It’s the summer of 1990something (I can’t remember to be honest) and I hadn’t spoken to one of my school “friends” all summer. Every time he called, I’d hang up. I don’t remember what it was he’d done to piss me off this particular time, he made me angry so often and treated me like crap there’s no telling what it was. Finally, just before school started back in the fall, he caught me on the phone and before I could hang up on him he blurted out “I’ll give you my copy of Super Metroid just please talk to me!” Against my better judgment, I went with it.
I had been obsessed with this game since I first saw it in Nintendo Power magazine, and I even had a copy of the official Nintendo Player’s Guide even before I had the game itself! I would spend many hours of many nights guiding this so called friend through the game over the phone (almost like I was a game counselor.) Finally, at long last, the game was mine and I started my journey through the sprawling complex of Zebes and the rest was history. I would eventually even try the challenge from Nintendo Power and beat the game with as few items as possible to see how fast I could beat it. I wish I still had that cartridge…
The next retro game I decided to tackle is, of course, Super Metroid. I still find this Metroid game hard to beat among others in the series, even with its bad controls. Simply put, I still think that this game is brilliantly done and the world is well crafted even after all these years. Sure, it could have been a little easier with things like fast travel points (like the ones from Samus Returns) but ultimately that would detract from the fun of exploring Zebes.
It’s not a perfect game by any stretch. Using the wall jump, even back then, was never my forte. Recent Metroid games have made using this ability a little easier, but Super Metroid was where it started. I remember just avoiding using wall jump in favor of Space Jump/Screw Attack instead.
I remember struggling for hours trying to get the jumps timed just right, only to have a button press not register when I needed it to and falling all the way down the shaft to start again. At least the other ability “taught” to you by one of the locals was easier to master.
I was sorely missing Samus’ ability to run at super speeds throughout Metroid Returns. It felt good to run and smash everything in my way again.
I was never a fan of having to explore Maridia. The whole zone just gave me the creeps, and still does. Maybe I just have a fear of being underwater? Who knows. Getting into Maridia was always a bit dramatic, but cool:
While blowing up the glass was always sad for me, I have to admit that it looked really cool splintering apart like that. I always had this ominous feeling in the pit of my stomach whenever I came to Maridia and I don’t know why.
Norfair – the next biggest zone after Maridia – was always a challenge to navigate due to the extreme heat in some rooms and the lava in others. I always did enjoy the hypnotic, yet ominous, music that played while wandering the hellish passages deep below the surface of Zebes.
Reaching the section with Ridley was a little more confusing than I remember (I kept going in circles) but I ultimately found my way to the passage shaped like his head and the elevator with his claws. Beating him was way easier than I remember too, I just used all my super missiles then my regular ones until he was done for. Then I found this:
And then I knew that the end was near…
Back at the beginning of the game, in Brinstar, there’s this statue:
And once you defeat each of the 4 bosses that the statue is modeled after, it falls away revealing the entrance to the final area of the game, Tourian, and ultimately to Mother Brain herself. I always did think this was a brilliant piece of game design. I remember on my very first playthrough I’d come running back to this statue after I killed a boss and excitedly watch it turn from gold to lifeless gray. My completion time for that go round was terrible too!
I always like it when the end area of a game is next to where you start a game, I always think that’s so neat and this game is no exception to that. The entrance to Tourian is right there at the beginning of the game, but you can’t get in until you defeat all of Mother Brain’s cronies. One of the most memorable things about Tourian, however, is still this moment:
When the baby Metroid that you came to rescue attacks and drains you of all your health but 1 point. Definitely one of the better gotcha! moments in gaming. Once that heart attack inducing moment was over, it was time for the final showdown with the head bitch in charge herself.
I liked how this moment was a nice homage to where you fought her in the first game:
Once you break her glass jar this time around and pump a few missiles into her, the next great gotcha! moment happens when she attaches herself to an ugly, horrific looking body:
The awful wailing sound she makes still annoys me. Once you shoot her with enough missiles, she hits you with her eye beam nearly killing you. I always did think that sucked. Then, once she starts to attack you with the eye beam a third time:
My not so little friend to the rescue!
I always was a little sad during this part of the fight when Mother Brain would regain composure and kill the Metroid, but the sadness was always quickly replaced with revenge when you’re given the Hyper Beam and you instantly beat Mother Brain down with it. Once she’s gone, the fun begins:
I always did enjoy this part of Super Metroid the most. Being all powerful and having to run for your life was always so much fun for me. Often when I’m in a hurry in real life or in other games, the music that plays during this sequence comes to mind.
Gotta stop and save my friends before leaving! When I first read about this in the player’s guide, I didn’t think I’d have time to save them before getting to my own ship.
I’m willing to bet, had I not read about the Mother Brain fight in the player’s guide, the emotional impact would have been a lot greater.
All in all, playing this again was a nice stroll down memory lane and definitely helped get all thoughts of Samus Returns out of my head. Oh, and you remember my “friend” from the beginning of the story? We ultimately parted ways not long after he gave me the game, so, as much as I love this game it’s forever tainted with memories of him.