Super Metroid (1994)


Super Metroid (1994)

Publisher: Nintendo
Developer: Nintendo R&D1, Intelligent Systems
Director: Yoshio Sakamoto
Platform: Super Famicom/Super NES

A research facility studying the last surviving Metroid comes under attack and legendary bounty hunter Samus Aran answers the call, coming face to face with the demons from her past.

While the core gameplay is essentially the same as prior entries, there are a number of new elements that greatly expand the experience. Though it seems like a small thing, the ability to fire diagonally makes a huge difference in combat. The ability to toggle your powerups is interesting but never particularly necessary, though the ability to stack you beams is greatly welcome. No more choosing between the Wave Beam and the Ice Beam. Most of the powerups from Metroid II return and there are a number of new ones as well. The Speed Booster is a particularly fun one. Wall jumping is another new mechanic that can come in handy, but it's a bit tricky to pull off. All told, this is great demonstration of how to evolve the gameplay in a franchise while remaining rooted in the series' tradition.

Besides an opening prologue, the story is told almost entirely nonverbally and stands out as a prime example of how to tell a story visually. If you've ever wanted to see how "show, don't tell" works, play this game. The final stretch in particular carries a lot of emotional punch. You'd never believe this was helmed by the same guy who made such a mess of The Other M. Clearly Yoshio Sakamoto works best when tightly restricted.

This game is a visual feast that still holds up today. It really wowed when it came out. The bosses are huge and the environments are varied. One particular nice touch is the final stretch of Tourian from the first game with all the damage from that game's self-destruct.

From the intro sequence to the end credits, the music is amazing with a few remixes of classic tunes and new tracks that would become series staples. The music does a first-rate job of complementing the environments and delivering the right emotional cues. The sound effects are also quite good. I'm particularly fond of the Baby Metroid's chirping.

This is one of my all-time favorite games. 2D action/adventure doesn't get much better than this and you won't find many better examples of environmental storytelling either. This is one of the greats and should be cherished.

Treasure It