(Super Nintendo)

Super Metroid (Super Nintendo)

Game Review

Super Metroid Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Dave Letcavage

Superior Metroid

It’s undeniable that 1994 was an extremely memorable year of videogame releases. Sonic 3, Earthworm Jim, Doom II, and the original Donkey Kong Country were just a few of the critically acclaimed games that had us chatting profusely on the playground. However, there was one game in particular that terrified and mesmerized us so wholesomely, while many of its first-time moments still remain ingrained in our memories to this day. It took a total of eight years to see a home console sequel to the original Metroid, but in the Spring/Summer of 1994 Nintendo fans learned that truly spectacular things come to those who wait, when the genre-bending Super Metroid was finally unleashed upon the world.

Redefining what a sequel could be — with developer Nintendo R&D1 working closely with Intelligent Systems — this took everything that was great about Metroid and tuned it to the point of near perfection. Exploration and discovery were expanded upon exponentially, while correcting any niggling issues present the first time around. Director Yoshio Sakamoto admitted that many aspects of Metroid were initially inspired by Ridley Scott’s iconic horror film Alien, but with the release of Super Metroid it became abundantly clear that the series had blossomed into its own beast.

The story picks up not too long after Metroid II: Return of Samus for the Game Boy. After our favourite Bounty Hunter has left the infant Metroid to be studied by the scientists on the Ceres Space Colony, she receives a distress signal which has her doubling back to investigate. Upon return, she discovers the crew has been killed by her arch-nemesis Ridley. Following a brief battle, Ridley overpowers her and escapes to a nearby planet with the Metroid in tow. Fleeing from the exploding Colony with little time to spare; Samus goes barreling after Ridley.

It’s the moment Samus’ gunship is welcomed to the planet Zebes by acid rain and lightning – an image that’s been engraved in the minds of many gamers for nearly 20 years – that it’s pretty clear Super Metroid is going to be something special. From the intense heats of Norfair to the critter-ridden subterranean jungles of Brinstar, Zebes is bursting with personality and atmosphere that absorbs you into its pixel-perfect world. If a 16-bit game can be as immersive as if it were alive, it’s obvious that there is genius at work here.

When the game first begins, Samus will have access to very few areas, so she must collect upgrades for her Power Suit that will allow entry through previously inaccessible doors or even allow her to penetrate different types of terrain to reveal hidden areas. Once standard missiles and the signature Morph Ball upgrade have been acquired, the area of exploration grows substantially; this is when the game really begins to open itself up and feel like a living, breathing world, ready to be explored at your own volition.

These areas are designed to be sprawling and completely non-linear, and one major addition from the original is that you’ll have access to a map which makes travelling more comprehensive this time around. Rooms that have been visited will be highlighted in pink, but unless you’ve collected each individual area map, you won’t be able to view rooms that are undiscovered. Obtaining these maps will even mark rooms of interest – upgrades, save stations, weapons. While you’ll clearly have an overview of where to go, it’ll still take memorization to remember which room is which, and where you need to return to upon unlocking a new ability. This is a game about exploration and discovery in its purest forms.

Another beneficial inclusion is that the aforementioned save stations have been scattered throughout Zebes to ensure you’ll never have to write down another code on the nearest napkin or random scrap of paper. What’s even cooler is that if you return to Samus’ gunship you’ll not only be able to save your progress but recover your energy, as well. Sure, you’ll frequently have to backtrack, but for some hard-to-explain reason, this is one of those games where it doesn’t really ever feel like a chore. We’d like to think that’s possibly due in part to the finely-tuned controls.

Initially Samus’ abilities are restricted to a basic jump – which launches her about three times her height into the air – and the option to run. She can also gun down basic enemies and open blue doors with her standard Power Beam. Some of the tight platforming parts can take a little getting used to but these aren’t complaints about the controls, more so commentary on the unique physics of Samus’ Power Suit. Even the combat feels distinct thanks to the ability to shoot in eight directions, and it’s fun to experiment with the effectiveness of each acquired weapon against the variety of enemies present throughout the game.

There does come a point when the Power Beam no longer affects some of the more powerful creatures (or it only does a very small amount of damage) and this is where you may need to begin utilizing those missiles and other items in spur-of-the-moment situations. To switch between these weapons you’ll need to press the Select Button. On the SNES this worked rather well because extending the thumb of your left hand from the D-pad to the Select Button felt natural and was easy, but on the Wii U GamePad, the Select Button is on the right side of the device. Removing your thumb from the action buttons and then stretching to press Select feels clunky and makes shifting between weapons a clumsy affair.

