For many years, Samus Aran was considered to be one of the most respectable female protagonists in gaming.
She was one of very few female leads to wear gender-neutral armor. Her gender and physical appearance were never a factor in her abilities, and did not affect the storyline of her games. She spoke rarely, and only for the sake of exposition, creating the impression of a serious and stoic woman. She is also incredibly powerful, known for defeating enemy armies single-handedly, causing the genocide of an alien species, and the destruction of entire planets.
In Metroid: Zero Mission for the Gameboy Advance, Samus briefly loses access to her armor, leaving her in a form-fitting, body-hugging, skin-tight blue bodysuit. This "Zero Suit" hugs every curve of her body so tightly that it is scarcely different from a coat of blue body paint, which has inspired fans to draw hundreds of erotic illustrations of Samus wearing it.
Since Zero Mission, every video game featuring Samus has depicted her wearing the Zero Suit, if only briefly. This has caused a massive change in the way that Samus has traditionally been depicted; she is now portrayed as a beautiful woman with sex appeal, rather than simply being a badass bounty hunter who just so happens to be a woman underneath the armor, who you might get to glimpse for a moment if you're lucky.
This new portrayal of Samus is widely viewed as a vandalism of her original character, and has disgusted many Metroid fans. Samus was loved for being the opposite of stereotypical female video game characters, and now she is just like them - a sexy babe wearing minimal clothing while striking provocative poses at every opportunity. It's no surprise that Metroid fans have been extremely vocal about their powerful distaste for Samus' new look.
On April 8th, Masahiro Sakurai, the director of the Super Smash Brothers games, stated that Zero Suit Samus will be returning in the next iteration of the Smash Bros series, and revealed her new look. She is still a buxom babe in a skintight suit, only this time with the addition of sci-fi high heels. Her new footwear has been met with outrage by Metroid fans who hate seeing their beloved protagonist portrayed wearing feminine shoes that are impractical for running or combat.
Nintendo appears to have embraced Samus' new appearance, and is showing no signs of abandoning the Zero Suit or returning Samus to her roots. Metroid fans who grew to respect Samus for being the antithesis of a typical video game heroine will most likely have to accept the fact that Nintendo has no intention of restoring Samus' lost dignity, or portraying her in a gender-neutral light ever again.
An image gallery of the new Zero Suit Samus can be seen above. The new Super Smash Brothers game will be released for the 3DS in Summer, and for the WiiU in Winter.