To this day, I still don’t know how I managed to choose Super Metroid.
Lets face it, 1995 was a completely different era for gamers. It was the age of Super Nintendo vs Sega Genesis, Mortal Kombat was still considered to be extremely controversial, Nintendo Power was a huge selling magazine, game purchases were done only in big retail stores and more importantly, online blogs, game sites, and social media didn’t exist. I know to many of you, I just blew your mind, but yes, buying a game was a major process back then and usually involved trying to convince your parents to shell out the necessary money.
Walking around the local Toys ‘R’ Us (when they used a crazy yellow ticket system to purchase games), I can remember coming across a game called ‘Super Metroid’ featuring a character in a orange suit fighting a dragon like character. I had played the original Metroid years before on the NES, but I’m not sure I made the connection. You see, I had never played Metroid to completion as back then in my young age, that wasn’t why I played games. I played to have fun and also lacking any sort of direction, I never made it very far. For years, Super Metroid would act in a similar way, more as a playground than something I pushed to complete.
The magic of Super Metroid for me came from that game’s ability to tell a compelling story without the use of things we see now a days in cutscenes or character dialogue. When booting up the game, the only time you’ll see story based text is at the very beginning from the heroine, Samus Aran, giving players a quick overview of the story so far. Amazingly, the game’s story really unfolded through player exploration. You see, the entire map was open for the player to explore as they see fit with the only requirement being that you found the necessary tool or weapon in order to access the place where you want to go. These days we call these types of games “Metroidvania” so you can see where that term originates from. Navigating to different zones changed the music and visuals of the area around you giving way to new enemies and challenges to overcome. This style has also made Super Metroid a prime candidate for speed runners, showing off incredible feats and ways to get around locked off areas in abnormally short amounts of time.
Other elements of Super Metroid that really stand out for me are the boss battles sprinkled throughout the world. Each zone typically had a mini-boss along with an end boss battle and each proved to be challenging yet extremely memorable. I can remember the first time I entered Kraid’s lair in Brinstar, the music gave way to a more ominous sound letting you know that something was coming. Entering into his chamber the floor crumbled away and this three screen high monster rose up forcing you to climb the room to his head level to shoot a few missiles into his mouth.
Fighting the spirit monster Phantoon on the Wrecked Ship was also a standout moment for me. As you enter this crashed ship on the surface of planet Zebes, the power has been completely sucked dry. You’re navigating through this now derelict ship looking for any signs of life. Your scanners sense a power spike coming from one of the central locations on the ship where you eventually come upon this odd looking creature known as Phantoon. Turns out, this spirit has fed on the raw energy of the ship and can phase in an out during the battle. It’s a tense, exciting fight and victory means the ship’s power and systems are restored.
Lastly, the progression system in place isn’t anything to write home about with what we have these days, but back then it did a really great job of making you feel like a complete badass. Starting the game relatively weak, you continually upgrade and grow in power during your time on planet Zebes. Even though you’re a full equipped badass bounty hunter, you never quite feel like you’re overpowered as the game does an excellent job progressing with you.
Even to this day, Super Metroid manages to capture what I feel is great about video games. While many games just don’t stand up against the test of time, for me, it’s still incredibly fun after all these years. Samus Aran and Super Metroid is main reason why I still have my old SNES with me and feel compelled to return to Zebes to face off against Mother Brain every few years. In fact, I think I’m a bit overdue.
Thinking back, I still really don’t know what appealed to me about Super Metroid, but I’m glad I took the chance on it. It’s one of my favorite games I’ve ever played.
Derek of GamerCrash.com had the honor of kicking of this most epic of top 10 lists for us! If you liked what he had to say about Super Metroid, why not head on over to his site and see what he has to offer on all the most recent gaming happenings and rumors!