Another Metroid 2(021) Rewind: A Metroid Series Playthrough

Hello friends! For quite a while now, one of my favorite genres on this forum has been the series playthrough thread — ones like @BigNoNo’s God of War thread or @VulpesAbsurda’s excellent Five Souls One Fox. The latter even pushed me to do my own marathon of Souls games, and, as I did, the chance to go through that thread and compare my thoughts to someone else’s really augmented the experience. I had always thought about doing one, but I couldn’t really think of a suitable series to engage… until now.

So, here’s the deal. We have about three and a half months until Metroid Dread. I’ve long-adored Metroid from the outside in — and by that, I’ve played the first half-hour of almost every Metroid game, sometimes multiple times, before either losing access to them or having life intervene with some unforseen challenge. Despite that, I love everything about these games: the design philosophy, the atmosphere, the feeling of isolation, the strangeness and sometimes grotesqueness of its worlds. I can honestly say that those half hours gave me more to think about than 90% of the full games I’ve played (to the point where it became a pretty core component of my academic work on games), and I’ve spent years wanting to play them all.

Of course, as I am silly, I didn’t realize that I could actually access (almost) all of these games rather cheaply on a single console I already own — apparently, the Wii U continues its reign as a flash of misunderstood genius. (Thanks @notanimal for the heads-up).

SO! Over the next 111 days (or, in reality, however long it takes me, it is the summer and I am a student but I’m not gonna rush this), I will play through the Metroid and Metroid Prime series and catalog that adventure here. With one caveat: I’m substituting the remakes of the first two games for the originals — maybe I’ll go back to those at the end. The order, I think, will go something like this — mainly to alternate between 2D and 3D so I don’t burn out, and with Fusion last to lead into Dread.

Edit: Change of plans — I am playing all of them, and I’m gonna play these in something more like release order, with the Primes between two groups of 2D games. Also going to divide these into sections, because there’s a lot of games here and my Virgo-ass brain is craving some organization.

Part One, or In the Beginning, There was Pixel Art

  1. Metroid
  2. Metroid II: Return of Samus
  3. Super Metroid

Part Two, or Slightly Later, There Was Less Pixel Art

  1. Metroid Prime
  2. Metroid Prime 2: Echoes
  3. Metroid Prime Pinball (probably on an [redacted], since actual copies of this game seem to be ridiculously expensive.)
  4. Metroid Prime 3: Corruption

Part Three, or Remakes, Returns, and one Colossal Mistake

  1. Metroid: Zero Mission
  2. AM2R: Return of Samus
  3. Metroid: Other M
  4. Metroid: Samus Returns (to detox from Other M, since I’ve played it before)
  5. Metroid Fusion
  6. (fingers crossed) Metroid Dread

Yep, that’s it, definitely not forgetting anything. Definitely not.

sighs

…okay fine I’ll play Other M too. Probably right before Fusion, so I can understand truly how bad it is(?) but also avoid ending this on a sour note.

I may also try Hunters and Federation Force, but those will officially be time-and-money-permitting (why is FF the most expensive game on this list). (To add, I am also very much not a co-op person, know no one else who owns a 3DS at this point, and who much less would spend $40 to play Federation Force with me for a weird, nerdy project like this.)

So that’s the plan. If anyone wants to join me (fully or partially), please feel welcome to. I’m gonna start Zero Mission this weekend, and from what I know it’s pretty short, so I should be beginning this journey pretty soon.

If you’re just arriving, we’re currently at Point 2 — Metroid II. Enjoy your stay!

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This sounds fun. For the record, having played both Metroid/Metroid 2 originals and remakes, I don’t blame you for playing the remakes. They are both much more accessible while maintaining the spirit of the originals. Samus Returns is an absolutely fantastic remake.

I would join you, but I’ve already played them all way too much, and my dance card is full with RPGs and horror games I am not enjoying.

It also may have something to do with really not wanting to play Other M again.

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Okay! Well! So I’m gonna drop some opinions on the series writ large. Not really on “what the true way to experience Metroid is”, just some tips and thoughts a newcomer might not know. I’ve played most of the Metroid series; my biggest missing entries are Echoes, which I own, just haven’t played, and Other M. I’ve also read the manga. Yes, I am a nerd.

