We’re paying homage to Super Metroid on the SNES today, just for the sheer heck of it. About as close to perfection as a game can get, this 1994 release from Nintendo remains a work of art and a shining example of Nintendo’s abilities as a games developer. It’s also a big reason why we can confidently hail the SNES as the best games console of all time.
Super Metroid is so influential it spawned the Metroidvania genre (along with Konami’s legendary Castlevania series), a genre extremely popular in the indie scene right now on Steam. The game’s extensive mapping system is also iconic and has been blatantly copied (lovingly so) in recent indie games such as Axiom Verge. Now there’s a legacy!
As most people who have played this will tell you, it’s absolutely phenomenal. In 1994 it was also stunningly revolutionary, advancing on the equally revolutionary NES titles to take gaming into a bold new direction.
Heavily influenced by Ridley Scott’s Alien (1979), the 2D action adventure game sees you star as Samus Aran (famously, in the NES game players presume they’re playing as a man – on completing the game Samus removes her helmet and it’s a blonde woman!), who’s a bounty hunter. The plot is simple: the antagonist Ridley (a dragon) has stolen some important stuff and is hiding on the planet Zebes. It’s Samus’ job to wipe her, and her horde of Space Pirates, out.
It sets the scene up nicely for a game crammed full of complexities and atmospherics. The map system is legendary, offering multiple routes to take – it’s like you need a degree in physics to complete it. As you advance, you gain powerups which allows you to reach new areas (the fantastic gameplay style taken for the Metroidvania genre) and progress.
Complementing this heady mix of rewarding gameplay and outright challenge is a quite stunning atmosphere. The music and overall ambience makes for a claustrophobic and unnerving experience, but as Samus Aran you always feel empowered.
The result is just a flat out masterpiece of a game and a historic landmark in gaming history. Super Metroid is legendary and one of the best games of all time. You can now easily pick it up on the Wii U – download it for a few quid, plug in your earphones, and enjoy the experience on your GamePad. Absolute perfection right there, sirs and madams.
The Metroid Series
Metroid is one of the most critically acclaimed gaming franchises in history. The Metroid Prime trilogy (developed by genius American company Retro Studios) is arguably the highlight – a remarkable trio of first-person shooters, with Metroid Prime landing on the GameCube in 2002 and subsequent editions appearing on the Wii. You can now download the trilogy on the Wii U for about £15 ($20). It’s worth buying the console for this alone.
Despite its popularity, Nintendo has underused the series. Happily, Metroid Prime: Federation Force launched on its handheld console the 3DS last week; despite the mixed reviews it’s garnered, it’s apparently an excellent game based on the more reliable games media sources (some are notoriously anti-Nintendo, such as GameSpot and Polygon – a bizarre and inexplicably childish approach to journalism).
Let us just hope there’s a big official release on Nintendo’s next console, as that would really be something. In the meantime, try out what’s available – the Halo series steals a lot of Metroid’s thunder as it’s on the more popular Xbox, but the Metroid franchise is far superior. If challenging, thrilling, and landmark action adventuring and shooting is your thing, the Metroid franchise is where to turn (along with Half-Life 2, of course).