By Operation Rainfall Contributor / May 2nd, 2015
|Developer||Nintendo R&D1; Intelligent Systems|
|Release Date||April 18,1994|
|Age Rating||ESRB: Everyone, PEGI 7, CERO A|
Metroid introduced me to the series. Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Zero Mission converted me into a fan, but Super Metroid made me a fan for life. Before I owned a Super Nintendo and a cartridge copy, it was the very first game I purchased off the Wii Virtual Console. The third adventure made the jump to the 16-bit Super Nintendo in 1994. Many fans consider it to be one of the best games in the franchise. The game inspired future “Metroidvania” titles in the Castlevania series. Over 20 years later, does Super Metroid still pass the test of time?
Super Metroid starts off with a summary of the events in Metroid and Metroid II: The Return of Samus. This is a double-edged sword as it helps players who did not play the first two games catch up on the story so they are not lost, but it also spoils the endings of the first two Metroid games for anyone who has not played or finished either game. The good news is spoilers are kept to a minimum. The game starts off with an introduction area which lets players learn the controls at their own pace without a lengthy tutorial. This was a clever way to create a tutorial without being intrusive. Soon after, the real adventure begins in familiar territory.
Super Metroid takes place on Planet Zebes, a planet Samus visited in the past. Samus Aran is once again isolated in a big world. In the typical 2D Metroid adventure style, Samus must explore all the areas in Planet Zebes, defeat enemies, fight bosses, collect upgrades and find secrets. The world of Planet Zebes is diverse and colorful. In one moment, Samus is exploring a green jungle, then she is exploring a flooded cavern, and then she is going through a room full of lava and high heat. There are seven distinct areas in the game. Some old areas such as Brinstar and Norfair return, while new areas such as Crateria and Maridia have their own environments. Fans of Metroid will recognize iconic rooms such as the beginning corridor in Brinstar and the old Tourian. This fan service is appreciated by longtime fans of the franchise. A new feature that is now taken for granted today made its debut in Super Metroid. There was finally a map! There was no excuse for players to get lost during the game. Don’t worry, though, because there are still plenty of secrets waiting to be discovered.
Super Metroid has an iconic soundtrack. The music in Super Metroid can be described in one word: atmospheric. Each area has a distinct musical score to set the atmosphere. The music sets the tone for the challenges and enemies up ahead. It reinforces the themes of isolation and fear as any threat can appear at any point. Some of the best themes include the Main Theme, Ridley’s Lair, Samus Aran Theme and Mother Brain’s theme.
Samus has a versatile arsenal at her disposal. In Metroid tradition, she has beams and missiles to use as weapons to destroy enemies and open doors, unlike the previous two games where all the beams could be stacked together and used at the same time. Samus has some upgrades to help her reach new areas and get past obstacles. Some examples are the handy Morph Ball, Speed Booster, Space Jump and, of course, the iconic Screw Attack upgrade. These upgrades allow Samus to fit into tiny corridors, jump infinitely to higher places and destroy enemies instantly. She also gets two upgrades to her Power Suit during the game. If players want, they can turn off and on Samus’s individual upgrades by going to the menu and selecting the specific power up to turn off. I would not recommend turning off any of Samus’s upgrades, but the option is there.
The goal is to find the Baby Metroid and defeat the Space Pirates. The Space Pirates officially make their debut in this entry. They were only referenced in the Metroid instruction manual before this point. It is up to the player to determine how to traverse Zebes and reach to the end objective. Super Metroid is a non-linear experience. Players are, at first, restricted to certain areas, but, as more upgrades are obtained, they can choose where to go and where to explore. During the adventure, there will be some backtracking. This is usually done to obtain upgrades and find secrets that could not be accessed before with Samus’s previous arsenal. Near the end of the game, Samus fights an old adversary from her past. When she thinks the fight has been won, the battle has only begun. The final battle in Super Metroid is one of the most iconic, emotional moments in video game history. Soon after, Samus is able to escape Planet Zebes before the planet explodes and heads off for the next bounty.
Over 20 years later, Super Metroid is still one of the best Super Nintendo games of all time and is the magnum opus of the Metroid franchise. Several games took inspiration and borrowed elements from Super Metroid‘s design. Super Metroid has a great story, perfect controls, colorful graphics, excellent gameplay, a fantastic soundtrack, a huge world to explore and secrets to find. Super Metroid is a fun challenge for players as they try to find all the secrets and complete the game 100%. The game’s atmosphere engages and invites the player to the Metroid universe. I never had an issue with the controls. Samus was responsive to my button inputs and she could move anywhere as long as she had the proper upgrades. There are incentives to replay the game to see if you can beat the game faster. After all, this is one of the best games for speed runners. While there is no such thing as a perfect game, Super Metroid is the closest to perfection. If you have never played Super Metroid, I highly recommend playing it for the first time. Veterans of the series should visit the game again and try to find some new secrets.
Review Copy Supplied by Author
This review is based on the Wii U Virtual Console version. It took 5 hours to complete the game.
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