The last Metroid video game is in captivity. The galaxy is finally at peace once again. Samus Aran, having successfully completed her latest mission, sets off to find a new bounty to hunt but she does not get too far.
A distress call, an exploration of an abandoned research facility and an encounter with an old and unexpected enemy draw her back into the heroic achievements of the Metroids, and returning back to the site of her first ever encounter with them.
“One of the best games ever created. A true classic.”
What makes Super Metroid so awesome is that it fires on all cylinders. You get to run around as Samus Aran, the hottest bounty hunter in the universe, and blast aliens with a dozen different high-tech weapons, including the three way spazer beam, the ice beam, missiles, and bombs.
Super Metroid was very popular in the late 80s and early 90s. Despite only two games being released, players loved it for its unique atmosphere and construction the whole game consisted of one gigantic overworld with many places to explore and items to find. On top of that, there were plenty of secrets: who can forget the fact that you get to play as suitless Samus by beating the game in five hours or entering the password “JUSTIN BAILEY”?
Gameplay is smooth and responsive Samus handles well, runs rather than walks and can now shoot diagonally, a small addition that makes a big difference. Amazingly enough, all the upgrades go to different buttons and button combinations, and it all fits snugly on the SNES controller. The difficulty is not too high, and while some of the bosses are just down right nasty, it is not that hard compared to the previous two game titles.
Super Metroid is the third installment in the Metroid series, a legendary classic Super Nintendo action/adventure game title that puts gamers once again into the role of bounty hunter Samus Aran, and into the labyrinth of corridors and tunnels of Planet Zebes. The original Metroid established the setting and feel, while Metroid II from the Game Boy era, elaborated more on the story.
But with this game installment, Super Metroid, has pulled together all of the games previously established elements, embellished them, and polished the experience of exploration, into a true masterpiece of game design. Super Metroid is not to be missed. After playing through the game’s prologue battle and flight from a self-destructing space station, you will find yourself landing in the rain on the surface of Zebes.
You are all alone. There are no enemies. It is just you, your ship, and a vacant set of rooms and shafts to explore. Soon enough, of course, Zebes comes to life with alien baddies, traps and interactive environments, but this is just in the beginning since the plot has yet to be set. You are isolated in this world, with no outside assistance, and no help but what you find hidden in this planets mazes and tunnels to assist you on your journey.
Samus’ exploration begins with revisiting abandoned areas at first familiar from the original NES adventure, like the site of her final battle with Mother Brain and the corridor where she first claimed the Morph Ball. And it is there once again.
The first power up in a series of many you will need to obtain, will open more areas for you to explore, and each of which gives Samus some new ability. It is the design formula that Super Metroid perfected, and so many other games have since copied.
Getting the Morph Ball lets you squeeze Samus through tight spaces in the form of a rolled up ball. Then getting the Missiles allows you to open up the red sealed doors. The Ice Beam lets you freeze foes and use them as platforms … but in the first Metroid you did all that before.
What sets Super apart is that, after introducing all the established staples, it just keeps going. You will further collect Super-powered missiles and megaton exploding Power Bombs, the velocity fueling Speed Booster, the Mega Man-esque Charge Beam and much more.
Near the end of the adventure, Samus’s Power Suit will start to be overflowing with upgrades and new weapons and equipment, and that is a great boost to the enjoyment factor of the Metroid experience.
At the time of Super Metroid’s release, the majority of video games still offered heroes whose powers were set in Stage 1 and did not change all the way through the game. After mentioning that you get to slowly build up Aran’s abilities over time, which makes you feel much more engaged in the game.
There are six different regions of Zebes you will need to discover, most of them requiring you to collect some new beam or method of mobility to access. But many of Samus’s power ups are optional.
Super Metroid’s enjoyed over 13 years of replay ability now because you can challenge yourself to try to complete the game without collecting all of the optional upgrades, or to complete the game as quickly as possible, or challenge yourself to do both at the same time.
Along the way, an automatic mapping feature keeps track of save rooms and refill areas, and shows you what areas you have and have not yet explored. When you explore a new area, the obstacles and enemies you come into contact with will leech away heaps of your health. Yet after you pick up another energy tank, or locate the next suit of armor, they will not be so deadly.
As for the bosses, you will probably several times against each of them before you figure out their weaknesses. However, once you figure out the right tricks, you will totally kick that alien’s A$$ the next time you restore your save file, and give it yet another go.
This has very colorful 16 bit graphics and moody, atmospheric music bring the different areas of Zebes to life. If you stop and take a look around, you will observe water flowing in the background and pulsing light emanating from various volcanic vents. The music is full of dramatic beats when it needs to be, but the soundtrack consists of subtle instrumentations that make the dank underworld of Zebes seem even more spooky.
Samus is a fluidly animated sprite with a healthy variety of acrobatic moves. The aliens and space pirates you will have to encounter are also nicely detailed. They typically range in scale from tiny to roughly double the size of Samus. Some of the bosses exceed the visible screen area. In fact, one of the earliest bosses you will encounter is a pig like alien named Kraid that stands so tall that you have to jump atop elevated platforms just to attack his big fat head.
In addition to the already rich presentation and action, the game play and difficulty are perfectly balanced. You will come across new weapons and upgrades at regular intervals, which allows you to access new areas as well as uncover secret passages in areas that you have already explored. These include the super bombs that every Metroid fan has come to know and love, and an energy grapple that lets you swing across the lengthy gaps.
Along your journey, an automatic mapping feature keeps track of save rooms and refill areas, and shows you what areas you have and have not yet explored. When you enter a new area, the obstacles and enemies you come into contact with will leech away heaps of health.
Yet after you pick up another energy tank or locate the next suit of armor, they will not be so deadly. As for the bosses, it will probably take you a few tries against each of them before you figure out their weaknesses.
If it is your first time through, you can expect to spend about eight hours finding your way around the planet Zebes labyrinth and eliminating all of the bosses. After that, do not be surprised if you feel compelled to do it again in less than three hours to witness the best ending in the game.
My Final Thoughts:
It took Nintendo a while, but Samus finally arrived on the Super Nintendo in 1994, almost 3 years after the 16 bit system debuted. And, again, it has taken Nintendo a while but Samus has finally arrived here, on the Virtual Console, after nine months since the Wii’s launch.
On both occasions, Super Metroid’s been worth the wait. There is just no beating this game’s classic appeal. It is truly a blast to play, and it’s replay ability that even now dedicated fans are still trying to beat their best times of completion.
Not many games can work on so many levels simultaneously, existing both as an intense, adventure of exploration into an isolated alien world, but also being one of the best run-and-gun as fast as you can action experiences ever made. If you have never played Super Metroid, you owe it to yourself as a gamer to finally find out about what you have been missing out on all these years.
Super Metroid is one of the greatest SNES games ever made, and arguably Samus Aran’s greatest outing. If you have never played a classic side scrolling Metroid game before, Super Metroid is the one to start with.
My Overall Rating: 8 Out Of 10