Metroid: A Retrospective

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Guess what comes out on the 31st? Metroid: Other M. I’ll have a review for that eventually, but in the meantime, I wanted to take the time to write about my experiences with the Metroid series, a series that is seriously fantastic. It may be surprisingly, but the Metroid series has in recent years become a much larger success in teh USA rather than its home ocuntry of Japan. How odd. If you’ve played a Metroid game or two, you probably already know how good the franchise is. If you haven’t played a Metroid game before, then great, this will be new territory for you. Let’s head to outer space and follow Samus around for her various missions, today for my Metroid retrospective.

Metroid (1986):

This is a classic game, so how can you go wrong?

To be completely honest, the first Metroid game, while enjoyable, is a game I’ve never beaten. I own it and played it a few times, but I couldn’t progress far enough in the game to the point of finishing Samus’ first adventure. Still, what I did play was very cool. At the time there just weren’t any other games like this one around. The concept of a side-scrolling platformer with action thrown in was one thing, but having a game built around exploration and character progression? That was something completely new. Add on a very good password system (Justin Bailey anyone?) and the surprise that Samus Aran a woman and you’ve got yourself a classic game.

Metroid II: Return of Samus (1991):

So simple, but so much fun.

It was odd for me but when I picked up Metroid II on the Game Boy I was expecting something of lesser quality than the first game. In yet another surprise, Metroid II has better graphics. It’s also stupidly difficult. Instead of progressing through the world like the previous game, looking for the next power-up to lead to the final boss, Metroid II tasked the player (and Samus I guess) with finding all Metroids and terminating them, eventually leading to a fight against one heck of a Metroid Queen. I was very proud of myself for finishing this one, but I’m not sure I could ever beat it again if I tried. I also, unfortunately, had to look up a map online just to figure out where to go. Seriously, how did gamers function back in the day? We must have just had more time I guess.

Super Metroid (1994):

Why do they insist on making these boss fights so hard?

Many gamers will have you believe that Super Metroid is the greatest game on the SNES. Many gamers have a very strong argument. Super Metroid takes everything that was great about the previous two games and kicks it up a notch, making for one hell of an SNES game. The graphics, music, and gameplay are all amazing, but the difficulty remains placed well above the abilities of normal gamers. Seriously, these games are hard. But Super Metroid pulls off the delicate balance of being difficult without feeling unfair, and even mixes in a great story with some light dramatic elements. It’s a good thing this game is on the Virtual Console if you can’t find the physical cartridge.

Metroid Prime (2002):

Man, that's an epic boss right there.

I had never played a Metroid game before hearing that Metroid Prime was announced. Despite that, when I learned that they were diverging from the classic 2D Metroid style into a 3D First Person Shooter, I instantly said, “No, this is stupid.” Then I got Metroid Prime for Christmas one year and popped it in my GameCube to see if it was any good. In a word: Yes. Metroid Prime is currently my third favorite game of all time, a game I’ve played through numerous times and still want to play through again. I even beat this one on the hardest difficulty setting with 100% completion. Metroid has always been about the feelings of isolation and aloneness as Samus wanders dead, empty worlds fighting off whatever she can with whatever she can, but in Metroid Prime that feeling gets heightened due to playing from Samus’ perspective. Couple this with a truly haunting soundtrack and it’s hard to do better. Whenever I hear the music play for Phendrana Drifts I still get shivers and a tear comes to my eye. Plus, the boss fight against Metroid Prime stands as one of the best I can recall. Just a perfect game all around.

Metroid Prime 2: Echoes (2004):

Light Suit? My favorite suit from the series.

I thought it was weird that I seemed to be the only individual excited about Metroid Prime 2. You want to guess why? Halo 2 was also coming out around the same time. Dang. I still picked up Metroid Prime 2 and blasted through it, loving it for what it was once more. This time, something new happened in a Metroid game: Interactions with people! It was really refreshing to see Samus speaking with someone, er, well, seeing them speak to her. The game was still packed with the isolated feeling, but it wasn’t so overpowering this time. A lot of gamers seamed to hate the Light World/Dark World thing going on in this game, but I didn’t mind it. This was yet another game I beat with 100% completion on the hardest difficulty, and yeah, it was certainly harder than the first Prime game. At this point, I was just eager to see how this trilogy would end.

