94th game played so far
One criticism that has been levied at our blog is that when we review classic games (such as Paradroid and Earthworm Jim) we tend to look at games through modern eyes. Whilst we do realise that this is not the best way to go about tackling the greatest games in history. However, we hope that the further we get into this challenge not only will we get even more used to writing up our thoughts in a perfectly coherent manner but also be able to start drawing more comparisons and speak in more of a gamers’ language.
For now we are about to start on yet another gaming franchise, two more such franchises to go… can you guess what they are?
Now the timing of us playing this game is quite fortunate. Up until a few days ago, I had never played a Metroid game. I’ve seen and heard plenty and have been impressed by it, but never had a chance to pick up a controller and play it. And then, as we were getting ready to play Super Metroid, the first Metroid game on the list, the games from the 3DS ambassador program were released, amongst them Metroid, the original NES version. I of course gave all of them a try, which meant that in the end, I’ve managed to have played a Metroid game only days before we played this game, Super Metroid. A coincidence that allows for an interesting comparison. Since my only prior exposure to a Metroid game was the original Metroid Prime on the Gamecube I plan on keeping schtum… at least for a while. You haven’t grabbed my 3DS yet to give the original game a try? There’s not that much of a comparison to make here, considering I played through three screens of the NES original, but the short of it is that the SNES version obviously looks better, has more text and explanations, and seems bigger in general.
Still, Super Metroid is widely regarded as one of the major classics of gaming and I have to admit that it has been a real privilege to try our hands at it. For me Super Metroid stands as an exemplar of timeless game-making since, despite being 17 years old it still plays beautifully in practically every facet. Sure, some graphics get a bit repetitive, because they don’t have the storage space to make it unique, and it’s a game that makes you rely on a manual more than what we’d get in our current tutorial days. True some of the backgrounds are reused much like those in The Flintstones but there is enough variation in both those and the inevitable palette swaps to make every area feel unique. And distinguishing the different map areas well.
When these are coupled with the (obviously dated) soundtrack Super Metroid is able to produce perfectly apt atmospheres. Surprisingly accurate, in fact. The surroundings look, sound and feel alien, and coupled with the strange aliens, you really are walking through caves in a planet far away. This is especially so in the boss fights. An exemplar being the battle with ‘Spore Spawn’ which felt incredibly creepy with it’s muted piano and the small eerie spores floating majestically towards the floor. Not helped by the fact that it easily hurts you and that you need to be careful to avoid him as he swings around, and it took us some time to figure out how to kill him. As well as the little cheat you an employ to avoid being hit completely. That’s called strategy – if a corner is safe, you use it for that.
Probably one of the most engaging features is the size of the world. It’s not huge, with many empty spaces, or requiring long treks, but there are so many places to go, so often where you can go several ways and have to pick one, or where you have to leave a door behind because you can’t open it then. Walking around, backtracking to get to the next place and finding all these places is as much fun as diving in, fighting the bosses and progressing through the ‘story’. Due to the expansive world Super Metroid has become a real favourite with speed players seeing who can play it through the quickest and with fewest power ups. It says a lot for a game where, to this day, a sizeable section of the gaming community are still trying to one up each other. And if you’re not a speed player, you could simply get lost of the mazes of this game for days.
That was a surprisingly short write-up… still, if you want to give this game a go and are not fortunate enough to own a SNES and the original cartridge Super Metroid is available on Nintendo’s horse-flogging Virtual Console. It really is worth a spin.