Let’s have a chat about Jetstream Sam, the resident smile of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.
Fantastic and inventive bosses are a hallmark of the Metal Gear franchise. When you pair that with developer Platinum Games, though, it goes to a whole new level. Platinum Games know a thing or two about making incredible bosses, and incredible games but that’s another point. The other two bosses I was considering for this piece were also bosses from Platinum games. Anyway, let us focus on Sam ‘Pearly Whites’ Rodrigues.
Metal Gear Rising, for anyone who doesn’t know, is about cyborg ninja Raiden slicing and dicing his way through an evil private military corporation known as Desperado. Sam is Raiden’s nemesis in the game, starting with a fight at the beginning of the game that costs Raiden an arm and an eye. Both characters favour a simple sword over any other weapon but differ in their techniques and outlook.
Sam was born in Brazil and studied the Uradachi technique, which focuses on violence as the main goal. I should mention he picked all of this up at his father’s Kenjutsu dojo. This is a direct contrast to Raiden, who sees his sword as “tool for justice” used to help those who cannot defend themselves. Later in life Sam inherited the Murasama blade from his father, which has a striking dark red hue to it. Passed down through his family for years, the blade became his when his father was murdered.
To really understand why Sam is such a great character, we have to know a bit about the setting of Metal Gear Rising. In the game, cyborgs are the new normal. Raiden has an entirely mechanical body, as do most other soldiers. Sam, however, is still mostly human. The biggest change is a cyborg arm to replace his real arm, which was damaged beyond repair in his job interview for Desperado, and an exo-suit. His backstory in the game even makes mention of how he originally caught the eye of Desperado. He took down ten mob enforcers, who were armed with guns, using only his sword before cyborgs were a thing.
This a world where everyone fighting is mostly robotic and able to perform insane feats, like throwing a giant bipedal tank into the air. Yet Sam carries himself mostly on his training and ability. Sam isn’t a good fighter because he has a robo-body, he’s good because he trained for it. Let’s not forget he’s a Kojima/Platinum mix of a boss, though, so he’s also quite mental.
His first fight sees him using a propane tank to ignite his sword and swing at you in a fiery blaze. That same fight (which takes place on a speeding train) later ends with him using his special scabbard, which he rigged to fire his sword out at an extremely fast velocity, to sever Raidens left arm.
The other aspect of Sam is that he is a wonderfully smarmy git. His introduction has him walking casually up to an armed convoy with his sword slung over his shoulder. As you begin to approach a boss fight, he appears on all the advertisements in the game to lecture Raiden. He lectures Raiden for being hypocritical in killing so many people but claiming his sword is a tool of justice.
Perhaps the best thing about Sam, though, is how his story ends. Metal Gear Rising is a game of insane escalation. You fight a man who can separate his body at will with magnetism. A man who uses exploding shields and two giant swords that click together into a pair of scissors. Then at the end an insanely American US Senator on top of a giant robot spider tank. Yet the Sam fight is amazingly simple and that’s what makes it fantastic. There’s no completely insane over the top stuff (in comparison to the rest, this is a Kojima/Platinum game after all). It’s just a normal sword fight in the desert. Y’know, between a cyborg and a man wearing an exoskeleton while a robot wolf watches them.
Okay so it’s not that normal, but you get my point. As a final parting gift, I’ll leave you with the music that plays during Sams boss fight. A song which is written from his perspective, enjoy.