Zero Mission is a pretty radical remake of Metroid, and it’s much more approachable. But I do recommend giving the original Metroid a try. I don’t recommend you try to beat it, mind you; there are some pretty dramatic quality-of-life gaps, and it’s very confusing. But I think putting a few minutes into it can be revealing. It’s a profoundly weird and eerie game, and you can see the history’s makings pretty clearly. PRO-TIP: Zero Mission actually has Metroid inside its pause menu! It’s fully playable!

(Between you and me: I actually think the mystery and eeriness is something that has gone under-emphasized in Metroid games as the series has gone on, and I do long for the haunting dread present in Metroid on the NES at times.)

I think Metroid 2 is actually surprisingly playable if a bit repetitive. I certainly don’t blame anyone for opting for the remakes, but I definitely wouldn’t discourage anyone from trying the original Gameboy Metroid 2. If you’ve already played Samus Returns, I do recommend considering playing Another Metroid 2 Remake. It’s a very different game, but I think it’s quite good, and can give you another taste of the kind of game this can be.

Regarding Metroid Prime Pinball, I don’t want to set your expectations wrong: it’s not really a Metroid game. It’s just a really fun pinball game.

Prime Hunters is… fine. Its campaign is very repetitive, and the controls are kind of weird. It has a really fun multiplayer mode though and actually has a good deal of lore about the other Bounty Hunters other than Samus, who are all really cool. (Check out this cool opening video!)

EDIT: It’s also worth mentioning that a certain character, Sylux, is believed to be returning for Metroid Prime 4, who first appeared in Hunters. He’s pretty mysterious, but you can read about him here.

I haven’t played Federation Force, but it seems fine. Blastball is free, and is a fun little soccer game. But at the time these games came out, it felt like a spit in the eye. I don’t think playing them would give you any particular insight into the series, beyond “this was the only metroid game for around a decade after Other M”

And… Other M. Okay. I have not played Other M. I do plan on doing it one of these days. It is notoriously an overbearing and misogynistic story put inside a game that has no similiarities with the Metroid games everyone loves. At least the combat’s fun, apparently. From what I’ve heard, watching one of those “Gameplay Movies” you can find on YouTube for this game is actually a pretty adequate substitute.

Anyway, here’s my personal ranking of all the Metroid games I’ve played.

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I should have mentioned — I have actually tried to play the original and Metroid II several times (and also watched a playthrough of the former) as they were the only few I could get on my old 3DS back when that was all I had. The farthest I’ve gotten was maybe an hour or so into each, but it just became too much for me. I definitely will go back to the first a bit as I’m playing Zero Mission though, just for the comparison. And I haven’t ruled out trying II again. AM2R is a good suggestion though, I think I’ll add that in!

In general though thank you for all this context! It’s super helpful as I figure this thing out haha

Oh and I am 100% here for fun pinball games! Sign me up.

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Hey! This is a fun idea and I’m excited to see how it goes. I played Super Metroid for the first time in 2019-2020 and it was the first time I beat a game in the series (though I have played some of the original and some of the Prime trilogy). There were times where it felt absolutely brilliant and times where it frustrated me beyond belief. Really interesting game, but I don’t want to play it again for a long time.

I think, given that experience, I’m not going to play the older 2D Metroids all in a row. (Although, aside: GameBoy Advanced pixel art is the peak of the form.) I have, however, been wanting to play through the Prime games! And Samus Returns is owned by my brother and accessible to me, so I may check that out as well. Sign me up for chatting about the Prime games as this playthrough moves along!

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On OG Metroid 2, I agree that it is certainly playable. I actually really like the big graphics and the level design. You just gotta be ready to make some maps. Same with Metroid 1. The lack of internal map system, while standard for the time, makes the games in modern times really confusing. That said, I still have a notebook of maps somewhere for Metroid 1 and 2, and I certainly enjoyed making them while I played.

I haven’t played AM2R. Is it even available to play? I thought it got shut down. (Edit: I should clarify… is it available to obtain legally?)

I may be wrong but I believe that, since it was DMCA-struck, not pirated, the creators can’t support it/add to it and had to take it down, but it’s perfectly legal to download and play. You’re not “stealing” from anyone in this case — and it is very findable, just by surfing through some reddit threads.

I am not a lawyer though, so maybe my understanding is off.

Hmm. I may have to look. I don’t mind downloading if it’s just there to get. I’m just too lazy to go jumping through hoops.

