Super Metroid is the third game in Nintendo\'s famous Metroid series. It is also in many ways a refinement of the Metroid vision, on hardware powerful enough to fulfill it. This game has left a powerful legacy since the days of the Super Nintendo Entertainment System (SNES), and returns on the Wii Virtual Console (VC) if you are looking to play this game on more recent hardware.

The intro starts off with voice acting stating: "The last metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace." Shortly after Samus (the main heroine of the Metroid series) departs, with the last metroid in the hands of the scientists at the space colony, she hears a distress signal, and returns to investigate. She then finds that Ridley of the space pirates has stolen the metroid, so you follow it to planet Zebes to take care of the threat of metroids (and space pirates) once again.

What kind of game is this, and what makes it special?

Super Metroid is a 2D action platform game where you run, jump, shoot, and use your various abilities to discover your way through a somewhat maze-like world. Like all of the other 2D Metroid entries, you explore your environment in any of the four directions. After the interactive introduction, you find yourself at the Crateria region, on your ship, ready to explore the areas around you. Some areas are large both vertically and horizontally, but most are tunnels that lead from one area to another, sometimes up and down, sometimes diagonally, and often horizontally. Each area or tunnel is interconnected in some way to another. There are many secret areas and items around. Usually there is some kind of hint in the environment that suggests secret areas, but not always. As you explore, you will find more items that give Samus new abilities, from the simple morph ball, to the powerful plasma beam, as well as the various suit enhancements. Each ability, item, or weapon helps you further your quest by allowing you to access new areas - often through quite a bit of backtracking to areas you have already been - as well as giving you the power to defeat more powerful enemies.

This process of the explore, gain a power, explore more, gain another power and continue to explore mechanic is done in such a way that it\'s quite rewarding. It also keeps your mind working. It doesn\'t do too much hand holding. As an example, you start with just the ability to run, jump, and fire your basic blaster. You soon pass over areas that seem too small for you to fit through, and then you find the morph ball ability. The morph ball ability is where Samus literally can roll up into a ball. You can roll around on the ground in your new-found shape, and you can morph or unmorph at the touch of a button. After this, you return to where you were earlier, and can now go down the tunnel. You then find there are doors that are pink instead of the typical blue. As you gain missiles, you may realize (perhaps through experimenting, or the Wii VC help system) that five missiles will take down a pink door. So, you return to where you just were to explore there, later remembering that you also saw another pink door down another shaft you visited earlier, so the next time you are in the area (or want to make a special trip) there may be some more rewards for you exploring there as well. While it may seem like a tiresome description, in reality it\'s all done in an enticing way with great flow. There is also a map accessible via Start (or plus on Wii VC) which helps a lot during deep exploration.

Super Metroid has had a substantial impact on the gaming ecosystem. The fan following of this game made popular the idea of speed runs, where you attempt to beat the game as quickly as possible, and sequence breaking, where you attempt to get items early or even not at all by defying the obvious intended order. There is some incentive to beat the game more quickly, as the time it takes you from the start of your adventure to defeating the final boss affects which ending you will receive. This game has also been credited with influencing the play style of many games since. The way you explore the areas around you and how new abilities limit where you can go, as well as a few other traits, have been used with excellent effect in other games as well. Though the original Metroid and the GameBoy sequel had most of these components, it was Super Metroid that fleshed it out in such a way that made it palpable for more than just the most dedicated.

How are the graphics?

Though probably not the best graphics on the Super Nintendo, they do age very well. I\'ve never been all that tough about graphics, and in many ways the later GameBoy Advance sequels have better graphics, but they are sequels. Samus\'s animations are very fluid; the world effects are clear and varied; and the occasional Mode 7, or pseudo-3D rotating and scaling effects, are done well. The enemies are reused but not overused, and each area has a cohesive, atmospheric feel. Everything from the rain on Crateria to the lava deep underground, it\'s clear what it is, and communicates that effectively. When enemies are damaged, they reel back believably, and bosses usually flash red or something to let you know your attacks are effective. All in all, the mood is well conveyed through the graphics. Very nice.

What about the sound and music?

The sound effects are good; they get the job done. Each shot has a satisfying sound. Where this really shines is the music. As good of a job that the graphics do for setting the mood of the environment, the music does it several times better. From the intro through the end, the music does an amazing job of setting you up for a shock to getting your adrenaline pumping for battle. And some of the tunes, like lower Norfair, is just awesome fun. And the mysterious melodies in part of Maridia.. just fantastic. I really doubt you will be turning this stuff down, though my wife found the alarm sequence music annoying - but it fit right in for me! It kept me on the edge of my seat as I had to get out of there before the place exploded..! Wink Moral of this story? The music is well composed, memorable, and most of all immersive.

How appropriate is this game for Christians?

Well, Samus is a bounty hunter, though that does not play a prominent part of the story. You wouldn\'t really know that from this game other than by reading the instructions. There is some intense action, though no blood of any kind. Everything you kill is an alien life form; you are the only human around. Probably the most objectionable (and well known) \'feature\' of the Metroid series is that if you beat the game in under a certain time, the ending rewards the player by seeing Samus in her bathing suit. It\'s not graphic, but it\'s not really all that necessary, either. Nevertheless, it\'s part of the Metroid heritage, and even the first Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) had this \'feature\'. Other than that and the mentioned shooting of the space pirate aliens, it\'s pretty clean. It is rated E by the ESRB with Mild Violence.

Overall & Conclusion

Super Metroid is a classic, and widely considered to be one of the best games of all time. I can understand why it has achieved such notoriety. Though at first glance this game may not seem like much, the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. Though it does have some minor appropriateness issues that should be considered, in my opinion they are not obnoxious. This is a game that I can recommend to any action-adventure or platform game fan, though probably not for the very young.

Appropriateness Score:

Violence 6.5/10
Language 10/10
Sexual Content/Nudity 9/10
Occult/Supernatural 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical 10/10

Appropriateness Total: 45.5/50

Game Score:
Game Play 20/20
Graphics 9/10
Sound/Music 10/10
Stability/Polish 5/5
Controls/Interface 5/5

Game Score Total: 49/50

Overall: 94.5/100

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