Did you know that Metroid is a girl?!
(I used that joke on schoolpsychnerd
earlier. If looks could kill...)
My first exposure to Metroid was the original game, which I sadly seem to have lost somewhere over the years. It's also one of the original NES games that I beat on the original system, after hours of wandering around through Zebes, using JUSTIN BAILEY to get a preview of later areas with an overpowered Samus build. JUSTIN BAILEY also meant that I was spoiled on the secret of Samus Aran's real identity. I heard it on the playground, as you did in those days, went home and tried it out, and my mind was blown. I mean, the wave beam
? What madness was this?
Oh right, also Samus Aran was a woman. I don't remember having strong feelings about it at the time, but memory is fallible.
My strongest memory of the original Metroid is actually the time I ruined a game through idiocy. There's a part of Norfair that has a series of one-block pillars over lava pits that you have to navigate to progress:
It was somewhere around here.
While I was jumping over them, I wondered if I would be able to get out if I fell in, so I deliberately fell in. And then I spent a while trying to bomb-jump my way out and continuously failing over and over again. No matter how hard I tried, at times getting within a block or two of the top, I would fall back down into the lava again. Eventually I gave up, turned the game off, and went to go do something else.
!" you say, "Metroid had a password system! If you had died in the lava, you could have put in the password and just restarted that way!" And you are absolutely right, but let me direct your attention above to the word "idiocy."
The next time through, I ended up falling down into the lava accidentally, but that time I managed to get out and go on to beat the game. Not under the time limit, of course, but a win is a win. And then I didn't play another Metroid game for over a decade until my roommate in Ireland lent me his GBA and copy of Metroid Fusion, which I barely remember except that I wasn't a fan of the constant AI companion. Metroid is space horror at its roots, and that's always been a thorn in the side of any attempt to make it more narrative-based. The point of space horror is that you are alone
and there is no one out there to save you. Adding companions and commanding officers and so on works against that in a way that I don't like.
Even adding extra info is a problem. Take Metroid Prime's Space Pirate scan data
Phazon mining is under way. Several garrisons have been established, and terraforming of the Chozo Ruins is under way. Security systems are operational, and Science Team continues to make progress in their biotech research. The Phendrana Drifts have proven to be an optimal location for Research Headquarters, and soon it will be joined by a fully operational Combat base and starport. If Command's predictions are half true, we shall rise to dominance in this sector within a deca-cycle. Truly, these are glorious times.
Blah blah blah blah. All the additional information is like that, and you have to scan all the time. My main memory of Metroid Prime is entering a new room and immediately switching to the scan visor and scanning every available surface. Compelling gameplay!
I didn't come to Super Metroid until 2009, two decades after my first Metroid game, but even then I didn't beat it until later. I wrote about that already here
Other M and the fan reception to Federation Hunters seem to have killed Metroid at this point, but it was always a lot more popular in the west than it was in Japan. And Sakamoto doesn't seem to understand what bothered people about Other M and isn't that interested in doing another Metroid game anyway
, so who knows if it'll come back any time soon. In the meantime, though, the fans are stepping up to the plate: Another Metroid 2 Remake
finally came out today after eight years of development! Get it before it gets C&Ded!
Also, this fan film is pretty neat:
And while Nintendo might not care, and Sakamoto might not care, Hirokazu Tanaka (the composer) does: