Read the full review here.
“Metroid still remains quite a place in gaming, and would still prove to be an intimidating challenge to any true gamer who dares try it without information now easily found on the Internet.”
– from the full review, which you can read here.
Here it is, NES fans: Review #100! It has been a fun journey up to this point; and with 600+ titles for me to yet review still, I expect plenty more fun in the future! Thank you, so much, to every single person who visits the site, reads and comments on the reviews, gives me flak about how I viewed their favorite game, signed up for the forum when it launched, and probably most of all, every retro gamer that I have had the privilege and pleasure of having NES-relevant conversations with. It is these discussions around a shared passion that affirm my belief that this is a project worth undertaking.
Now with all that mushy gushy stuff out of the way, onto the review! The game is Metroid, a definite classic, but a title on the NES that people have very split opinions on. Some people think it is a massively overrated platformer with severe flaws, while others cite it as among the foremost classics of the 8-bit era. This much is undeniable: The cartridge started one of the most successful Nintendo franchises, and the game itself paved the way for some important gaming innovations.
I chose Metroid as my review #100 because I find that its place in the Nintendo Entertainment System library (a fairly early release, yet ambitious in its scope) very much now matches its place in my reviews. My website, like Metroid, is not understood by everyone, and most do not give it regard; but hey, it is there, and some will defend it as being worthwhile.
Before, with some reviews, I included a Second Opinion feature where I would quote a comment on a particular game given by someone else. For the Metroid game, not only do I have a Second Opinion, but also several more!
The first second opinion (boy, that is confusing) comes from Jesse D. of the wonderful Metroid Database site, which he has been a part of since 1997 (!!) and still participates as a programmer, contributing editor, and forum administrator:
There’s just something about adventure games from the 8-bit era. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia of my 80’s childhood, but there’s still a sense of magic I feel every time I decide to load an old-school adventure game into my NES. These games have not all withstood the test of time to the same degree, but still some I return to from time to time. Metroid is one of these games.
Bringing to the sidescrolling platformer style of gameplay what The Legend of Zelda brought to the top-down role-playing perspective, Metroid’s premise was simple: explore the open world, discover power-ups, and defeat your enemies. Press A to jump, press B to fire, off you go, good luck. The player is not provided with any tutorial, no maps, and no hints as to where you should go next. Only by trial and error, exploration and perhaps a little help from your friends can you figure out just what it is you’re supposed to be doing.
And this was awesome. The creepy atmosphere and the distinctive music only augmented the sense of being absolutely lost with a sense of adventure that no modern game can match. Being forced to explore without knowing what you will find around the next corner is what gives Metroid its unique character. Coupled with some catchy music, a distinctive graphical style and one of gaming’s greatest surprise endings, Metroid is highly memorable.
But as a whole, Metroid is not without its flaws. It’s a bit too difficult for today’s average gamer and the unintuitive password system makes it difficult to simply save your game and resume where you last left off. Samus’ range of motion feels limited, as she cannot crouch or shoot downward or diagonally. However, all of these things would be addressed in Metroid’s legendary successor, Super Metroid.
While it is a dated game, Metroid is still a worthwhile addition to any Nintendo fan’s library.
The next opinion on Metroid comes from William, aka ronny14, who is responsible for the Metroid Master Tileset posted at Metroid Fan Mission, and has this to say on the NES adventure:
I’ve always been more of a fan of Sega, but one certain Nintendo game really caught my attention- the Sci Fi adventure game, “Metroid.” The game is quite a challenge, (something I like) and it was very unique among most NES adventures.
The graphics to the game are not as great as they could be, but graphics don’t make everything. The environments could be easily told apart, each having its own unique look to it, the bubbles in Norfair, the totems in Brinstar, the pipes in Ridley, the bricks in Kraid, and that cold mechanical lab in Tourian. It was a little hard to tell what she was supposed to be, but that doesn’t stop her from looking awesome. The music added even more “environment” to the game, all of the compositions set the right mood.
The game itself is a challenging adventure- platformer. Each area gave me a huge challenge, whether it was finding where to go or defeating those dreaded enemies (CURSE YOU RINKAS!) Another thing that caught my attention was that the game wasn’t sequenced, there are MANY ways to complete the game, such as getting few items, getting them all, completing it with or without the suit, it leaves many possibilities.
