Super Metroid RetroActive Review

Super Metroid picture

Super Metroid

Original Release Date: 1994

While the original Metroid is generally regarded as a classic, it’s more for its innovative ideas than how good it is as an actual game. It had great ideas, but an absolutely horrible execution of those ideas, held back as it was by the limitations of its time.

Super Metroid, on the other hand, was able to do what the original was not, and fully fleshed out the ideas of exploration and nonlinear gameplay, and took it to the next level.

Super Metroid is a fantastic game, with great controls, solid art direction, excellent pacing, wonderful atmosphere, blah blah blah. You’ve all heard this before, so instead of just saying what everyone else has already said, I’m going to play devil’s advocate and focus on what I didn’t like about Super Metroid.

The biggest flaw with Super Metroid is that it doesn’t give the player any sort of direction whatsoever. Now, this mostly works in the game’s favor, as it gives players a great deal of freedom, and usually gives them the tools they need to figure out what they need to do. But there are times where the lack of feedback can be detrimental to the experience. Sometimes the way forward can be a bit obscure, and if you happen to miss one tiny detail in the environment, you’ll wind up running in circles for hours, wondering how to advance further in the game. It’s light years better than the original Metroid in this regard, but it’s still a problem. It’s an issue that’s exacerbated by the inclusion of several areas that are literally dead ends. Now, most sections of the game provide some sort of reward for the player for getting through them, but there are a handful that provide literally no reward at all, and seem to just be there to waste the players time as they’re trying to figure out where they need to go.

Another thing that doesn’t help is that the game doesn’t always explain how its mechanics work. Now, most of the mechanics are intuitive, but for the handful that aren’t, it can be difficult if not possible to figure out how to use them. For example, I got through most of the game without ever needing to wall jump. Then, I suddenly hit a section where the wall jump was required, and I was stuck. The controls for how to wall jump are completely counterintuitive, and there isn’t any sort of tutorial to make up for it.

I’m not saying that the game should have held the players hand, or that it should have blatantly told the player what they needed to do next. I’m just saying that providing a little hint or tip for players who get stuck would have been nice. You can make a game deep and challenging while still making it accessible.

Another problem with the game isn’t really with the game itself, but rather with the hype around it. Everyone says that it’s a great game. And, yeah, it is, but people usually go beyond that, and act as though it’s God descended from heaven in the form of a video game. And while I liked it, I never got that sort of feeling from it. I wouldn’t put it on my top 10 favorite games of all-time list, for example. I liked it, but the overhyping didn’t help, and may leave some people feeling a little disappointed.

All cynicism aside, Super Metroid is an incredibly well-crafted game. Its flaws are easily outweighed by the things it does right, and it’s still perfectly playable even today. I personally didn’t like it as much as a lot of people did, but I did enjoy it, and if you call yourself a gamer, you need to play Super Metroid at least once.

How well it holds up       4/4

Personal Enjoyment       4/5

Overall quality                 9/10


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