Metroid (NES)

Game Review

Metroid Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Darren Calvert

Where it all started

More than 20 years have past since Metroid first blew away NES owners with its clever mixture of platforming, exploration and character upgrades. It went on to become spawn many sequels over the years, becoming a much-loved franchise for Nintendo fans – but nostalgia aside, is Metroid still high-quality by today’s standards?

Stepping into the formidable boots of the intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran, you are tasked with defeating the pesky Space Pirates, who've kidnapped the Metroid creatures with the fiendish plan of using them as biological weapons of mass destruction. So, off to planet Zebes you go to restore law and order to the galaxy.

Samus starts out armed with a weedy little peashooter, but before long you’ll stumble across suit upgrades needed to progress further. The first you’ll find will let Samus morph into a ball, allowing her to squeeze through tight spaces with the greatest of ease. Later, you’ll gain other weapons and abilities such as jump boots to help you leap to platforms once out of reach, missiles to open special doors and an ice beam to take out the endless supply of respawning baddies. There are boss fights too, so you'll have to make sure to pick up energy tanks along the way and withstand a few more hits.

Metroid is of course famed for it’s emphasis on exploration, and you’ll find yourself doing a lot of backtracking in order to make your way through, which, thanks to the lack of posted signs and visual cues, you might find frustrating. One of the most annoying things is Metroid's reliance on secret passageways; in this day and age, arbitrarily jumping around, bombing and shooting to find your way to the next section shows the game's age to much the negative effect. This lack of intuitiveness may have proven easy to overlook 20 years ago, but most are going to find it a big turn-off now.

For a game of its era, however, the graphics and sound have weathered reasonably well. The developers employed a complex palette in different sections , and the rocky, industrial and lava themes break up the repetitive nature of exploration. Samus is well-animated and everything plays out smoothly as well, and massive bosses are quite impressive. The sound effects are a bit basic, but the music is decent and you’ll probably find yourself humming along at times.

If you’ve played any of Samus’ more recent 2D adventures you’ll most likely get frustrated by her lack of diagonal shooting skills in this outing. There are countless times when this ability would be useful, and its omission here is to great negative effect.

If you know what you’re doing, then you can complete Metroid easily in a couple of hours, though you're likely to hit several stumbling blocks during your first run. The Virtual Console's save mechanism will take care of maintaining your progress, but the original password feature can also still prove useful.


It’s hard to whole-heartedly recommend Metroid as a Virtual Console download in this day and age thanks to the repetitive nature of exploration and reliance on illogical passageways to progress. While it was one of the best games of its time, the level design is now a barrier to entry whereas other classics don’t similarly suffer. Unless you are feeling partially nostalgic for lost childhood days or are keen to experience the whole Metroid canon, we recommend that you pass on this and wait for Super Metroid to hit the Virtual Console instead as it improves on this game in every conceivable way.

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User Comments (20)



Nintendork said:

This game's really hard. Even with the invincibility code (NARPAS SWORD0 000000 000000) it's tough to finish the game.



Cally said:

So strange, how Nintendo named one of its greatest series after nightmare-inducing (hey, for an NES game ) . . . well, maybe the nastiest non-boss bad guys I can think of offhand in videogame history.

But then, "Zelda" didn't make sense either (a meaningless reference to Zelda Fitzgerald).



Josh_W said:

Way too difficult to be playable without eons of patience. Even as a fan of the later games in the Metroid series, and really liking the design, music, and atmosphere, I gave up on this one pretty quickly.



NESnes said:

Despite the great music, the endlessly repeating background sprites will confuse anyone without a map, and enemies clipping you as you pass through doors is truly annoying. Great for it's time, if you can put yourself in the proper mindset, otherwise go for Zero Mission instead



Ho11oWxxMaN said:

I am currently playing Super Metroid. But I remember really enjoying the original back in the day. I think this fall I will go on a retro binge and d/l this along with Legend of Zelda.



SeniorDingDong said:

I had a bad start with the game,around 2002, and I would have given it a similar score.

But, after giving it a fair try again in 2009 and forgeting about all the gaming comforts I used to like after 1986 I truly began to love this game.

I finished it several times, without maps or anything, collected 100% of the items once and even did a decent casual speed run (both bosses) on it.

For modern players this game is very flawed. From a NES perspective it should get a 9/10.



Deviant_Mugen said:

The score for this one is way too low. Personally, I'd give it a 10 (if I was non-biased, a 9). I beat this game a while ago, I believe it was on my GBA version. If I ever get my hands on an NES, I'm beating the actual cart (which proudly sits in my Metroid collection)...



pikku said:

i've played this on the unlockables in the original Prime (one of the reasons i'm not "upgrading" to Trilogy,btw) and loved every minute of it. haven't beaten it though



Mackan said:

This is a game for all the hardcore gamers. If you ever gonna find everything in this game, you`ll have to be patient and remember any room you`ve visited. Back in the days, so many gamers had to draw their own maps to keep track on some games, due to repeating patterns and confusing .



SteveW said:

A 6 out of 10? Wow! That's way too low! A classic like this deserves a 9.



HawkeyeWii said:

Not really, if you have the NARPAS SWORD code then all you have to do is find Kraid and Ridley then go to the mother brain, piece of cake. I beat it twice in 1 hour with the code.



londen31 said:

Great game. My and my brothers played this game everyday for months when it orgianlly came out. We won the game but it took us months of practice. Just got the Wii last week it will be achristmad present for my family. It may be already open when they unwrap it.



Varia01 said:

6/10???? Really??? There is some weak spots to me (no map, no save stations), but it isn't that seriously bad! This was the new era for side-scrollers back then! From high exploration to aliean shootin' fun! It deserves more. My review is 8/10
Storyboard:It is sad to see Samus's parents die after the space pirates and ridley attcked. It was confusing what their evil mastermind plan was... But gladly the chozo saved Samus and tought her their combat and give her the chozo power suit. It is a little confusing, but neat.
Graphics:The 8-bit style looks neat on the game and the worlds on Zebes are well detailed giving the game and impressive enviorment.
Music:The soundtrack is impressive for a NES game with fresh Sci-Fi music, the weapon effects may get annoying, but that doesn't ruin game.
Gameplay:Certainly creative with the shooting and jumping style and the morph ball controls work too. And fighting creatures is certainly fun. THIS IS BETTER THEN JUST 6/10. MY REVIEW: 8/10

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