chicken soup out of chicken you-know-what. Of course, I’ll have to bring up some issues that I had with Other M, but I want to do it in a more analytical way and suggest what could have been done differently to make a better story, because here’s the thing: I think the bones of the story are actually pretty cool!
I’ve always been a proponent of thinking that, while Other M made a few decisions that I certainly wouldn’t have, the general premise is actually pretty compelling and could tell a really engaging Metroid story!
I pitched this rewrite on an older podcast with Kiwi Talkz, and listening to Dak and Doom’s pitches on how they would rewrite the story of Metroid Dread in a recent podcast episode inspired me to put this in written form for the first time, so here we go! I present to you…
Metroid Other M: The Spiteri Cut!
First, let’s start off with why we’re here. This is the basic concept of the Original Other M, and this is the same concept that The Spiteri Cut will use:
“Samus, emotionally reeling following the events of Zebes, answers a distress call on a mysterious GF ship where she meets her old commanding officer and learns of a sinister conspiracy involving GF-made biological weapons, all while dealing with a traitor amongst the ranks trying to keep the conspiracy a secret.”
So let’s get going. I’m not going to read out the exact story line by line, but rather, a summarized version (think like a Wikipedia plot synopsis) with notes on why things have been changed and what the reasoning is. You’ll probably be able to tell right away that the Spiteri Cut is heavily influenced by Ridley Scott’s 1980 masterpiece Alien, which I feel is apropos, since the Metroid series as a whole takes a lot of direction from that series as well. Let’s get started!
First of all, let’s change something right away. Samus bumping into Adam on the Bottle Ship felt too random. Instead, let’s start the game off with Samus mourning the loss of the Baby Metroid, wondering if family is something she can ever have.
In her despair, she calls father figure Adam Malkovich, who is out on a top secret mission. After a nice chat the fleshes out their background for the audience, they sign off. Shortly later, Adam sends Samus a distress message that says “SOS. Don’t trust anyone” and his ship’s coordinates. That’s how Samus learns of the Bottle Ship.
Samus decides to follow the coordinates, telling herself if Adam is in danger, there’s no way that she can let another family member down. Samus makes her way to a very remote, very isolated part of space and prepares to land on the Bottle Ship.
Samus’s ship is about to touch down, when all of a sudden, the defense turrets start firing on her, damaging her ship and causing Samus to crash land hard, which also strips Samus of all her powers.
(NOTE: I know Samus losing her abilities at the beginning of the game is a little old hat, but it beats the hell out of the authorization gimmick. Sometimes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.)
Samus lands and meets up with Adam’s strike team. Adam tells her that someone tripped the self-destruct sequence on his team’s ship once they landed, marooning the squadron on the Bottle Ship. Adam suspects foul play and confides in Samus that he thinks there is a traitor amongst his ranks. Samus codenames this traitor THE DELETER.
The Bottle Ship
With her ship needing time for auto repairs to complete, Samus and Adam’s team decide to press on with the mission, which remains top secret, even to Samus.
It’s critical that we spend some time getting to know Adams squad so that we have somewhat of an attachment to them before they die. We can have a bit of interplay, maybe establish a trait or defining quality for each character, even if it seems superficial. Something to make the team seem more like characters and less like cannon fodder. Anthony in particular would be a focus, and I have no problems with further flashbacks if need be to establish a relationship between him and Samus.
The team can proceed as they do in the game. Eventually, they can make it to a boss or something (we ARE still making a video game, after all!) that forces them to all split up. This can be the first boss of the game, and from here, Samus can be in communication with Adam every now and then, but now, The Spiteri Cut will start to resemble a more traditional Metroid game.
Samus can also see Little Birdie show up. The evolution of Birdie was okay in-game, but if it was presented in a more Xenomorph-like fashion, it would have worked a lot better, in my humble opinion. Infact, Little Birdie is going to evolve not into Ridley, but Xenoridley. It’s vital the game emphasize that the Ridley Samus fights on the Bottle Ship is not Ridley proper, but a clone or experiment modelled after him. This can be revealed through logs and whatnot as the game progresses.
The Spiteri Cut is progressing nicely; story, for right now, is taking a back seat to some traditionally excellent Metroidvania gameplay, and we’re ripping through bosses, grabbing expansions, and acquiring upgrades as usual. We can see small cutscenes of the Deleter killing off members of Adam’s strike team intermittently after each milestone upgrade that we get.
