Metroid

Moby ID: 7303
NES Specs
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Description official descriptions

In the future, the Galactic Federation and the pirates of planet Zebes are at war. Pirates have stolen an unknown life-form, recently discovered on the planet SR388. The life-form, designated "Metroid", is in a state of suspended animation and, according to analysis, was the cause of the complete destruction of SR388. If the Metroid ever got loose, the alien could destroy countless other systems. It is up to the space bounty hunter Samus Aran to land on Zebes and find her way through the perilous terrains of Brinstar and Norfair, destroy the Pirates, as well as their alien enforcers, Ridley and Kraid, and rid the planet of the alien life form before the pirates complete their plans of world destruction.

Using the cybernetic enhancements of her Power Suit, Samus can use a range of weapons and defenses to destroy the enemy. She can also absorb enemies powers into her Power Suit to increase her defense and chance of survival. Using her weapons and special abilities, she must find her way to the central chamber of Tourian and destroy the Mother Brain, the mysterious leader behind the Space Pirates.

Spellings

  • メトロイド - Japanese spelling

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Credits (NES version)

26 People (15 developers, 11 thanks) · View all

Scenario Written by
Character Designed by
Music by
Main Programmed by
Special Thanks to
  • Ken Zuri
  • Sumi
  • Toru Osawa (Inusawa)
  • Kacho
  • Hyakkan
  • Goyake
  • Takahiro Harada (as Harada)
  • Penpen
  • Tohryu Restaurant [Tohryu]
  • Sometime Mako Restaurant [Mako]
  • Benkei Dining [Benkei]
Converted by
Assisted by
Directed By
Chief Director
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 75% (based on 40 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 161 ratings with 4 reviews)

Another early NES classic

The Good
When I think of Metroid, I think of its music. Phenomenal soundtrack for this game! Besides that, the game offers awesome weapons (screw attack, wave beam), great control (high jump, marumari sphere), and dazzling enemies. See if you don't get yourself killed -- by just being mesmerized by how some of the weird and wonderful monsters move around the screen. Challenge level is high, especially Kraid's zone and just before you get to Mother Brain (Tourian). Make sure you have all seven energy tanks FULL before going anywhere near the final sequence. This is another game where the NES Max is indispensable.

The Bad
Can't save energy tank levels. This is a major hassle. Your energy always starts at 30, even when resuming with a password. That means it's best to leave the game turned on from start to finish (and try not to die!). The final stage of the game, just before you reach Mother Brain is frustratingly complex. There is so much happening on the screen, the machine's CPU will get bogged down. I believe they fixed this problem in later games.

The Bottom Line
This was a very advanced game for its time, and like other NES classics, it's still a lot of fun today. When game designers put the focus on gameplay, everything else falls into place. (P.S. this game has possibly the best music of any NES game.)

NES · by J O (8) · 2004

Before Lara Croft, there was…

The Good
If you were a proud owner of the Nintendo NES back in the Eighties, chances are you heard or played a little game called Metroid. Released in 1986, the game casts the player as Samus Aran, a lone bounty hunter who is asked by the Galactic Federation to infiltrate the fortress of the Space Pirates, who are planning to replicate living organisms known as Metroids from Planet SR388 by exposing them to beta rays and using them as biological weapons. Your primary target is the Mother Brain, the giant mechanical organism that inhabits Tourian.

You beam down inside a blue chamber somewhere on Planet Zebes, which has three zones you need to explore fully. The passages you have to explore are interconnected by gates, and there are two types of these. The most common ones are blue. They have no push button, so how do you open them? You go up and shoot them with your beam. There are also red gates, but they cannot be opened this way.

The passages are littered with enemies that drain your energy if you get hit by any one of them. It is also drained if you fall into lava or acid. You can get more energy by destroying these enemies and getting the pellets they leave behind. Once your energy gets below twenty, the game alerts you with a warning sound. Run out, and the game is over. You are then given a 26-letter password you can type in later to continue with the game.

As well as your standard beam, you can obtain missiles that will make quick work of enemies. You need to get missiles to open the aforementioned red gates, which take five hits to destroy. You can cycle between your beam and the rockets by pressing the Select button. You can upgrade your standard weapon throughout the game, allowing you to freeze enemies with just one shot. Power-ups can be obtained, letting you upgrade your basic weapons or perform more advanced moves. The first power-up you can find allows you to curl yourself up into a ball so you can get through narrow gaps. There are many puzzles to solve, with the most common ones involving discovering hidden passages or freezing enemies with your ice beam and using them as stepping stones to reach certain platforms.

