Retro review: Metroid

Tyler Richter, Staff Writer

Say the word Metroid around almost any gamer, and they will know precisely what you are talking about. The entire “Metroid” saga, starting with the original “Metroid” game released in 1986, has become one of Nintendo’s greatest accomplishments, mentioned alongside other greats like the “Legend of Zelda” and “Mario” franchises.

“Super Metroid,” released in North America 20 years ago as of April 18, is considered one of the greatest games in the franchise. It’s this reputation that led me to pick up the game on the Wii Virtual Console last year. After immersing myself in the game, I believe “Super Metroid” is among the greatest of Nintendo’s games.

The atmosphere the game creates is amazing. The musical score combined with the surreal nothingness of the planet Zebes, upon first landing, creates a feeling that the player is truly alone. If you get in trouble, no one is coming to save you.

The real drama begins after receiving the first upgrade, Samus’ Iconic Mock Ball, when alien pirates begin to appear. From there, the player must jump, roll and shoot through a truly labyrinthine system of tunnels to knock out the Mother Brain, Ridley and other bosses, saving the galaxy from the vile Metroids once again.

One of my favorite parts of this game was the challenge. While the enemies do pose a threat, the terrain provides as much difficulty as the things that actively try to kill you. Pits of lava, acid and spikes are some of the more lethal challenges the player must avoid if they hope to finish the game. Add in wall jumping around extremely dangerous enemies and escaping life-sucking Metroids and you have yourself one heck of a difficult game.

Fortunately, once you complete a particularly difficult obstacle, the end of it usually has an upgrade of some kind that would have made the prior obstacle much easier, and also a quick escape route so the player doesn’t have to repeat it again. However, after finding an upgrade, it is advisable to find a save point.

One of the prime challenges of the game is a feature I usually dislike in games, the inability to save on the spot. However, rather than being tedious, the scattered save points in “Super Metroid” ramp up the intensity as the player limps into the safe zone with 10 energy left on their last energy tank fleeing a room of aliens. Of course, this doesn’t regenerate the player’s health, so they must deal with the challenge ahead with whatever they have.

The final scene of the game is especially well done. After the defeat of the Mother Brain, a secret hatch opens and the player must run through the proceeding labyrinth while being shot at as the planet is exploding all around. They have three minutes to escape to the ship, after which the player is greeted by Samus flying away while Zebes and the last of the Metroids explode in the background.