Metroid (NES 1986) Review + Rambling about Super Metroid

The first Metroid game is widely known as a great game and a start of a legendary series, i played it a few times as a kid, didn’t get very far and kind of just brushed it off as a difficult, cryptic game. This time i started playing it with the determination of finishing it, and that is what i did. Let’s see how it went and see if you should play it too! We also look at Super Metroid, another legendary game that you should maybe play before the original game.

First off i would like to say that i am not a Metroid fan really. I played Super Metroid a very long time ago and haven’t played it in many years. I also never finished Metroid Prime. I was never really a part of the Metroid hype since no one in Iceland owned a SNES and i didnt get a Gamecube until like 2005 or maybe even 2006. Anyway, at least i can say that i can approach this game with a non-biased mind and play it with a clean slate.

Metroid menu
The dark theme of the game is obvious right away.

This game is the first of it’s genre later to be known as “Metroidvania” which is a combination of the game titles of Metroid and  Castlevania. The idea is that the game is one big giant stage and you can only advance through the game by collecting items or power-ups. This is for example a rocket launcher to shoot down locked doors or a higher jump allowing you to reach areas you couldn’t before.

metroid_nes
Dark, murky but looks good

In Metroid you start off as Samus Aran in a dark, murky area armed only with the power to shoot a very short distance and jump. you meet some pretty weak enemies to shoot and get adjusted. Then almost right in the beginning you cannot advance unless you travel left of where you start the game and pick up the upgrade that allows you to morph into a small ball that can roll under tight spaces, so right away you are  taught the theme of the game. This game has the basic platforming elements but with a few nice twists.

This can be pretty difficult since you start of very weak with no hints on where to go. Most likely if you are playing for the first time you will die multiple times before you find a new item/power-up. The most annoying thing about this game is that you always start the game with 30 energy, which is very low. You will die in 4 hits in a maze of respawning enemies, many of who you cannot shoot easily because of their very annoying flying pattern. You can go through the extremely tedious process of farming for energy. When you kill an enemy you might get 5 energy (20 for some of the difficult ones) so you can just do that until you reach the max which is 99 initially, but why would they make us do that? it doesn’t make the game more difficult really, because you always have the option of killing constantly respawning enemies for energy. Often you won’t have the patience to do that, but then you will likely just die and need to start over. You can find energy reserve tanks that increase your max energy, so at some point you can have 500 or 600 max energy which makes farming for max energy even more tedious. When you find these health tank your energy will go to max so at least then you don’t have to farm, that is actually often the case when you are further inside the game. Despite this and some very frustrating deaths because i didn’t know where to go it wasn’t boring. The controls are good and Samus gets stronger, so if you are intending on giving Metroid a shot, you CANNOT half-ass it. You need to go in with determination and some time because Metroid is so much more difficult at first than in later stages of the game. This is not just a little bump like in Bionic Commando and what i mentioned in that review, this one is for real, it will test you patience. Another thing is you need to find rockets to open all red doors in the game, so i did, shot the doors but nothing happened. I tried again and for the 3rd time but then i thought it must be something else and i didn’t want to waste more rockets. In the end i found out you have to shoot red doors with the rockets 5 times! Really?! I didn’t know that so i wasted a lot of time trying to find something else, dying a lot in the process of course.

M_Brinstar_Varia_Suit
Finding the armor suit. Getting power-ups is very satisfying

When my patience ran out i looked at a map online and saw all the secret rooms and passages that i had no way of knowing of unless i would try to shoot every wall and bomb all the floors in the game. These kind of no hint secrets are just not in recent games and would be considered unfair. I just felt that i should not have to waste my time farming energy and shooting random walls or floors for hours through respawning enemies. At least i found the rockets, floor bombs and 1 or 2 energy tanks by myself. The areas after that were too difficult to explore with just 30 energy and i got tired of farming so i found a secret armor that cuts damage in half with the online map. with that armor and a lot of rockets you can find that one shot most enemies the game gets more fun, especially when you find the screw attack. If you are a Metroid fan, maybe you just think i am being a pussy but finally i can kill most of the enemies that give me a horrible time earlier and the game becomes more fluid. Finally it payed off! Metroid became very fun to play! Not just because it got easier, but also because your move set gets bigger. You meet some cool bosses and the final moments of the game are very epic and fun. That being said playing the game for the second time is very fun, you know the secrets and how to deal with enemies, where the power-ups are so this game is perfect for speed-runners. The game has a password system lie you can see on the cover pic, but it never worked for me. The passwords are super long and i must have made a mistake, so i used a password generator online.

312624-metroid-nes-screenshot-using-the-screw-attack-to-kill-an-enemy
Screw your enemies with the screw jump attack! Total game changer, but this area looks kinda weird.

