Would You Rather: Samus Aran or Lara Croft

Today I’ll be looking at two of the penultimate (really rad) female video game characters and pitting them against each other. If somehow you have been stuck under a rock for the past twenty years, let me introduce you:

Samus Aran from the Metroid series (by transfuse)

and Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider series:

Both characters clearly powerful, Samus has a kick-ass suit of armor while Lara gets not one, but TWO guns, and both clearly beautiful by Western beauty standards. So today, we’ll look at a few different criteria and determine who is the more desirable characters (not like that you perv!).

Who Would Win in a Fight?

Let’s be honest, this is really a no-contest. While Lara is agile and dual wielding, Samus has an entire arsenal at her disposal in the form of her Arm Cannon. With the arm cannon, Samus can choose between multiple beam systems (power beam, wave beam, ice beam, plasma beam, phason beam) and missiles, which can be combined in charge combos. Plus, Samus can enter into a power ball mode (reminiscent of armadillos) with its own set of missiles.  With these weapons, Samus is tasked with destroying space pirates a formidable organization attempting to harness the power of metroids. In comparison, Lara’s weapons (generally two pistols) can’t measure up, and while velociraptors, mercenaries, animals and other treasures hunters pose a decent challenge to Lara, a Metroid Prime could eat all of them in a single gulp. To sum up: there is absolutely no way that Lara’s dual pistols could put a dent in Samus’ armor, let alone match Samus’ arm cannon in terms of sheer firepower. In terms of fighting, Samus could blow Lara into so many pieces, no treasure hunter, no matter the skill, would ever be able to find her.

Who has the best personality?

This question is at first difficult to answer mainly due to the fact that Samus and Lara seem very similar at first. Both Lara and Samus are independent women who are generally assertive in accomplishing their goals. Of the two Lara’s history has been more developed and explored, in Tomb Raider: Underworld we learn about Lara’s mommy issues (we already knew she had daddy issues) and now with the upcoming Tomb Raider set to release in 2013, we get to learn just how Lara became the woman that adolescent males came to love (the answer according to executive producer Ron Rosenberg: attempted rape). Here’s the trailer if you want to delve into the controversy of the scene:

However, as one blogger points out:

This is a woman who we first met traipsing around freezing caves in naught but a pair of short-shorts and a low-cut top. Who has killed hundreds, possibly thousands of men, in her quest for Old Lost Shit. Who thinks shooting one gun at a time is simply not killy enough. A woman who takes an UZI with her on a tourist trip to the Great Wall of China and who doesn’t think twice about filling up every endangered species she meets along the way with hot metal. This, Lara-lovers, is a woman who made the dinosaurs extinct for a second time. She is a bona fide, pathological maniac.

So how does Samus Aran compare to that level of crazy? Well, considering she is silent for most of her escapades…which could be due to the fact that she began life in the 2-d world of the Nintendo Entertainment System…this is difficult to assess. Like Lara, Samus has killed hundreds of thousands of creatures in her employment as a bounty hunter. While her fight against the Space Pirates seems to place here in the morally “right” category, who knows how many other times that she has been contracted to kill “innocent’ creatures. Samus could potentially be just as maniacal as Lara in that regard.

Luckily for us (depending on how you define ‘lucky’) Metroid: Other M the most recent game featuring Samus, provides deep insights into the character of Samus Aran: she’s baby crazy. Don’t believe me? Check out the  opening cutscene:

How many times can we mention the word ‘baby’ in one game? Seriously?? That the entire game of Metroid: Other M is predicated on a distress call coded as “baby” we can definitively put Samus into the baby crazy category (and potentially start to wonder and hope that this entire adventure is just happening in her mind).

So who is crazier in this scenario, the woman who goes on killing rampages for artifacts or the baby crazy bounty hunter? I’m going to have to hand it to Samus for this one, in my opinion most of Lara’s enemies have it coming.

Who is Most Objectified?

