Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Super Metroid

The lights are off and only the gentle glow of the science lab monitors stop the room from falling into total darkness. Across the floor lie the bodies of dead scientists. The computer systems seem to be active still and supporting the only life in the room. Captive in a glass chamber in the middle of the lab is the very last Metroid.

“The last Metroid is in captivity.. The galaxy is at peace.”

The opening sequence to Super Metroid sets a haunting and very atmospheric scene. The chilling 16bit music accompanies the creative colour pallets and beautifully drawn sprites. One of the most amazing features of this game is that its haunting atmosphere will continue throughout the entirety of your adventure and the standard will NEVER drop. You are Samus Aran, a mute bounty hunter with nerves of steel, the agility of a monkey, the gadgets of a military agent and the brute firepower of a small army. This is videogame sci-fi at its very best!

After a brief history of Metroid games and an intro in which Ridley, the head honcho of the space pirates, steals the Metroid. We then aid Samus in escaping an exploding space station and chase the evil alien down to the planet Zebes. As we approach the rain is pouring down and thunder rolls across the sky. Our beautifully formed, completely silent space ship drops from the heavens and lands, hovering perfectly, feet from the ground. The roof hatch opens and Samus Aran emerges. You run for cover in a nearby cave and find a door, which leads into the depths of the planet.  The next few hours invite you to explore this vast world and discover its inhabitants. Some are friend and some are foe, but all of them have something to teach you about how the game works and how you must learn to survive in it’s, often hostile, environment. 

The mechanics of this game are tight. The running, jumping, shooting basics are so pixel perfect that the game feels great to play leaving only yourself to blame when something goes wrong. The map is a complex maze of chambers and tunnels all interlinking and offering the player glimpses of what’s yet to come, but only when you have gained the ability to do so. Your arsenal of weapons and gadgets constantly improve as you journey deeper & deeper through the various locations of Zebes. There are a lot of power-ups to collect in this game, not all of them essential, but all of them rewarding. [I have still never collected 100% items; although my last play through was 98% so hopefully next time I will find that illusive last piece.] The style and graphics are outstanding as the world shifts from area to area and the creatures evolve with it. Then, to top it all off is one of the most atmospheric sound tracks I have ever heard in a game with some quality and high production sound effects piled on top.

This is, with out a doubt, my favourite ever videogame. I haven’t even mentioned the boss fights, or what’s so fucking cool about the power-ups and new abilities. This is because Super Metroid is a game of exploration and discovery. It’s finding these things out for yourself that makes it so damn cool. There is a LOT to see in this game. It’s possible, with a few tricks, to finish it in under an hour. But, on a first play through, its not uncommon for people to clock up over 10 hours and still keep exploring. If you have never played Super Metroid, then you owe it to yourself as a gamer to do so. If you have played Super Metroid, then you might enjoy taking this opportunity to stop playing 2011 blockbusters and return to one of the most exciting videogame worlds ever created.

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