Thankfully, with these Virtual Console games, the player can change the button mapping until their heart is content. We recommend that anyone having the same issue as us should remap the Select function to the ZL or ZR buttons instead. Make sure these control quibbles are addressed and overcome before putting yourself in those life or death boss battles and end up fumbling among the buttons. And man, are those boss battles a sight to behold.

Massive, towering, hulking, sinister, terrifying and wicked-cool – these are some our favourite words to use when referring to the unforgettable bosses of Super Metroid. These days it’s common practice to feature larger-than-life baddies that span beyond a single screen, but back in the days of the SNES – considering the system's limited cartridge-based technology – this was mostly unheard of. We don’t want to spoil too much about these encounters for those who’re playing the game for the first time, but we will say that they’re incredible and just about every individual boss is thoroughly detailed and unforgettable. We like to imagine many of these gnarly attackers left such an impression on gamers back in the day that they were sketched into the notepads of numerous daydreaming high-school students as they counted down the minutes for the school bell to ring.

That brings us to the visuals as a whole. Super Metroid could quite possibly be the most immersive Super Nintendo game of all time. It looks magnificent even by today’s standards, with the colours still impactful. It’s just too bad that these Virtual Console games don’t come with an option to adjust to widescreen, because it would be nice to have the option — flaws of stretching considered — to see those gorgeous sprites expanded to fill the surface area of our modern day televisions.

Before Super Metroid, Samus’ suit certainly looked neat, but it’s arguably this portrayal that solidified her as the bounty-hunting heroine we know today. That goes the same for recurring antagonists, Kraid and Ridley to name a couple, who look menacing for the first time ever. What amplifies the shock of their presence to an even grander scale are the bone-chilling noises bellowed from these beasts upon introduction. It’s awesome and just a small sample of the mood-validating audio present throughout each area of Zebes.

This is a score to remember. One that often takes center stage but also isn’t afraid to linger in the background with the hopes of stirring up tension, intimidating the gamer, and complimenting the already eerie sense of isolation even further. It’s these calm-before-the-storm moments – where you feel anything could happen – that keep you on the edge of your seat. With every ominous bleep and bloop, or the ceremonial-sounding space anthem that plays when resurfacing on Crateria, the score is rightfully effective and triumphant.

While Super Metroid is a masterfully superb experience all around, that doesn’t mean that it’s for everyone. There are no on-screen prompts or tutorials to instruct players on how to interact with the enemies and environments; you’ll have to figure out how to do this all on your own. And that’s the beauty of the gameplay, really, because it’s this sense of freedom and trial-and-error that truly makes you feel alone and responsible for your own success.

For example, not too long into your playtime you’ll come across a group of friendly gremlin-like critters that start bouncing between walls and scale out of view. This is the game’s way of teaching you how to perform a wall jump. Unlike most modern games, there’s a bit more tact to perform this move and first timers will no doubt need to take a while to understand how to execute this action, and then mastering it takes ever longer. It’s not necessary for progression but it’ll allow access to unreachable areas and even help bypass many sections that would’ve normally required a weapon upgrade. So if you’re one of the many people who are interested in fighting for a record-shattering speedrun, know that mastering the wall jump is integral if you want to contend.

In some review we enjoy giving a comprehensive explanation of the controls, and hint at a few helpful tactics to assist in those confusing situations; with Super Metroid we believe figuring these things out is such a satisfying and rewarding part of the experience that we wouldn’t want to ruin those moments for those who haven’t played the game yet. We suggest you give it your best and explore all possibilities, and if you still can’t get figure it out, you could always take to Miiverse to gain insight from veterans and newcomers alike. It's true that some of the current generation of gamers aren’t familiar with this figure-it-out-yourself kind of gameplay, so it’s great that Super Metroid has resurfaced on the Wii U to introduce them to a mostly bygone era of gaming.

Turn off the lights, crank up the sound, and embrace the goose-bump-inducing ambiance of Super Metroid. The immaculate marriage between visuals and audio are as effective today – even on the modest screen of the Wii U GamePad – as they were 20-years ago when the Super Nintendo was technologically relevant. Thanks to the speed-run popularity and multiple endings, this is a game that deserves repeat attention, so even if you’ve indulged in the past, we could confidently recommend you do so again. We’ve really only touched the surface of what makes this game so spectacular, but that was intentional, as we hope you’ll explore the planet of Zebes and discover its magic for yourself.