I love the animations in this game. When you go through the doorways, you get to see the screen scroll to the next one, Castlevania style. Watching Samus run through the passages is amusing; she acts as if she is full of lead. Good animations for the enemies, as well. The music is brilliantly composed and is easily memorable.

I believe Metroid was one of the first games to feature more than one ending. As far as the game is concerned, what ending you watch depends on how long it took for you to complete it. If it took you more than ten hours, then Samus will turn away from you in disgust. If you finish the game quickly, then she will be more than happy to strip down to her bikini. No matter what ending you view, you will get to re-play the game with Samus resembling the protagonist in Time Gal, which is strange considering she has brown hair in the good endings.

The Bad
Metroid suffers the same problem that plagued Castlevania. You get knocked back whenever you are hit by an enemy, and this becomes annoying when you fall into lava and have to make your way up to the nearest platform. Also, while using the lightning jump power-up that allows you to kill any enemies mid-air, it is rather difficult to jump on platforms. It’s as if there is a gust of wind pushing you back.

The Bottom Line
Metroid is a game every NES owner should be familiar with. It involves a lot of exploration and a lot of shooting. The graphics and sound are excellent, and there is more than one ending to discover. Nintendo could have retained the save system for its non-Japanese users instead of making them type a rather long password. No NES library should be without this one.

NES · by Katakis | カタキス (43091) · 2021

Make your way through a giant maze collecting random items, beat the mother brain, escape through tedious small platforms and watch a strip-tease.

The Good
This is my review for Metroid, a game released for the Famicom Disk System in Japan, and ported to a regular NES cartridge in USA and Europe. I haven't played this game when it came out, I just downloaded it recently for my NES/FDS emulator. I'm not a deserved Nintendo fan (and I have nothing against Nintendo either), so I did not except anything very good or very bad from this game, I basically played just for the curiosity of playing a game that some people told me was a good classic.

This review applies to both the Famicom Disk System version and the NES version of the game (unless specified), the only difference being the sound effects, and the save system, both being significantly better on the FDS version (because the FDS have extended sound hardware and can save your game on the disc).

Well, the only thing I have to like about this game is it's story. Nintendo cared to write a sci-fi based scenario with some imagination behind it (not just a dummy excuse for a game), giving name to planets and enemies, so the overall design of the game got above average quality here. Unfortunately, you won't really enjoy the story while playing the game, because there is absolutely no story scenes or whatever. The game is totally unlinear, and was among the first platformers to feature unlinearity. The game has it's innovation factor overall.

The Bad
Unfortunately, while Nintendo cared to design an attractive global set-up for Metroid, they totally failed to put any quality in the game itself. I personally count Metroid among the worst gameplay experiences I ever had. This game just lacks everything a game needs to be a good one. People showing so much credit to this game SHOULD be sarcastic or something, because I really don't see a single point in this whole game, aside the little that is mentioned above, which is even decent.

The game consist of wandering around freely between levels, and pass through doors that interconnect rooms. The only limit to where you can go is your actual abilities, which are actually the only reason why you cannot go straight to the final boss at the beginning of the game : You have to gain the power to do higher jumps, to freeze enemies and step on them, to dig under the door with bombs, and to roll on the floor to make your way through the game. I know, nothing is wrong yet. However, as simple as this sounds, this provides a long, long list of frustrations, which will begin here.

When I first played the game, I went right, and after a while I found myself unable to go any further. So I went left backwards, and right after passing where the game starts, I just found myself in a dead end with an item that allows to pass under walls and to continue further right. This whole game is like this : It's unlinear, but you don't have a single idea where to go, you're feeling lost constantly.

Why is Metroid considered as an all time classic ? Why, why, why ? In all objectivity, I have not a single idea. I don't even know how some people can enjoy playing this game. It is not enjoyable at all, just a flow of constant frustration. My goal is not to take a sarcastic pleasure to trash the game down, I just want to discuss why this game is recognized as a classic, being so low in overall quality (for my own standards, of course).

Let's begin by the graphics. I know this game originally came out in 1986 in Japan, that is quite early for a Famicom game, but still, they really could provide slightly better graphics. Castlevania, for instance, has been released about the same time for the same system (the Famicom Disk System), and features graphics that are a hundred times better than this. Backgrounds are black everywhere, and the whole ground/walls/ceilings is made of very few different colors (3 or 4 usually) and this set of colors only change between rooms. Where you start the game, every non animated graphics are just blue, and have only one or two shades of blue. This looks horrible, but fortunately, the later places in the game will look a bit better. However, in those places with more colors, you could be in a place, move up, then move down again and get the same graphics with different colors (glitch in the game). Nintendo programmers aren't even able to make programs to display their maps correctly on the screen of their own console.

