Saturday, July 29, 2017

Super Metroid Revisited


In anticipation of Samus Returns, I'm currently (re)playing several Metroid games. After Zero Mission, I continued on the Wii U Virtual Console and played through Super Metroid again.

Super Metroid was my first Metroid game, when I discovered the franchise for myself in 2008. It's even the game that made me chose the nickname "TourianTourist", some time before opening this blog. And since then it always has been one of my favorite Metroid games next to the Metroid Prime Trilogy, where I've also beaten the game a couple of times now. But after replaying the game now, it doesn't feel like it can live up to all that.

It's still a very good game, don't get me wrong, but it feels a little dated now, where most of the issues lie in its controls, especially after playing Zero Mission and seeing Samus Returns. The input seems to be quite stiff. It starts with the Wall Jumps that behave somewhat differently than in other games. You have to press into the direction and then press the jump button like a split seconds afterwards. If you press both at the same time, it doesn't work. And every time I play this game, it takes some time to get used to this again.

But it's still not as bad as the Grapple Beam. This item has some really awkward handling and probably the "stiffest" input in the game. It's just not fun to use this item. This goes so far that one time I played through Super Metroid without using the Grapple Beam at all. I did the entirety of Maridia with Wall Jumps, because it worked much better for me than the Grapple Beam. And that's saying something.

In addition there are some things in Super Metroid that are simply inconvenient. One is the item select, where you have to go through a list of five items with some of them even being situational. Both Metroid Fusion and Zero Mission streamlined this more by using the R button to toggle between Beam and Missiles, as well as Bombs and Power Bombs in Morphball Mode. Much better! They also got rid of the Grapple Beam and the X-Ray Scope. And I'm a little worried, how well switching items and beams in Samus Returns will work. From the looks of it, you have to use the touchscreen quite a lot...

Another issue is the map, where you can only view your current area. When I arrived at the end, I was missing three Missile Expansions, so I wanted to compare my map with item location maps on in the internet. But for this I still had to travel through each area individually, where again I thought that Teleport Stations will be the best addition to the franchise since the ledge grab (which is also absent from Super Metroid, since it was introduced in Fusion).

With all of this in mind, I wouldn't be surprised, if this game follows Samus Returns and receives a proper remake in the future, maybe even on the Switch. With that Nintendo would be remaking the Metroid classics in order, which makes a lot of sense. It probably wouldn't be necessary for Metroid Fusion, though, and at some point Nintendo should make a proper Metroid 5, instead of doing remakes.

Anyway, I still enjoy this game quite a lot. The music and atmosphere are absolutely great, all areas have a distinct feel to them and offer maze-like exploration. I usually enjoy the Brinstar area the most and the Wrecked Ship the least, where I kind of lost motivation around this part. Even though Super Metroid only takes around 3 to 5 ingame hours to beat, where you could do it in one evening, it took me several weekends to fully beat this game... It wasn't as exciting as it used to be.


At least the game keeps it simple, because you don't have to beat it six times under different conditions to unlock all endings. Overall the game is much easier than Zero Mission, which is especially noticeable with the bosses. I guess, in case of Ridley the Super Metroid version actually is a little more difficult, but the Kraid and Mother Brain fights are much, much easier, when compared to the GBA game. On the other hand Super Metroid doesn't hold your hand as much, where you have to find out on your own, where you can progress, while Zero Mission keeps giving you directions all the time.


Collecting all the items isn't as insane as it was in Zero Mission as well. There are no ridiculous Shine Spark stunts required and it's mostly about finding all the hidden secrets. Still, to get 100% under 3 hours certainly takes some practice and planning, because it's easy to miss a Missile Expansion here and there.

I would try this as well, but currently my time is somewhat limited. Before Samus Returns gets released, I also want to play through Metroid Fusion on the Wii U Virtual Console. And I'm also currently playing through Metroid Prime: Federation Force with some friends, where we're having a blast. But more about this later on.

The next two months certainly will be Metroid-heavy!

1 comment:

Eduardo Jencarelli said...

I first played Super about 10 years ago. I hadn't played a Metroid game prior to the Wii era. The Wii VC was my introduction to the franchise.

Control and interface-wise, it can feel dated when compared to the likes of Fusion and Zero Mission. It does feel way more polished than its predecessors, Metroids 1 and 2, however.

As for the Grappling Beam, it was always an awkward item to use for me, especially in Maridia. Getting the Space Jump from Draygon instantly makes that Beam obsolete (even though the beam could kill several enemies in one hit - the screw attack takes care of that too).

While I could wall-jump after some practice, I was never really able to do it the way speedrunners do, by doing it rapidly on a single wall. Therefore, I was never able to get Power Bombs early on the Red Brinstar area.

I always go for early Power Bombs on Norfair instead, by getting the Wave Beam early and killing Crocomire beforehand as well.