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I’m interested to read up on this! Like you, I have an “outside looking in” appreciation of the series. The only Metroid game I’ve played is Super, and it was a game I thought was good, although not particularly my style of game (still hit and miss on metroidvanias, but Super was my first!). I’ve always been intrigued by the Prime series, and I’ve loaded up Metroid Fusion in an emulator a few times, but couldn’t commit to the full game. I’m interested to read what you have to say on the series, and I hope you don’t burnout before Dread!

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Part 1 - Metroid: Zero Mission

Well, that’s a bit of a misnomer actually. I did boot up Zero Mission, but as I played through the first half-hour I realized that, well, @vehemently you were 100% right. From what little I had played of the first Metroid, I could tell that this was a very different game — not just with the map and QoL enhancements, but with the art style, atmosphere, and the way it was making me feel. After a while, it didn’t seem right starting this journey this way, so I put my Wii U away and pulled out my 3DS to attempt, one more time…


Part 1 (for real this time) - Metroid

If were to describe the first Metroid in a single word, it’s hostile. Most of the games the series has inspired present the player with treacherous, confrontational worlds — but very few of those I’ve played (well, aside from one, which I’ll get to) are as actively hostile as this one. This isn’t limited to the enemy creatures, but they certainly embody it — and they create an environment where direct combat tends to take a back seat to careful platforming and avoidance. Everything moves in predictable patterns; once you commit those to memory, you can weave Samus through corridors and rooms with, if not ease, a very satisfying kind of hyperfocus. (It does help that — and I’m not sure if this is authentic to the NES original, though considering the lack of memory it would make sense — the game seems to slow down when too many objects are present on screen.)

One possible justification behind this observation could be, “well, this is an old game — they’re all like that.” I disagree though; I don’t think Metroid plays like an “old” game. The original Legend of Zelda is hard, but its secrets are meant to be little rewards for exploring; its overworld design propels Link forward. The same with the NES Mario games; they’re hard in a very arcade-y way, but they’re actually built with skip after skip worked in. Metroid doesn’t feel like a converted arcade game, nor like an exploration game. It feels like it’s trying to chew you up and spit you out again, with invisible floors above acid pits and brutal, relentless enemy movement and crucial upgrades locked behind secret after secret. And I love that.

(There’s a comparison I’m itching to make, but I’m restraining myself. We’ll see how long that lasts.)

The exception to that is the titular metroids. The game puts a lot effort into making them terrifying, and it succeeds. They’re gated in the final area — by which point you’ve explored the entire map, faced two challenging bosses and virtually every other enemy the game has to offer. Remember how I said that every enemy moves in a predictable pattern? Well these don’t; they make a beeline for you, attach to your head, and immediately start sucking the life (or, well, energy) from Samus’s body (or, well, suit… maybe). The only way to detach them is to curl into a ball and drop bomb after bomb, then immediately freeze them. And you have about a split second to do so before they reattach. They are horrifying and monstrous, in a way very few video game enemies have ever felt to me. The fact that they’re framed as largely innocent of any kind of malice — just organisms with a drive to survive manipulated by evil forces — also makes them feel strangely tragic. Let’s put a pin in that. Perhaps, just maybe, there’s more to them than it seems?

Incidentally, I did do three things to make the game a bit more approachable for me. First, I read the manual, helpfully available on Nintendo’s website. It always surprises me just how much information game manuals from the 80s and 90s held — much of the reason that these games might seem obtuse to modern players is that a lot of essential info is just written down, to be delivered outside the game itself. Every power-up is listed, all the enemies and core mechanics, and, especially importantly, the way to kill Metroids once you reach them. Also, lots of really beautiful illustrations! I love NES-era pixel art, but some of the strangeness of these creatures does get lost in it — I think their full weirdness (especially Ridley’s, who apparently has a bunch of long eyes all down his snout??) can only really be appreciated in these sketches.

The other two things are a bit less… authentic, shall we say. I decided from the start that the 3DS’s restore points were fair game, and, after trying to map it a bit and starting to feel my millennial-zoomer-cusp brain respond with aggravation at the lack of immediate reward, I looked up a map. I’m sorry! But… agh, can’t make that comparison yet, can’t make that comparison yet… one of my favorite games ever became that way because I allowed a wiki to be fair game, and I don’t think I could have made it through this experience (or enjoyed it as much as I did) without doing so.