It’s very hard for me to not like things about this game, though some things can be a little “stressful.” Sometimes you can’t help getting hurt, getting out of Kraid is a little unreasonable (the pit room) and sometimes there are very visible glitches. All that aside, the game comes together very nicely, and I’ll never stop enjoying it.
Next, we have HalDanGhor the Gamer, who is a fan of the NES console with a YouTube channel that hosts some sweet gameplay videos, including complete playthroughs. His take on Metroid:
Metroid was one of the first games in which we had to look a lot for secret passages. Since there was no clue to where to go and what to do for many players like me, who just rented the game to play it and had no book to at least know what kind of goal we were going through, we had some kind of interesting challenge. It just made the game even funnier. That’s in that kind of adventurer’s spirit that I discovered that game, and every player in the world should have lived something similar, to learn the true spirit of gameplay. Finding secret items deep in those mazes was always something very special. Playing the game that way just learned to me and my brothers to play games cleanly, without having to look for clues from Internet or our friends. Metroid, along with many other Nintendo games such as Legacy of the Wizard, Zelda 2, Adventure of Link and Castlevania 2 Simon’s Quest, learned us how games were made, and how to use every dead-end to uncover mysteries and solve riddles… This game is a must play for every beginner or older player. Nice atmosphere, great gameplay, passwords, hours of fun in a weird but interesting world of strange creatures through nice mazes!
Up next we have Tom Votava, who is among the best NES players in the world (and that is quantifiable fact, not just rhetoric – he boasts some outstandingly impressive Twin Galaxies records and accomplishments, including a sick high-score run on Super Mario Bros. 3), and even has the YouTube videos to prove it, and it is an honor to hear what he has to say on Metroid:
Let’s see, Ice Beam…check. Missiles…check. Energy Tanks…empty, but we’re going in anyway! Nintendo’s space-adventure classic is a game that needs no introduction. If you haven’t played this game, chances are you’ve played something similar, since many of today’s games have gameplay elements that Metroid invented. Have you ever explored a level in search of weapons that were needed to reach some other level? Metroid invented that. Have you ever entered a password on a game’s title screen? Metroid invented that. Have you ever played a game where the screen scrolls in more than one direction? Metroid invented that too!
I personally have come full circle with this game. When it was first released, I didn’t like it very much, as it was too complicated for the little kid I was then. Years later, I finally gave the game a chance and really enjoyed it, so much so that when I took up speed running, Metroid was one of the first games I tried to play fast. My time didn’t hold up for long, but I had loads of fun trying! Then a few years later, I had the honor of verifying Christopher Knight’s world record run on this game. His time of 17:22 has stood for over 5 years! That was a treat that I will never forget.
We also have Loogaroo, who runs an entertaining blog (including retro-gaming content), with this provocative take on Metroid:
Many people like to place Metroid in same the category of “timeless classics” that they use to describe the Mario and Zelda series. But while there are plenty of things the original Metroid contributed to progression of the NES, the game itself doesn’t measure up. Even for a game that was as young as Metroid, too many obvious design flaws abound, For example, a character that can’t crouch and fire at the same time, flies halfway across the screen whenever she takes a hit, and needs up to 16 shots from her arm cannon to kill some monsters. Map designs that repeat rooms in several locations, making it that much tougher to find your place. A sprawling world that encourages total exploration, but makes you hurry to get the good ending. A game that’s not especially challenging once you have enough Energy Tanks in your collection, but starts you off with the same measly 30 health – no matter how many of those tanks you’re continuing with. There’s a great game in here, and later installments of the series would give this premise the refinements it needed to truly shine. But the starting point, like the starting to point to other long-running and respected series, was quite rough.
Additionally, we have Katy Cross, a writer/gamer hybrid (check out this excellent article, “The Art of Gaming,” to see what I mean) who has this to say about Metroid on the NES:
What can I say about Metroid? It’s impossible to underestimate the ripple effect a great game like this has on the industry. Metroid raised the bar. It inspired changes almost immediately in game series like Castlevania, and echoes of its influence can still be felt in franchises like Halo. That’s no stretch. Kids who grow up playing video games also grow up to design video games. A great game can influence a generation of gaming.
Certain games just make their mark. When I think of true game-changers in this era, I think of two titles. One is The Legend of Zelda. The other is Metroid.
So bow down, fellow gamers! Pay your respects. Metroid is a juggernaut in the history of gaming, a kling klang king of the 8-bit rim ram room. I don’t care how much dps your WoW mage does, or how many kills you’ve racked up in Modern Warfare 2.
