Super Metroid Review



Now, I dunno about you guys, but Super Metroid was pretty much THE game (along with pretty much everything else Nintendo) that quite literally defined my entire childhood, along with Metroid Fusion and Prime...and you know what, it was totally worth the nightmares about mutant alien tentacles slithering out from under my bed while I was asleep and effectively dragging me into Hell. Believe me, you totally wouldn't blame me for having those if YOU grew up with games like the three I just mentioned and Wario Land 4 (not to mention Rayman Origins as well, come to think of it). Anyway, let's get started, shall we?

STORY: Is an interactive sprite-based puppet show, yes, but in the absolute best possible way AND with the absolute greatest possible execution that you could theoretically think of; within nothing more than the emboldened and incredibly iconic quote up above and quite possibly THE greatest video game introduction sequence ever devised by mankind, the entire backstory of Samus from the two games prior, as well as her newfound in-game motivation to rescue the Galactic Federation scientists' last remaining Metroid (that also views her as its scientific MOTHER, no less) from the horrifically evil clutches of Ridley and the Space Pirates so that it can be used to create a vaccine that will (hopefully) cure the entire universe's human population of sickness for good, is explained in the most wonderfully dramatic and theatrical way possible, culminating in an epic Ridley battle and exploding space station escape sequence that both occur BEFORE THE REAL MEAT OF THE GAME EVEN STARTS.

Long story short, Ridley flies off with the larval Metroid's obligatory glass storage tube gripped tightly in his rather uncomfortably sexy (as proven in one of Metroid Prime 3's many, many, many ridiculously overblown morph-ball sequences) talons, prompting Samus to instinctually chase after him in her gunship, culminating in her exceedingly gloomy re-arrival on planet Zebes.

From there, Samus quickly discovers that a rather shocking (and in many cases, highly illogical) amount has changed about the general environment and layout of Zebes between her previous visit and this one; for instance, Brinstar has become horrifically overgrown and infested with vegetation and insects, the bubbles have almost completely vanished from Norfair to make room for a brand-new Chozo Temple Of Doom where Ridley's lair used to be, the pair of guardian statues that symbolized the entrance to Tourian in the original Metroid has been replaced with a massive eldritch amalgamation statue of FOUR different bosses (two of which already ARE eldritch abominations in and of themselves), and there is even a whole new (incredibly creepy) aquatic region called Maridia to explore, in which the Space Pirates dumped all of their pathetically failed attempts at cloning Metroids.

Luckily, however, the good old Chozo statues from her previous visit are still there to provide her with abilities and items...except that literally the very SECOND one she encounters turns out to be a terrifyingly alive and hostile fake! Without even needing to spoil the rest of the game (as if you don't already know EXACTLY how this game goes, mind you), I can safely say that literally EVERY single thing that happens in this game does an absolutely AMAZING job at setting the general tone for the rest of it.

GRAPHICS: Some of the absolute best-looking visuals in the entire SNES library, hands-down. You see, this game right here is exactly where Metroid REALLY became known for consistently having the absolute best graphics on literally every fracking system that it appeared on...and sweet LORD, is Super Metroid (along with Super Castlevania IV, for that matter) no exception.

Between the generally pitch-perfect blend of gritty and vibrant that the game's near-flawlessly executed comic-book art style wholesomely, consistently embodies throughout literally all of its environments and character designs, the almost-inhumanly fluid manner in which Samus is animated, and its exceptionally well-done special effects...

Not to mention the area designs, from the desolate volcanic wasteland of Norfair to the bizarrely lush and exotic underground space-jungle environment of Brinstar and the profoundly unsettling, depressing and mysterious underwater ruins of Maridia...

What can I even say that hasn't already been said? Donkey Kong Country, eat your hideously digitized pixelated heart out.

SOUND: Also a major contender for absolute best game on the entire sodding system in this department (alongside Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI, Donkey Kong Country, Kirby Super Star, Secret Of Mana and Super Castlevania IV, of course) as well.

