When I was growing up, we were a Sega household. Me and my brother dabbled with the Nintendo consoles available at the time, but we requested the Sega Mega Drive as a joint Christmas present. There would be days where we would borrow games from others who owned Mega Drives, such as Streets of Rage 2 and Shining Force. So imagine my surprise when I say that the best game I ever played was a Super Nintendo game.
Don’t just take my word for it. Given how the internet was in its infancy in 1994, it’s remarkable just how much praise is documented for this game. A British gaming magazine from the time by the name of Super Play had such choice words as “undoubtedly the best game I’ve played this year so far” from Tony Mott, and James Leach said it had everything he was looking for in a game. Their overall summary was “We all love this game. Super Metroid is absolutely marvelous and you should own it.”
So what’s so great about this game? In a sense, it’s the atmosphere and sense of loneliness. Yes you are Samus Aran, bounty hunter extraordinaire, but you are also alone. Nobody is going to help you combat the legions of aliens and monsters on Zebes. When you first land, nobody impedes your progress until you collect the first power up. From then on, the creepy atmosphere becomes populated with monsters, Space Pirates, and all sorts of things out to get you.
Metroid games always have collectibles and Super Metroid doesn’t disappoint. You have abilities like the grappling hook and various beam add-ons; but what sets it apart from the other Metroid games is the abilities it teaches you that are unconventional. Wall jumping and a new use for the speed boost may be hard to pull off at first, but the animals do show you how it looks, giving you all the clues you need to perform the moves for yourself.
For me, the point where it turned from merely a great action game to a phenomenal masterpiece was the boss fight against Crocomir. It’s easily one of the best examples of the action telling a story, second only to the game’s conclusion. It also helps that the boss fights are hugely varied. Kraid is a giant, Phantoon is creepy as sin, and Ridley is a badass.
I since played the NES original, which I found to be a bit of a mess thanks to no map being available and a general lack of direction. These issues were fixed in the remake on the Gameboy Advance, but the innovations were born in Super Metroid. Even playing the game as recently as a week ago, Super Metroid certainly holds up as a testament of great game design with limited technology.
But here’s where you come in. It’s all well and good me saying that a game should be preserved and shown to anyone interested in gaming, but does it deserve all the praise? Leave a comment below with your thoughts. For this month of Retro games. We’re also experimenting with a new rating system: Must Play, Should Play, Watch a Let’s Play, Don’t Play. Please remember to include this in your comments.