Retro Critic: Super Metroid
In the list of classic games from the early '90s, there are a lot of names that get thrown around. Super Mario World, Final Fantasy VI, and Sonic 3 are just a few examples.
However, one of the names you'll hear most often, and one of the most deserving games of being called a classic, is none other than Super Metroid. Featuring gaming's most badass heroine and an extraodinarily detailed story for a classic action platformer, Super Metroid is one of the best games of the early console generations.
Super Metroid is part of what is known as the Metroidvania genre of games.
The name is an amalgamation of Metroid and Castlevania, and stems from the fact that both series have a similar gameplay style involving the main character traversing through massive 2-D environments and looking to collect power-ups to help reach otherwise unreachable areas.
Super Metroid does this rather well, combining interesting level design and fun to use power-ups like the screw attack, which lets you break through enemies and blocks while you are jumping. There are also various shot powerups that increase fighting capability, like the wave beam, which lets you shoot through walls, or the ice beam, which freezes most foes. The last power-up I want to cover is the morph ball, as it's an interesting concept that really doesn't exist outside the Metroid series. Morph Ball allows Samus to turn into a smaller shape at will. she sacrifices the ability to jump and shoot but gains the ability to traverse tight corridors that would be otherwise impassable.
The game's story is pretty in-depth despite the near complete lack of dialogue in the game. You play as Samus, a female intergalactic bounty hunter whose family was killed by Space Pirates when she was young and who was raised by the now extinct Chozo. She generally hunts down Space Pirates and Metroids, the latter being extremely resilient energy draining parasites that the Space Pirates tend to attempt to use in their various schemes.
In the previous game, Samus had found a baby Metroid that imprinted on her. The Space Pirates capture the baby and bring it to their home base on planet Zebes, hoping to use it as a weapon. Samus fights through the Space Pirates in an attempt to rescue the baby, including four of the Space Pirate bosses and their overlord, Mother Brain. That's the general gist of the story.
The music in the game is spectacular.
It is very atmospheric and spacey, which fits in well with the theme of the game. Much of it gives off a creepy vibe, reminding you that you are alone on a hostile alien planet. It really adds to the exploration and makes the game that much more enjoyable.
The boss music is the low point of the music in the game, unfortunately. They were going for something that kept the feel of the rest of the music while also making it sound big and epic and for the most part it doesn't mesh too well. It might be a different story if other games hadn't already done boss music better by this point, but several had, including the very first MegaMan, which is seven years older than Super Metroid. Still, the majority of the game's music is really good.
Of course, being an older game, it does have a few flaws. It was gorgeous for its time, but it has long since become outdated. It also suffers from the fact that some of the controls are rather difficult, especially the ones for initiating the space jump/screw attack abilities. It is also somewhat irksome that you can only shoot in eight directions, rather than aiming where you need to in order to damage your foe. This can cause a lot of missed shots, which is especially irritating when it causes you to miss a valuable super missile. Still these flaws don't stop the game from being fun, and are due to the technological limitations of the time, so they don't hurt the game's score too much.
All in all, Super Metroid is a really fun game. Agree or Disagree with something I said? Sound off in the comments! Be sure to stay tuned to GameSkinny for all sorts of gaming news and culture.