I cannot be too rough on this game for a few reasons. Not only is the game from 1986 and the genre is groundbreaking but in 1986 people did not have the wide, easy access to games that we have today and these factors mentioned above made the game last, and people(especially kids) had the patience to go through this back then. Also, for the same reason i justified the controls and difficulty of the Castlevania series i will say that Metroid wants to make you feel lost and helpless, you are inside an alien lair on a solo mission to save the galaxy, it is supposed to be hard. Samus gets used to the environment, adapts and it becomes easier. This makes sense to me, but i feel they were not as successful with Metroid in turning that theme into an advantage. I think the theme is pretty cool, even though i generally like fantasy worlds better, the eerie atmosphere and the visuals, sprites look nice even though Samus’ way of running is kinda weird.

The music emphasizes on that lost, helpless, scary theme and many of the tracks sound nice, but it is not something you listen to on your mp3 while riding the bus.

Here is a longplay of the game so you can see how it looks and feels ***spoilers*** (this guy knows all the secrets)

In the end i feel like this is a very good game but suffers from some faults that make it tedious and frustrating that bring it down. I guess it has not aged well but it is no denying that it was groundbreaking at the time it came out and i have to score the game according to how the game plays today and it has next to none nostalgic value for me. I lost my pretty good patience and used a map… I would only recommend this game to hardcore gamers or Metroid Prime/Super Metroid fans because they are probably the only ones with enough patience to finish this one out.

Gameplay 8
Visuals 7,5
Music 7,5
Lasting appeal 8
Is it fun? 7,5

Overall 7,5 a good game

Thanks for reading!

Bonus!!! update 23/1/16: Rambling about Metroid and Super Metroid

I did this review on Metroid on the NES a while back and found it a good game that could be a great game if it was not for a few bothering flaws. But it is safe to say that Metroid taught me how to play Metroid games so when playing Super Metroid i had a much better idea about what i was supposed to be doing. Super Metroid fixed almost everything i complained about the the original Metroid review added a lot more.

Also; this is probably less of a review and more of a poorly written general rambling about the two games so bare with me.

supermetroid.jpg
Welcome back! This game looks amazing

Like i said at the beginning of the NES Metroid review i am not a Metroid fan. NES Metroid did not change that in any significant way since i thought the game had maybe not aged well and has flaws like you needing to grind for health and literally bomb/shoot everything in the game in order to progress through the obligatory secret passageways without a map and respawning enemies. Even though in the end i found Metroid a pretty fun game, the truth is that it is cryptic, repetitive, frustrating, time consuming and confusing. Super Metroid on the other hand did make me a Metroid fan even though the core metroidvania style gameplay is essentially the same. The controls are tight and make good use of the SNES controller, enemies are smarter and less frustrating and the level design is top notch. Super Metroid is fluid from the start and draws you right in with it’s atmosphere and sweet visuals. Planet Zebes looks great, it is interesting and cool. This time you do not have to grind up to full health every time you die, you just go back to when you last saved

You don’t start off the game as weak as you did in the NES Metroid but you are still just a shell of what you will become later in the game. The hunt for the next upgrade keeps you constantly engaged knowing you will be taken you to dangerous, unexplored areas  (luckily this time they provide you with a map). The level design is great, so are the puzzles, enemies and bosses. Most of all the pace of the game is superb. Not often does it happen to me now that i just look forward to waking up just so i can go play a game. That is how much fun i was having with Super Metroid.

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Damn it Ridley! leave that kid alone! One of Super Metroid’s great bosses.

If i would have known what i was up against when i played Metroid, or if i had played Super Metroid first i might have thought better of the original game. I feel this way because struggling through the original Metroid taught me how to play  Metroid games and i checked everywhere for secrets but even so you get no hints i a lot of cases in Metroid while in Super Metroid secrets are in easier spots and later you get the x-ray vision to reveal secrets. This is why i think  you should play Super Metroid before Metroid because playing Super Metroid first eases you in for what NES Metroid will come at you with.

super-metroid-04.png
So many new additions too like more missle types and a hookshot

I am not going to waste time telling you about Super Metroid since you can find so much about it online and i feel no different from most others…. It is just bigger, badder, more fun, lot less frustrating, so much new stuff, 3 endings and thus replay value, it has better flow than Metroid so because of all of this Super Metroid could maybe crack my top 5 favorite SNES games ever while the original Metroid didn’t even stand a chance at my top 10 NES games list. So play Super Metroid! then try the original Metroid if you really really liked this one.

Super Metroid scores just for the heck of it:

Gameplay 9,5
Visuals 9
Music 9
Lasting appeal 9,5
Is it fun? 9.5

Overall 9,5 an awesome game!

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