Super Metroid

aka: Metroid 3
Moby ID: 6627
SNES Specs
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Description official descriptions

After having defeated Mother Brain, the leader of the Space Pirates who wanted to use alien creatures known as Metroids to dominate the world, the bounty hunter Samus Aran took the fight to the Metroids' homeland and eradicated them. Only a single Metroid larva remained. Samus took it to a galactic research station, and scientists assured her that the powers of the larva can be harnessed to help people. However, everything goes wrong when a dragon kills the scientists, takes away the larva, and destroys the research facility. Samus follows the dragon to the planet of Zebes, where she fought Mother Brain before. She must explore the dangerous planet, stay alive, and figure out a way to retrieve the larva.

Super Metroid is a platform game and a follow-up to Metroid II. Like the previous games in the series, it is not divided into separate levels; the planet Zebes is an open world which Samus traverses back and forth. This world is divided into rooms separated by doors which must be shot to be opened. Shooting is also used to open up secret passages, some of which contain nifty bonuses, but finding most of them is required to proceed in the game.

There are many items to find on the way, and each new item usually makes heretofore inaccessible areas available to Samus. The items include both weaponry (such as missiles, super missiles, or upgrades to Samus's standard laser gun), energy tanks that increase Samus' max health, and other gadgets (like a grappling hook that allows Samus to stick to the ceiling).

There are various enemies - alien fauna - lurking around planet Zebes. The enemies all respawn after re-entering a room, though Samus' increasing capabilities mean that they become easier to defeat as the player makes progress. After killing them, the enemies typically leave behind some health or ammo.

Spellings

  • スーパーメトロイド - Japanese spelling

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Credits (SNES version)

53 People (30 developers, 23 thanks) · View all

Producer
Director
Back Ground Designers
Object Designers
Samus Original Designer
Samus Designer
Sound Program and Sound Effects
Music Composers
Program Director
System Coordinator
System Programmer
Samus Programmer
Event Programmer
Enemy Programmer
Map Programmer
Assistant Programmer
Coordinators
Printed Art Work
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 93% (based on 51 ratings)

Players

Average score: 4.3 out of 5 (based on 272 ratings with 8 reviews)

I have no idea what I'm doing here.

The Good
Rather scary atmosphere and visual design.

Great design on enemies.

Awesome boss-fights.

Exploring is very fun.

Finding items that open up previous sections makes me very excited.

The Bad
Save-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 Line
Story

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.

Gameplay

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.

Presentation

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.

Replay-value

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.

Extras

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.

Verdict

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…

SNES · by Asinine (957) · 2012

On a planet with this much intoxicating atmosphere, you're gonna need that space suit!

The Good
World-class immersion. Perfect elegance and simplicity in play control combined with first-rate interactivity in the game-world. A plot that derives almost all its emotional power from the player's in-game actions and experiences. A charming focus on weirdness and exotic mystery, always on display but never explained through limiting exposition, allowing a full and rewarding dialogue with the player's imagination. Super Metroid has it all, and thus may be the most perfect action/adventure platformer to date.

Even on most the superficial level, Zebes is a wonder to explore. The art direction here is pitch perfect for a platformer, and it combines seamlessly with other elements of the game design for top-rate immersion without any exposition beyond the opening cinematic. First and perhaps best is the music! Oh, the glorious music of this game! Building on Hirokazu Tanaka's fabulously abstract and innovative work in the first Metroid, composers Kenji Yamamoto and Minako Hamano have created a true work of art here. From the heroism and eerie bombast of the intro cinematic, the game proceeds through bass-driven rhythmic catchiness (Brinstar), sparse and contemplative pentatonic piano (Kraid's lair), atonal brass with pounding drums (Norfair), pulsing zombie-film drones (Wrecked Ship) and many others, culminating in some rip-roaring, climatic boss music. Greatness! To top it all off, the power-up and schizophrenic item-room themes from the first game get beautiful, reverential updates. All the tracks mesh perfectly with the art, the general mood and atmosphere of the environments. The tunes here are absolutely essential in creating a dramatic feel for the action in the game.

