Welcome to another installment of The Essentials, our weekly feature that showcases the best games our interactive medium has to offer. These games have set a high bar, and might be considered "required reading" for any video game fan. We've already looked at a slew of memorable titles such as The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, BioShock, Doom, Final Fantasy VII, and more.
This weekend, we're looking at one of Nintendo's most beloved, and underutilized series: Super Metroid.
Release Year: 1994
Developer: Nintendo & Intelligent Systems
Released For: SNES, Wii (VC), Wii U (VC)
Metroid fans have long complained that the Metroid series doesn’t get the attention it deserves from Nintendo, but that isn’t a new phenomenon. Nintendo actually took six months to greenlight Super Metroid’s development. Of course, this SNES follow up to the genre-defining game didn’t initially sell well in Japan, and that probably didn't improve Nintendo's opinion of the series. However, in spite of Super Metroid’s initial reception, history has shown that it is one of the most iconic and influential games of all time.
Watch our Super Replay where we play through the entire game
The first Metroid introduced players to the stoic bounty hunter named Samus Aran. After a group of Space Pirates overrun a Galactic Federation-owned research vessel and seize samples of a dangerous alien organisms called Metroids, they begin experimenting on the creatures in hopes of developing biological weapons. Bounty hunter Samus Aran is sent in to clean up this mess, and the game ends with an epic plot twist, revealing that the capable “space marine” players have spent the entire game with is, in fact, a woman.
A Game Boy sequel followed Samus as she travels to the Metroid’s home planet of SR388 in order to eradicate this deadly species so that no one else could get their hands on them. Super Metroid picks up right after these events, and chronicle Samus’ mission to hunt down the Space Pirate leader Ridley through a network of cave on the planet Zebes.
Even the box art for the game is awesome; it makes you want to tear it open and start playing the game right now
The original Metroid’s moody atmosphere was based on the Alien film series (mainstay enemy Ridley was actually named after Alien’s director Ridley Scott), but Super Metroid took this haunting, alien climate and amplified it. Dangerous alien creatures screeched at Samus as they lunged for her throat or emerged from unassuming pools of lava. Samus scrambled to regain her footing in the face of screen-filling bosses, and often encountered ancient Chozo artifacts left over from a mysterious extinct race.
Non-linear design was nearly unheard of at the time. In fact, the original Metroid (along with The Legend of Zelda) helped pioneer this genre. Here again, Super Metroid took the concept and further expanded on it. Samus trekked through lava pits, jungle mazes, and deadly underwater caves, slowly acquiring new powers and suits that made each new area that much easier to explore. Players sometime complain about backtracking in games, but Super Metroid made backtracking exciting, and it encouraged players to explore, temping them with out-of-reach power-ups and occasionally rewarding them with the keys to unlock previously inaccessible areas. As powers like the whip-like grapple beam and wall jump made it easier to progress deeper into the game, the x-ray scan visor made it easier to find those last remaining secrets. By the end of the game, Samus felt like an unstoppable force of nature.
Super Metroid faced stiff competition when it released in 1994. Popular titles like Mortal Kombat 2, Donkey Kong Country, and Final Fantasy VI (then known as Final Fantasy III) also hit the SNES that year, while Doom II dominated PCs across the country. Still, as the years have passed, Super Metroid’s polished gameplay, engrossing atmosphere, and phenomenally moody soundtrack have made Super Metroid shine bright across the gaming landscape. Even 20 years later, Super Metroid consistently climbs to top of the pile in "best of" lists across the industry, and the game has found an extended life in the speed running community.
Those who enjoyed games inspired by it like Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night, Shadow Complex, Guacamelee, Ori and the Blind Forest, and Axiom Verge, who might have missed this epic journey the first time around, owe it to themselves to discover why the game is so worthy of emulation.
Check out our feature on more Metroid-like games, and for more of the Essentials, click the banner below.
Source : http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2015/04/05/the-essentials-super-metroid.aspx