Samus Aran, the badass female bounty hunter who takes shit from no creepy space monster. I first met Nintendo‘s now seemingly neglected heroine in Super Metroid. I was too young to understand what the hell I was doing, but I loved fleeing the exploding space station at the beginning of the game. In a time where game heroes were almost entirely male, little kid me was astonished that this kick ass character was a woman. I wanted to grow up strong and blow up evil monsters just like her. She was the first video game character I ever looked up to, and it was a privilege to finally see her humble 8-Bit origins in the first Metroid game.
How Far I Got
I beat the game on Dec 31st 2016 with the help of an online guide and the almighty cheat code, NARPAS SWORD. I legitimately made it to the final boss with 235 Missiles, 6 Energy Tanks, and the Varia Suit. Unfortunately, that bitchy brain-in-a-jar kept tearing me apart with her malevolent red dots. I was frustrated and had a side quest to beat the game before 2017, so I decided to exact my revenge with infinite health. The stressful platforming section at the end of the game was still a challenge though. No cheat code can help with that.
Like the other games I’ve played from this historic era, you’re on your own in a very unforgiving 8-bit world. The ultimate goal is to defeat the two mini bosses, Kraid and Ridley, and open the way to the final boss, Mother Brain. Don’t expect the angry denizens of “Planet Zebeth” to give you a break on your mission. They can and will viciously tear you apart as you try to innocently shoot your way through this confusing platforming maze. Luckily, there are many power ups hidden around the planet’s different zones. Each upgrade brings Samus one step closer to becoming the one woman army needed to eradicate the Metroid menace.
If the constant assault from angry space monsters wasn’t hard enough, also expect to be tricked by sneaky environment puzzle tactics. That acid below you might actually be fake, and jumping in it could be the only way forward. If you’ve hit a dead end, that unremarkable block in the corner could be Morph Ball Bomb-able. Without a guide it’s easy to become hopelessly lost in this tricky maze. The rooms start looking the same, and the monsters keep getting stronger as you progress. It’s incredibly difficult by today’s gaming standards, but also an undeniably fun and rewarding gameplay experience.
The game developers worked well within the limitations of this now ancient technology. The areas of Zebes all have boring solid black backgrounds, but each zone has a different graphical theme. The angry space monsters have varied designs that fit in with the zone as well. I noticed that the more detailed they look, the harder they’re going to hit Samus. When too much was happening on the screen I found that the frame rate frequently plummeted. This was actually a good thing to me though. It felt like super-slow mode was activated, giving me time to think and react.
I’m a huge fan of the electronic music genre, and the incredible 8-bit melodies are my biggest highlight of the game. Sure I died a lot in Norfair, but at least the encouraging music was a reason to keep fighting. From the adventurous melody of Brinstar to the haunting tones that play in Kraid’s Lair, I loved every beat. Of course there are also the expected sounds effects. Samus blaster makes pew-pew noises, and the angry monsters have their deceptively cute growls. But man, that music is something out of this world.
My Overall Biased Opinion
I’m grateful we live in this wonderful cell phone age. I was able to easily snap pictures of that lengthy save code, but I can see it being a pain to write down back in the day. At least there is no save battery that can go dead, but I still found the code a tad annoying. Overall, I’m pleased I got to experience this classic NES gem. However, it did not stand the test of time like the original Zelda game did, and I still prefer the First-person Samus of the Metroid Prime series. If you’re looking for a challenging but fun retro gaming experience, this game will certainly deliver that. If you are just interested in seeing the origins of Samus, the remade Zero Mission version of this title might be the better way to go (I plan to play that someday too).
SPOILERS AHEAD! You have been warned.
Favourite Story Moment
Games from this great era are a bit lacking in the story department. After downing Kraid and Ridley, it did feel epic to open the path into Mother Brain’s Metroid patrolled lair. At the end of the game, the big reveal of Samus without her suit was pretty meh to me. It was obviously meant as eye candy for a brave man who conquered the game (the better you do the less clad she is *rolls eyes*). Please don’t get me wrong easily enraged internet folks. I’m not judging. I’m just glad that female gamers are treated to loads of eye candy these days too.
It’s useless in the final area of the game, but I thoroughly enjoyed my brief time with the Wave Beam. It destroyed enemies with ease, and it zoomed through obstacles like they weren’t even there. It also zig-zags in a wave pattern so you don’t have to line up with the angry monsters.
Favorite “Oh S@#%” Moment
After smashing several innocent NES controllers, congrats you’ve finally defeated Mother Brain. Well, you’ve got absolutely ZERO time to relax and revel in your victory. A bomb has been set off and you have a rushed time limit to carefully scale a mountain of tiny platforms. Don’t you dare fall! Oh and if that bomb goes off you have start all over again, at the very beginning of Tourian. No pressure…
Kraid’s Lair is my favourite part of the hostile planet. Simply because I loved the music that played here.
The solo intergalactic bounty hunter, Samus Aran, and definitely not the evil brain-in-a-jar. I wish Nintendo would show Samus more love. Other than adding her to the Smash Bros. roster every title, they seem to be largely ignoring her. Dammit I want to see more Metroid Amiibo, and an epic modern day Metroid game on the Switch!
Most Tedious Gameplay Moment
No matter how many Energy Tanks you have, when you die you have start with a measly 30 energy points. This usually means you have to farm lesser monsters for health if you wish to avoid another quick demise. I read a tip online that said to save a hidden Energy Tank near the start for the end of the game. That way you just grab it to refill all of your energy before tackling Tourian. This was a huge time saver!