Metroid Review

Posted: September 14, 2013 in Game reviews

Greetings mortals, I am DracoJames102 and I am here to give you a review.

I will admit that I missed out on a lot of video game series as a kid (haven’t we all?). I was the kind of person that was afraid to try new things either because I was too afraid or because I didn’t have any interest. It wasn’t until I saw a video review of ‘Metroid Prime’ for the ‘Nintendo Gamecube’ done by a reviewer called ‘SomecallmeJohnny’ that I decided to play the game for myself. I got the game for Christmas 2011 and I had such a blast with it that I decided to try out the other game series that I missed out on as a kid such as ‘Castlevania’, ‘The Legend of Zelda’, ‘Mega Man’, ‘Ratchet and Clank’ and a few others. So yeah I guess I can thank ‘Metroid’ for getting me into a lot of game series. I really like the ‘Metroid’ series so much and I am looking very much forward to review one particular game in the series, but before I get to it I want to review the games that came out before it. For this review I am going to review the very first game in the series that was released for the ‘N.E.S’ in 1986. This is my review of ‘Metroid’.

metroid cover

‘Metroid’ was developed by ‘Gumpei Yokoi’ who also developed such works as the classic arcade game ‘Donkey Kong’ and also worked with ‘Shigeru Miyamoto’ to develop ‘Super Mario Bros.’ It managed to sell over one million copies when it was first released so back then it was pretty popular. But how well does it hold up to today’s standards? Well believe it or not this is the first time I have ever beaten it so I am curious to see how it holds up after playing the other titles. Has it aged just as well as ‘Super Mario Bros.’ or will it be on par with my opinion on ‘The Legend of Zelda’? Let’s find out.

Story

In terms of this game’s story we only get one story element. If you let the title screen roll long enough, you will get some opening text saying that the galactic federation has sent a bounty hunter called Samus Aran to put an end to the plans of the Space Pirates and their leader Mother Brain to use creatures called Metroids to take over the galaxy. If you have read my reviews on ‘Super Mario Bros.’ and ‘The Legend of Zelda’, you’ll pretty much know how important the story is so let’s move on.

metroid stroy

Gameplay

‘Metroid’ is a 2D side-scrolling action-adventure game. You take control of Samus Aran, the bounty hunter sent to the planet Zebes where the space pirates are hiding out. You move Samus left and right with the D-Pad while using the ‘A’ button to jump, ‘B’ to shoot, Start to pause and Select to switch to missiles when you eventually get them. On the top left of your screen is how much energy you have along with the number of missiles you have. You always begin at thirty units of health out of ninety-nine.

metroid gameplay 2

‘Metroid’ was one of the very first games to introduce a non-linear style of gameplay. There are only four areas to travel through in the whole game (not including Torian, the final area in the game). These areas are called Brinstar, Norfair, Kriad’s Liar and Ridley’s Lair. You are not told where to go or what to do and there are some areas you cannot access unless you have the proper power-ups. Along the way you will encounter many power-ups and items to ease your progression. The first item is the morph ball which you get at the very start of the game. This item allows you to use down on the D-Pad which rolls Samus into a ball and allows you to travel through small areas that Samus cannot fit into. The other items you can find include the high jump boots which allow Samus to jump higher, morph ball bombs that can destroy certain blocks and deal a lot of damage, a varia suit which increases Samus’ defensive properties and the screw attack which deals a lot of damage whenever Samus is doing a flip jump. Samus can also encounter beam upgrades, which increases the range of the beam weapon. The beam from the start of the game has very little range that it cannot reach all the way across the screen. This is something I found stupid. If ‘Mega Man’ can naturally shoot across the screen, why can’t Samus? Other beam weapons you can encounter include the ice beam which freezes enemies and makes them temporary platforms and the wave beam which deals a lot of damage and can even pass through solid objects. Be careful though as if you grab one beam upgrade while equipped with the other, the upgrade that you gain will replace the one you are armed with and there are only a couple of places in the game where you can get the one you want back (with exception to the Long Beam which is permanent). The last two items you can find all over the place are missiles and energy tanks. Missiles are more powerful than your beam attacks but you only have a limited amount so be careful. Energy tanks not only give you one-hundred extra units of health permanently, but they also fully restore your health upon collecting them. That is awesome and I always try to search for energy tanks when I am low on health.

metroid powerup 2

Now since there is nothing that tells you where to go in this game, it is very hard to know where to go without a guide. There is no built-in map function and nobody to tell you where to go. Back in the 1980s there was no internet so players had to rely on this magazine called ‘Nintendo Power’ which gave players all sorts of hints and tips to complete the games that they were trying to complete. This isn’t a problem now thanks to the internet but it can still confuse new players who want to beat the game by themselves. This game is also really guilty at copying and pasting areas to finish the game’s structure which only furthers the confusion that new players will have. ‘Super Mario Bros.’ and ‘The Legend of Zelda’ were guilty of the same thing, but they were nowhere near as guilty as this game.

metroid gameplay 3

The enemies in this game are all inhabitants of Zebes and honestly they are all pretty easy to take down. However the abundance of enemies, especially in tight corridors, can be ridiculous. Not only can they re-spawn upon death, but some enemies in certain areas can do considerable amounts of damage to you and trust me you will die…a lot. This can make progression frustrating as you always restart at the beginning of area with only thirty units of health so if you want to continue on with little to no problems, you must grind enemies for health and missiles as they usually drop them upon death. What makes things worse is the placements of some enemies. Sometimes when you enter a door to get to the next area, enemies can follow in behind you and get a free shot or can even damage you right before you exit the door. You are completely defenceless while going through the door so you are guaranteed to take damage. This is a completely unfair advantage that can annoy even the most hard-core player.

metroid enemies

Like I said before, progression can be frustrating especially if you want to put the game down and continue it another day. When you die, you are given a password to type into the continue function so you can continue your progress another time. I heard that in the Japanese version, the game had a save feature like ‘The Legend of Zelda’. Why the western version didn’t get this feature I don’t have a clue.