As a gameplay mechanic, I would also hide voice logs around the Bottle Ship detailing the illegal bioweapons development. If they were voice and video logs showing Madeline Bergman, that would be best. Madeline can talk about the creation of Little Birdie and give us insight as to what it is, she can talk about replicating the Space Pirates weaponry, she can hint at mysterious benefactors, etc.
Samus can eventually confront Adam, who will reveal the mission was to investigate this ship to obtain proof of this bioweapon project. The Bottle Ship is owned by Exelion (who you might remember made the E.M.M.I.’s). Exelion is a science division of the Galactic Federation army that the Galactic Federation proper suspects of foul play.
Samus can learn about Madeline Bergman and her role throughout the game. We can learn that Exelion’s main aim was to replicate the weapons of the Space Pirates and use them against the Pirates, should they ever resurface, or any other threat. Part of this initiative to produce Space Pirate weaponry includes trying to recreate bosses like Phantoon, Ridley, and Mother Brain herself…
That Ridley Scene
Now, to break the fourth wall here a bit, I think many take issue with the Ridley cutscene in Other M, which I’ll get to in a bit, but I actually don’t like where this fight is positioned in the game, so the Spiteri Cut is going to switch it with another boss.
Instead of fighting Ridley (or Xenoridley in the Spiteri Cut) at this point, Samus will be squaring off against Phantoon in Sector 3. This eliminates the disappointment that the original Other M gives you by promising a rematch with Ridley that never happens.
Continuing the fourth wall breaking, I think that many (including myself) think that Samus freezing when she saw Ridley in Other M was the worst part of the game. I think the general sentiment behind it, Samus experiencing some kind of PTSD after her many battles, is okay, but execution was terrible, and it doesn’t make sense for her to freeze when she sees Ridley, who at this point, Samus has defeated multiple times over.
What the Spiteri Cut will do instead is, after Phantoon is defeated, Little Birdie shows up and completes its metamorphosis into Xenoridley. Samus can be terrified and distraught, having thought she defeated Ridley forever, but defiant and attempting to fight it, knowing her chances against this monster are slim.
Clearly exhausted after an intense battle with Phantoon, Xenoridley easily defeats Samus, and it’s only through a well timed save from Anthony that Samus lives to see another day.
Meanwhile, the Deleter keeps eliminating the members of Adam’s team, killing off Lyle, James, and whoever else until all that remain are Anthony, Adam, and Samus.
Samus can eventually meet up with Madeline Bergman, who finally explains the full conspiracy: the remnants of the Space Pirates and Exelion are in league with each other. Bergman says that while Exelion is making bioweapons for the Galactic Federation, they have also been paid off by the Space Pirates to help recreate their army, which has been decimated after the events of Zebes in Super Metroid.
Bergman also reveals that Adam Malkovich is the Deleter and he knew about the experiments from the beginning. Shaken, Samus places Bergman under arrest and asks Anthony to guard her while she goes and finds Adam.
Samus will work her way through the Bottle Ship, eventually stumbling across Sector Zero, where she learns a terrible secret: Exelion is working on two joint projects for the Space Pirates: a Metroid Breeding Program and an AI Program that can control the Metroids, with the AI being modelled after Mother Brain. The Bottle Ship houses the AI Program, while the Metroid Breeding Program is on another ship (which you should all be very familiar with!).
Adam will confront Samus in Sector Zero and admit he had suspicions about what was going on on the Bottle Ship. He was involved in an Exelion operation where he and other high ranking Galactic Federation officials had AI’s created based on their personalities.
Adam explains that the operation gave him a bad feeling, and so he set out to find out what was happening, leading him and his team to the Bottle Ship. Samus and Adam learn of an advanced AI codenamed MB, who was modelled after Mother Brain. Exelion built an Android body that resembled Madeline Bergman for MB to “live” inside, with the goal of having a “person” that Exelion, and the Space Pirates, could control.
Unfortunately, there were problems. Sector Zero’s data logs reveal that MB developed a personality (much like “Adam” would later in Metroid Fusion) that was akin to the real Mother Brain. Chillingly, Samus and Adam see camera footage of MB killing Madeline Bergman and the rest of the officials on the Bottle Ship. Samus now realizes that the “Madeline” she captured is in fact MB, and has been the Deleter this whole time. They also realize that they’ve unknowingly put Anthony in grave danger by leaving him alone with MB.
