It feels like two decades have passed since the last time I reviewed a Super Nintendo game after playing it for the first time. My last entry into this series was Donkey Kong Country way back in the beginning of September. I had a week of vacation in there and I doubled up on the N64 Connoisseur pieces in order to properly celebrate my one year anniversary here at 1 More Castle. With all of that out of the way and me back on my proper life schedule, I wanted to play something epic. I wanted to play something that people talk to me about every time I mention the SNES and I have to be that lamewad who didn’t play it. The time finally came for me to play Super Metroid.
A quick confession: I have never played any of the Metroid games before now. [ Editor’s Note: BWHAAAAAAAA?! — Bailey. ] That left me a bit concerned that I was going to have to piece the backstory together based off of what I had heard over time and what context the game had given me. Nope. Super Metroid is kind enough to tell you what has happened in the story to this point. So much so, that I, having my only Samus interactions being in Super Smash Bros, found myself immediately drawn in and actually caring about what I was doing. This little Metroid could provide sustainable energy for all mankind? Boss. Suck on that, Tony Stark. It is kind of a cute, happy fella in a weird, blobby sort of way. It doesn’t seem to even mind being in a mason jar and having tests run on it. What a good sport. Welp, I guess there is nothing left for me to do than continue my bounty hunting ways. I hear there is a hutt that is looking for a smuggler, maybe I can go see what that is about. WHAT DO YOU MEAN THE BASE I JUST LEFT IS UNDER ATTACK?!?!?!? Crap, I think I left my laptop in there. Oh no! The little Metroid that thinks I am his mom! I’m coming, Junior!
The first thing you actually fight in this game is a boss. No warm-ups, no tutorials. This game is for grown ups, so quit looking for strategy guides and gamer up. I LOVE that aspect of this game. Go exploring, learn by trial and error, enjoy the experience of the game and let your frustrations fuel you to figure out how to progress. This is the way gaming used to be and one of the things I so miss about gaming. Sure, it is nice to just Tweet a game question and have a bunch of your followers answer it for you, but how much more rewarding is it to die several times trying to figure something out and FINALLY get it? On your own.
Let’s talk about visuals for a minute. Gorgeous. The use of lighting effects to create environments is actually breathtaking. The tone of this game is dark and your are supposed to feel just a little uneasy at the capture of the Metroid and what might happen as a result. The environments go such a long way towards helping you feel that sense of dread. The enemies are designed well and the bosses are terrifying. As they should be. I want to see a boss and yell several expletives as I simultaneously begin to wonder how in the name of Zebes I am supposed to beat THAT thing. I got that from this game.
The audio components of this game combined perfectly with the visuals. They did their part to create an ambiance for each part of the game and almost did it so subtly that it was hard to notice if you weren’t paying attention to that sort of thing for a review you were planning to write for a retro gaming website that happened to keep you around for your ability to write your thoughts as if your were speaking them and your availability to fill in now and then on their weekly podcast and also because you were just a fun guy most of the time. Too specific? Anyhow, the other sound effects are also done well like the exploding of a missile or the demise of an enemy. There is a balance I really love in a game where it has a great mix of sound effects that hit the nail on the head like explosions, but enough sound effects that are clearly video game sound effects. That balance is met perfectly here.
This, of course, brings us to the gameplay, which is excellent. Very excellent. The controls are responsive and consistent. The button layout is customizable. Wanna shoot with Y? Be my guest. The power-ups are spread out very well throughout the game. People who have never played a Metroid game before *Raises Hand* know that Samus can turn into a skee-ball and drop bombs and that is what they want to do. This power-up is found very early in the game and it is delightful. The level design is awesome. Sometimes you have to backtrack to get everything done. Sometimes you are left with several option as to where to go next and you really don’t know which way to go. Even if you do choose the best path, you are left with that uneasy terror of “I wonder what was waiting if I had chosen the other path. OH GOD, DID I MISS A POWER-UP?” The aforementioned boss fights are done as well as any game has ever done them. They are difficult and frustrating which means they leave you with a glowing sense of accomplishment when you beat them. Don’t you want to feel accomplished? I thought so.
In short, this is not so much a game as it is an experience. I fully understand now all of the love that people have for this game still to this day. I would go as far as to say that this is the best SNES game I have played yet, even having played Super Mario World and Donkey Kong Country. If you can find a copy of Super Metroid, it is going for about $35 as a loose cartridge. I can tell you that there a lot worse ways to spend $35 on a video game though. It is also available on the Virtual Console. I’d say it is definitely worth your time and worth the money. I am very glad I got a chance to play this one, even if I am 2 Decades Late.