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System: Super NES
Publisher & Designer: Nintendo of America
Release Date: May 1994
Genre: Adventure
Players: 1
Save Feature? Do Samus and Ridley have enmity for each other?

As far as I am concerned, Super Metroid is by far the greatest Metroid game ever made...and it isn't even close. Super Metroid vastly improved on the first two games in every conceivable fashion and shows just how great the series can be when done correctly. The graphics, music, controls, story, and atmosphere are all top-notch and this game is undoubtedly one of the finest adventure games in video game history.

Overview: If you have read my in-depth review of the original Metroid classic, then you know how much respect and admiration I have for that legendary game. Metroid II: The Return of Samus for the Game Boy, while not on the same wavelength as the first game, was still a decent romp with plenty of exploration and epic boss battles to be had. However, when a third Metroid game was announced for the Super Nintendo console, you can bet that us Metroid fans were licking our chops. Samus Aran's epic adventures on a 16-bit platform with state-of-the-art graphics and sound? Bring it on!

Right from its impressive cinematic opening sequence all the way through its climatic confrontation with the Mother Brain, you could just tell that Nintendo had squeezed the Super NES' 16-bits for all they were worth and in the process, they had created a masterpiece in Super Metroid. This game just feels like a super-enhanced version of Metroid (hence the name Super Metroid?) with a larger world to explore along with a heavy-duty arsenal of weapons and abilities to master. If there is a video game school that teaches the proper way to create a sequel, Lesson 101 should be Super Metroid because this game exemplifies how it is done.

Like its predecessors, Super Metroid epitomizes the adventure genre. It feels like an action game until you discover the non-linear nature of the game. While there is a main path of sorts, there are so many deviations along the way that require a ton of backtracking and experimentation as well. You will constantly find yourself cut off from certain rooms/areas where you might need a certain item or ability to progress further in the game. By retracing your steps and hunting diligently for any secret/hidden passages you can find, you should be able to eventually locate key items that open up the game further. Meticulous, perfectionistic gamers adore the Metroid series since careful exploration is absolutely paramount to your success. That is what separates this game from your average action game that places skill above more adventurous elements like exploration. In Super Metroid, skill is still very important but mental prowess plays a role also. Unless you can navigate maze-like areas with the patience of a saint, this game will really catch you offguard with its depth because it is a very large game.

As I touched on earlier, there are a lot of special weapons and unique abilities in Super Metroid...even more so than the original game! In addition to standard missiles, bombs, the high jump, and the screw attack, there are now Super Missiles that are needed to access mysterious green doors while Super Bombs can lay waste to some of the tougher terrain on Planet Zebes. Samus will learn how to run really fast (this ability is simply awesome to behold) and if you are a skilled player, jump extremely high by stopping on a dime then jumping. The Grappling Hook is a fun item to use as well and harkens back to my Bionic Commando days. And not to be forgotten are Samus' awe-inspiring weapons like the Wave/Ice/Plasma Beams. The variation and diversity of the gameplay certainly prevents this game from ever becoming boring!

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Graphics: You can make a very strong case that Super Metroid has the best pre-Donkey Kong Country visuals on the Super NES. The world of Zebes has never looked better and the atmosphere just permeates this game unlike any other! The somewhat dark, isolated feel of the visuals works wonders and the diversity of Planet Zebes is phenomenal. You have Crateria with its dark, rocky terrain, Brinstar and its thick, lush plant-like atmosphere, and Miridia's mysterious underwater domain along with several additional areas to explore. This game is colorful enough yet has a dark, gritty feel when necessary. It achieves the perfect balance and captures the essence of Samus Aran and her epic adventure so well.

The animated graphics are also quite impressive and help to mold the world of Zebes even further. I appreciate the little things like Samus' subtle movements while standing still or the quiet ripples of water in Miridia or the background fauna/pollen gently floating in mid-air in Brinstar. The enemies and bosses look fantastic too! Kraid, Ridley, and the Mother Brain look absolutely fierce in this game and certainly help to give Super Metroid its epic feel.

Music: Honestly, what truly separates Super Metroid from most adventure games is the perfect harmony between the game's visuals and music. The music in Super Metroid fits the game remarkably well and is a gi-normous reason why this game has such a great atmosphere. This game actually feels quite dark for a mid-90's Nintendo game which goes completely in the face of the stereotype that Nintendo is nothing more than a "kiddy" company.

Like the graphics, the music really gets to you almost immediately. NES Metroid fans will certainly shed a sentimental tear or two when they hear the haunting title screen theme and the epic opening movie track really gets you excited about playing this game. The quiet, almost stealth-like music/sounds that hum as Samus returns to Zebes and begins to explore old, familiar areas only adds to the suspense and I love how the music really kicks off once the enemy discovers you!

One of my personal favorite tunes in Super Metroid has to be the Brinstar track with its upbeat, ethereal atmosphere. While this track is completely different than the legendary NES tune, it gives the most "lively" area of the game the perfect atmosphere. Norfair once again features dark, menacing music while Miridia has a soft, mysterious theme. The heroic, uplifting melody that plays above the surface later in the game really keeps you going too. Even a heroine like Samus needs some cheerful music once in a while!

Some of the music late in the game is quite impressive as well. The track that plays as you close in on the Mother Brain (and the last Metroid) is very suspenseful and the Mother Brain themes are as helter-skelter and manic as ever which admittedly fits the game's main villain. The escape track is full of energy as well and definitely pushes you to get out of Dodge while the ending theme is once again very pleasant and memorable. Granted, the Super Metroid soundtrack is by no means a great stand-alone soundtrack. Within the world of the game, however, it is pure magic.