The animation is horrible. Your playable character, Samus, is supposed to be a woman with a suit. When I first played the game (I haven't checked the story) I really trough you were controlling an alien. It is just a mess of brown and green that have a big head, and the arms and legs are just a mess of the same color that looks like nothing. Enemies looks bad too, and most of them have only one animation frame so they don't even animate (they just move), but they are not as poorly drawn as your playable character, which is not bad, but the main character is much more important than the enemies !

The music has been composed by Hip Tanaka, which is well recognized as a good composer, making noticeable soundtracks for Kid Icarus, Earthbound (both NES and SNES), Famicom Wars, Hello Kitty, etc... He provided ONE great song typical of himself in Metroid, that you'll hear where you begin your game. Unfortunately, Mr. Tanaka should have been sick or had a death in his family when working on Metroid, because all other songs in the game are terrible. The title screen is just slow random chords that sounds totally detuned, and the few other songs in the game are either a very short, simplistic and unemotional music that loops every 10 seconds, or a bunch of crap random notes played very quickly. Yes, there were some songs in the game that sounded just like a 3 year old child playing with a piano (not actually playing the piano), and I don't know why Nintendo didn't fire Tanaka after composing this crap (and fortunately they didn't because his other soundtracks are great). A bad thing is that those terrible songs will be stuck in your head driving you mad. I assume those wrong chords and random notes are supposed to give the game a suspense feel. The same Tanaka has composed a great suspense song in Kid Icarus you hear in labyrinths very few time later (or earlier).

The level design in Metroid is, for the most part, horrible. Various items are located in various locations, and they made you have the worst time finding them. Screens are arranged either horizontally (most of them are decent, but boring and similar), or vertically (which have a lot of tedious repetitive small platforms, which makes horizontal screens almost enjoyable). You must use your special abilities you gain in the game in order to reach some places (which typically contain other special abilities, etc...). That concept didn't work very well in Metroid, because you don't have a clue on how use your abilities and where. If you played Castlevania II - Simon's Quest, except pretty much the same, only worse because you have no resting place and you get bad controls.

For example, you get a bomb ability. I have no idea how to use bombs and where, until I randomly found you have to first use the morphing ball in order to press B and place bombs. Another problem is the red doors : They open with missiles. Who would guess it, without reading a manual or walkthrough ? Well, actually I guessed it, and I tried firing a missile to a red door. But it seemed to have no effect so I told myself "well, I'll have to found something else to open that door". Actually what I did not known, is that five missiles should be fired on a red door to open. The first 4 will just have no effect (except allowing the fifth to open the door), and you don't even hear a sound or anything ! And guess how many missiles you initially get ? 5 ! And who would waste all 5 straight down to a single door just after having a hard time collecting them ? (well, missiles turned to become common later but you wouldn't guess it) Fortunately, you get a few powers that makes the game less horrible to play, like an item making your shots longer (because you can initially only shot to a very short distance, which is stupid) and an item allowing you to jump higher, another allowing you to freeze enemies. Unfortunately this one cannot kill them until you freeze, shot again to unfreeze, and repeat until the monster is dead, which you don't want to do, so you don't get energy and missiles from enemies, which is too bad.

I hated the high number of pointless dead-ends that were among all very hard to access. It will happen to you to travel trough a couple of rooms with a lot of enemies, lava, breakable blocs, etc... and found yourself just in front of a wall with absolutely nothing else (sometimes there is also 5 missiles or something not very worthy like that). Also, those dead-ends are typically almost a replica to a similar place which is not a dead-end, so this is really horrible, because if you don't remember exactly the layout of the rooms, you don't know if you're in the right place or not after passing a door.

There is secret places that you need to found in order to continue the game, that are impossible to found. I remember once I had to place a bomb on a normal looking floor with lava below it. Actually the lava is fake, and a particular place in the floor is breakable with a bomb. Who would guess it, really ?

A real problem is that the game engine is barely functioning at all. This game is really glitchy. Your jumps are horrible to control. Samus sometimes jumps normally and sometimes will do some rolling jumps, which are hard to control because both won't move with the same depth, and you don't know in advance which one will be effective. This is especially frustrating in vertical rooms which involve lots of platform jumping, and you'll fail often jumping from one platform to the other, and end up falling instead of climbing.