You’re not a true gamer until you’ve popped a cap in Mother Brain.
Then we have Russell Cohrs, another fellow freelance writer/retro gamer like myself, who has written his own full review of the game, and this pleasant addition to the running Metroid commentary:
Metroid: Hot Chick in Space
Metroid was the first game that I ever bought, way back in the early days of the NES. It was actually pretty much an accident! I was about 8 or 9 at the time, and I had vaguely heard about a game I now know was “Kid Icarus.” I didn’t really know too much about it, but when I was picking a game, the graphics on the Metroid package confused me. Hey, two grey boxes, screencaps of games with similar palettes and graphics, and the general themes of the games were a bit confusing to me. Yeah, everyone knows the difference between the two now, but it was simpler times back in the glory days of NES, in life “Before The Internet” (BTI time I think it’s called).
I was visiting my family across the country during Christmas at the time, and I just remember my older brother being less than impressed. He was more of an old schooler, who had the joy of playing games like “Ghosts ‘N’ Goblins,” “Lifeforce,” and “Contra” in their arcade incarnations. I’ve always been a fan of those too (who doesn’t like Konami), but Metroid was something different…deep, dark, sinister… and incredibly fun and immersive!
During my vacation, I got fairly into the game, probably at least finding and beating Kraid, but then I had a three day drive back to my house. I spent the whole time thinking about how I was going to play the crap outta Metroid as soon as I could (I had many experiences taking that same long trip thinking about different games. Christmas, new games, and long trips really build the anticipation). Oh man going through Metroid and trying to bomb every single wall to see if something was there, picking up the best weapon in the game (Wave Gun) only to find out the crappy Ice Beam is a necessity, finally figuring out why those damn statues of Kraid and Ridley were there… man those were good times. And the instruction book had an awesome story in the beginning, which I read about 50 times during that long road trip. Finally beating the game, and seeing a WOMAN?! Holy crap awesome!
Well, not all the memories were good. That million digit password system on a black and white TV caused me about a million headaches. No subscreen, so all those items I collected were just kind of there. And why the hell did you have to go left at the beginning? I think living in BTI time was great for one reason though; it definitely helped me develop map-making skills, and when I got bored of that, good memory skills. So just when I had enough, my older bro heard from a friend reading Nintendo Power I guess that you could put in some random JUSTIN BAILEY (relation to Eric?) password that just tore shit up. Man, I don’t think I was as excited about the game until about 15 years later when I read about NARPAS SWORD.
Ahh yeah, great memories, classic game, and awesomely redone on the SNES and GBA (although not too much of a fan of the 1st Person Metroids). Plus Mother Brain starred in Captain N; you make it in Captain N, you got some skills son!
Then, to issue the final second opinion on the Metroid video game for NES, we have Josh Komon, another freelancer/gamer connection with his own library of gaming-related writing that includes his full review of Metroid, and with this to say in summary:
The original Metroid for The Nintendo Entertainment System set a standard that may have been equaled, but has never been surpassed. Like the Legend of Zelda, another great classic released in 1986, Metroid introduced a system of, “You can’t get there from here.” Only after completing certain tasks, and finding new items and abilities are new areas able to be accessed. In this manner, Metroid created, “stages” without having definitive stages. The graphics and gameplay have changed dramatically over the years, but each game uses this idea of advancement through improvement.
A cool game mechanic is great, but cannot carry a game by itself. Thankfully, in an era where games were rushed to market, Metroid’s designers took the time to make everything right. The challenge is there, constant action keeps the player’s attention, and not a game was able to make 8-bit graphics look quite so amazing. Constant rewards spread throughout an immense world made it (and still makes it) very difficult to put this game down.
But there’s more. To achieve the truly legendary status, Metroid has a few little secrets and tricks which everyone seemed to know about. First, at game’s end, we all discovered that Samus was actually a girl… go figure. And then there were secret codes that were somehow shared across the world before the internet was prevalent. Lastly, there was that bizarre door trick that people would use to gain access to secret areas. What was in those secret areas? How do you get out of those secret areas? What is the meaning of life? No one knows. No one cares. It was cool as hell that they existed, and we found them.
A special thank-you to all those who contributed their opinions on Metroid, I appreciate it.
Happy 100 Reviews, everyone!