And I did make it through! All in all, my 3DS clocked in the run at just under 5 hours — so I did get to see Samus’s face in the end. And let’s talk about that for a second; the manual goes to great lengths to hide Samus’s gender. As does the game itself; when Samus dies, her suit just explodes into bits, seemingly with nothing inside. In a way, it makes Samus seem almost like an android, a robot, nothing but the suit that’s enabling her survival in a harsh, unforgiving planet that also happens to be her birthplace. (And let’s put a second pin in that: death animations are going to come up a lot when I talk about future Metroid games — they’ve always felt weird to me in quite a few ways). Mother Brain, also, is referred to as “he” in all the supplemental text — something that we may be coming back to when she reappears. In any case, I’ve seen all the ending screens; the game treats the reveal of Samus’s gender as a parlor trick. “Surprise,” it says, “you were a woman this whole time.” And of course, finish faster and the game delivers some fanservice. Let’s put a pin in that too.

Also yes, according to the manual, Zebes is where she was raised. Metroid is about a homecoming: a return and, in a way, a liberation of an overtaken world. All the artifacts, the power-ups (as the manual calls them, though “upgrade” is the term that would come into vogue) seem to inherently fit Samus; she requires no training, no additional expertise, nothing but the materials she finds to make use of them. And this lays out the power fantasy that makes Metroidvania games so compelling for me as a player — the reduction of an environment from impossible to challenging to easily traversable as more and more of it is uncovered. That fantasy is incredibly bold here, largely because the game itself is so simple. Obstacles that took me painstaking effort in the first hour or so melted with the help of the wave beam, varia suit, or especially the screw attack. It’s almost… like… oh goddammit, here it comes. At least I’ve never denied being a walking stereotype.

The game that the first Metroid reminds me of, more than anything else, more than Alien or Axiom Verge or any other sci-fi horror game or film or property in existence, is Dark Souls. This game felt like Dark Souls. This exact arc, the backtracking, the slow escalation of a finely-tuned power fantasy, the world — hostile to the point of actively trolling the player, constantly treacherous and unsafe, with pitfalls and trapdoors and enemies placed just-so to destroy you when you feel safe — it’s eminently familiar to me, to the point where the reason I was able to make it through this time was the two years I’ve spent playing and replaying my way through the Soulsborne canon. I reached a point about an hour or so in, as I kept falling through invisible floors into a lava pit, where I thought “this game just wants to fuck with me.” In that moment, I had a vision of a giant Bloodborne werewolf jumping out from its invisible post off-screen to push me off a cliff to my death — and it clicked. I knew where I was, what I was here to do, and exactly how the next few hours were going to go. A bit later, I realized I could cheese Ridley by chilling in the acid beneath his platform and shooting the wave beam upward — again, Souls as hell. (Or maybe Souls is just Metroid as hell.) In any case, it was history.


Now since I changed plans a little bit, I think I’m going to revise both the list and the order I’m going to play these in. I don’t really want to jump back into Zero Mission right away; some space, I think, would be good. I also don’t want to play three versions of Metroid II in succession — and I am actually going to try the original Metroid II, since it seems like this was actually the more challenging one. In any case, edits will be made to the original post. And so, that one’s coming up next, likely pretty soon. Most games will probably get a halfway post and a finale post, but for these quicker ones, I’ll only make the halfway one if I have enouugh to say.

(Oh also, I might rename the thread. “Another Metroid 2(021) Replay” just won’t leave my brain alone.)

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This is a great analysis. I can see the Dark Souls comparison. I’ve never thought about it, but maybe it would be fun to replay Metroid with this in mind. I’m glad you liked it.

Since you are not opposed to using a map, I revise my previous statement. I think you should play the original Metroid 2. I would be very interested in getting your take on the structure of the game, especially after just playing the first one.

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Dark Souls is just 3D Castlevania. Dodge is the 3d version of jump. There’s no difficulty slider in Dark Souls because that’s how 2D games work because you can’t feasibly make jumps easier or harder in that way. Dark Souls is simultaneously derivative and innovative because it is one of the first games to translate 2D game sensibilities to 3D games. This explains to me why it led to a resurgence of Metroidvania games and why so many Soulslikes are 2D (e.g. Blasphemous): because Dark Souls effectively is a 2D Metroidvania.

I’m saying Dark Souls, but I most noticed the stuff above when playing original Demon’s Souls a year ago, and this also applies to all of the Souls games.

