Metroid is a platform adventure game with a science fiction theme. You play the bounty hunter Samus Aran who is trying to stop Mother Brain from creating an army of terrible Metroids, an organism which can suck the life out of all living things. The game is the sister project to Kid Icarus: Angel Land Story which uses a very similar engine. Metroid is groundbreaking, but suffers several serious flaws that prevent it from being accessible to modern gamers, but it's 2D sequels are fantastic.
- The graphics are amazing for the time. Each zone has its own feel and ambience. Areas like Norfair feel alive and crawling with dangerous beasties. and Kraid's hideout feels creepy 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 making enemies turn into platforms.
- There are a lot of bonus items to find if you keep at it long enough.
- The game is very difficult, too much of which comes from the poor player control. You can't shoot at angles, you can't duck, you slide while walking, getting hit throws you around erratically, etc. Thankfully, all of these problems were fixed in Metroid II: Return of Samus.
- 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're pretty much forced to draw your own map, but this is difficult due to the scrolling nature of the screens.
- Several sections of the map are entirely useless 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.
- Collecting energy is a very slow process, but you're forced to do it every time you restart a game with a password.
- 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. Also, since the maps must reuse rooms, several places have what appear to be hidden passages, only to turn into a dead-end.
- The fake Ice Beam room in Brinstar is really obnoxious and punishes you for exploring.
- The battle with Kraid is hard, but getting back up from his hideout is stupid frustrating. And getting his hidden energy tank is especially annoying.
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. There are four different versions of box art.