Release Date: August 15, 1987
Developer: Nintendo, Intelligent Systems
Our next game on the list is a Nintendo classic, Metroid! Metroid stars Samus Aran, the greatest of all space hunters. Your mission is to infiltrate the planet Zebes, destroy the Mother Brain, and stop the multiplication of dangerous Metroids. They really tried to push Samus as being a guy in the instruction manual.
Samus enters planet Zebes and right away can find her first power up to the left with the morph ball. You need to collect this in order to advance much farther, so even if you go right, you’ll soon come to a dead end. Samus jumps with the A Button and shoots with the B Button. Once getting the morph ball powerup, press down on the d-pad to ball up. Samus controls alright, but can be too floaty for some of the more precise jumps needed.
Plenty of other weapons can be collected. One of the first you find is necessary to open up new areas, the missiles. You open doors by shooting them. Blue doors can be opened with a shot from Samus’ gun, whereas red doors require five shots from the missiles. The gun can be powered up with the long shot, which increases the range of the gun to the length of the screen. Hidden around the planet are the ice beam, which freezes enemies, and the wave beam, which shoots in a wave pattern, allowing for the murder of ground enemies, which could only be bombed up until that point. The most overpowered powerup is the screw attack, which turns Samus into an invincible somersaulting ball of death when she jumps.
Two other powerups that are necessary for navigation of the planet. First are morph ball bombs, which can blow up certain blocks, opening up new avenues for exploration. Second is the High Jump, which increases Samus’ jumping capabilities. There are missile canisters strewn about the planet, which will increase the number of missiles you can carry. And energy tanks, which will increase the amount of hits you can take. The last powerup is a suit of armor that allows you to take twice the amount of hits and makes the game more manageable to complete.
In order to make your way to the Mother Brain, you need to take out the sub-bosses on the planet. Kraid is one of the bosses. He seemed to be a bullet and missile sponge that took quite awhile to kill. Luckily, I was a bullet sponge by that point. There was also an energy tank hidden in the wall that I couldn’t figure out how to collect, so it went uncollected, leaving me worse off in the final battle. The other boss is Ridley. He took a ton of hits, but it was pretty safe to just stand right up next to him and blast away.
With the two henchmen down, the path to Mother Brain finally opens. The first thing you run into is a Metroid. It clings to your head and slowly eats your energy away. You can buck it off by morphing into ball and dropping some bombs, but if you’re equipped with the wave beam, you aren’t going to be able to kill them. At least I wasn’t able to. I had to go back out and find an ice beam, which allowed me to freeze the Metroids and then blow them away with missiles.
The final confrontation took me a few tries. You walk into a room and have to avoid fixed turret fire. There are also energy circles which fly at you and hit hard. You need to shoot missiles at regenerating capsules to move forward to get a shot at Mother Brain. All of the obstacles hit hard and Mother Brain takes upward of 30 missiles to defeat. The end of the game is a race up a jumping corridor with tiny little platforms. This is where the floaty jumping gets you, but once you make it to the top, you’ve won! Samus takes off her helmet to reveal that she was a girl all along! If you beat the game fast enough, she takes off her suit to reveal a leotard or bikini if you beat the game really quickly. That’s the twist. You were playing as a girl this whole time!
I don’t think the graphics have aged particularly well, but there are other contemporaries who did it a little better.
There are plenty of memorable tunes here. Lots that have survived the times and have been updated and remixed over the years. Downside is the low energy alarm.
This would have been better if Samus wasn’t so floaty in jumps. Also giving me the awesome wave beam, but not having it be able to kill Metroids was dumb.
If you like back tracking, this is the game for you. If you’re playing it totally blind, you’re going to be searching for items for awhile. Also, turbo fire is a must for the sake of your sanity.
Fun Factor: 3.0
It started the Metroid-like genre, which evolved into the Metroidvania. It’s not the best game in the series, by far, but it’s a very good game.
Overall Grade: 3.1
Metroid earns a B. While I understand its importance, I wouldn’t go putting Metroid on any greatest of all time lists. We’ll see how Super Metroid does in a few years.