Super Metroid Review Rewind
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On 05/20/2013 at 02:23 PM by Matt McLennan
It's going to be thirty cents for a month on Wii U, and that is a steal.
If you haven’t experienced Samus’ third adventure yet, you can for thirty cents starting May 16. Highly recommended for everyone.
More stunning confessions from me to you! I didn’t get into the Metroid series until Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion, and didn’t even play Super Metroid until maybe two years after I played Metroid Prime. While the first Prime title took many design inspirations from Super Metroid, I didn’t enjoy Super Metroid at first, mostly because I played it through less than reputable means. Once I got to play it on the Wii Virtual Console, I finally understood why this game is considered an SNES classic. Super Metroid sports great game design, with a wonderful atmosphere unparalleled on any 16-bit system. At only 30 cents on the Wii U eShop until June 16, there’s little reason to not give this excellent title a shot.
Unlike the second Metroid game on the Game Boy, which was a slightly more linear quest to eliminate Metroids, Super Metroid follows and expands upon the non-linear exploration that was found in the first game. Various areas on Zebes are inaccessible unless you have certain power ups at your disposal. While classic Metroid items like the Morph Ball, Ice Beam, and Missiles return, the power-ups Samus can collect have doubled. Famous Metroid items like the Power Bomb, Super Missiles, and Grapple Beam made their debut in this game, and they are used constantly in exploring new areas.
Coupled with the great level design, this emphasis on exploration is what made Super Metroid a classic. I got lost many times and had to backtrack to find new power-ups to advance, but it never got boring, because experimenting with Samus’ unlocked abilities further expanded my missile and power bomb count, as well as those all-important energy tanks. These upgrades are vital, because the enemies and bosses are now more of a threat; certain enemies cannot be destroyed without certain weapons or power-ups.
As much as I love Super Metroid, I deducted half a star from the overall score because while the gameplay is great, I took issue with some of the controls. This is one of those few SNES titles that utilize the entire SNES game pad, which can be optimized in the options menu before you start or restart your save file. As someone who enjoyed the simplistic controls in Metroid Fusion and Zero Mission, having to press ‘Select’ to cycle through your power ups on hand during a chaotic battle with either enemies or bosses lead to some frustration for me. Additionally, Samus’ speed boost can’t be activated unless the dash button is held down. While this is a minor inconvenience, my enjoyment of the streamlined controls of the GBA games made this stand out.
Visually, this game is a great showcase of the SNES’ abilities. While Donkey Kong Country became one of the most popular examples of visual and audio being done well on the SNES, in all honesty Super Metroid was a real showcase of what the SNES was capable of. Character sprites are animated extremely well with little tiny details showing in their movements and attacks, with bosses standing out as prime examples of its artistry. The various areas are crafted with tons of little touches in the backgrounds and foregrounds, with great use of Mode 7 effects to fit the brooding atmosphere of the game. Occasionally I encountered some slowdown, but it didn't occur often enough to be an issue, especially with the game's smooth frame rate.
This is easily my favorite SNES soundtrack; Kenji Yamamoto composed tons of mood-setting tunes for the game’s different areas, from entering the deserted surface of Zebes for the first time to the heart-pounding boss battle with Kraid. The sound design is executed well, from various laser blasts and explosions to Ridley’s trademark screech before attacking.
If you have not experienced Super Metroid yet, now is the time to do so; while I found the controls to be a little problematic, the entire experience is grand, making for one of the best games on the SNES. For thirty cents, this classic title is an absolute steal and deserves a spot on your Wii U menu. Buy it, you won’t regret it.