Lastly, the sound effects throughout this game are superb. Everything from hearing the cries of the Metroid hatchling during the title screen to rain and thunder in the Zebes landing scene just add to the game's ultra-thick atmosphere. The enemies are memorable and Samus' weapons sound as they should.

Play Control: While the original Metroid game had pretty solid play control, the Super Nintendo controller with its additional buttons seemed to be an even better fit for this type of game. You could now carefully aim at a 45 degree angle with the L and R buttons while the A/Y buttons allowed you to utilize special weapons/abilities. The ability to aim in particular can be very helpful when fighting enemies that have a habit of manuevering in those tight, hard-to-hit spots. The basics like jumping, shooting, and laying bombs feels smooth as it did in the original Metroid game too. Little nuances like how Samus will jump straight up or morph into a ball while she jumps depending on the angle of the jump is a fun skill to master (especially once you acquire the deadly Screw Attack ability) and some of her new abilities have some pretty cool idiosyncrasies of their own...if you take the time to experiment with them that is.

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Challenge: Like with any non-linear adventure game that involves a hefty amount of exploration and experimentation, the first playthrough of Super Metroid will always be the most challenging one. Now granted, if you are a hardcore gamer who attempts to beat this game while snagging a minimal amount of items/armor/abilities, then yes...you will also have a tough time finishing the game unscathed. I still remember playing Super Metroid for the first time and having the toughest time making any real progress. The reason for this is that I would continually get "stuck" due to not having the right weapons or abilities and that is the true essence of Metroid's difficulty. With that being said, however, the main bosses like Ridley and Phantoon will certainly put up a good fight if you find yourself unprepared so beware!

Overall, Super Metroid is probably moderate in terms of its overall difficulty. It is certainly not an easy game nor is it an extremely challenging one. It is probably just right for an intermediate gamer and at the same time, should come across as a fulfilling experience for pretty much any video game fan. Thanks to a huge world to explore along with tons of secret items to be found, there is a lot of replay value to be had in Super Metroid. I beat the game fairly recently and, while I felt like I found most of the items/rooms, I only finished with around 83% if that tells you anything! So yes, there is a lot to find in this game especially if you truly want to get the elusive 100% score!

Storyline: For a Nintendo franchise, I have always been impressed with the thought that went into the Metroid background story. The futuristic outer space/galactic/sci-fi atmosphere is just so much fun and reading a Metroid manual (even the NES one!) is like reading a book! And of course, Samus' true identity which you discovered at the conclusion of the NES classic was quite the surprise too! The story itself is so captivating and contains real originality which is something you just don't see all that often anymore.

Anyway, the opening movie sets up the game nicely as it revisits what happened in Zebes in the original Metroid game along with the SR388 events of Metroid II. As you might recall, at the very end of Metroid II, Samus destroyed the Queen Metroid only to find a Metroid hatchling that she (Samus) was unable to kill. Due to the hatchling's attachment to Samus (it naturally assumes that Samus is its mother), Samus decides to keep the hatchling safe while allowing the scientific community to observe and analyze the Metroid for any potential benefits at the same time. Seeing that all is well, Samus leaves the space station harboring the Metroid for a new adventure...until something goes dreadfully wrong.

Almost immediately, the space station is attacked by some unknown enemy and the Metroid hatching is stolen! When Samus returns to investigate, she finds nothing but carnage and destruction (pretty dark for a Nintendo game, right?) and eventually discovers that her old nemesis, Ridley, is behind the attack! Given up for dead along with Kraid and the Mother Brain, Ridley returns to Planet Zebes (the site of the original Metroid game) with Samus in close pursuit. And that, my friend, is how the greatest Metroid game begins.

Super Metroid literally takes place at the exact same location as Metroid for the NES which was a real novelty at the time. Nostalgia plays almost as much a role as the solid story itself! And the events surrounding the game's ending certainly does not disappoint either. This game has a fairly sad, touching moment which will stick with you long after playing the game. For a classic SNES game, you just couldn't ask for a whole lot more than that.

Funfactor: As I have touched on and hinted at throughout this review, Super Metroid really is the perfect Metroid game which is probably why so many fans still consider it the finest game in the franchise some 20+ years after its initial release. The Metroid series and the 16-bit Super Nintendo console were truly a match made in heaven and this is simply one of those games that stands the test of time extremely well.

In all honesty, Super Metroid is to the adventure genre what Chrono Trigger was to the RPG realm and what Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest was to the 2-D Action Platformer. Sheer greatness on virtually every level and hardly a weakness to be found. That pretty much sums it up!

Negatives: The highest praise that I can have for any video game is to completely draw a blank in this area and that is honestly the case with Super Metroid. While the soundtrack isn't exactly good stand-alone music (with a few exceptions), it does fit the game itself very well. And with that being said, I might have to side with Nintendo Power Magazine on this one. Despite its impressive scope and huge video game world to explore, I still find myself wishing that Super Metroid was just a bit longer. But I suppose that you could say that about all of the truly great video games. They always seem to end too quickly don't they?

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Ratings: Graphics: 4.8 Music: 4.6 Play Control: 4.5 Challenge: 4.7 Storyline: 4.7 Funfactor: 4.7 Overall Score: 28.0 out of 30.0 Overall Rating: Golden Classic!!

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Last Updated: March 11, 2015
WebMaster: Matt Hull tigmo55@yahoo.com
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