I just realised in August that it’s Metroid’s bithday this year, and like Sonic, why not celebrate it by reviewing the first four Metroid games. Now last year (oddly enough in October), I did a ‘I Tried’ review of it after trying to play it…without a map and having no way of progressing like the idiot I was.
So I’m doing what I did with The Legend of Zelda by playing and beating it once and for all (With a little bit of help). I brought a legal copy on the Nintendo eShop for the 3DS, used a map and listened to some podcasts to pass the time. So this is going to be a remake of my original ‘I Tried’ review and legitimately try to finish it, a re-review of a game I regretted making an ‘I Tried’ review on…and something tells me it won’t be the last. With that said…
Happy 30th Anniversary , Samus Aran, you utter legend, you’re such a bad ass, you’re a legendary fictional Bounty Hunter and a great female protagonist…and Nintendo has no idea what to do with you and made a 3DS game that nobody wanted, and we definitely spoke with out wallets. I know too, since my wallet said at one point, “You’re way too black to buy a new game”. Whilst the Metroid series may not have a lot of games under Samus’ suit (Kid Icarus only has three), it’s a special and beloved series that deserves the best games out there and when the next game comes out…NOT FEDERATION FORCE, it will be perfect…maybe…if Nintendo pulls their head out of their backside. So, for the last time, it’s time to once and for all fully experience Metroid (メトロイド Metoroido), developed by Nintendo and Intelligent Systems and published by Nintendo and was released in 1986 for the Famicom Disk System before getting a NES release in 1987 in the US, and in 1988 in Europe and Asia.
So you’re probably asking, of all the Nintendo franchises that have had anniversaries and were good, why is Metroid getting the short end of the stick? Well, there are many reasons, like the fact that it’s not a successful series in Japan, which is probably why Metroid: Other M was made so they can get that Japanese audience…failing to realise that it would alienate the western audience…you know, that audience that actually love the Metroid series. Then there’s the fact that it may have a smaller fanbase than other franchises. Now don’t get me wrong, it probably does have a large fanbase, but maybe not as huge as Nintendo wants it to be. But one thing’s for sure, Federation Force is the message from Nintendo to us saying that they have no idea what makes Metroid the way it is, nor do they understand the fans love for it. Heck, the Prime games were made by a second-party company, a western company no less. I mean if a western games company owned Metroid, in the wake of companies wanting to add more female protagonists to games (and hopefully done properly), Metroid would have a crap ton of games to satisfy the fans. But this is Japan, and Japan is…well, Japan. Also, who thought letting Team Ninja develop a Metroid game was a good idea?
Anyway, back to the first NES game.
In the planet Zebes, bounty hunter Samus Aran is assigned to destroy the parasitic Metroid organisms that were taken by Space Pirates, who want to multiply Metroids by exposing them to certain beta rays and use the Metroids as biological weapons to destroy Samus and anyone else who don’t like them.
You are Samus Aran, you go around shooting aliens, collecting power-ups whilst exploring the game for what it has to offer. The game pushes you to explore to such a high degree, you have to figure out where to go and remap where you’ve just been because this game doesn’t give you directions. Zebes contains five areas, Brinstar, Norfair, Hideout I, Hideout II and Tourian.
Brinstar is where you’ll start. To start off, you go left, breaking the convention of “Always go Right”, which was quite common in some NES games. Going right means you’re rewarded with the Morph Ball (or Maru Mari) where you can roll into a ball to get to tight spots and progress through the rest of the game. Again you’ll be shooting enemies with your default beam that’s not really powerful and has poor range, but if you look around you’ll eventually find Missiles, a lot more powerful than whatever beam you have, but it’s essential for blasting red doors five times so make sure you have five missiles, but every set of missiles you collect in the form of upgrades will give you five at a time, but if you run out, then enemies may have some upon defeat. You can also get Energy Tanks to give you some more health and you WILL need it for the game, it’s essential for survival. Then there are bombs since you won’t progress without them, you turn into the morph ball and then use the bombs to access hidden areas.
For your beam upgrades, there’s a few. You can get the Long Beam, which is your normal blaster but can shoot all away to the screen, essential for blasting enemies from far away in case you don’t really want to go near them if possible. Continue on and you’ll find the Ice Beam, in which you can freeze enemies and it’s more powerful and you can freeze some flying enemies to create platforms.
