Metroid (NES)

February 2, 2009 by · 2 Comments 

Metroid - Title ScreenMetroid - The BeginningMetroid - Exploring Zebes

In the hardcore gaming world, there are several series that have been elevated to almost sainthood status.  Series like Zelda, Metroid, and Final Fantasy have fervent fan bases and traditions dating back to the NES.  More recently, Resident Evil, Metal Gear Solid, and (maybe) Halo have started to build the same kinds of traditions.  For me, all of these series have one thing in common.  I’ve never beaten a single game in any of them.

Well, until today, that is… For I have finally done the unthinkable and played through a Metroid game from start to finish!  Back in 2007, I assigned myself a mini-mission of playing through Super Metroid because it’s supposedly one of the greatest games ever, and I hadn’t even played it before.  Well, that didn’t really go very well.  Quite frankly, I found the game extremely frustrating.

So what on Earth compelled me to play the original NES Metroid after not enjoying the SNES version?  After all, even many people that love Super Metroid find the original obscure and tedious.  Well, I didn’t really set out to play it.  I’ve been on an NES collecting kick lately, and Metroid came in a bundle that I got off of Craigslist.  I decided to pop it in and give it a shot, and I was hooked right from the start.

I’m not really sure what was different this time around.  Maybe it’s because I went in with lowered expectations.  Nobody really goes around saying “OMG, BEST GAME EVER!1!” about the first Metroid.  Or maybe it’s because I decided to draw a map as I explored, making note of spots to return to with new upgrades.  Or maybe it’s because I went in knowing that parts of the game were going to be obscure, and I was best off bombing every suspicious dead-end if I wanted to progress.  Whatever it was, I’m glad I gave it a shot and stuck with it.  It instantly became one of my favorite NES games.

For the uninitiated, the backstory of the first Metroid is that a powerful life form has been captured on planet SR388.  It’s suspected that this life form, dubbed “Metroid” by the researchers that found it, is what devastated and destroyed the planet’s entire civilization.  Space Pirates have hijacked the research vessel it was stored on and have taken it to planet Zebes.  There, they’re allowing it to multiply and are engineering it for use as a weapon.  This could have devastating consequences on the entire universe, so the Federation Police have called upon Samus Aran, a space hunter (a bounty hunter that specializes in capturing space pirates), to infiltrate Zebes, destroy the Mother Brain, and halt the space pirates’ plan in its tracks.

Going beyond the plot and looking at the gameplay itself, it really is an ambitious game if you look at it in context.  I mean, this was a time where one of the most novel features of the game was the fact that it was a side-scroller where you could scroll horizontally AND vertically!  How cool is that!?  And then there’s the sheer size and atmosphere of the game, as well.  There you are, a bounty hunter exploring the depths of an alien world, cut off from all civilization.  You’re not really out to save the universe, (even if that may be how it works out) you’re just just out to make a few bucks.  There’s no princess to rescue, no cutesy sidekicks, and no catchy, happy-go-lucky theme song.  It’s just you, your wits, and a giant maze to explore.

Retro Star AwardFinal Thoughts:  I’m not really going to go into the technical details here, as I don’t feel it’s necessary.  The music is appropriate and moody, the controls are solid, and the graphics get the job done (though there is some awful slowdown when things get busy).  Instead, I want to emphasize that Metroid is a game to experience.  The feeling you get from playing it is greater than the sum of its parts.  So go pick up the original cart for a few bucks at your local classic gaming shop, spend a couple minutes blowing on it and jiggling it to get it to work in your NES, grab a pen and paper, then sit back and enjoy… (And while you do that, I’m off to play Metroid II.)

Metroid - Bomb to ContinueMetroid - MetroidMetroid - Nearing the End

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About Tim
My name is Tim. I live in Chicago, IL. I'm a retro gamer.


2 Responses to “Metroid (NES)”
  1. Jason says:

    One of my top 5 NES games. The music is great, I wish I could get it on CD. Definitely recommend making a map when you start out. There are a few different endings, depending on how long it takes you to beat it. Beat it under 3 hours and you get the “best” ending. Overall 5/5.

  2. Popukonu says:

    So you said Super Metroid gave you a headache, and you went around noting every single thing on Metroid and called it a great and non-tedious game. Man, I guess you must have been really high while playing one of them.

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