Metroid Prime 3: Corruption (2007):

Adding extra characters in a Metroid game can be risky, but they pulled it off.

Gamers got in a stink when they found out Metroid Prime 3 wouldn’t have multiplayer. How stupid do you have to be to say you’re not buying a Metroid game due to a lack of multiplayer? “I won’t purchase this washing machine because it doesn’t play DVD’s.” Whatever, that didn’t effect me at all since, awesome, the controls only got better and the series only keep staying great. Prime 3 was even less about feeling isolated, and best of all, dialogue was granted full voice-over work. Excellent! Getting to point the Wiimote at the screen and shoot with precision was near perfect, and the difficulty remained fair but challenging. The worlds to explore were huge and filled with nooks and crannies everywhere, so my exploration itch was scratched. And wouldn’t you know it, they managed to give Samus some real character depth and growth without resorting to overly dramatic moments or even clichéd voice-overs. There’s at least one scene where Samus silently wrestles with the actions she’s been forced to take during the game, and I’ll admit, I got misty-eyed. My only frustration was that if you get the 100% completion, you see a cutscene that implies the series has more to do, but I know Retro Studios isn’t the one making them, so what am I to do?

Metroid Prime Pinball (2005):

Yup, that looks like pinball alright.

I wasn’t quite sure why Nintendo got bit by the pinball bug so often, but Metroid was turned into a pinball game for some strange reason. Metroid Prime Pinball was a retelling of the first Metroid Prime game via the pinball medium, because that made sense. Oh well, this is pinball, so the point isn’t to reinvent the wheel, just provide fantastic pinball, which was what happened here. It was just pinball with a Metroid flair, so I don’t have much, if anything, to say here. I enjoyed playing the game when I’d be standing in a Game Crazy dinking around on the demo systems, but that was as far as I went with this one. Still worth it if you love you some pinball.

Metroid Prime Hunters (2006):

Surprisingly, the DS works really well for FPS games.

I thought Metroid Prime Hunters was going to be a launch title for the Nintendo DS, but it wasn’t. It did, however, come with a Metroid Prime Hunters demo packed in, a demo that I played over and over again. I wasn’t sure what to think about it, but when the game actually came out, I was overall pleased. Gone was the majority of the Metroid feel, replaced by a pretty good multiplayer atmosphere. Samus was now competing against six other bounty hunters with unique powers and guns, allowing for entertaining multiplayer matches. The main problem the game suffered from was the control scheme. It is pretty much impossible to play this game without your pinky and ring fingers going numb. Your other hand is also going to be super tired from having to hold the DS by itself and pressing the shoulder button to fire. The game controls great, but it comes at a vast personal loss. Oh, and while the multiplayer is good, playing online against anyone will make you never want to play online again. I hate getting beaten that badly so often. How is that fun? Meh, I was just happy to have finished this title.

Metroid Fusion (2002):

The GBA was just built for Metroid, if you ask me.

Fusion was probably my first 2D Metroid game, if I remember correctly. It was very, very good, despite the usual difficulty that goes hand-in-hand with Metroid games. The controls were great, the music was great, the graphics were great, great great great. I have no idea how anyone can get the best ending though. In order to obtain the perfect ending, you have to beat the game with 100% completion in under two hours. That’s insane. I had a friend who borrowed the game from me and decided to attempt this. Over the course of a week, he replayed the game again and again in order to map the fastest route for getting everything. At the end of his epic week, he tore through the game with a 100% completion score in exactly two hours. He was furious. Why? Because you have to have 1:59 or less on your game file to get the perfect ending. His 2:00 only rewarded him with the second best ending. I don’t think he ever played a Metroid again, and I wouldn’t blame him.

Metroid Zero Mission (2004):

Okay, I take it back. The Zero Suit is my favorite suit.