There are only two bosses, Kraid and Ridley, and they are both reside in their respective areas. Kraid can fire projectiles from his chest which makes it pretty hard to score a shot at him even with a missile. Your best bet is to drop loads of bombs around him until he dies. Just make sure you have plenty of energy. Ridley on the other hand puts up no challenge. All he does is shoot fireballs and jump. That’s it. This is why I recommend going after Ridley first and going after Kraid last. After you defeat Kraid and Ridley, you are awarded with seventy-five extra missiles after they die.

metroid boss

After you defeat Kraid and Ridley, you get access to the final area in the game, Torian. To get to it, you must climb up to the very top of a vertical hallway in Brinstar and enter a door that will take you to a room which have statues of Kraid and Ridley. All you have to do is shoot the statues and a pathway will open up that will take you to the elevator leading to Torian. This only works after you defeat both Kraid and Ridley. Torian is not a big area and it is very linear. There are only two types of enemies. Ringkas are really annoying especially when you are in the door and the worst enemy in the game, Metroids. Whenever a Metroid latches onto you, it will start draining your life energy like nothing else. The only way to escape their grasp is to drop a load of bombs. The only way to kill them is to use the ice beam to freeze them and then blast them with five missiles. Metroids always drop the most amount of health and missile pick-ups so they are good for grinding if you plan on going after the final boss, Mother Brain.

metroid metroid

When you finally get to the room where Mother Brain is, you have to blast these doors with missiles and the only things that block your progress are Ringkas and turrets that never stop firing. The doors also regenerate if you leave them alone for too long, but once they are gone they are gone for good even after you die. Once you finally reach Mother Brain all you have to do is blast her with missiles all the while avoiding Ringkas and turret blasts. Mother Brain does nothing to defend herself.

Metroid_1_Mother_Brain_screenshot

After blasting enough missiles into her, Mother Brain explodes in a flashing explosion which may be the reason why you start wearing glasses. However after Mother Brain dies, a self-destruction sequence activates and you have only a certain amount of time to get out of Zebes. A door reveals itself after Mother Brain dies which leads to a vertical hallway which leads to the elevator out of the planet. You have to control your jumps just right because the higher platforms are pretty tiny to land on. However you have more than enough time to make it to the elevator so you shouldn’t have too much of a problem.

metroid gameplay 4

After you reach the elevator, a small ending cut-scene plays which grants you a one of five endings depending on how fast you beat the game. Depending on your speed-running, Samus can either scold you for your progress, congratulate you or reveal a rather nice surprise where Samus turned out to be a woman the whole time. Back then, this was quite a mind blow. Video game characters back then where mostly male while the female characters where resorted to either the damsel in distress or a more minor role. Samus was pretty much the gateway for female characters to have more important roles in video games not because she was the game’s main character, but because she is pretty badass which leads her to be one of my favourite characters in video game history.

Metroid_NES_Ending

Graphics

I think the graphics for this game are pretty good. There are some sprites that I like such as some of the inhabitants of Zebes but some are pretty questionable to look at such as Ridley’s sprite and Kraid’s sprite, especially when compared to the future games. Slowdown can also occur when there are too many sprites on the screen. Aside from the cut and paste jobs that I mentioned, each area manages to stick out just fine from each other.

Music

The music is pretty nice for 8-bit standards. The soundtrack is cosmic and foreboding at the same time which I think works for a game like this. A couple of sound effects can be a bit ear-grating such as the sound that plays when you are low on health.

Control

The control in this game is actually pretty smooth. Samus’ jump ark feels pretty good and I feel that her floaty jumps are better for making more precise jumps. There is a bit of traction after she lands from a jump but it isn’t too slippery. The only problem I have is limited range of the beam. Samus can only shoot in front of her or straight up. She cannot shoot diagonally or straight down, which can cause problems when you are falling down a straight corridor with enemies lurking about. However there should never be a time where you are unfairly killed because of control and I like it because of that.

Final Thoughts

As a whole, I feel that ‘Metroid’ hasn’t aged well. The game can be very hard not only because of cheap enemy placement but also because of the confusing game structure. However despite having said all of that, I actually had fun with this game. Yeah I did have problems with it and I was expecting to have a hard time, but I did enjoy playing and finally beating this game, properly more than ‘The Legend of Zelda’. However this may be because I have played other better games in the series and I have become more of a fan of this series. I can only recommend this game to fans of the ‘Metroid’ franchise who want to see where it all started. Casual gamers are better off staying away from this game. So overall, I had fun with this game, but I cannot deny that it won’t match up to the standards of modern gamers today.

Final rating: 6/10

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