Review by fresheadies
"Descend to the core of Planet Zebes..."
Join me as I travel back to a time where polygons were just emerging onto the graphical scene, sprite-scaling was all the rage and Nintendo had just edged out Sega for domination of the home console market. Yes, this is the early to mid 90's and early 1994 to be more specific. As a Super Nintendo owner we had experienced our second taste of Final Fantasy, Mega Man X had just been released and here comes Samus Aran once again to embark on another grueling quest to stop the Space Pirates from exploiting the Metroids for their imperialistic desires.
Okay, so what's the big deal?
I won't hide the fact that the Metroid series has long been one of my favorites and rightfully so. Whether it's the intense boss battles, the numerous creative upgrades or just that unmistakable feeling you get as you descend deeper and deeper towards the planet's core. I personally began my foray into this wonderful series with the first Metroid Prime game on Gamecube and have since taken the time to return to gaming's 2D roots to experience more of this beloved franchise. So without further ado, let me explain to you why this game is deserving of so many 'Best Games of All Time' lists....
Not your mother's side-scroller
Super Metroid can only be described as a non-linear side-scrolling action/adventure title that is sure to please most who enjoy a classic 2D shooter with a heavy hand of exploration. Take heart, this is no Mega Man or Super Mario World. Levels are not conveniently separated for your ease and secret passageways can be very difficult to find. You will not be running from point A to point B only to open a new path or continue to the next stage. You will have to search high and low, near and far and shoot almost every conceivable block to uncover all of Planet Zebe's hidden treasures.
As a side-scrolling 2D shooter you will (of course) primarily be shooting at the various hostile denizens of Zebes. Along your adventure you will descend deeper and deeper through specific areas within the planet and as you do, your character will obtain various upgrades to their weapons and suit in order to reach previously inaccessible areas. For some, this is a major point of criticism for the game. Some find the gameplay tedious and/or time consuming and understandably so. As with all Metroid games; you will not be blazing through the game any time soon. Instead, you will be exploring Zebes and collecting power ups on the way as you blast through countless creatures and a few intimidating bosses to boot. At points you'll progress smoothly through half an area only to find that you need weapon 'A' to progress further. In all likelihood you will not know where this item is hidden but through proper exploration the prize will be yours. Only to allow you to delve into more hostile territory.
Descending into Zebes...
Exploration is a very large aspect to the game as said above. You rarely experience a time where you know exactly where to be as most of your time is dedicated to finding out where to go and how to get there. But this is exactly what makes Super Metroid so spectacular. As you explore you will come across some of the most well-drawn areas put to display on the SNES. Yes, it's true. Super Metroid has artwork rarely matched in a 16-bit generation videogame. Whether it's the damp surface of Crateria or the smoldering caverns of Tourian, the statues, enemies and animations are spectacular. In every screen detail oozes forth to display Zebes in full and gives you an enveloping feeling that you are in fact descending into Zebes. Samus' animations in particular are extremely fluid and put forth some of the best artwork the console had yet to see for the time.
Thankfully, for all the eye candy Samus also controls like a dream. Gone are the days of Super Castlevania IV where running and jumping are slightly stiff and attacking feels mildly stunted. Don't get me wrong. Super Castlevania IV is another fantastic game but it doesn't match the fluid motions of Samus Aran and her plethora of attacks. Granted, a certain jumping attack and wall jumping may not come easy at first but with enough practice these skills can be mastered and will open up numerous possibilities throughout the game. Shooting, running and jumping all feel completely natural, connected and never disjointed. This is one game where when a boss hand's your ass to you, the control's will never be to blame.
For all its graphical and control splendor, Super Metroid includes an eerie, atmospheric soundtrack that is sure to please audiophiles and Metroid fans alike. Barring that this is 1994 of course. The music between areas is varied and fits each locale to a T. I will not give away any spoilers but foreboding areas possess likely soundtracks perfectly personifying the dark ambiance. Likewise, boss battles are thoroughly intense and have the right music to keep you interested and energetic for the duration of the battle. Make no mistake, Super Metroid's soundtrack is one you are unlikely to forget. It's dark, foreboding and extremely well composed. Likewise, the sound effects are appropriate and varied. Although I can't say anything in particular stands out, it is certainly not deficient in any way. Bosses wail out appropriate screeches when taking damage, explosions are satisfying and everything else is equally sufficient.
And the verdict is .
Super Metroid is widely acclaimed and for good reason. It offers a moderate amount of time to complete (8-12 hours depending on your devotion to finding all the weapon expansions) as well as a unique side-scrolling , shooting experience that every gamer should at least try once. It's understandable that some don't enjoy the heavy exploration and deliberate pacing of the title. Regardless, one cannot deny the great amount of skill and craft that Yoshio Sakamoto, Gunpei Yokoi and their staff at Nintendo R&D1 have injected into this game. Super Metroid is a fantastic display of what the Super Nintendo is capable of and a showpiece for 2D gaming at its finest. Period.
9/10: Outstanding very enjoyable and engrossing almost perfect.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/11/10
Game Release: Super Metroid (US, 04/18/94)
Got Your Own Opinion?
You can submit your own review for this game using our Review Submission Form.