When you get hit, you jump back WAY too much and your character got absolutely out of control for about one second, which is long in a platformer game. Unfortunately, you get invincible for a time which is way too short, and you cannot put yourself in a safe place in time. Levels way too often have stupid lava (or acid ? graphics are so bad I can't tell) that will constantly drain your HP while you're in. Very often you'll fall in lava after loosing the control of your character after getting a hit, and then you'll have trouble getting out of that lava, and when you're done another foe will hit you again, etc... There is also the breakable blocs (you can break them by shooting them), which will actually self-reconstruct after some time, and damage you if you stand in their way, without warning (often pushing you into lava, remember). This is one of the worst frustration you can have playing Metroid, and it will happen way too often. Oh, and I didn't mention how stupid the AI of the enemies are ! There is very few different enemies actually, and they are all very predictable, yet hard to avoid for some reason, which is even more frustrating. There is some enemies palette swapped from other, but that weren't stronger, faster or anything, and there is also enemies looking different, but behaving exactly the same way, which looks dumb (the other way around would have been much better).

I did not mention how it is frustrating to shot to one door, passing trough it, and getting hit by enemies in the new room before even taking the control of your player again and having a single chance to avoid them ! Another horrible thing is those monsters which come out of pipes, again and again. Just at the exact same time to kill one, a new one immediately pop-ups. But as long as you don't touch the first, there is no other coming out from the same pipe. This is incredibly unrealistic, but fortunately once you get the ice weapon, you can freeze the first, and because it's not killed, this refrain others from appearing.

Finally, the few bosses the game features are absolutely impossible to beat because the keep hitting you by throwing a million of projectiles, and you loose control after getting hit, and then hit another projectile, fall in lava, etc.. Horrible. Not to mention the boss music sound like a 3 year old child playing with an old electric piano (I think I already told that).

The ending is plain stupid. Seriously. You have to escape trough a set of very narrow platforms that repeats for a while (hard to jump from one to another, due to bad controls) into a limited amount of time (even more frustrating than other vertical rooms when you fall down all the way by missing a platform), and finally when you made it watch Samus strip-teasing (the shortest time you get to beat the game the further the strip-tease will go, and there is people around to dare to call this multiple ending...), and this is supposed to give the player a shock, because he's supposed to not know Samus is a woman. Actually the shock to me was how bad graphically the (partially unclothed) Samus looked. In case you wonder, she's not sexy at all regardless of which ending you get and not worth beating the game, because the only ending is the strip-tease and the credits. She also shakes her and in a way it looks so wrong ! (again it's supposed to look sexy but it looks dumb and cheap).

Here you are all my long list of frustrations about this game. It's still not over yet. Even if you disagree with all the stuff above I can understand it because it's just my own subjective opinion, and if only the above mentioned stuff was wrong with the game, I could understand why some people could consider Metroid not be so bad. However, here you are a few objective facts that really turn this poor game into total crap.

  • When you die, regardless of how you progressed in the game, you are always given an energy of 30. All further energy should be collected from dead enemies, and it takes a lot to get some safe level of energy. In the beginning of the game 30 energy allows you to get hit 4 or 5 times, and at the end of the game, 2 times. Add the lava, and that mean if you die, you have 99% of chances to die right after this, again, again and again. In other words, if you want to beat the game, you have to not die a single time (or spend hours where weak enemies are in order to get more energy).

  • The Japanese game used disk system saves (you could save your game on the disc after getting game over). However, Nintendo decided to change this to a password system when porting it to the NES. No, unlike what most people seems to think, the reason of this is NOT because the NES cartridges didn't technically allow to save yet (this would have been true if the game was released earlier actually). I know a lot about NES cartridges, and I can guarantee you that each non-FDS copy of Metroid in the world have a slot for a battery inside the package, allowing the game to save data in it's RAM. The RAM chip is just not connected to a battery, and Nintendo did just not want to pay $4 per game to place a lithium battery in them. Instead, they put that password system. Okay, counting all Metroid cartridges produced this makes a lot of money, but does Nintendo prefer saving money or release quality games ? It seems it's the first (at least until they released Zelda).

  • Passwords are case sensitive, which is a horrible idea. How to make difference between 'l' (lowercase L) and 'I' (uppercase i) ? Lower case and upper case letters are colored differently, but who actually want to take pencils of two colors to note passwords ? They also managed to place a bar inside the 'O' (uppercase o) while the 0 (the number) doesn't have a bar, and normally it's the other way around. And NO, Metroid did NOT invent passwords or anything. That system was invented at least one year and a half before the U.S. release of Metroid, and probably even before.

