First off, I am excited to announce that this is the 15th Retro Metro! As such, I am going to do . . . absolutely nothing and just go on with the article, because filling this review with some sort of retrospective would be denying y’all my pearls of wisdom. Ergo, get ready for the game which half-defined an entire genre: Metroid!
As you might expect, this game is for the NES, so the game itself offers few hints about the story. Fortunately, I have the Internet! Basically, in the year 20X5, a particularly weird setting, some galactic pirates attacked a research base owned by the “Galactic Federation”—kinda like Deep Space 9, but without anything to be compared with and thus not boring—and stole samples of “metroids,” which are basically really big parasites. They plan to clone a craptonne of them to kill their enemies, and so Samus Aran, a female (!) bounty hunter, is sent to the pirates’ base to destroy “Mother Brain,” which controls the base and its defenses, and then blow it up. Obviously, that happens at the end of the game.
The game is very open world, as without maps or quest markers to guide you, you must wander through the base and hope you stumble on Kraid and Ridley, two particularly tough bosses whom you must defeat to be able to get to Mother Brain. There are a lot of enemies, so your “power suit” comes equipped with a gun, and you can jump to avoid said enemies. Along the way, you can receive certain power-ups for getting through hard-to-reach spaces, such as “ball morph,” which lets you roll into a ball to reach certain spaces, and “screw jump,” which lets you jump higher and kill any enemies you jump into. Additionally, you can find some missiles throughout the base, whose use will be demonstrated later. When you get hit by an enemy or an attack, you lose energy, which can be regained through pellets you get by killing enemies, or by special tanks you get from killing bosses that give you 99 energy and increase your max energy by 99 (you start at 99 energy). This being an NES game, when you run out of energy completely, you must restart the game entirely, unless you write down the 24-digit password presented at the death screen and re-enter it later (a la Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!!). This password system also allows for certain cheat codes to be entered.
This being a 2D platformer and all, there are a variety of “screens” you can go, through. To get to one though, you usually must break open a door, which re-forms after a time. Most doors can simply be shot at with your gun, but some require being shot at with exactly five missiles (the most you can have at any one point without a power-up), thereby making missiles very important. Additionally, finding important rooms requires a puzzle-game-like mentality, so always be on the lookout for possible hidden entrances (such as breakable blocks on the ceiling, as you can shoot directly upward).
And now to my traditional blurb on the music and graphics. Like many games I have reviewed, I play this game on the 3DS, so I usually do not listen to the music. From what I have heard, it is both good and kinda creepy. The graphics are okay for an NES game—they’re no Kirby’s Adventure, but they’re no Mario Bros. either.
As I mentioned in the very beginning, Metroid “half-defined an entire genre.” That genre is known as “Metroidvania,” combining the names “Metroid” and “Castlevania,” as both were game series (for an excellent example of the Castlevania series, read my review of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse). The common denominator between both of these series is that you explored an open world without a map, and that certain power-ups are required to advance through the game. Thus, the style of Metroid, which has been copied time and time again, ensures that when you play it you are literally playing with history. That, if nothing else, is a great reason to play Metroid.
Finally, I will now tell you where you can get this game. It is obviously available as an NES cartridge, but it has be re-released for the Game Boy Advance, and it can be downloaded on the 3DS eShop, and possibly on the WiiU eShop. Well, “bon voyagee” [sic], and happy gaming!