Upon learning the truth, Samus and Adam try to race out of Sector Zero to save Anthony, but are ambushed by Xenoridley. After an intense battle, Xenoridley is down but not out. Realizing the only way to defeat him is to activate the self-destruct sequence and detach Sector Zero from the Bottle Shop, Adam convinces Samus that he can trigger this sequence and that it’s the only way to give Samus a chance against MB. Reluctantly, Samus agrees.
Adam distracts Xenoridley while Samus makes her escape, watching in sorrow as Adam detaches Sector Zero and the self-destruct activates.
Meanwhile, while Samus and Adam were battling Xenoridley, MB easily breaks out of the restraints she was placed in, and sensing her opportunity, fights and defeats Anthony, killing him. MB then puts the Bottle Ship on a collision course with Galactic Federation HQ…
Samus will track down MB in the main bridge. MB says that she resents her creators and that’s why she wants to destroy them. Samus and MB have an incredible battle that results in MB’s Android body being destroyed, but MB’s programming remains a part of the Bottle Ship.
Realizing she needs to destroy the Bottle Ship to truly eliminate MB, Samus manually pilots the Bottle Ship into a nearby supernova’s orbit, escaping when the Bottle Ship starts to get sucked in and racing towards her own ship, barely escaping before the entire Bottle Ship is engulfed.
Post game, Samus has no proof of the events of the Bottle Ship, as there are no survivors or evidence, but she vows to keep the Galactic Federation under close watch so she can root out and expose any further signs of Exelion misdeeds.
In a post game scene, we can see the Restricted Zone of the B.S.L., which still houses the Metroid Program, only now without the AI to control it. We can see a shadowy figure instruct someone to assign “his” AI to watch over Samus.
There’s a few things that I want to elaborate on and explain what, in my opinion, the Spiteri Cut improves over the standard version of Other M.
First, we’re going to assume the actual dialog is both written and performed better. If I need to, I will write it out myself!
Next are Boss Fights. All bosses the same until where you would normally fight Ridley. As mentioned, instead of fighting Ridley in the Pyrosphere, you’ll fight Phantoon. After that, you’ll have epic boss encounters with Nightmare, Xenoridley, and finally MB, perhaps in a few different forms. One of Other M’s biggest flaws is that it constantly sets up boss battles – the Ridley rematch, the Deleter, MB herself – that never actually happen, leaving an unsatisfied taste in my mouth. The Spiteri Cut adds all of these battles and more. It
The Spiteri Cut also gives more context as to why Samus would be so frightened by Xenoridley – because it is literally indestructible! This version also establishes this new creature as definitively not Ridley, instead of the weird ambiguous version we see in Other M.
The Spiteri Cut also eliminates the chance encounter with Adam and his team, which seemed a little too far fetched for my liking. As mentioned, it also gives payoff to the Deleter storyline and streamlines how many bad guys there need to be. By making the Deleter and MB one and the same, this eliminates confusion.
Furthermore, I tried to retroactively fix some issues from Metroid Fusion’s storyline that I didn’t love as well. Other M has been accused of more-or-less copying the story of Metroid Fusion, so the Spiteri Cut tries to differentiate itself from Fusion in that we don’t replicate the Metroid breeding storyline and remove any Metroid presence, and infact make what we’re doing complimentary. This version also tries to make sense of why the hell Adam’s AI would be uploaded and sets precedent for real personalities developing inside of artificial intelligence.
Lastly, the Spiteri Cut allows MB to cast reasonable suspicion on Adam in a more genuine way; Retools Adam and Samus’s last moments to be more believable to their characters and less overly dramatic; Eliminates any survivors (sorry Anthony…) so as to explain why no consequences ever became of the events of Other M; and establishes clearly and directly that the company behind the Bottle Ship was separate from the actual GF, so while we can be suspicious of the GF and how much they knew, we don’t think Samus is a fool for continuing to work with the GF in Metroid Dread.
So? What do you think? It was a long read, but I think it improves a lot of what made Other M such a contentious story and adds in elements Metroid fans are familiar with and want to see return. Should we #ReleaseTheSpiteriCut? Or let it fall into a supernova like the Bottle Ship in this story? Let us know in the comments below!