Conclusion

Super Metroid is a science-fiction masterpiece that not only redefined everything that was great about the Metroid series up until that point, but it also showcased a world striking enough to prove for the makings of a long-lasting franchise. Engrossing atmosphere, tight controls, pure exploration, and gnarly bosses are just a few of the things that make this an unforgettable experience from front-to-back, and we can’t think of a reason as to why you shouldn’t download this game immediately and at least give it shot. It honestly hasn’t aged a day, like many of its SNES brethren, which is a testament as to why the system is often regarded as one of the best home consoles of all time. Clear a space on your Wii U dashboard, Samus Aran needs somewhere to land her gunship.

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User Comments (66)

AJWolfTill

#3

AJWolfTill said:

As much as I've tried to avoid calling for help, I did panic in that corridor with the sprint jump bird, as I didn't think I had that ability already. Absolutely loving this game :)

Nintenjoe64

#4

Nintenjoe64 said:

I am loving this. I hope modern developers are taking note of how the exploration, story-telling and action is interwoven in this game, rather than spending millions on CGI cutscenes..

Shworange

#5

Shworange said:

I am playing it again and I am absolutely in love with it! I wish a new 2 1/2D side scroller metroid was made for the 3DS!

gavn64

#6

gavn64 said:

This along with the other two members of the holy trinity ZELDA: A LINK TO THE PAST and SUPER MARIO WORLD is the reason i always laugh when the megadrive vs snes debate comes up these three masterpiece's haven't aged a day and yet nearly everything on the megadrive has in fact these three games are better than about 97% of all modern games im not saying it to be flipant either only the MARIO 64 & the two GALAXY games have topped WORLD only SKYWARD SWORD & OCARINA has topped A LINK TO THE PAST and actually i dont think PRIME has topped this beautiful piece of art it's close but i give it to SUPER METROID i did get stuck in the THAT WHOLE though :)

Great review as well sums it all up perfectly.

Shiryu

#7

Shiryu said:

Ageless classic, game developers should be forced to play it from start to finish before being able to produce anything. Truly top tier stuff that shows just how much it was possible to do with "only" 16 bits.

WiiLovePeace

#8

WiiLovePeace said:

I had not played Super Metroid until it went on sale for 30c on Wii U but... My lord! Such an amazing, amazing game! I'm sure if 11/10 was allowed on NL then Super Metroid would definitely recieve that honour :D Its amazingly addictive, I haven't been able to put it down.

Zyph

#9

Zyph said:

I don't know how to Metroid crawl in this game. lol
Anyway great review! :)

x-mas_mii

#10

x-mas_mii said:

I bought the download code with club nintendo coins and downloaded to our old wii, knowing that i would buy it again may 16th for my wiiu. So I ended up with a free copy and a thirty cent copy of an awesome game.

Buduski

#13

Buduski said:

Downloaded two days ago and haven't stopped playing, this game really is a masterpiece, if you've never played a Metroid game this would be a great game to get into the series

HandheldGuru97

#14

HandheldGuru97 said:

First time I have ever played through this and all I can say is wow. What an amazing game, 10/10 and 30 cents well spent from me.

Reddaye

#15

Reddaye said:

I've actually never finished this game despite having owned the cartridge for years. For thirty cents I'm going to change one of my greatest gaming shames. Very excited!

skjia

#17

skjia said:

One of my favorite things of this game has always been the isolation. Not one thing is told to you. You're all on your own exploring a dangerous place. I would really like it if games started revisiting that sense exploration and figuring out everything for yourself.
Great review. Am definitely enjoying playing through this again.

Kirk

#18

Kirk said:

"It honestly hasn't aged a day, like many of its SNES brethren, which is a testament as to why the system is often regarded as one of the best home consoles of all time."

This.

Knuckles

#19

Knuckles said:

Seeing as I don't have a Wii U, I immediately corrected my crime of not owning Super Metriod via Club Nintendo for my Wii.

TysonOfTime

#20

TysonOfTime said:

Thanks to The Ambassador Program and this, I now own every Metroid game except Hunters. I have to say, this is one of the best games I've played in a while.
It's honestly amazing how good this game is. It makes me happy playing it.

Midnight3DS

#23

Midnight3DS said:

I was playing the awesome Shadowrun on Sega Genesis around this time.

Then there was that... Shaq-Fu... thing

LDXD

#24

LDXD said:

At $0.30 I feel like I'm stealing, great review and this is one game I give a perfect score also, which is something I very rarely do

KillerGBH

#25

KillerGBH said:

I am discovering super metroid for the first time and its an awesome game so much stuff and secrets to discover. For only 30cents need to be stupid to miss that offer ^^ .

iphys

#26

iphys said:

"tight controls"? The clunky controls are the biggest downpoint of this game for me.