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I agree — this was always something I’d felt in its level and world design, especially having loved games like Hollow Knight, Salt and Sanctuary, Blasphemous, etc. But I wasn’t expecting the early Metroid side of the genre to feel as close to Souls, as, like you said, it’s a 3D play on Castlevania broadly, Symphony of the Night especially. I knew I’d be facing this comparison down at some point, but I didn’t expect it to be at least until Super and maybe until Prime. And yet it was so strong here already in the way this game just seemed to want to screw with me, so strong that it actively changed the way I approached the game.

Something to that effect that I forgot to mention in my post was the way Metroid’s world design actively tries to disorient the player by repeating room layouts. Of the shafts with multiple branching hallways, many of those will begin with exactly the same room, only differentiating after a hazard or two. This game wants you to feel lost, and that turns out to be an incredibly simple and elegant way to do so.

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Part II - Metroid II: Return of Samus (First Half)

There’s a pattern with certain long-running Nintendo series — in particular, I know it holds with Mario and Zelda — in which the second game is always the weird one, the odd one out, the one with room to experiment before that series’ formula finally crystallizes. I tend to be fond of these games; The Adventure of Link, in particular, is a longtime love of mine, and perhaps the one NES-era game I’d most love to see remade with the tools and framework that could really bring its loneliness, its strangeness, and its gargantuan sense of scale to life.

(Of course, I could argue that Breath of the Wild actually does kind of do that already, but that’s neither here nor there.)

In a way, Metroid II lines up with that pattern. As I’m diving into it directly after finishing the first Metroid, the ways its design diverges stand out in stark relief. In comparison, it’s an incredibly linear game; the areas themselves may have some branching paths, but they essentially follow a miniature hub-and-spoke design, with power-ups and objectives scattered at the ends of dead-end paths. In the end though, after an area is cleared and the ground does its brief shaking, there’s only ever one way forward — usually down, further into the depths of this planet, the metroid homeworld SR388.

But I have to say that, in comparison to the first Metroid, I’m not incredibly gripped by the world and level design here. It follows that pattern by being different from the first game in its series, but in a lot of ways it feels markedly less risky. At the halfway point, I’ve acquired what feels like almost every power-up in the game (the only one I seem to be missing is the Screw Attack; otherwise, I’ve found every ball and jump upgrade and every beam type at least once). And the linearity, perhaps ironically, isn’t doing the greatest job of pushing me onward. I played the first Metroid more or less in one sitting — driven forward by the way it really masterfully looped together twin senses of mystery and discovery. Its friction was good friction, intentional friction: the hostility I talked about, the way its upgrades cascaded with each other, giving me new ways to explore the world and a sense of mastery over familiar spaces. That doesn’t really exist here — in a sense, this feels like a much more conventional, level-based action-platformer. It is, in a word, pretty familiar. If it weren’t as short as it was, and I hadn’t been giving myself this challenge, I likely would have put it down a little while ago.

That said, I know that I do really like a version of this game — until now, Samus Returns was the only game in the series I’d finished. There’s something here I liked enough that I wanted to spend, according to my 3DS, 14 or so hours with this world and this version of Metroid. That of course was a full-color, 3D remake of this very monochromatic Game Boy title, which perhaps was part of it. But I don’t think that was all.

So, what is unique about this game? The easy answer is the metroids themselves. In an early chamber just underground, Samus comes across a giant, glowing metroid — identical to the ones in the first game, but much larger. However, as it turns out, that familiar shape is just a shell, a shell it quickly molts from to reveal a kind of crustacean-like carapace and beak. The little counter at the bottom right of the screen makes it clear that Samus is here to kill it — and, when she does, an earthquake sounds, draining the damaging liquid from the passageway down. 39 left to go.

There is a whole host of implications hiding in that premise: notions about environmental destruction, ecosystems and ecosystem collapse, and something that’s not quite colonization but carries a few notes of it on its breath. I am going to let those sit for now though; I’m going to save themes and narrative for the finale post, just because I know (roughly) what happens at the end of this game and I want to take that into account before I do any kind of deep dive. In any case, I think this is a game I’m going to enjoy thinking about quite a bit more than I’ll enjoy playing — which, in the end, isn’t all bad.

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Part II - Metroid II: Return of Samus (Endgame)

[This is essentially all spoilers, to the point where I’m not going to try and tag it, but I’m mentioning it in case anyone really wants to play this, AM2R, or Samus Returns and wants to keep the ending a surprise.]