And the graphic art is no slouch either. Monsters from the first game are wonderfully updated, with new wonders added to the menagerie such as the expressive and increasingly intelligent grunt space pirates, who finally show up in-game! The bosses are appropriately huge, hideous, and unique. No Metroid Prime style expository text is provided, and none is necessary. The thrilling weirdness of this alien world in its display alone provides all the background necessary to grip the player's imagination and lead it to rewarding places. What is the nature of the Chozo statues that hold such valuable items, assist the player, and occasionally come to frightening life? What happened on the wrecked ship, what culture produced the lonely walking robots inside, and what sort of creatures were they, based on the space-suit corpses scattered about that fester with Zebes parasites? What the hell is a Geemer? :-D No need to explain in tedious and exhaustive detail, since the player's imagination elevates the visual hints to its own unique, evocative sense of reality. Within the broad thematic framework of the visuals, the player makes sense of it in an individual way that is very rewarding.

All of this window-dressing is impressive, but it's all worthless without great play mechanics. Super Metroid has such in spades. Controlling Samus is a dream--her increasing abilities via powerups are wonderfully scaled to the player's increasing sense of skill and control. Just as the player gets comfortable jumping around the world, high-jump boots are available to enhance the exploratory and combat features of jumping. Just as the player gets used to using the "run" button, it's upgraded to a supercharged dash, allowing Samus to tear apart enemies on contact at high speeds. Not only this, but it is -combined- with jumping and directional aim to allow Samus to become a multi-directional battering ram that scatters all before it. The godly screw attack allows Samus' plain old jumping ability to become a devastating attack, ripping through regular enemies with ease--not only does this power-up make use of already-learned controls, but it simplifies and re-invigorates old areas that must be backtracked through. Those giant sidehoppers that earlier gave you so much trouble are a joke now to zip through. :-D

The environment is admirably well-mapped for interactivity. Things that seem as though they should work to the player -always- work, to the point of allowing for sequence-breaking and unfathomably fast runs through the game by experienced players. Super Metroid was in fact a major factor in the whole genesis of the "speedrun" phenomenon -because- of its precise controls and environmental flexibility. Watching the best of these speedruns is almost a revelatory experience--a skilled player making the utmost use of brilliant play mechanics creates a unique and beautiful kind of art. Whereas other speedruns are mostly made on glitches and bugs, Super Metroid allows for sequence-breaking that isn't game-breaking, and its fluid controls and robust environment are a huge factor in that. Dialogue between player and author at its best!

While there is an implicit linear path to be followed, the environmental and level design are complex enough (with enough delicious secrets!) that the player never feels overwhelmingly pushed in any direction until the end. The unfortunate limitations of turning the game 3d in Metroid Prime scaled the interactivity, secrets and diversions waaaay back, and added a frustrating map feature that essentially told the player "go here, go there, now go here again" at every juncture. In Super Metroid, you figure out where you should go yourself, based on a few reasonable clues, but you usually have something interesting to do if you don't -want- to go there. It's a nice balance between the first Metroid and the latest games. In the first, you essentially had to wander aimlessly for quite a while, and shoot/bomb every suspicious wall. Acquiring a power-up meant going back to past areas and trying to advance again, still without any certainty that a particular powerup will make the difference. This allowed for great mystery and a feeling of true undirected exploration, with all its attendant frustrations. Super Metroid uses its automap and X-Ray scope upgrade to remove many of the frustrations while retaining most of the mystery, whereas Metroid Prime attempts to eliminate all the frustrations via "scanning" everything and providing scripted hints, and thereby loses almost all the mystery as well.