  • There is a horrible beeping sound playing when you are low in energy. The FDS version play the jumping sound very fast, and the cartridge version play a simple beep continuously. This makes the game tedious to play when this happen, and almost force yourself to voluntary jump into lava just to stop that noise.

  • The game is (almost ?) impossible to beat. People who beat it should have used savestates, strategy guides and walkthroughs, secret passwords that allows you to cheat or, for the most cases, a combination of the above stuff. I don't call a game like this challenging, but just frustrating.

    The Bottom Line
    Metroid was designed with some care to it, but overall it's a horrible game to play. One of the worst gameplay experience I had. It has some better sequels, but this one is horrible. I often also see good parts of games I don't like, but for this particular one, I really don't see anything either fun, beautiful, educative, creative or addictive in it.

If you played Castlevania 2 - Simon's Quest except pretty much the same, only with more trouble to control your protagonist, and with MUCH worse music and graphics (also without the fun "horrible nights", and without the towns, and without distinction between overworld and dungeons).

All people calling this a masterpiece are either sarcastic, ironical or just doesn't have the same concept of quality than me in videogames. I'd almost recommend to download the game emulated to make fun how bad this game looks, or just stay away. And if you happen to like the game, don't hesitate to write a review to tell people why, because I really don't know how to like a such horrible game.

If you want a NES game involving exploration and unlinearity, play Zelda (or better yet, Final Fantasy). If you search for a good and fun platformer, play Super Mario Bros. (or better yet, Mega Man). If you already played a recent Metroid and wonder how the series started, I recommend to keep in the darkness, because an enlightenment on this bad game will make your opinion of Metroid games decrease.

NES · by Bregalad (937) · 2007

[ View all 4 player reviews ]

Trivia

Famicom Disk version

The original Japanese release of Metroid was for the Famicom's floppy disk accessory, which used 3/4" floppy disks instead of cartridges and never made it out of Japan. The main difference this added to the game was that the Japanese release used a file-save system while the western releases had to incorporate a password system.

The existence of this different version only added to the many urban legends that have always plagued the original Metroid (such as the secret worlds, glitches, etc.) and if I remember correctly this specific info took a major part in giving extra credit to the belief that somehow, somewhere, there was a two-player version of Metroid. Why? Because the box of the US release had a typo that advertised it as a two-player game (check out the original back-cover).

Inspiration

The Metroid series was obviously somewhat inspired by the Alien series of films. Among the most visible similarities are a tough female protagonist called Samus Aran (in reverence to Alien's Ripley), and icky alien creatures that try to eat your head. Ridley, one of the two mini-bosses in Metroid, was named after Ridley Scott who directed the first Alien movie. The game parallels other elements from the movie as well, including climactic self-destruct countdowns, egg-hatching extraterrestrials, and a main antagonist named after Alien's 'Mother' computer.

Multiple endings

Metroid has 5 endings depending on the time you take to finish it. After the standard "Congratulations" screen Samus would flash, and depending on your final time he would: 1-Raise his hand to you (over 5 hours); 2-Remove his helmet (3-5 hours); And 3- Remove his armor completely and remain in some sort of leotard (less than 3 hours).

Now, the interesting thing happened on those two last endings since Samus revealed his identity, and showed us that he was a woman all along! This was a major shocker at it's time and a closely guarded secret since at that time these things were very hard to prove and all the documentation referred to him as a He.

Furthermore getting the under 3 hrs ending allows you to re-start the game as an armor-less Samus! (just press start after the credits roll) And ending the game this way over 5 hours gets you a different ending where armored Samus just looks away from you in shame.

The fifth and final ending shows Samus without the armor and dressed in nothing but a skimpy bikini! And to unlock it all you have to do is finish the whole game under one hour.

Awards

  • EGM
    • Feb. 2006 (Issue #200) - named #11 out of 200 of the "Greatest Games of Their Time"* Game Informer Magazine
    • August 2001 (Issue 100) - voted #6 in the Top 100 Games of All Time poll
    • November 1997 (Issue 100) - ranked #44 (Best 100 Games of All Time) (NES version)

Information also contributed by Big John WV, PCGamer77, and WWWWolf

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Kartanym.

Nintendo 3DS added by ResidentHazard. Wii U added by GTramp. Arcade added by Michael Cassidy. Nintendo Switch added by Kam1Kaz3NL77. Wii, Game Boy Advance added by gamewarrior.

Additional contributors: Zovni, Apogee IV, Guy Chapman, Alaka, gamewarrior, Thomas Thompson.

Game added September 28, 2002. Last modified February 1, 2024.