Metroid (NES)

  • Gameplay
  • Story
  • Audio
  • Visuals
  • Entertainment

Also available on Game Boy Advance, Wii via Virutal Console, Wii U via Virtal Console, 3DS via Virtual Console, and Switch via Nintendo Switch Online

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Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 06/30/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night

Metroid is one of Nintendo’s classic IPs from the NES days, and while the series hasn’t gotten the love it deserves in my opinion, its games still draw huge hype has evidenced by how incredibly well pre-order sales for the recently announced Metroid Dread are going.  With that game on the horizon, I figured that I would replay some of the series’ 2D games to get myself ready beginning with the one that started it all.

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The game’s story is entirely told through the instruction manual.  For most games, that means that I wouldn’t bother with it and would make up my own story instead as I did with Little Samson, but I’m not going to disrespect Metroid that way.  The premise is that there’s a federation of planets from all over the galaxy that band together to trade and peace or whatever.  Naturally, there are pirates that prey on ships.  That would be manageable, but they attacked a research outpost that was researching an unknown organism believed to have wiped out an entire civilization as it was being moved to Earth for study.  With the potential to replicate this organism and use it as a bio-weapon, the Federation understandably panics and hires the galaxy’s greatest bounty hunter, Samus Aran, to infiltrate the Space Pirate base and destroy it.  The instruction manual refers to Samus with masculine pronouns, but as we all know these days, the big reveal at the end of the game is that Samus is actually the galaxy’s most badass woman.

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Metroid is about as not straightforward as it gets.  The game consists of a MASSIVE maze, and you’re not afforded the modern luxury of an automap.  This makes exploration the name of the game in Metroid, and there’s a lot to explore with a lot of seemingly dead ends.  There are a lot of destructible walls and floors, but unlike in more recent games, it’s not apparent that you can destroy them.  As such, you’ll spend a lot of time just shooting walls and ceilings or rolling around bombing the floor to see if there’s a hidden passage you can use to progress.  Personally, I’m spoiled by modern conveniences, so I found that particular aspect more frustrating than anything else, but fortunately, I’m also a punk who looked up a map on his phone, so that’s always an option for us denizens of the 21st Century.

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As you work your way through this maze, there are multiple power-ups that you’ll need to grab and two bosses that you’ll need to defeat before you’re able to get to the final boss, Mother Brain.  All three of these bosses are TOUGH and show you zero mercy, and that’s not even touching on the titular Metroid enemies that will harass you once you finally overcome Kraid and Ridley, the two sub-bosses, and make your way through the final stretch of the game to Mother Brain.  The game uses a password system to let you continue, but save states are definitely the way to go if you’re playing through the game in 2021.  God bless the NES Classic.

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All told, Metroid is a game that definitely shows its age but not to the extent that it’s not fun to play today.  It exemplifies “NES hard,” and it’s obtuse as all get out, but it’s an incredibly fun experience, and it’s great to see where the series started especially since the upcoming Metroid Dread is going to be the first time we’ve seen Metroid in HD.  There are a TON of ways to play Metroid these days, so don’t sleep on it.  Don’t feel bad if you don’t have the patience to finish the game, but definitely at least experience it to some degree.

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