Metroid – Nintendo (1986)

You can’t think of the 8-Bit N.E.S. without remembering Metroid.  Nintendo has created some fantastic franchise series and this is probably my favorite.  The story, controls and even the graphics (for the time) were incredible and hold up really well today.  If all games were as good as Metroid then we wouldn’t have time for our jobs, school or families!

This probably could be classified as an action/RPG as it was one of the first games to introduce a system of backtracking to areas previously visited.  You would have to find and locate certain items that were necessary to gain access to areas later on in the game, and upgrading your character was essential for survival. Sure we have seen this in most current games but it was quite an achievement at the time.

You play as Samus Aran, a space hunter and Galactic Federation Police’s greatest one at that, who is sent to the planet Zebes after a capsule containing the unknown life-form known as the Metroid, is seized by space pirates. The Metroid is currently in a state of suspended animation, but when re-activated and exposed to beta rays it will multiply. If used as a weapon, it could potentially destroy the whole galactic civilisation, and you are the only person who can stop the Mother Brain from succeeding in doing so. Our only hope is Samus!

There are many items to collect along the way to help you fight your way to Mother Brain. They include offensive upgrades as well as defensive ones. At the start of the game you will have 1 energy tank, with 99 units of life, but as you progress further into the game you can obtain a further 5 tanks. One of the first upgrades you will find Samus is the ability to roll up into a ball, this is a much needed asset as you will need to roll your way through small corridors to reach other areas, and later on you will discover a power up that will allow you to lay mines whilst curled up. There are also power ups to make your laser beam extend across the whole screen, boots to increase the height of your jumps, and a suit to absorb more damage as well as allowing you to walk through lava. Then there are the offensive upgrades. These include missiles, an ice beam, and the all powerful wave beam. And one of the more entertaining attacks is the screw attack, which allows you to jump in the air and destroy space pirates by simply jumping and spinning.

The graphics were very good at the time and still stand out as some of the best on the N.E.S. The locations give a great amount of atmosphere to the game. There are different styles to the various areas on the map.  The enemies were very original at the time and even today you can see their influence in new games.

The music in the game is great and even in the newest game in the series, Metroid Prime, you can recognize the eerily space tune.  Each area on the map has its own song which adds to the atmosphere, and fits well with the surrounding landscape. The sound effects of Samus and the enemies are well done, from the explosions that erupt as mines and missiles connect with an enemy’s face, to Samus’ footsteps.

The only feature I really don’t care for is the password system.  Most RPGs on the N.E.S. include a back-up battery and so should have Metroid.  There is no reason why you should have to write down a password for each level when the battery adds less than $5 to the cost of the game.  I am sure any gamer out there would gladly pay that to not have to have a notebook and pen available whenever they want to quit the game.

Even compared to games of today Metroid is still a perfect game.  Everything about Metroid screams quality.  I believe Metroid, like Castlevania, is it’s best in 2-D.  Yes Metroid Prime was good but I found myself playing Metroid Fusion more because of the great gameplay in 2-D.  Metroid easily earns a perfect score!

Reviewed by Jason

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