Monday, August 8, 2011

Metroid is 25 years old

Back on August 6th, 1986, the first Metroid game was released on the NES. It was an interesting mix of Super Mario Bros. platforming and The Legend of Zelda exploration aspects into one game. The creators of the game were Gunpei Yokoi, Makoto Kano and Yoshio Sakamoto. The original Metroid was a pretty challenging game for its time and unlike most games these days you weren't really given any direction. It was up to you to explore and figure out things yourself. I didn't play the original Metroid until years later on the Wii Virtual Console. There were several passwords that could make different things happening in the game - JUSTIN BAILEY and NARPAS SWORD were the more well know ones back then. At the end of the game, if you got a good time, Samus would remove her armor and reveal herself as a woman. This was a pretty big deal back in the 80s since there really weren't any female heroines back then.

For the second game in the series they decided to put it on the Gameboy. The result was Metroid 2: Return of Samus. There were a few more things they added like the Spiderball. The game took place on SR388, the home world of the Metroid species. The game's music was quite atmospheric and gave you a sense you were all alone on the planet and that there was Metroids waiting to come out at anytime. I haven't played this title but I have watched some playthroughs of the game.

The next title in the franchise is widely considered one of the best games of all time. That game was Super Metroid. It took Samus back to Zebes, the location where the first game took place. This game's difficulty can vary depending on how you play it. You could do a low item percent run and make it more challenging, or you could get all the items in the game and make it a cake walk. I think this game was the game that popularized the idea of a "speedrun." There were also several ways to get through the game and acquire different items out of their intended order.

Since Samus' only N64 appearance was in Super Smash Bros., we fast forward to the Gamecube. Metroid fans were waiting for a new game to play. When it was first announced that Retro Studios was taking the reins of the Metroid series it was met with scepticism. However, when Metroid Prime came out on November 17th, 2002 it blew everyone's minds. The game took place on planet called Talon IV. A mysterious substance called Phazon was being used by Space Pirates to further their quest for power. The game's story was cleverly incorporated into the gameplay. Samus could scan certain objects and get a bit of information about what was happening around her. It was there if you wanted it and if you didn't want it you could avoid it. The game had lots of new bosses and a few returning ones from previous games. Overall it was an outstanding game. Personally, I have yet to beat it, but I am at the final area in the game. It was released on the Wii in Metroid Prime Trilogy along with its two direct sequels.

Released on the same day, Metroid Fusion hit the Gameboy Advance. This went back to the 2D sidescrolling from the eight and 16-bit days. There were several new weapons in the game and a very interesting antagonist - yourself - though, not exactly. You run into yourself many times in the game, but your doppelganger is more powerful so it is usually a good idea to avoid her. During the course of the game you are given access to different areas in a more linear manner than past Metroids. Finally, as a bonus for those who had Fusion, Prime and a Gamecube to GBA cable, you could access extra content in both games.

Zero Mission was released on the Gameboy Advance next. It was basically a remake of the first game. Most people consider this to be the best version of Metroid. It took some things from Fusion to make the controls better. This was also the first game that showed Zero Suit Samus later in the game.This game can also be speed runned pretty well much like Super Metroid could.

The next game in the series was Metroid Prime 2: Echoes. This took place on Aether, a planet split into two dimensions much like the Light and Dark world in Link to the Past. The game is considered by many to be the hardest in the Metroid series. Part of that is because of the dual worlds and but also because the bosses were typically harder than those of its predecessors. I have the game but I have yet to make much headway in it. It was also released for the Wii in the Metroid Prime Trilogy compilation.

The next few games were released on the DS and they were Metroid Prime Pinball and Metroid Prime: Hunters. The former was a solid game made by Fuse Games. The latter was one of the first games that used the new Nintendo Wi-Fi connection and focused heavily on multiplayer.

When Nintendo revealed the Revolution (aka Wii) there was a demo that used Metroid Prime 2 and motion controls as a focus for the next console. Originally slated as a launch title to come out in 2006, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption finally came out in 2007 and leading up to the launch of the game Nintendo released a Metroid Prime 3 channel for the Wii which revealed story teases for the new game. They also released the NES and SNES games for the Wii Virtual Console. Much like Super Metroid the weapons that you earned stacked on top of each other so whenever you got a beam upgrade it replaced the previous one. While it was liner as far as traveling between different planets, the four different planets could be traversed in a non liner way. The main change with Samus this time was her ability to use Hypermode for more powerful attacks at the cost of an energy tank's worth of health. I have beaten two of the three difficulties. I am stuck on Hyper Mode at the end of the game.