Zero Mission is a remake of the original Metroid and holds a special place in my heart as the first game I beat in its entirety while on the clock at Game Crazy. Yes, Game Crazy paid me to stand around playing a Metroid game since there were no customers and I had done everything in the store, leaving me with tons of free time to play through Samus’ first adventure. Since this is a remake of the original game, I consider this beating all the Metroid games. Is that cheating? Well of course it is. Zero Mission added a bit more after the main story was resolved, sort of like an incentive to play the remake even if you’ve played the original. The differences between the two games are vast, and honestly I prefer this take much better, maybe because I was able to beat this one. No matter, you should play Zero Mission if you haven’t already because it is super fun.

And that concludes my experience with the Metroid series, save for Other M. I’m still on the fence about buying it, but I’ll be sure to let you know what the reviews are saying. In the meantime, why don’t you tell me about your time with the Metroid series. Are you a fan? Or could you just never get into it? Leave a comment and let your voice be heard. Or pull a Samus and don’t speak, whatever.

Want more retrospectives? Check these out:

Mario: A Retrospective

My Pokemon Team Over The Years

Crash Bandicoot: A Retrospective

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About Author

Chris was the former Head Writer/Editor of Toy-TMA. He did a great job overseeing the site and getting new content published regularly. Always more than willing to respond to a comment or two, but pitiless with trolls! He has since moved on from TMA, and we wish him the best.

3 Comments

  1. I’ve played fusion, prime three, and hunters through. I’m about to finish other m. It’s true that they portrayed samus differently, but it makes a little more sense after you’ve read the manga (which can be found online for free at “Metroid Recon.com”. The fact that samus is portrayed differently didn’t bother me that much, I came for the game and the story, which fills a lot of the gaps in samus’ past for me, like how Adam died. The game play, now that’s totally different. If you’ve seen gamplay videos, (which you should), you would have seen her moves and might of thought it was going to be impossible to control. Well, after playing it to the epilogue ( last 10%) I can officially say it was the best, most totally epicfull metroid yet. It is a MUST BUY for all metroid fans, (with a Wii). 10/5 stars

  2. I disagree about Metroid Prime 3. I liked how they established the three new characters in the first third of the game to give them some depth, then made them boss fights as the game progressed. Metroid, by the way, doesn’t really have “Mid Bosses” by the way, at least, not in the terms a mid boss usually means. Having to kill off characters you generally find you like adds to the story in subtle ways, especially at the end when Samus wrestles with the unfortunate results. But that’s just me.

  3. While I’m not a huge Metroid enthusiast, I have played bits and pieaces of several games, and I did watch my friend do that final boss fight in Metroid Prime, and yeah, it was pretty freaking epic.
    I did play a huge portion of Metroid Prime 3, and All and all, I turoughly enjoyed it. But, while I agree with you about the introduction of the other characters, the way they handeled them, to me, was kind of frustrating. We have these three awesome bounty hunter allies that the game establishes pretty well in the first third of the game, and then you get to the second third of the game, and they cant think of anything better to do to them than turn them into mid-level boss fights. That was lame. Yeah I get it, they were “Corrupted” which was the huge theme of the game, but why did they take so much time in the beginning of the game establishing them and making them so likable if they won’t matter in the end because we killed them off half way?

    Granted, I was never able to finish that game. I got to the point where I needed to find all the batteries or something before I could progress. I think I was missing two, and I simply go back to my ship and look at the map of all these huge ass planets I have to scour again to find a hay in a neddle stack, and I’m like “bollocks to that.”
    Open Worlds with huge environments: Fine.
    Open Worlds with huge environments where the layout is its own puzzle: Fair Enough
    Open Worlds with huge environments where the layout itself is a freaking labrinth you are obligicated to constantly backtrack through: Now this is getting rediculous.
    Open Worlds with huge environments where the layout is a labrinth that you are forced to bactrack and search regularly, ALL IN 1ST PERSON VIEW: That’s just torture.

    I get that the Metroid Prime games are “suppose” to make you feel claustraphobic, and this is just my opinion, but first person perspective does not translate well to platforming and back tracking through millions of narrow corridos built like a maze to find every nic-and cranny.

    That’s why when I saw Metroid the Other M, I was actually real excited with this new approach, because it seemed more my style. I actually considered playing this one myself, unfortunately Abbie’s review on G4 came in last week, and from what I’ve heard, the way Team Ninja characterized Samus is very… different to say the least.

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