The SNES was a console responsible for spawning some of the best titles in video game history. As a console it kept the elements that made the NES a classic system but cranked up all the modern technical aspects to further strengthen Nintendo’s market position. It also held a vast library of games – some of which were incredible. At the top of that library there are many first-party Nintendo games like Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past – and Super Metroid. It’s quite possible that Super Metroid was probably the most polished and well-rounded SNES game of them all. Why so great?
Comparing Super Metroid to the original Metroid you will see that it is light years away graphically; though in terms of artwork the games are quite similar. Super Metroid’s central character, Samus Aran, is highly detailed, and every part of her full body armor is easily distinguishable. Her movement is extremely realistic and every limb is articulated – although moving with armor means that she’s not as elastic as she would be without it. The armor suit helps to illustrate the vast detail level put into both Samus and the game in general; she can accomplish mighty inhuman jumps, move unharmed through perilously hot places, and traverse watery depths. However, it’s still armor though, she can’t move like a professional gymnastic because the armor would (obviously) be a considerable hindrance. These details make Super Metroid’s fantasy world much more believable and Samus an almost real protagonist.
You start the game in a star base and later move to the planet where (Metroid’s) Mother Brain was previously defeated. The base area is virtually abandoned so you don’t get to witness many graphical wonders, but it’s a very polished opening environment anyway. Then you run into the first of many breathtaking graphic moments: Ridley. He wants to escape with a captive Metroid (remember he’s a pirate), and you must stop him. You have to leave the base and return to your ship, and this is where the level starts showing off the true graphic muscle of the game. The level is twisting, and there’s exploding gas everywhere – it’s an exciting opening. Your ship is a beautiful sight, and the rain hitting it as you descend to the planet below is gorgeous, too. It is here where you start exploring an apparently empty planet.
Granted, there isn’t too much variety in the enemies that oppose Samus; almost all of the indigenous life on the planet is a variation of another. But, in every environment there are different dangerous bugs and beasts to contend with, and obviously, underwater life forms differ greatly from volcanic life forms. Still, the enemies in Super Metroid are more varied than in most other games. The bosses are where the enemies truly look their best; the majority of them are huge, and most of the time you have to climb something to be able to hit them. Big boss battles are a characteristic experienced in many SNES games, and Super Metroid has some of the most memorable bosses around (especially graphics wise – because there are some mundo-ugly beasties in there).
Alien sounds emanate wildly in Super Metroid and they are all realized in an excellent manner; the game boasts sound effects and operatic background music that few SNES titles have. The sound effects can become repetitive at time (as with any game), but the music is simply amazing – you will likely remember every level’s music for some years to come. The game music is almost tangible, you can virtually feel it, it sticks in your head – and that’s exactly what great music should leave you with. When you land on the alien planet the sound of the hammering rain and the lack of evident music sets the mood for your arrival. When the planet comes alive, the Metroid party finally starts; every alien being makes sounds when you go by, bird-like creatures swoop to strike as you pass, and scarab-like beasts crawl and scamper after you, everything is very alive, visually and aurally. The big bosses are intimidating and when you hear them roaring they grow even more so – they certainly sound as though they’re intent on destroying Samus. But then there’s the beautiful sound of Samus’ weaponry, ready to rip through some alien flesh or shell (or whatever they’re made of). Her missiles sound more powerful than the standard beams from the arm cannon – as they should too; and every upgrade sounds more powerful than the last. Be ready for a mighty sonorous experience like few others available on the SNES.
Generally it’s gameplay that makes a video game fun and challenging to play, if the control scheme or the responsiveness is not balanced then the experience will be lackluster. Gameplay is what Super Metroid does best; Samus is completely responsive and fluid. She will leap effortlessly, double jump, wall jump, dash, shoot in every direction, use an electric grappling hook and – lest we not forget – the ever impressive morph-ball mode. Though simplistic, ?fun’ is the strongest adjective to use for when controlling Samus, it’s fun, and sometimes a challenge, due to some of the obstacles she will encounter. It’s liberating to find an artifact that she needs to get through a certain part of a level, especially the super dash – beautiful to see and use.
Most of Samus’ moves are acquired as the game progresses, but some of them, like the wall jump, can be learnt. At the Options menu, before starting the game, you get to configure the controls a bit, like the moonwalk. If you turn it on, each time you are charging your arm cannon you can moonwalk in the opposite direction – cool to watch and sometimes very effective in battle.
Super Metroid is a game that has it all; it’s an action-adventure game at its very best. Every detail is covered and custom made for video game lovers and newbies alike. Words such as ?beautiful’ and ?fun’ can be found throughout this review, and that’s exactly what this game is. It’s beautiful to see and hear, and it’s an absolute fun filled blast to play. It even allows for repeated play when the game is finished. You will want to go through it again. Quite simply, Super Metroid is an instant classic.