Finally, Metroid: Other M was released on August 31st, 2010 for the Wii. This game was an interesting mix of first and third person gameplay. The events took place after Super Metroid in the timeline so the focus was on the baby Metroid Samus rescued at the end of Metroid II: Return of Samus. Generally, the story was the primary issue for the game's detractors. But, from what I can tell, it was a solid game aside from the dialogue.

This being the 25th anniversary of the series, what do you think Nintendo should do to celebrate it? Any favorite games from the series? What step do you think Nintendo should take with the series next?


NinSage said...

Great write-up, Maxi!

To celebrate the anniversary? Hmm, not sure ... maybe give away Fusion and/or Zero Mission on the 3DS eShop?! (also, you left out Zero Mission!)

Other M is my favorite game in the series and I hope Nintendo's next step is a sequel to Other M with dialogue that not only improves from the first, but does enough to appease people who didn't like the dialogue from Other M. In other words, if you need Samus to say "f*ck you, General! I play by my own rules!!" then, I guess that's fine if it will make the community enjoy the game better!

Maxi said...

Sorry I left out Zero Mission. I'll add it later today. Overall I think my favorite two Metriod games are Super Metriod and Metriod Prime. Never actually played Zero Mission and from what I can tell it is the best version of the original Metriod game.

coffeewithgames said...

"Any favorite games from the series? What step do you think Nintendo should take with the series next?"

Okay, so I haven't played many of the Metroid games in recent years, and only two that I can recall completing: Super Metroid and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption(also possibly the original Metroid, but not positive).

I remember enjoying Super Metroid, but I really, really, really enjoyed Metroid Prime 3: Corruption on the Wii.
It was my first Metroid Prime game to play all the way through, and I played it on all the difficulty settings and unlocked everything in the game.

I own the Metroid Prime Trilogy for Wii, but haven't even played it yet.

Where do I think Nintendo should take the series next, or the "next step" for it? Well, I love online multi-player games, and I know Metroid Prime 2: Echoes had local multi-player, so I keep on hoping that perhaps Nintendo will make a FPS with online multi-player and perhaps Metroid could be it...but I don't know if it's the proper series for it.

I still need to complete the first two Prime games, then play Other perhaps after I play those, I will know which route I would like for them to go with the series.

NinSage said...

It makes me glad to hear how much you enjoyed MP3:C, coffee!! It is a very good game and the Trilogy is a wonderful addition to collection.

Let us know your thoughts once you play those other Metroids!

Mop_it_up said...

Up until I played Super Smash Brothers on the Nintendo 64, I had never heard of Metroid, so I had no idea who Samus was in that game. The trophies in Super Smash Brothers Melee made Metroid games sound interesting, so 2002 is when I first played a Metroid game, starting with the original on the NES. I don't know how I ever got through that game without any guides; I remember being stuck at the beginning of it for a while before I figured out that the red doors required five missiles to open. I don't think the door flashes when hit or gives any indicator that you should keep shooting it with missiles. That's kind of the problem with the whole game, there isn't really any indicator where you should go or where you've been. This problem was made worse in Metroid II, since the colourless environments had even less to distinguish them. I don't know why they would even bother with creating a game on lessor hardware that clearly required better technology before it could realize its potential.

That happened on the Super NES with Super Metroid. After two bad games, I was about ready to give up on Metroid. Fortunately, I gave it one more chance with Super Metroid, because in the past Super NES games had vastly improved many series over their NES counterparts. And what a game it was. It didn't just fix all the issues with Metroid, it's also one of the most expertly and intricately crafted games of the 2D era. Each area of the game has some sense of purpose to it, each pathway has a reason to exist, whether it's to provide the way forward, a quicker way to a previous area, or just to get an item. There are even multiple ways through the game if you can master the wall jump and learn how to use items in creative ways, though it's hard to say how many of them are intentional.

Then Metroid Fusion improved the map system even more by marking items you've obtained and highlighting secret paths. I also liked the story elements, which were taken to a negative extreme in Metroid Other M. I appreciated Zero Mission too, making an old game playable. Metroid II needs that treatment.

Like many, I was also skeptical of Metroid Prime and if moving to first-person was really the best option. So much so that I didn't even buy the game until at least two years later, though the nice thing about that was that it was a really cheap game. By the time I was done with that, I could get Metroid Prime 2 for fairly cheap as well. I didn't get the third game for a while since I didn't have a Wii when it was released, and I feel it's the weakest of the three. I think the Trilogy was announced a month or two after I bought MP3... curses.