Metroid

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North American box art.

Metroid is a platform adventure action game with a science fiction theme released by Nintendo on the Famicom Disk System on 1986-08-06 and ported to the NES in 1987. It's the first game in the Metroid series. You play a bounty hunter trying to stop Mother Brain from making an army of Metroids, a terrible organism which can suck the life out of all living things.

Metroid is a pioneer of the Metroidvania genre, which is one of my favorite types of games. Unfortunately, like many pioneers, it suffers from several serious flaws that prevents it from being accessible to modern gamers. Thankfully, Nintendo remade it as Metroid: Zero Mission, which I suggest as the starting point for anyone wanting to get into the series. Metroid is also the sister project of Kid Icarus: Angel Land Story, and they share similar game engines. A lot of awesome sequels have been made, some with a similar 2D platform style, others with a first-person 3D format.

I first saw Metroid in The Official Nintendo Player's Guide. The game looked really cool, but I didn't own it. I must have borrowed it from a friend, because I remember playing it while I was still quite young. I didn't get very far on my initial run and died as I was ascending the first vertical shaft! I was a bit shocked to find that you only got one life, which gives you an idea of how popular the 3-life arcade style of game was at the time. Later, my step-brother brought the game over, and, with a lot of help from The Official Nintendo Player's Guide I watched them beat the game. I still remember wasting hours trying to fill up energy at an enemy spawn site. In the 1990s, I remember using the Justin Baily code to get invincibility and beating the game. In my 30s I decided to try and beat the game again, just from my memory. I did pretty good (only needed to consult a map a couple times), and got a better ending because I did it all in one sitting.

Status

I own this game on the NES and have beaten it and seen the ashamed ending and helmet reveal ending.

Review

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5 4 5 8 7 58%

Best Version: Metroid: Zero Mission for Game Boy Advance

Good

  • The graphics are great for the time. Each zone has its own feel and ambience. Areas like Norfair have a hellish inferno feel, Kraid's hideout is alive and creepy, while Ridley's hideout is desolate and dangerous.
  • Hirokazu Tanaka's score adds so much to the feel of the game from the motivational Brinstar theme, to the loneliness of Norfair, the power of Kraid's hideout, and the insidiousness of Ridley's hideout and Tourain. The title and ending themes are fantastic and even the quietness of the item rooms and the game start and get item jingles are very hummable.
  • While the game has the typical platformer power-ups (high jump, longer range shot, better armor, etc.), Metroid pioneered a lot of interesting ideas like the ability to morph into a ball and drop bombs, the screw attack, and the ice beam turning enemies into platforms.
  • There are a lot of bonus items to find if you keep at it long enough.
  • Having Samus be a female was quite progressive of the game creators, and I like that it was possibly to play her as an obvious female.

Bad

  • The game is very difficult, too much of which comes from the poor player control. You can't shoot at angles or down, you can't duck, you slide while walking, getting hit throws you around erratically, etc. Thankfully, these problems were fixed in subsequent Metroid games.
  • Without a basic map or quest log, it is pretty much a given that you're going to get lost a lot and spend much of your time back-tracking. You have to draw your own map, but this is difficult due to the scrolling nature of the screens.
  • Several sections of the map are pointless (especially in Ridley's lair) and serve only to waste your time.
  • While there are a lot of bonus items, many of them are really hard to find, and, due the difficulty of the game, they're more mandatory than optional (like the screw attack and varia).
  • Rewarding players by having Samus take more of her clothes the better they do is not only inappropriate for a kid's game, but also makes the game insulting to female players.
  • Refilling energy and missiles is a very tedious process, and you're forced to do it every time you restart a game with a password, killing any chance at getting the best ending.
  • While the FDS version records your time and displays it to you at the character selection screen, the cartridge versions do not, which is disappointing, and instead requires a long complicated password.
  • Since the maps must reuse rooms, several places have what appear to be hidden passages, only to turn into a dead-end.

Ugly

  • Most of the secret items are hidden without any visible hints, which makes you end up trying to bomb the floor, ceiling, and walls of nearly every room to find them.
  • The fake Ice Beam room in Brinstar is really obnoxious and punishes you for exploring.
  • The battle with Kraid is hard, getting his secret energy tank is torturous, and getting back up the long tower from his hideout is stupid frustrating.

Media

Box Art

The game was originally released on the Famicom Disk System in Japan which would let you save your character on disk. All other regions got a regular cart with a password system. Two versions were created for the Game Boy Advance, one could be unlocked in Metroid Fusion. Unfortunately, the GBA's height resolution isn't as tall as the NES, so all the graphics are squished making them look terrible. There are four different versions of box art.

Documentation

Maps

Gallery

Fan Art

Videos

Game Design

Title

Graphically, Metroid's introduction is pretty typical of a 1986 NES game. The game's title logo is displayed, music plays, there are minor graphical changes, and the there is a single-screen message in Engrish to provide backstory. The great thing about it though is the music. It has a nice long and imposing tune.

Ending

Metroid has a pretty great ending sequence for 1986. The music is amazing, there are multiple scenes based on how quickly you can beat the game, and a really fast game changed the next play through.

The ending begins with a message in Engrish displayed above Samus standing on the desolate surface of Zebes. After a short delay, Samus begins to flash and, depending on how quickly the player has beaten the game, one of five things can happen. If the player takes over 10 hours (or five hours while suitless), Samus will turn away in shame. From 10-5 hours, she will raise a hand in victory. From three to five hours, she will remove the helmet of her powersuit, and her long brown hair identifies her as a woman. If they player is able to beat the game in one to three hours, Samus will remove her powersuit entirely and waves to the player while wearing a leotard. If the player can beat the game in under an hour, Samus strips down to just her underwear and waves to the player. After that, the credits roll. If the player beats the game in less than three hours, they can restart the game and replay the game with Samus in her leotard.

I don't approve of the "women as reward" trope in a children's game. I have nothing against provocative imagery in games, but I wasn't the only kid who hear rumors of Samus taking all her clothes off for an exceptionally fast play through.

Download

This is a collection of Editors, utilities, and technical documents for Metroid, including disassembled source code.

Credits

Role Staff
Executive Producer Hiroshi Yamauchi
Producer Gunpei Yokoi
Chief Director Satoru Okada
Director Yoshio Sakamoto
Writer Makoto Kanoh
Character Designers Hiroji Kiyotake, Hirofumi Matsuoka, Yoshio Sakamoto
Main Programmers Hiroyuki Yukami, Yase Sobajima, Toshio Sengoku, N. Shiotani, M. Houdai
Audio Programmer, Composer, Sound Effects Hirokazu Tanaka
Assistant Makoto Kanoh
NES Port Toru Narihiro
Special Thanks Ken Zuri, Sumi, Toru Osawa, Kacho, Hyakkan, Goyake, Takahiro Harada, Penpen

Titles

Language Native Transliteration Translation
English Metroid
Japanese メトロイド Metoroido Metroid

Links