First off, the flipping SOUND EFFECT design in this game ALONE is simply nothing short of jaw-droppingly brilliant and literally ALWAYS makes a major point to blend itself together flawlessly with the background music. Speaking of the background music, it has got to be easily AT LEAST one of the top 30, if not perhaps even top 20 most atmospheric soundtracks in gaming history.

From valiant and heroic songs like Crateria's main theme and the music from the opening monologue, to incredibly creepy yet relaxing songs like those that play in the lower sections of both Brinstar and Maridia alike, to the unbelievably 90s (not to mention badarse) techno spy-movie music of upper Brinstar, the terrifyingly ominous Spartan death-march music from Lower Norfair, and even the just-plain-terrifying circus music of Upper Maridia, the Brinstar/Maridia miniboss battles and the item/elevator rooms...I gotta say, as far as different types of oppressively thick atmosphere go, this game's soundtrack has pretty much literally everything that you could possibly think of. If I was rating this game based on sound design alone, I would easily give it a 12/10.

GAMEPLAY: While Super Metroid is still definitely an excellent game and easily one of THE greatest of all time, don't get me wrong, it's INCREDIBLY weak in this regard compared to literally everything else about it. Whereas Metroid 1 and 2 at least made a solid effort to provide a satisfactory challenge to their players, Super Metroid COMPLETELY threw this notion right out the window and is flat-out ABSURDLY easy as a result. Not even gonna lie here, several of its bosses can easily be defeated in under a MINUTE (maybe TWO if you're lucky) with practically no effort whatsoever.

Although it does so in a very clever way by naturally designing itself in such a way as to make it literally impossible to get lost in it even without the help of the map screen, this game VERY patronizingly holds your hand all the way through, gives you an outrageously extraneous amount of health and upgrades that you never even ONCE have to actually EARN by being legitimately good at the game (did I mention that this game actually has no less than FOUR reserve energy tanks on top of the FOURTEEN standard ones it already gives you on 100% runs?) and never even really increases in overall difficulty up until you reach Lower Norfair, after which it immediately goes RIGHT back onto Stupidly Easy Street all over again once you reach Reconstructed Tourian. Best of all, Nintendo even had the nerve to make the grand, epic final boss battle scripted to be practically un-lose-able, just to add insult to injury.

Worst of all, literally EVERY single time Samus picks up an item, the player is forced to stop and listen to the ENTIRE seven-second upgrade jingle, which also irritatingly resets the background music for the current area that Samus is in (especially annoying and disappointing in Upper Brinstar, which along with Lower Brinstar has the absolute best music in the ENTIRE GAME).

And that's not even mentioning the profoundly large number of unspeakably game-breaking secret techniques hidden in this game, most notably wall-jumping, mockballing, infinite bomb jumping, Gravity-Suitless Maridia climbing and damage-tanking. Although people generally like to cite the utterly insane amount of sequence-breaking that this game openly allows for its players as one of its more positive aspects, I would personally rather play a game where it ISN'T literally impossible to resist the urge to cheat.

All of that being said, however, the game's impressively intricate and complex controls are smooth (albeit floaty) as silk, use literally every single button on the controller on a regular basis (which, believe me, was quite rare for a SNES game) and give an irreplacably satisfying feel to the game even when playing it on keyboard (yes, this game is a complete cakewalk even with keyboard controls), the astonishing amount of freedom that the game gives to its players (despite actually being extremely linear at its core) makes it undeniably perfect for speedruns, it's quite easily the best ROM-hack template game ever made besides Super Mario World, its level design is almost unparalleledly atmospheric for a 1990s side-scroller and does an absolutely brilliant job of visually teaching the player how to go about it...seriously, where do I even begin here? Apart from its absurdly low difficulty level (that you can actually self-imposedly adjust by doing low-item runs, by the way) and the lower section of Brinstar being WAY too fracking small, I literally cannot name even a SINGLE problem with the core level/gameplay design of this game.

OVERALL: Personally, I think I've already said everything that needs to be said.