Let’s talk, for a moment, about music. Metroid II does a really specific thing with music, something I noticed almost immediately but didn’t think much about until I was over halfway through the game. Namely, it has one track, “Surface of SR388,” that follows you through almost the entire game. Each set of caverns — those hubs with their dead-end spokes that branch off the game’s main path — has their own track, but whenever you venture back onto the critical path that leads down into this ever-deepening metroid underworld, that track blasts back into prominence. In a way, it’s the odd-one-out of a soundtrack filled with harsh electronic, almost mechanistic melodies that seem to contain more empty space than they do actual notes. It’s a driving, earwormy melody of the same chiptune genre as Brinstar’s theme from its predecessor. It pushes you onward, farther, deeper — it is, in a sense, a sound of progress, the thing that, post-earthquake and metroid slaughter, lets you know you’re back on that downward trek.

It is, in a way, very fitting for a game that — in a very precise, exacting, even clinical way — is about committing genocide.

I genuinely don’t know what else to call what happens in this game, and, to its credit, I’m pretty certain it knows that. Despite the limitations of its tech — the big blocky tiles, the complete lack of color — it’s very clear about certain things. One of those things is the metroid carapaces; empty shells that mirror that of the first metroid Samus encounters, signaling that one lurks nearby. There’s a section towards the end, when your counter reads six metroids remaining, when you enter a large, open arena with two such shells but only one metroid; once Samus kills it and loops back around (having found that the planet’s acidic water table has risen to trap her in this loop) that the second, stronger one appears. The original game makes metroids seem almost autonomous and robotic — machines born from machines, built only for draining life. This moment, on the other hand, says that these are creatures with bonds; they notice when one of their number is killed and are mobilizing to defend a home. The fact that their home is set up like a hive, with a “Queen” at its deepest reaches, even implies a kind of eusociality. And this is their home, a strange mirror to Zebes in Metroid. In that game, Samus had returned home an exterminator, rooting out an infestation; in this one, she’s gone into their home, aiming (in no uncertain terms, according to the manual) to eradicate an entire species. And as that counter ticks ruthlessly down, that song is a constant companion, giving direction. Onward.

So when, after concluding that extermination, Samus comes upon the metroid hatchling — the thing that hit me most was the change in music. The hatchling’s theme is peaceful, calming, without a hint of danger or malice. In a word, it’s uplifting.

And suddenly, after hours of descent into the depths of an infernal planet filled with acid and armored monsters, everything points up. The way forward is upward. The music itself lifts upward. And when Samus and the hatchling burst through the final barrier, the sky above SR388 is filled with stars.

There’s something eerily beautiful about the ending to this game. In a way, it does mirror the first Metroid — the shafts filled with metroid larvae that appear just before Samus fights the queen feel much like the entrance to Tourian, and it fills the space after its final boss with an ascent. But this ascent isn’t timed and frantic; it’s really the only moment of peace this otherwise relentless game has to offer. It also is the only moment the game forces Samus to wait for anything, as the hatchling gnaws through otherwise impermeable barriers. It is, in a way, as if it’s asking her to stop and recollect — and it comes as close as it can to a feeling of revelation.

That all said — I can see why this game has a virtual stable of remakes. In theory, its elements fit together almost perfectly; the linearity works in tandem with this motif of descent, and it really does make Samus feel like an invader, stopping at each little metroid refuge to destroy whatever’s lurking there. There’s enough here to piece together some really compelling moments (not the least of which is Samus becoming, essentially, this hatchling’s surrogate mother moments after killing its biological mother). And there’s a lot of understandable friction; metroids are difficult to kill, and they only become more difficult as the larger, stronger, higher-stage ones emerge deeper into the nest. They feel like trapped animals, and, in that way, the way these boss fights play out does fit the game’s narrative bent.

However, there are still a lot of ways that friction doesn’t work. For one — it just feels stuck between being a fully linear, level-based game and embracing the backtracking that the first game made more or less mandatory. As such, Samus must kill each metroid to progress — working that counter downward and downward until she evidently destabilizes this planet’s ecosystem enough to cause an acid-draining earthquake — but power-ups, missile upgrades, and energy tanks can be entirely missed. Or (as I did several times), she can run out of missiles without any nearby replenish points, requiring a lengthy backtracking session with no purpose other than to refill a gauge. It’s tedious and unsatisfying — which one might argue fits with the nature of the mission, but I didn’t sense anything else in the game reaching for that kind of synchronicity. (And, in any case, I found it unsuccessful.)

