Super Metroid (SNES) Review

Super Metroid

This was a tricky decision for me, as I actually played the original Metroid when I was younger, but I didn’t like it (it was too hard, as many games were for me at the time, though to be fair in the case of the original Metroid it’s still extremely difficult for me now!) where as I really wanted to play Super Metroid but never did thanks to that old chestnut (on this blog) of the fact that I owned a Mega Drive while my brother had a SNES, so I was at the mercy of his game choices. I ended up going with Super Metroid because even though I won’t be able to add a “Thoughts Then” part of the review, it’s such a good game that I just wanted to play it again after giving a proper go for the first time a few years ago. So… let’s take a look!

Background:

Super Metroid 2

Always loved the look of this game, that use of background and foreground is so effective…

Super Metroid was released in Japan on March 19th 1994, with a North American release April 18th and a European release July 28th that same year.

The game wasn’t a big hit in Japan, but it took off quite well in the US. That being said, it was eight years before the next Metroid game arrived, so it can’t have lit the world on fire, sales-wise…

Super Metroid is the first game to feature gameplay mechanics that form the sub-genre often called “Metroidvania”, where you have free reign to move around a vast map, but have to collect power ups and backtrack to old areas to then use the new power ups to get to new parts of the map. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in 1997 was the next game to use this idea, hence why it ended up being called “Metroidvania”.

Gameplay:

Super Metroid 1

Certainly Kraid is more familiar to me as a Smash stage hazard, but still love he appearance in this game too…

As Samus you can walk, run, crouch and jump (including multiple wall jumps), as well as fire your blaster in eight directions and charge the gun to unleash a charge shot. As mentioned above, you collect power ups as you traverse the map, and they often give you new abilities, like the iconic Morph Ball, which allows you to turn into a small ball and therefore roll into small vents and pipes, or the Grapple Beam, which allows Samus to swing across gaps. There are also power ups that allow you to jump higher (or multiple times) or dash across the screen with such force you can knock down walls. You also collect various missiles that are not only useful against enemies (especially the Ice Missile) but can be fired at specific doors to open them.

As you play through the map you often face large bosses alongside the regular map enemies and platforming. You also get Reserve Tanks during the game that can refill Samus’s health when low, although you can refill her health and items by saving at her ship (saving at the other save stations will only save progress and not refill anything…)

That’s it basically, but the Metroidvania fun is still here, right from the beginning of the genre, where finding new areas in old locations thanks to have new tech is extremely satisfying. The level design is properly impressive.

Graphics and Sound:

Super Metroid 3

You can almost hear the SNES soundchip sound effect of shattered glass…

Graphics are really nice here, properly detailed and chunky sprites, nice bright and detailed levels (or dark, when needed) and backgrounds, plus some great effects when using weapons. It’s a great example of 16-bit pixel-art heaven.

The sound is top notch as well, with great, now often remixed, background music and some really great soundeffects, especially when bosses die in a hail of fire and SNES ticking-thudding sounds…

Story:

Super Metroid 4

Ridley nabs the Metroid… is a really weird sentence out of context…

After having successfully captured and dropped off the Metroid larva, Samus receives a distress call and finds the larva stolen by Ridley and his Space Pirates. Samus tracks them down to the planet Zebes, where she faced them originally, and soon makes her way through the base, defeating the entire group and eventually freeing the Metroid. Samus then takes on the crazed biomechanical Mother Brain, where she is nearly killed until being saved by the same Metroid she freed at the cost of its life.

After destroying Mother Brain Samus Aran escapes Zebes. It’s a fun little story, and a good excuse to have a near remake without resetting the story.

Thoughts Now:

Super Metroid 5

You know what classic sound string is about to play…

Super Metroid is still a great game. It’s lesson 101 on great level design, satisfying controls and great pacing, despite being nearly 25 years old. Thanks to 2D graphics not dating either, it still gives a lot of modern games a run for their money in almost every department. I may not have childhood memories of playing the game, but that doesn’t stop me from agreeing with the general consensus that Super Metroid is indeed one of the best games ever made…

5 Star Game New

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