RETRO REBOOT!! Super Metroid (Super Nintendo Entertainment System)

When the conversation of the greatest video game of all time comes up, certainly it's subjective and there's no general consensus on formulating a definitive answer. And I try to not sound like a product of my time (says the guy that writes a column that exclusively talks about retro games), but I feel the world's greatest video games on the planet were birthed in the 16-bit era. Not just because I grew up in the 90's, nor was it a "you had to have been there" frame of mind. The keys to video games of yesteryear can simply be found by browsing any collection of indie games on a storefront, those video games retain the mentality of game design from the era when home consoles were beginning to produce a substantial mode of play that at the time was only found in arcades. Play Cave Story, Axiom Verge, Dust, Dead Cells, Ori & The Blind Forest, Iconoclasts, 2014's Strider, any game in the Shantae series, Bloodstained Ritual of the Night. The back bone of those titles is built on the one true play style that has lasted generations and proved 2D platforming still has much to say: Metroid style.

Metroid's exploritorave mode of play was ahead of its time. The scope of the first entry was daunting, if you started out your NES days with Super Mario/Duckhunt and Clu Clu Land. SUPER Metroid, like everything else on Nintendo's 16-bit juggernaut of a console prefaced by "Super", took Metroid, injected it with Bane's Venom, and made it bigger, scarier, and even more vast, chocked full of so many secrets to uncover, Robert Langdon would froth at the mouth.

The game is greatly revered for not only its amazing gameplay, but introducing cinematic, tone setting elements that were designed to put you at an unease while playing. When venturing through the rubble of the Ceres Space Station, the silence is incredibly disturbing. The only sign of activity is the shattered containment unit where the baby Metroid was stored prior to Samus' departure. You're attacked by Ridley, and in a scripted fight with no discernable outcome based on your actions, he retreats with the Metroid and you have to flee the detonating space station. It's a stroke of brilliance, you don't KNOW if you can defeat Ridley going in blind, but your instincts tell you to fight. There's no jump scares, but the atmosphere is foreboding and you're naturally on edge. The first five minutes of Super Metroid is like a movie trailer that lays the groundwork for a harrowing game experience that lies ahead, and never requires you to put the controller down and watch.

Super Metroid's influence was so impactful, it altered the Castlevania series, a once very solid linear platform game with a respectable difficulty that required patience and timing, to into an explorative crusade through Dracula's castle in Symphony of the Night, coining the colloquial term "Metroidvania". And that's important to bring up. By 1996, the success of Super Mario 64 had many pundits convinced 2D platforming was archaic and to be cast aside in favor of exploring 3D adventure games. The Nintendo 64 was full of them, so this was a pretty aggressive push. Then along came Castlevania Symphony of the Night to blow away people's minds with its gorgeous animation, amazing music, giant sprawling map. It wasn't so much lifting and emulating Super Metroid's style of play, but adding elements to build around it in efforts to enrich it with more detail and substance, like items and weapons that affected your variables. Add this to the puzzle solving, it made you put down that copy of Glover and take a peek as to what was going on there on Playstation. Hell, even the 3D Castlevania games on the N64 adopted exploration in many instances.

What makes the exploration and item acquisition in Super Metroid so superb is upon gaining a new ability or power-up, the game immediately grants you the privilege to test out your new skills in a manner that justifies a quick and effective way to utilize it immediately to circumvent a roadblock. It's one of the most unsung great things any video game can give you. Like, when you first get the X-Ray Scope. You're in a room with seemingly no exit. 

"Status report", Samus ponders. "My only entry point was a surface that's immediately sealed up. There must be a way to get out of here. If only there was an ability I just gained to scan the area for hollow wall points to break through."

  It may seem minute in the big scheme of things to praise, but everything Samus finds has a practical use, there's nothing to waste. Regular and Super Missiles can open doors, so having a higher inventory count is imperative. Finding early health tanks to sustain greater damage when traversing lava to locate hidden ammo caches boosts your stock adequately. The more items you attain at a faster rate determines the ending you get for completing as much as possible. There's a drive to explore and your time and efforts don't feel wasted. 

It's hard to be concise about what makes Super Metroid feel so special. As a video game, it does so much right with little to no fault (the wall jumping was always a skill that required some stubborn finesse) and it doesn't deprecate with age. It's 26 years later, and if I turned on my SNES right now and started a new game, I'd get stuck playing it for hours and filling that map out. It's a venerable time eater, accompanied by a memorable soundtrack, and it's the closest thing to gaming perfection this planet has ever seen. Perhaps rivaled by Link to the Past and maybe Chrono Trigger.

Views: 197


You need to be a member of Game Fix to add comments!

Join Game Fix





© 2024   Created by Verlane.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service