The boss fights themselves, while atmospherically fitting, also do start to wear out their welcome after a while. The omega metroids in particular just felt frustrating; their hitboxes are strange, their paths through their arenas are erratic and unpredictable, and in the end it felt like cheese was the only reasonable strategy (and this is with me liberally utilizing the 3DS’s save states). If I didn’t have access to those, I could have “gotten gud” at these fights I’m sure… but the likelier outcome is that I would have just put the game down and played something else.

That’s to say that I’m looking forward to both AM2R and Samus Returns, since now I have the context to understand what they’re building from. From what I remember, Samus Returns kept the general structure but played fast and loose with quite a bit of this game’s design — to the point where it’s more reimagining than remake. (Knowing what comes at the end of that game though, I kind of prefer this ending, and the peace that it leaves off with.)

But those aren’t for a while yet! Next up is Super Metroid — which I’m looking forward to finally finishing. I may try this one on my Switch for a change, so my 3DS will be heading back to its case for a while. Gonna take a couple of days off these games though — maybe play something that’s not a pixel art platformer for a bit. Or maybe I should go back to EarthBound so I don’t leave it half-finished for what feels like the fiftieth time. Ah well.

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After about two hours of it idk what I’m even supposed to say about Super Metroid. While the first two games are clearly from a different era, it feels like it could have been released this year. It just rocks. Everything about it feels incredibly good. I almost can’t believe it’s an SNES game.

Maybe that’s actually kinda disappointing, considering how close this feels to games that have had twenty years to iterate on it. Or maybe it just makes sense that a genre emerged around a game I feel like I can describe as pretty much perfect.

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In another thread, I mentioned that I think Mario Odyssey could easily be in any conversation about greatest games of all time. But, I think Super Metroid HAS to be in that conversation. This is one of my top three games ever. Along with SMW and LTTP, it represents the absolute best that the SNES had to offer.

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When I played Super Metroid last year I definitely understood why it was so mindblowing in the 90s, but I also didn’t enjoy large parts of it?

I had two big stumbles, one being breaking the glass tube in Meridia. Yes, the game explicitly hints that it’s possible in a similar hallway. I think if you figured it out on your own you’d feel like a real genius. That’s the balance the game is trying to strike, but as I did not figure it out on my own it led to a huge stumbling block until I just looked the dang thing up.

My other issue was a misunderstanding of the double jump. iirc you could use it infinitely (or at least in water or lava), but it had never occurred to me that I could do that, so I had to go to Google again there. The game explains itself a bit too little sometimes for me, which is of course the toughest balance to strike here.

I also had beef with the wall jump mechanic, but I recently learned you can wall jump much earlier than they actually teach you, and it’s so tough to do so that new players will (usually) not sequence break.

If I had played and discovered Super Metroid with a group of friends (as I had the great fortune to do with Breath of the Wild), I think it might be my favorite game ever. And it was maybe the best game ever made to that point. But I can’t call it perfect in 2021. There were too many parts of the game where I was genuinely not having fun. (I do think it will be a game that replays really, really well and I look forward to that someday.)

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Hmm. This is an interesting perspective. I did play it with my friends, or while they were playing it. So we discussed stuff later. I don’t remember who discovered the thing you mentioned, but it was one of us, just as each of us discovered our own things and brought them to the group.

I actually played LTTP that way also, though I do think that game is less dense. But I wonder how much of the things I know about the games I actually discovered, and how many of them a bunch of us discovered through a weird hive mind.

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I’ve started playing Super Metroid recently too! Influenced by the hype of Dread and having never played a 2D Metroid (and the fact Super is free with Nintendo Online). I got a friend to start it up with me at around the same time. I’ve only just beat what I’d call the first real boss, some lizard giant that shoots… hands? out of their…. stomach? Even that boss I could only beat with the advice of my friend. I hadn’t realized that you need to shoot the enemy’s head to have their mouth open!! I was dying over and over as I waited for the lizard to open up without realizing I had to do something first. So playing with a friend has already saved me from frustration.

I agree the game seriously refuses to hold your hand in ways that are both a blessing and a curse. I feel no qualms about using a guide though and don’t think it’s hampering my experience too much. The game is eerie! The world feels so threatening!! The music is downright unpleasant at times! I feel like the planet is consuming me and resistance is futile. Love it!

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