Megajack

#27

Megajack said:

Best game ever. Period. This game literally has no flaws, one of the reasons it's my favorite game.

Jeremyx7

#29

Jeremyx7 said:

@iphys you either must not know the controls very well yet or you are absolutely terrible with the majority of controls out there. Super Metroid controls are some of the most responsive, fluid, yet detailed controls ever for a action/adventure/exploration/platform game out there.

fluggy

#30

fluggy said:

Oh that wall jump .... That pesky triple wall jump!!! Still gets me in a cold sweat!!

Giygas_95

#31

Giygas_95 said:

Yep. Anything less than a 10/10 would just be wrong. This, Super Mario World, and A Link to the Past are three of the best games ever.

iphys

#34

iphys said:

I don't suppose the lag is helping the controls, but I feel like the jump is completely out of control and it's impossible to navigate the small platforms in the vertical sections. I feel like I'm just jumping around like a moron and falling back down more often than I manage to successfully climb. I played the game for over and hour and it still never felt natural. I gave it 2/5 on the eShop, because the controls are so clunky it's not even worth playing in my opinion.

thexmaverick

#35

thexmaverick said:

@Mk_II
Its a bit tricky, you have too press the opposite direction on the d-pad just a bit b4 you press the jump button again, dont press them both at the same time its not ganna work. Like lets says you jump on the right wall, when your character start to fall down, press left on the d-pad and right after that the jump button, but not both simultanistly. Sry for that last word im french lol

thexmaverick

#37

thexmaverick said:

@iphys
Maybe youre just bad. Its at least the 10th time I play this game and never had any problems, just try harder, once you know the mecanics, its really easy.

LDXD

#38

LDXD said:

@iphys don't know what wrong with your controller, I've played this game a thousand times and never had any issues with the controls ever.
The controls are top notch

Mk_II

#39

Mk_II said:

@thexmaverick thanks! i will try it out later tonight. Already discovered Super Metroid is one of those games where you just have to keep trying and trying until you get the knack. It can be very frustrating but that also makes it more rewarding. They don't make 'm like this anymore...

sinalefa

#40

sinalefa said:

I played this one like three years ago for the first time and I was blown away. This is one of the few games for me that really deserves the legendary status it possesses. I bought it today for 30 cents even if I already had the Wii VC version.

Varia01

#41

Varia01 said:

Wow. Super Metroid really is the best game in the series; I think it's my favorite retro game! I really like what is said here. Back then, this must've been the future of gaming. It, without a doubt, accomplish future success. Great graphics, gameplay, great game.

JaxonH

#42

JaxonH said:

@iphys
Here's a tip to help in accurately guiding Samus during tricky platforming sections while jumping: If you hold the directional pad left or right before you hit the jump button, she will perform a spin jump, which is harder to control. However, if you hit the jump button first and immediately after press the direction you want to go, she will perform a straight jump, which is much easier to control. I personally always use a straight jump when jumping between narrow platforms.

TME

#44

TME said:

A masterpiece when it came out, and still is to this day. My favorite game of all time.

TeslaChippie

#45

TeslaChippie said:

If you guys haven't played Metroid Fusion on the GBA, give that one a shot too :3 It's one of my favorite portable games because it took so much of what made Super Metroid awesome! And it's the only 2D shooter to have ever legitimately scared me, with surprise bosses and that creeper Samus doppelganger. On such a small screen too!

Bakajin

#47

Bakajin said:

One of the best games of all time. Almost got in a bit of trouble over this back in the day, when the Etecoons were laughing at me at the bottom of the pit and I was getting frustrated not realizing the were trying to teach me something useful, and my parents were yelling for me not realizing I had an SNES and TV in my closet they didn't know about, and eventually I just had to start a new game because I'd saved down that pit that I couldn't get out of.

Now, though, there's very few gaming pleasures that beat scaling a sheer cliff face, because Super Metroid has one of the best wall jumps and you totally only need one wall.

startropics3

#48

startropics3 said:

There are quite a few secret techniques in this game, such as the crystal flash and bomb jump, which you wouldn't have the pleasure of discovering on your own in most modern games. You can access parts of the game very early with just the wall jump, bombs, and speed boost. My favorite hidden gem is the grapple beam "trick" with the water boss, Draygon.