Instead of an implicit "it makes sense that you should try this," the later games had more of the explicit "try exactly this, and it will work, stupid." :-P

The plot in Super Metroid is mostly your actions in-game, and their scripted results. Your triumphs of exploration, combat, and puzzle-solving as an individual player make for the drama. Your route to solving the problems the game presents can be very unique--the plot is based on meeting criteria and advancing, but it's not very particular about -how- you meet that criteria. Whether you slowly battle through a series of monsters in an area with your beam weapon or use a super-dash boost to blast through and burst them all apart in half a second is up to the player. The designer presents the possibilities and limitations, and the player is allowed to make the most of them to succeed in a way that also tells the -player's- version of Samus' journey, not just the author's.

The Bad
Not much! The art and level design is somewhat limited by the platformer genre--it can't fully avoid the "moving through tunnels with platforms that have no reason for existence" syndrome of platform level design, and this does limit immersion in some areas. I'm sure upon resurrection Mother Brain had many rows with her secret-base contractors over failing to clear out those troublesome Chozo statues! The boss battles are a bit one-note in the sense that there is usually a weak-area you simply blast with super missiles until you win, or the King Hippo approach wherein you wait for an opened mouth and then blast away--the few exceptions to this such as the Maridia boss are well-done, but you wish for more of them. There is a general lack of scripted set-pieces as well, and the few times they appear (Crocomire, your first encounter with the "baby" metroid, revived Chozo statues, etc.) make you wish for more of them.

But really, there aren't too many complaints to be had here. It's a brilliant, evocative, and challenging masterpiece. Play it!

The Bottom Line
Art direction, game mechanics, and trust in imagination all combine for one of the very best experiences ever on the SNES, and that is saying quite a lot! Along with Out of this World, it's one of the finest works of gaming art in platformer history.

SNES · by J. P. Gray (115) · 2008

Gameplay greatness and pixel poetry

The Good
Towards the end of a console's life the best games will surface. The hardware's limitations are understood, and its capabilities expounded. Super Metroid 3 is a classic example of the last breaths of greatness of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System or Super Famicom, Developed by the Deer Force team at Nintendo. Being the third installment of Samus Aran's exploits as a galatic bounty hunter, Nintendo ups the ante with a core gamer's sense gameplay. In a nutshell Super Metroid's strengths derive from Control, progression and non-linear gameplay . Super Metroid's controls are widely regarded as being some of the finest in it's genre. All of Samus' core functions Jumping, Shooting and running, are well balanced, easy to control, versatile and logical. All of these elements are combined and utilized together to create flow, grace and finally, player impowerment. Mastery of Samus' abilities progress as you overcome challenges the world presents in a very intuitive order. When looked at objectively Metroid is a game about exploration, survival and combat, in that order. Hidden ability is one aspect of Samus' new characteristics that make her very flexible. These abilities include wall jumping. Wall jumping is an ability you start with at the beginning of the game, but requires mastery to use. The control theory is simple, but execution requires critical timing to use effectively. When used well, wall jumping allows you to take shortcuts to shorten game time or access certain parts of the world in a non-traditional sequence. Creating appeal for re-playability. Progression in Super Metroid is perhaps it's greatest strength and its most compelling factor. During the course of gameplay Samus evolves in her capabilities to overcome the world she is in. Barriers in the world are represented by icons that symbolize your abilities you acquire during the course of the game. When new abilities are acquired the player begins to realize when and where and how the new ability can be applied. Each ability further unravels the world, reduces tedious action, and increases the pace of the game. A fine example of this is the final power-up the "Screw Attack" This ability makes Samus nearly godlike. Moving and jumping turns Samus into a lethal force that destroys creatures and certain surfaces by simply ramming into them, further reducing mundane routines and creating newer more exciting ones, controlled by mechanics you have already learned from the onset of the game. Logic & versatility, very few games offer it as well as Super Metroid. Non-linear gameplay. Super Metroid's world is open ended, and provides the player with decisions to make allowing control over the pace of the game. The theme of adventure is at its best when the player has choices to make. While the course of major events in the game remain relatively unchanged, the methods a player can choose between events is diverse. Having the ability to pursue the goal of the game and your own agenda are very significant and rewarding experiences.