After collecting all that, you go to Norfair to collect some more goodies. The new items include the Wave Beam, where the bullets get shot in a wave pattern but can deal a lot of damage, the High Jump Boots, where you can jump much higher but you sometimes end up being floaty as a result. And finally, the Screw Attack, where you hold your jump to spin around and demolish most enemies in the air, though at times it feels a bit finicky. Then go back to Brinstar to find collect the hidden Varia Suit, which increases Samus’ defense and is very essential to beat the game.
So essentially, the game is about finding things, try to survive whilst finding those things, beat the only two mini-bosses in the game, Kraid and Ridley with Ridley being easy if you got the proper equipment and you know what to do. Then there are two hideouts to go and collect more items until you finally go to Tourian to defeat Mother Brain…and this is where I come to the negatives of this game.
We have backtracking…TONS and TONS of backtracking, especially if you’re missing an upgrade or two. There will be tons of enemies in every area and they will hit and sometimes hit hard. I used a 3DS for save states because I was determined to beat it and shoot me if I use save states for this game, but should you play it on the NES and without a map…and it’s your first time, it’s going to be a long and frustrating experience. And I understand having a lot of enemies all around the area to make it action-heavy and that’s fine, but by goodness does the game slow down to a crawl when this happens, it’s madness at times. I know it’s due to the NES and sometimes too many sprites can cause this. Sometimes, enemies can hurt you as you walk through a door or even if an enemy hits you, you’ll bounce back to the previous area.
Also, as a nitpick, the Metroids, which you never see during the game, appear near the end of the game, in the last area. Metroids can suck the life out of you, so roll into a ball, bomb them and use the Ice Beam to freeze them, then pump them up with missiles until they explode. I got to say, these are some very memorable aliens and I really like the designs of them, they’re really cool. Though, I kind of find them…cute. Of course, this is Japan and the Japanese love cute things.
And then there is the battle of Mother Brain. This was hard, trying to shoot panels to get past without getting hit is impossible, but once the panels are gone, they’re gone forever. Then you have to shoot mother brain with over 30 missiles. I nearly stopped playing but as I wrote this review, I was curious and went back, decided to die, go back to the entrance of Tourian, go back to Brinstar and collect the one energy tank that I missed, went back with near full health AND I DID IT! I escaped the planet, I only saw Samus with her helmet off and the game ends. By God, that was something and I beat it as I was writing this, that is a first for me, and it was one energy tank that I have to thank, the one energy tank that allowed me to get full health and defeat Mother Brain…ONE FREAKING ENERGY TANK made all the difference. I beat this game in a day, a Saturday no less…well I started in the morning and now (as of the writing of this review when I wrote it), it’s half 12 on a Sunday morning…I really to have better sleeping patterns
Before I talk about my experience, I’ll talk about the nitty gritty. The graphics may be dated, but it does give the game a dark and spooky feel to it, in a sci-fi way, it looks grotesque and mechanical at times, inspired by H. R. Geiger and his designs in Alien, I guess you could say Samus was inspired by Ellen Ripley (I really need to watch those movies). The music is so awesome and a bit creepy, when you get your next power-up; it gives you a very lonely feel.
But the one part of the game that shocked everyone was the fact that Samus was a woman. SHOCK! HORROR! WHY WERE PEOPLE SURPRISED? I guess because a lot of games at the time featured male characters and people were surprised that the character was a woman. But looking back…this is really embarrassing, we shouldn’t have been shocked. But think about it, had kids known that Samus was a woman from the start, they probably wouldn’t have played it, from what I assume, there were a lot of playable female characters in Japanese games even before Metroid. I guess it was that mentality back in the West, the innocent years when Thatcher gave zero f**** about the mines, ET was a creep and cocaine was one hell of a drug.
Overall, Metroid is a dated but pretty decent game, though by today’s standards, it’s still a Guide Game in the long run but I guess a few of you will have a better experience if you go in blind. The horror elements of the game haven’t aged well but I won’t harp on it for that, it was a different time when this game was developed. The gameplay is dated but you could get used to and it can have it’s challenging moments, but hey, that’s the NES.
If you’re of the modern person who plays games and are curious, I may recommend getting a Wii U/3DS version with a save state, though I recommend Zero Mission. But if you’re a long-time gamer full of dedication, I recommend it…and I mean the NES version. Metroid, whilst a classic, is very dated in terms of gameplay and technical bits and bobs, but remains a classic NES title. But if you want to try the original out, then please do…with a map.
You can get it on the Family Computer Disk System, Nintendo Entertainment System, Game Boy Advance and Virtual Console (Wii, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U).
Next time: I’m going to try and beat Metroid II, another game I didn’t finish but did a ‘I Tried’ review of it, now it’s time to beat this one.