For our last, tie-breaker category I will briefly discuss which of these characters is most objectified. For those of you who don’t know, to objectify means simply to present something as an object. When using the term in relation to women, to objectify means to turn a human being into an object available for male consumption. The creators of Lara and Samus are both guilty of this. For those of you who remember the earliest version of Lara, her bust size was originally supposed to be much smaller but supposedly creator Toby Gard increased her breasts 150% instead of 15% and the entire developing team was perfectly happy with that. Go figImage that a male development team would be perfectly happy with boobs increased 150% in size. This “creation myth” (the myth part is that it was possibly not an accident) leaves Lara pretty firmly in object territory. None of her original development team thought ‘Oh, maybe we should take care to make Lara a more realistic, fully developed (in terms of body AND mind) and instead left her with boobs so big that it would be physically impossible for her to exist in the real world due to a thing called gravity. However, in past games Lara’s breasts have seen a reduction in size, and there have been attempts made to flesh out her back story and develop her more as a character (having her repeatedly assaulted by men helps this somehow).

Samus on the other hand was anything but sexy in her first appearance. In 1986 she first appeared in pixels (totally not sexy) AND she was completely covered by a suit of armor. In fact, no one knew that Samus was a woman until the very end of  Metroid, the reveal startled many a player. Since then, however, we have gotten to see Samus in a much sexier way.

In most cut scenes Samus is wearing skin-tight clothing and revealed to be a sexy blonde. Can we get anymore stereotypical here? In general, you get to see this a lot more often in Metroid: Other M than in other Metroid games, but once you’ve seen Samus like this, it’s hard to look at her the same way again, even if she is in her power suit.

So which one is most objectified? Clearly they both are, and both consistently make the top 10 in lists about hot game characters, but in this contest I’m going to have to go with Samus. While Lara may be all boobs, Samus has that + the blonde aspect. Blondes are people too (I am blonde) but the stereotypes are a stigma that gives Samus clear victory.

Who would YOU rather be?

This leaves Samus in the lead of my dubious comparison, although perhaps winning the “Most Objectified’ category should count as a negative point. Ultimately, I would rather be Samus. Her suit is amazing, she’s over 6 feet tall (one of my unobtainable life goals) and she owns her own spaceship. I can deal with baby crazy and objectified if I get to have my own spaceship. Although, I might reconsider if the new Lara Croft game featured Lara like this:

(picture of Meagan Marie. Photo by Victor Gamez)


  1. For me, there is no contest. I’d rather be like Lara Croft 11 out of 10 times. I’ve been a huge Tomb Raider/Lara Croft fan since I was a child and first played Tomb Raider on the PS1. I’ve always aspired to be a strong, independent woman and I think part of that comes from playing as Lara Croft while growing up. She was the first female in a video game that I saw and thought “Wow, how cool is she?” and will always me my number 1 video game girl! 😀

  2. You know, I find this a really interesting discussion.

    On the one hand, Lara has a bad history of objectification. Although later entries in the series tried to get away from this, and even though there are games where objectification and ‘fan service’ are far worse… It isn’t a history Tomb Raider has ever really been able to escape.

    Sure, Lara does awesome things and is a total badass, but you can’t really get away from the feeling she is eye candy. Gaming is not littered with failed heroine projects where developers and writers have tried to create badass characters who happen to be attractive but still end up with eye candy that happens to do flips while shooting the undead.

    Samus has long been one of the few female characters where her sex had little or less to do with the character. Yeah, it was a woman in the armor – but the important thing was that she was an interstellar badass bounty hunter with sweet armor, an arm cannon… And yeah. Just awesome.

    The sad thing is, the latest entry in the Metroid series was actually regressive. Samus is LESS of a badass, seeking the approval of a man, being emotionally weak, whiny, and frankly, just less interesting. A bad characterization based entirely on stereotypes and bringing nothing unique, interesting, enlightening, empowering, or… Gah, just… Bad. You can make a female character more human, easier to relate to, without that weak sauce.

    And this is the part where I have to say something I’m kind of at odds with myself on… The latest Tomb Raider, which is meant as a reboot and not just extra backstory, is at least _trying_ to be progressive. Yes, I know, the developers and writers have screwed it up a fair bit. I suspect their attempts at PR have only made it worse – the game might stand alright on its own… But the general direction they are going isn’t necessarily bad. The idea seems to have been to cast Lara as an average(ish) Jo(lene), and then MAKE her a hero. Post traumatic growth, etc. Sure, they have been dumb about it… But at least their intention was to show that women don’t have to be born magnificent explorers or trained as elite assassins all their life to be awesome – they can suffer trauma, stress, and breakdowns, and come back stronger, better, faster.

    That said, Chell is the ultimate female character at the moment I think. Hell, one of the top 5 characters in general, maybe top 3. Or 2? Or 1? Dunno, she is awesome.

Chat me up!