When Nintendo unveiled Smash Bros. Ultimate at E3 on June 12th, the Japanese developer promised a bevy of smaller tweaks to the platform brawler. According to Smash Bros. director Masahiro Sakurai, some fighters are more expressive now, while others feature new voice acting and sound effects. What wasn’t announced: the anatomical proportions of some characters have mysteriously changed, too.
Smash Bros. Ultimate sees the return of Solid Snake, the protagonist of Hideo Kojima’s stealth series, Metal Gear Solid. Last seen in the Wii’s Smash Bros. Brawl, Snake was known for being a powerful character in a flattering suit. Though the suit is meant to help Snake move around silently, it is also known for enhancing Snake’s physical features.
“One of Solid Snake’s signatures is his skin-tight body suit, which hugs every curve,” Polygon news editor and known MGS fanatic Allegra Frank told The Verge. “That includes his butt — a super-tight, very nice butt, and one that gets a lot of screen time [in Metal Gear Solid].”
So it’s no wonder that fans immediately noticed that Snake’s derrière looks different in Smash Bros. Ultimate. It’s flatter now. In reaction, players on social media are cracking jokes and playfully begging Nintendo to fix Snake’s “nerfed” butt.
Every so often in online video game fandoms, players will notice that a Japanese game localized for America will tone down sexual elements or change a character’s appearance. Outrage tends to follow. Usually, the characters are women. It’s rare to see people talk about and dissect attractive men’s bodies in gaming, likely because most characters aren’t designed with the female gaze in mind. Snake is one of the rare characters within the space who can be considered a male gaming sex icon.
Snake isn’t the only one who’s been quietly changed in Smash Bros. Ultimate. Metroid star Zero Suit Samus has also had a breast reduction for the Switch release. Her bosom used to jut out of her tight suit in older games, but it’s no longer as conspicuously gravity-defying. Fans are remarking on this tweak, too. But in a twist, they largely aren’t complaining about it; many people actually seem happy with the change.
Why do people care about Snake’s butt more than Samus’ breasts? It all has to do with the source material. Hideo Kojima intentionally designs his male characters to be attractive and sometimes even flaunts their bodies in front of the player. Meanwhile, Samus is often associated with her orange-red Power Suit, a bulky piece of armor that helps her survive in strange lands. We don’t typically see what’s underneath Samus’ armor in the main Metroid games, but Snake’s body is always front and center in Metal Gear Solid.
“Although Snake is definitely meant to be an attractive action hero, it’s his butt that really does the work for him,” Frank continued. “It’s not just good to look at, but it also almost feels like we’re expected to look; no other part of his body is so pronounced in that suit, especially when he’s crawling across the floor. And so when Snake’s butt changes size, of course we’re going to notice.”