Virtual Console: Super Metroid (SNES)

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Super Metroid is one of those games.  You know, one of those games.  A game so drenched in quality that it appears on many “Best Games of All Time” lists along with titles like Chrono Trigger, Ocarina of Time, Super Mario Bros., Final Fantasy VI, Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, and Metal Gear Solid.  I purposely stretched out this list so you could see just what level this game is on, because it is on the highest level possible in gaming.

I remember my first experience with Super Metroid.  Shortly after its release I rented this game from Blockbuster.  I distinctly remember excitedly riding home and popping it into my SNES to be greeted by the delightfully cinematic opening sequence.  As I watched the intro my mind raced with thoughts of the previous Metroid for NES that I had always thought was hard as hell conflicting with all the hype from the Super Metroid advertising campaign.  It wasn’t that Metroid was a bad game, I was just too young to appreciate it in its golden age and too spoiled by new games to appreciate it later.  All that faded away as I began to play the game.  The intro sequence with Ridley and the Metroid and to the crash landing had me completely enthralled.

I still hadn’t quite gotten used to the Metroid gameplay at the beginning, and did get frustrated when I didn’t know exactly where I was going, but the game’s excellent sense of pacing combined with great powerups and bosses kept me coming back for more.  I was  basically glued to this game for the 4 – 5 days I had it rented and it still evokes the same sense of awe, excitement, and fun to this very day.

Speaking of that, how has the game aged now that it has been out for more than ten years.  Amazingly well.  After playing all of the subsequent Metroid games I had a bit of a worry that this game wouldn’t evoke the same kind of feeling that it had all those years ago, but something happened that has happened to me when playing games of similar caliber.  When I play a truly great game such as Super Mario Bros. or Chrono Trigger I usually enjoy it more the next time around because I notice new things in the game that I didn’t before.  Especially since I played some of these games when I was a little kid.  Super Metroid was much more fun this time around than it was the first time.  The first time I was a bit rushed and had to beat the game before I took it back to the store so the exploration aspect wasn’t quite as fully enjoyed as it should have been.  I’ve always liked Super Metroid, but after playing it again I realized that it is definitely in my top five.

For scores and screenshots, click Read More.

The graphics in Super Metroid are by far some of the best on the system.  The never-before-seen areas look amazingly detailed, and really pushed the SNES in its day.  The areas that are from, or inspired by, the original NES Metroid look really cool and are executed perfectly in their transition from 8 – 16 bit.  Samus’ sprite looks really great, and is animated even better.  You can see little details such as when she takes in air, but my favorite is the using the speedbuster to run through blocks.  It doesn’t get much better than this on the SNES.  18/20

This game contains some of my absolute favorite gameplay of any game in existence.  As I play i, even today, I can’t help but be amazed at the level of thought that went into every single room in the game.  Everything is so cohesive and well designed that it really makes me wish that more games had this level of care go into them now.  Samus’ abilities are a lot of fun to use, and it makes it very exciting to attain new ones and try them out.  All the abilities are spread out nicely to make the pacing perfect in between abilities.  The boss battles are also a lot of fun and the creativity you must use to defeat a few of them is really a nice surprise.  My only complaint is the location of the fire and jump buttons.  I really don’t like it that they but these two to X and A, respectively.  It just seems a little odd when you sit down and play it.  You do get used to it, though, and this is a minor complaint for such an amazing game.  This is the reason for this not being 20/20.  Yes, I know you can configure this, but I’m going  by defaults.  19/20

The sound in Super Metroid really adds to the atmospheric feeling that this game went for.  All of the blasters and effects throughout the game perfectly fit what they are supposed to be and also fit into the whole Metroid feel.  There are a couple sounds here and there that don’t seem to be quite up to the overall awesomeness, but they do not detract from the game.  The music in this game is some of my favorite video game music of all time.  The themes that are carried over from Metroid are recognizable, but the spin that this game puts on them is original and beautiful sounding.  The music from the different areas are classic, and serve to provide a nice feeling of the area you are exploring.  The opening theme, Brinstar, and Kraid are some of my all time favorite songs.  19/20

This game is fun.  And by fun I mean one of the most fun games of all time.  It’s hard for me to imagine any gamer not enjoying this game for one reason or another.  There are just so many things to do and have fun with, and its not long enough to get boring.  You’ll love it.  20/20

Replaying this game after all these years was more fun than my first time through, so I can definitely recommend a second or third play through for this game.  As with many of the classics, you’ll find yourself wanting to play through this game occasionally too so I can easily recommend this to people who have played it before.  The lack of any kind of multiplayer, like we need this in a Metroid game, does hamper the replayability a little as you’re not going to want to play through it like 7 times a week, though.  17/20

Overall: 93/100

If you have any interest in 2d action-adventure games at all, you really need to play this.  Beyond that, Super Metroid is so universally loved that I can’t imagine anyone not enjoying it if they give it a shot.  This is one of my favorite  games of all time, and I think every gamer owes it to themselves to play through the whole thing at least once.

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Second Opinion by Tyler Richardson

I’d have to agree, Super Metroid is one of those games. One of those that has earned its place on just about every ‘great games of all time’ list. One that, when found on such a list, isn’t questioned. It just belongs up there with the best.

Enough already, you’re thinking, we get it, it’s amazing. But hold on, and picture this: Walking into a classroom of college freshmen, and ask if any of them have played Super Metroid. “Huh? Super what?” You might see a couple of knowing nods, but otherwise just looks of confusion and cluelessness. Ask them about Super Mario Kart, though, or A Link to the Past, and every single face will light up. “Hell yeah! I played that all the time! Zelda was awesome!” Everyone knows Zelda (That skank).

So why then, if Super Metroid is so friggin’ amazing, is it so obscure?

That’s the kind of question hardcore gamers have been asking ever since the gaming industry took shape. Why do games that we know to be excellent, like Ikaruga, or the original Mega Man series, fly right under the popular radar, but everyone knows how to yell ‘MORTAL KOMBAT’? I don’t have a good answer, nor do I know what that means for the underrated games themselves. But for the gamers that enjoy the obscure games of the industry, Super Metroid serves as a mark of the hardcore.

For the rest of the world, Super Metroid serves an entirely different purpose. Let’s say you ask that college classroom about Metal Gear. “Uhhhh…you mean Metal Gear Solid? Yeah, I had that on PlayStation!” No, no Solid, just Metal Gear. The original, genesis for one of the most popular and well known series today. How about Final Fantasy III? Blank faces. Final Fantasy VII? “Yeah, the guy with the big sword!” Today, just about every Sony customer claims to be a fan of the Final Fantasy series. But how many of them know about genesis, where it all started?

Super Metroid, and games like it, serve as a reminder to clueless gamers everywhere that the great series we take for granted today – Metal Gear Solid, Metroid Prime, Final Fantasy – didn’t start on the PlayStation or the GameCube.

Oh, and it’s great fun, too.