The Bad
Fighting and it's role in the game. The creatures placed in the world are typically more for breaking up the pace of the game and providing survival difficulty. In the truest sense they are not usually used for gameplay mechanics that advance the players status. There are exceptions to this, such as freezing a creature and using it as a platform to reach an area that was previously unreachable. Monsters represent objectives to overcome rather than true gameplay elements. Simply put, most monsters are a distraction.

The Bottom Line
The side scrolling Metroid series are considered gamers games. The world of Metroid is captivating through in-depth "INTUITIVE" gameplay, Hauntingly beautiful environments, Great sound and a dark moodiness all its own. Super Metroid challenges the player on many different levels bound togther by rock solid gameplay that is compelling not by what the game requires, but because of what players want.

SNES · by Vecster (19) · 2003

[ View all 8 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
The art direction So Hai (261) Apr 24, 2008

Trivia

1001 Video Games

The SNES version of Super Metroid appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Intro Voice-over

The voice during the game's introduction, the one that says "The last Metroid... ...is in captivity. The galaxy... ...is at peace.", is none other than Dan Owsen. He is known for doing much of Nintendo's localization efforts in the 1990s. His work included translating manuals and in-game text. He is also known for his "Ask Dan" column on Nintendo's web site, and can be seen in some of Nintendo's promotional VHS tapes.

SMILE

SMILE comes from Super Metroid Integrated Level Editor which was developed by "Jathys". The project was open-sourced and gave the possibility to edit almost everything: levels, enemies, items, colour palettes, text, individual room's gravity and many more. Although the editor was not fully completed, it was usable enough to create your own modifications and publish them. Currently the project is dormant. More information is available here

Soundtrack

Because the original Metroid used the Famicom Disk System (and its wavetable sound chip) in Japan, and the releases outside of Japan were on cartridges and thus only used the default NES sound system, the original soundtrack had to be slightly reprogrammed. In Super Metroid, the changes made by the FDS-to-Cartridge conversion back in the original game are made more apparent when the older - albeit remixed - themes are used.

The music in Super Metroid, considered to be some of the finest compositions for the SNES, was composed by Hirokazu Tanaka, Kenji Yamamoto, and Minako Hamano. Information about the CD soundtrack can be found here.

Speedruns

Super Metroid is, due to its level design and planning, one of the most popular games for speedruns and is still being perfected to this day.

Awards

  • Electronic Gaming Monthly
    • June 1994 (Issue #59) - Game of the Month
    • 1995 Buyer's Guide - Best Action Game
    • November 1997 (Issue 100) - ranked #6 (Best 100 Games of All Time)
    • February 2006 (Issue #200) - #23 out of 200 of the "Greatest Games of Their Time
  • FLUX
    • Issue #4 - #62 in the "Top 100 Video Games of All-Time" list
  • GameFan
    • 1994 (Vol.3, Iss.1) - Overall Best Action/Adventure Game of the Year
    • 1994 (Vol.3, Iss.1) - Best SNES Action/Adventure Game of the Year
  • Game Players
    • January 1995 - Best SNES Adventure Game of 1994
    • August 2001 (Issue #100) - #29 in the "Top 100 Games of All Time" poll
  • GameSpy
    • 2001 – #46 Top Game of All Time
  • Retro Gamer
    • September 2004 (Issue #8) – #89 Best Game Of All Time (Readers' Vote)

Information also contributed by Calpis, Julian Turner, PCGamer77, Scott G and uclafalcon.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Kartanym.

Wii U added by ResidentHazard. New Nintendo 3DS added by Michael Cassidy. Nintendo Switch added by Kam1Kaz3NL77. Wii added by gamewarrior.

Additional contributors: Longwalker, Shoddyan, Guy Chapman, chirinea, Alaka, David Lloyd, Big John WV, Cantillon, Patrick Bregger, mailmanppa, Thomas Thompson, FatherJack, A.J. Maciejewski.

Game added June 14, 2002. Last modified October 13, 2023.