Also available on Wii via Virtual Console, Wii U via Virtual Console, Switch via NSO, and 3DS via Virtual Console
Review written by Stephen Deck; originally published 07/03/2021 on Teacher by Day, Gamer by Night
Super Metroid is the third game in the Metroid series both chronologically and in release order following Metroid on NES and Metroid II: Return of Samus on Game Boy. It’s widely considered to be one of if not the best games in the series, and I’ve got to agree with that assessment. It excels in pretty much everything, and you’ve got to look pretty hard to find any real flaws with the game.
After the events of Metroid II, Samus takes the baby Metroid – the last survivor of its species as far as we know – to a Federation research station. No sooner does Samus leave than Space Pirates attack the research station and steal the baby Metroid. Now Samus must return to Zebes to deal with the Space Pirates and either recapture or eliminate the Metroid. The narrative setup, told through cut scenes at the beginning of the game, starts the game with some solid tension. Being back on Zebes, a lot of the game feels rather similar to the first game, but this is by no means a recreation of the original map. There are some major differences this time around in addition to some much-needed quality of life improvements like an inventory screen, eight directional firing, and most importantly, an automap that you can reference at any time.
Literally, everything about Super Metroid is an improvement over Metroid. The visuals are just beautiful. They’re colorful, they’re detailed, and some of the visual effects used are mind-blowing when you consider that this didn’t use the Super FX chip. The soundtrack is downright masterful and perfectly sets the ambiance for the lonely, isolated, and perilous situation in which Samus once again finds herself. The controls as well have been tuned to near perfection. The space jump can still be a little finicky, but it’s SIGNIFICANTLY better than it was in Metroid II. Platforming feels a lot more responsive and natural, and the ability to shoot diagonally makes a world of difference especially in boss battles.
The game isn’t completely without flaws, but they’re extremely minor and few and far between. In fact, the only noteworthy flaw that I noticed during my playthrough was a bit of slow down when the screen gets busy, mainly when using a Super Bomb with a lot of enemies and/or destructible blocks on-screen. That’s the only situation where I noticed any slowdown, though, and in the handful of instances of it, the slowdown only lasted for a second or two. Beyond that, I saw no performance issues whatsoever with the game.
It’s clear why a lot of Best Video Game of All Time lists put Super Metroid near the top; it really is nearly perfect. The visuals are stunning, the soundtrack is stellar, the controls are tight and responsive, and the world, while sometimes frustrating, is a blast to explore. Fortunately, Nintendo knows how great and beloved this game is, so it’s pretty widely available to play. The Wii Virtual Console isn’t really an option anymore with the shutdown of the Shop Channel (RIP), but you can still download it on your Wii U or New 3DS, and it’s also available on the Super Nintendo Classic and the Nintendo Switch Online SNES app, so there are plenty of legitimate ways to play even without hunting down a SNES cartridge.