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SummaryI have no idea what I'm doing here.
The GoodRather scary atmosphere and visual design.
Great design on enemies.
Exploring is very fun.
Finding items that open up previous sections makes me very excited.
The BadSave-points are too scarce and sometimes they don't work at all.
You quickly lose sight of the overall goal.
Controls tend to be a bit wonky for the more advanced moves.
The Bottom LineStory
Super Metroid is one of those games that throws you a few textboxes and then allows you to freely explore the world and pursue the goal. There is a lot to be said about a game that plays out like that and we’ll be going over all of it. The overall plot is that Samus, after the events of the first game, delivered the Metroid to a station for research. The ship is however attacked shortly after Samus left and once there she finds the research subject gone and the scientists dead at the hands of Ridley. That is the point where the story-telling ends and it becomes time to forge your own. As Samus you’ll be exploring the many reaches of Planet Zebes after Ridley’s escape, completely free of handholding. I enjoy this a lot because it’s you who gets to choose when and where to go. The game only has a few core areas that you can’t reach until you find a certain item, but other than that you are free to get further in any way you want.
The biggest problem however is that you quickly lose sight of the overall goal, in fact I had to start a second save just to be remembered of what I was supposed to be doing five hours into the game. The ending was also really weird, I found Ridley again and royally kicked his ass (after dying five times), but after that I just found and empty room. The game didn’t tell me anything, so I assume all that’s left to do is explore the rest of the space station. It’s kind of weird to see a game that literally has you fight the last boss and then just keeps going for no reason, it’s a bit underwhelming, but at least you can round up the last few collectibles without reloading a save.
This was the first Metroid game I ever played, so at the end of the day it’s the following that matters: “Did I come out of this knowing more about the Metroid universe?”. The answer is “yes”, while I am not very up-to-date on the story, the freedom this game offered me in creating my own progression has shown me how a Metroid story plays out and I’d like to see this tale continued in Metroid Prime.
Just like the story, the gameplay offers you a lot of freedom in regards to progression, but here the result is utterly and completely perfect. As you explore the many areas of Zebes you’ll run into places you can’t reach yet, finding an item that solves this issue an hour later always brought a huge smile on my face. This cycle of finding obstacles and eventually running into the tools used to overcome them was what kept me interested in this game, even though it’s fairly well known that I prefer my gameplay to be fairly linear. Besides major items like the high-jump boots and morphing ball, you’ll also run into upgrades for your weapons. These upgrades are a little less hidden, but finding every single one of them is a tough task and well worth the effort.
You are naturally going to be harassed by enemies during this process and I must say there is enough variety of enemies to keep gameplay interesting. I also like the sense of progression they give you, at first enemies may give you trouble, but come back three hours later and you can shoot through them without any difficult whatsoever. I do have to say that I would have liked it if they experimented with combinations of enemies more often, because most of the time you’ll end up fighting a group of the same enemies in every room you find. That’s a minor complaint though and the only real one I have is that some of the more advanced controls just refuse to work most of the time. The space-suit which should let you jump an infinite amount of times often stops working for no reason, wall-jumping is as random as it can get and whether or not you do a spin-jump depends on the game’s mood.
Super Metroid looks to me as if it was a generation ahead of the Super Nintendo, at times it looks and sounds like it could have been on a Sega 32X (compare it with Knuckles’ Chaotix). The sprites are of a superb quality, the music is atmospheric and well-composed and the sound-effects are very fitting. I am especially fond of the diversity in areas, you’ll run into everything from the fiery pits of Norfair to the poison-filled labyrinths of Brinstar. Each and every area comes with a number of rooms, a lot of which have their own theme songs.
Repetition is very rare, though spending long amounts of time in one area can make the place wear on you a little. A good example are areas where you need a certain move to traverse them every time you need to cross it (like going through a small opening with the morph ball. Those just get a little grating after while.
This is definitely a game I will find myself replaying sooner or later and not just because I didn’t understand the story. The gameplay is constantly entertaining and never once grows dull or repetitive, that is the main reason why I think this game is very good for a replay or two. The semi-sandbox way of progression also helps improve the replay-value, as you are given a degree of freedom, while also having a structured experience to enjoy.
As stated before there are great deal of collectibles in this game, these can be separated in two sections: the weapon upgrades and the ammo upgrades. Finding new upgrades for your weapons or suit directly changes the way the game plays, using a freeze ray for example freezes enemies just before they die (forming platforms for you to use). The ammo upgrades don’t really change the way you can play, but having more missiles and health can really make a difference during some of the later boss-fights. Once you have all these upgrades, there is not much else to do besides finishing your map and then the game.
Is Super Metroid fun to play? Yes. I had a lot of trouble writing this review and upon consulting a friend of mine we came to the conclusion that I have very little to compare Super Metroid with. The game is unlike anything I have ever played before: the theme is strange to me, the shooting is unlike anything I have ever done before and this is the first time I actually had fun exploring. All of this in a 2D package is just slightly above my capabilities to review. Thus I leave you with some simple words: “I had fun, so you probably will too”.
Having a love for the Metroid universe will probably make the game even more enjoyable or if you’re just big on 2D-shooters, then that would be swell too. I am neither and still had a good time though. Such a unique game this was…