With the release of Metroid: Other M just a few days away, now is the perfect time to scan through Nintendo’s venerable sci-fi series and poke fun at all its physical inconsistencies. We did it for Mario and Bowser, then for Link and Ganon, and now it’s time for Samus, Ridley and Kraid to fess up and explain why they can’t pick a size and stick with it.
Our journey begins with the original NES Metroid, first released in the US in 1987 and was one of the very first games to feature passwords. As you might expect, the 8-bit limitations meant all three of our star characters had to be quite small, ensuring a hearty laugh 23 years later.
Above: Ridley’s first appearance is less than imposing. He’s so tiny!
Above: Still, the key elements are there – wings, jointed legs, pointy tail and a long neck
Above: Kraid is even shorter, and we’re sure if you shaved his head he’s actually be a tad smaller than Samus
Above: Rough chart for all three in the original Metroid
Above: Art from the original instruction booklet shows all three to be roughly the same height, though Ridley’s head is all effed up
Above: Captain N’s dreadful representation of Ridley… as a judge. Again, what’s with the head?
The manual calls Kraid and Ridley “Mini-Bosses” and offers no other background details beyond saying Ridley is “the original life form of the planet Zebes.” It also calls Samus a man several times, so it may not be the most accurate depiction of what happened in the dark days of 1987.
Above: “For the last time, I AM A WOMAN”
Both Ridley and Kraid were MIA in Metroid II: Return of Samus, so that moves us right on to Super Metroid, the third game in the series and arguably one of the greatest games of all time. Ridley gains a little bit of personality and notoriety right from the start as the leader of the space pirates, but it’s Kraid that sees the most drastic transformation.
Above: Samus is now eye to eye with Ridley’s chest, though they still look more or less like their NES counterparts
Above: Ridley becomes more than a regular enemy – he steals the baby Metroid Samus rescued earlier, and kills the researchers on the space station. Nemesis get!
Above: Holy Christ! What the hell happened to Kraid? He went from stumpy to skyscraper in the span of one game!
Above: Rough chart for all three in Super Metroid
Even though the game’s manual is similarly vague about Ridley and Kraid, we can infer from the opening that Ridley and Samus now have a personal grudge. Samus chose to spare that last Metroid during the ending of Metroid II, and now Ridley’s nabbed it for further nefarious deeds. And Kraid, well he’s just a big dumb lizard. Emphasis on “big dumb lizard.”
Despite near universal praise, Super Metroid never saw an N64 sequel. Instead, Samus appeared in Smash Bros and its GameCube sequel Smash Bros Melee, the latter containing the only 3D appearance of Kraid thus far.
Above: My, he’s certainly grown. Considering how far back he is, he’s actually taller than he was in Super Metroid
Above: He does seem a bit more limber and active than Super Metroid, where he basically stood there and got shot to death
Above: Ridley was briefly featured in Melee’s opening cinema, sort-of reenacting the opening to Super Metroid. Their bodies are about the same size, but those wings are pretty serious – a sign of things to come, actually
Above: As of 2001, this is what Ridley had to offer. Hasn’t changed much since then
So no 3D Ridley to speak of, really. He was waiting for his big comeback just one year later, which we’ll get into on the next page.