Definitely a "classic" game design to have obstacles define boundaries instead of locked gates. I wonder why the latter is so trendy now? It is definitely less creative, and it doesn't hold well with time (cough other M cough).

KAHN

#50

KAHN said:

i knew this'd get a 10/10. beautiful game, one of my all-time favorites.

ouroborous

#51

ouroborous said:

one of the best games ever, i still play it from time to time. tons of snes games in fact have held up extremely well over the years, it was indeed a golden age of video games and super metroid is a shining example of that fact.

shinesprite

#52

shinesprite said:

I knew this title would fetch a high review score, but a 10/10? WOW!!

Prepares for 30¢ transaction. :D

Urbanhispanic

#53

Urbanhispanic said:

I got this for my Wii. It's only a matter of getting the cash for the Wii U...and to take advantage of the discount of this excellent title.

Gregor

#55

Gregor said:

I'm going to have to settle for a 9/10 for this. I think you're nostalgia shades are really too thick. This game is amazing but it has some design flaws that Fusion didn't have. This game is better than fusion but fusion simply had better design. There were some moments in this game where I just had to shake my head in digust after finding something that was a bit too cripticly hidden.

RR529

#56

RR529 said:

I played this for the first time thanks to Club Nintendo (played on Wii), and yeah, it deserves all the praise it gets.

I don't know if it tops Fusion as my favorite in the series, but it's definitely a top notch experience. I love the way it guides you, without letting you know you're being guided (I recently saw a YouTube video about the game's "hidden tutorial").

HawkeyeWii

#57

HawkeyeWii said:

Great game, but I need to get into the mood to play it though!!
I am almost always in the mood to play the MP games and the NES game, but rarely ever Super Metroid and I am not sure why.

Kaze_Memaryu

#58

Kaze_Memaryu said:

I started the Metroid series with Fusion and Prime, so it took me some time to get used to it when I first played Super Metroid - and while it's rather obvious that this game is not only the most iconic entry to the series, but also the guideline for every other Metroid title. There's always something that was used in Super Metroid and adapted to other Metroid games.

But there's one thing I just can't get used to: compared to Fusion and Zero Mission, Super Metroid feels really slow! As if I TAS'ed the game for a speedrun of my own (which I couldn't do for the hell of it).

Zeldalover

#59

Zeldalover said:

When you wall jump, wait until you see Samus' sprite going downwards.. that's when you know when to press the jump button.

No design flaws in comparison with Metroid Fusion.

pikku

#62

pikku said:

If I could choose one and only one game to play on a deserted island forever and ever, it would be this. <3

ungibbed

#65

ungibbed said:

Despite having the game already on my original Wii, 30 cents was too good to pass up and test drive the Virtual Console on the Wii U.

Honestly, I have rather mixed feelings. The games themselves eat up over three times of the original ROM data used in the Wii with both having DRM measures bordering on military grade security despite that and mixed consoles aside, it's all about this 24 megabit masterpiece that was truly the pinnacle of the Metroid franchise.

I love the Prime titles but they lack a certain wonder that Super Metroid had. Most of its visuals weren't fancy mode 7 madness, this game sold and lasted the test of time with solid visual detail, a haunting soundtrack in the beginning the brought back all those moments you struggled through on the NES. The long series of platforms leading to where you met your previous arch nemesis from years past, now dark and moody. Every bit of this game plays on nearly all your senses all in just the first hour of the game alone where you have barely scratched the surface. Revisiting familiar territory. After one of the best escape scenes as only an intro.

Once you got it all together, you knew you were in for something truly special. This was pure gold and one of the best games in the 16 bit era of gaming. It raised the bar on subtle visual effects that made the world feel alive and truly is a masterpiece. This game should never get a modern remake nor brought to 3D by the most talented of all developers.

Super Metroid is truly a perfect game with a wonderful difficulty curve and dare I say the best Metroid game of the series. Not saying I dislike the Prime series (which was incredible using the Wii controls) but Super Metroid gave you no walkthrough nor held your hand like the GBA games did, it was and still is the best Metroid game of all time.

I pity those who hate older games like this as they never were shown anything earlier than a GameCube at most (which was a great game system), or the fanboys that refuse to acknowledge the game for what it was.

I tip my hat for the man who brought us this franchise as well as the saving grace at times for Nintendo. Gunpei Yokoi 横井 軍平, may he rest in peace

Luigi21

#66

Luigi21 said:

I started playing this game again last night. Time flew! It's a masterpiece and it's so rewarding when you get an upgrade. You just want to keep on playing.

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