Published on June 3rd, 2013 | by Michaela Buckley0
Not having a Nintendo system until the Nintendo 64 influenced my younger gaming days astronomically.
I’d never played a Mario game until Mario 64, I’d never played a Legend of Zelda game until Ocarina of Time and being that there aren’t any Metroid games on the 64, I’d never even heard of the series until much later.
Although picking up Metroid Prime is pretty much a requirement for any Gamecube owner, I’d not actually played it, even long after Metroid Prime 3 on the Wii came out and its subsequent Metroid Prime Trilogy was released. In fact, what I’m trying to say is that I’d never played a Metroid game properly until a year ago, basically.
After the overwhelming guilt of not having played the original Mario game, I also decided in a rush of retro game cramming to try and play Super Metroid, although was unable to maintain concentration on it. Starting again recently however I found the game as compelling as it is fun.
Super Metroid is a sequel to Metroid 2 on the Gameboy, where Samus’ mass genocide of the Metroids resulted in a last baby Metroid accompanying her back on her ship.
She begins this game with the Metroid being handed to scientists who we can only presume aren’t thinking terribly high of the creature’s well-being, and she ships off, to go, I don’t know bounty-hunt stuff or whatever she does in her spare time.
But danger strikes! As she leaves the ship, Ridley comes along and nicks the Metroid, taking it to the Planet Zebes where the first Metroid game on the NES was set.
Now, I didn’t know much about the history of the franchise, much less about the story of the series. However, I was informed that Ridley, Kraid and Mother-Brain (Oh, AGE OLD SPOILERS) were all defeated by Samus in the first game, however (again AGE OLD SPOILERS) each of these appear in this game and bizarrely enough, with no exposition or narration to explain these occurrences. There’s not even a visible scar on any of them to even show that they were all just severely wounded, not like that can really explain away Kraid & Ridley’s exploding scenes in the original Metroid, although Mother-Brain might have been able to regenerate through the body stump that must have been left behind after destroying the brain in the vat.
Super Metroid employs what is now known as “Metroid-vania” gameplay.
Which is an action platformer with an emphasis on exploration and adventure.
Samus starts with no power ups and only an arm cannon to use against enemies, but as you progress through the game you can find increasingly more powerful weapons and some fantastic skills. When a new skill is acquired the game forces the player to use the move which helps to enforce using the skills and also doubles a tutorial.
Starting with the morph ball, she soon gains the ability to bomb, super missile, ice beam and increase her jump height. The final and most famous of Samus’ arsenal is the Screwattack, a jumping somersault which can continue through the air, almost flying.
Zebes is one large world, with a map which you can use to navigate the areas. As you enter new areas, more of the map is filled in.
There are 4 main areas on Zebes, Crateria, Brinstar, Maridia and Norfair, there are also two smaller areas, Ruined Ship and Tourian. As you progress through each area you will find items, defeat bosses and unlock a new area.
There are 4 main bosses and one final boss in the game and as mentioned above Kraid and Ridley are two of them.
The music in the game is very atmospheric, each area has two themes, one for the lower section and one for the upper section, which is usually more upbeat.
The game’s visual style and many aspects of its story are inspired by Alien.
The Metroids themselves are parasitic like Xenomorph young, Samus and Ripley are both strong women and Ellen wears a mechanical yellow suit in the second film a bit like Samus’ power suit, the main antagonist is called Ridley, just like Alien’s director, Ridley Scott and in the opening scene of Super Metroid you can see that the ship was modelled on the top of a building in Blade Runner, another of Ridley’s films.
There’s an abundance of secrets which usually give you an extra amount of an item, but there are a couple of really helpful secret missables, such as the Spazer, which allows multiple projectiles at once when firing and the X-ray scope, which lets you search walls for hidden cavities.
This game became increasingly more fun as I played through it, it’s not hard and the game play is fun enough to warrant giving it another go if you wanted, it has good replay value as the game gives an item completion rate and time at the end, and your overall run of the game is determined by how sexy Samus looks at the end. I would usually insert some sort of snarky comment in here, but that would probably be less to do with sexism and more to do with my inadequacy at getting to see Samus in her undies.
Moody, dark and suffocating, the ambience of the game emphasises the greatest aspect of gaming, interactive immersion, the beautiful 16-bit art and the haunting soundtrack further immortalise this classic of a game as one of the best ever made. Perhaps I’ll get the Ripley-underwear-Samus on one of my next playthroughs.