“Everything’s Sunny on Zebes” (Super Metroid)

Super Metroid (Japanese Cover)
The Japanese version of the Super Metroid box art, featuring Samus, Rideley, and Kraid.

Recently, I had the chance to play the 1994 Nintendo classic, Super Metroid. Being the third game in the Metroid series, Super Metroid is a true masterpiece, and is widely considered to be one of the best games ever created. Even though I haven’t played every video-game in existence, I have to agree.

The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace. Yeah, right.

After the events of Metroid II, Samus Aran takes the baby metroid to Ceres Station, and donates it to science. She flies away, but unbeknownst to her, dark forces are moving through space. She receives a transmission: Ceres Station is under attack. Throwing her spaceship in reverse, Samus enters the station again, finding it dead and derelict. No one is left alive. But she does learn one thing, after fighting for her life against Ridley. The space pirates have the baby metroid. The galaxy is in danger, and there’s only one woman who can save it. Samus Aran.

From the moment the game begins, the brilliant design and atmosphere is evident. Throughout the entire opening of the game (Ceres Station), there’s no enemies. This area is purely used for some well hidden tutorials. But, the game does it so well, you don’t even know it. Throughout the game, there’s pretty much no hand holding at all, and the best thing is that this isn’t frustrating. It actually makes me better at the game. What a novel concept!

The first enemy in the game is boss fight with Ridley. Once you escape by the skin of your teeth, and Ridley takes the baby metroid for his own nefarious purposes, you only get one minute to escape the station. By the end, you’ve reached the single digits, everything’s exploding, and it’s a mad dash to make the last jump to freedom. There’s no limit to how amazing this scene is. And trust me, I haven’t told you the best parts, so as to keep some element of surprise for if you ever decide to play the game for yourself.

Maridia Bridge (Super Metroid)
Look, it’s a bridge in the middle of Maridia!

Once you get down to Zebes for the second time (the first being in the original Metroid) the game really starts to hit it’s stride. Contrary to some of my friend’s belief, the game is open world. This is done very well, as Zebes itself is massive. Less so today, but it is still pretty huge, and for an SNES game, it’s a real feat.

One thing you have to remember when playing Super Metroid is that the game is always smarter than you. But that’s in the best way possible. The game dosen’t stop you from innovating, rather, it encourages it. There are segments of the game that allow experienced players (AKA “Metroid Masters”) to jump ahead, and beat the game in different ways. Super Metroid is a massively intelligent game, but you can work with it if you know how it works. Never is it unfair. Never did I feel cheated. Never did I decide to give up because the game was being unreasonable. I did not feel cheated, I felt challenged. The game was telling me that I needed to get up, and step into the Power Suit again. Because if I didn’t, then the Baby Metroid would suffer a horrible fate, and the Space Pirates would rule the galaxy.

If you have the right tools, then the game can be tackled. By the end, you are truly a “Metroid Master”, and that’s a far cry from the scared little guy with a peashooter that you were in the beginning. This entire game is a master class in how to develop an experience. Yeah, I said it. Not a game. An experience. When I beat the final boss, and the credits rolled, all I could think about was the next time I would pop open this masterpiece for the second time. I can’t wait10 out of 10.

Super Metroid is perfect in every single way. The world is beautiful, and still poses a significant threat, the atmosphere is through the roof, the music is epic, the gameplay is simple but amazing, the story is one of the best I’ve seen in a long while, and I can almost guarantee that you will love every minute of it. It’s a isolated and atmospheric crusade across a deadly alien planet, and the secrets it holds will blow you away.


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