North American box art, depicting Samus Aran in battle with Ridley.
Super Metroid (スーパーメトロイド Sūpā Metoroido?)[a] is a 1994 action-adventure game published by Nintendo, developed by its R&D1 division, and programmed by Intelligent Systems for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. The third game in the Metroid series, it was released in Japan on March 19, 1994, in North America on April 18, 1994, and in Europe and Australia on July 28, 1994. It became available as a Virtual Console title for the Wii console in 2007, and for the Wii U in 2013.
The gameplay of Super Metroid focuses on exploration, and the search for power-ups that are used to reach previously inaccessible areas. The game's story takes place immediately after the events of Metroid II: Return of Samus, and follows bounty hunter Samus Aran as she attempts to retrieve a stolen Metroid from the Space Pirates. Super Metroid was directed and written by Yoshio Sakamoto, and produced by Makoto Kano with Gunpei Yokoi serving as general manager.
Super Metroid received critical acclaim, and is considered by critics as one of the greatest video games of all time. Much of the praise on the game to its atmosphere, gameplay, audio, cinematic elements and graphics. Electronic Gaming Monthly named it the Game of the Month for May 1994, gave it an Editor's Choice Award, awarded it as the Best Action Game of 1994, and named it the Best Game of All Time in 2003. In 2007, IGN ranked Super Metroid seventh in its list of Top 100 Games of All Time. Despite a highly positive critical reaction, the game sold poorly in Japan, but fared better in North America and Europe. Nintendo placed it on their Player's Choice marketing label a year after its release.
Super Metroid is an action-platform game which primarily takes place on the fictional planet Zebes, which is a large, open-ended world with areas connected by doors and elevators. The player controls Samus Aran as she searches the planet for a Metroid that was stolen by Ridley, the leader of the Space Pirates. Along the way, the player collects power-ups that enhance Samus' armor and weaponry, as well as grant her special abilities such as the Space Jump, which allows her to jump infinite times to cover great distances. These abilities allow Samus to access areas that were previously inaccessible.
The game introduces several new concepts to the series. Among them are the ability to enable and disable weapons and abilities in an inventory screen, and a Moon Walk ability, named after the popular dance move of the same name, which allows Samus to walk backwards while firing or charging her weapon. The game also features the ability to combine Samus' weapon beams. In addition, the save system from Metroid II: Return of Samus returns in Super Metroid, which allows the player to save and restart the game at any of the save points scattered around the planet, instead of the original title's complex and reverse engineerable password system. The player can also save the game at Samus' gunship, which fully recharges her health and ammunition as well.
Chronologically, Super Metroid takes place immediately after the events of Metroid II: Return of Samus, and begins with a narrative by bounty hunter Samus Aran. Samus describes how a Metroid larva hatched from an egg and immediately imprinted upon her, believing her to be its mother. She brought the larva to Ceres Space Colony, where scientists learned that they could harness its power. Just after she left the colony, she received a distress call and returned to find the scientists dead and the larva stolen. The game begins as she follows the leader of the Space Pirates, Ridley, to the planet Zebes, where she searches for the stolen larva in a network of caves.
Along the way, Samus defeats four of the Space Pirate bosses, including Ridley, and arrives in Tourian, the heart of the Space Pirate base. There, she encounters the Metroid larva, which has now grown to an enormous size. It attacks Samus and nearly drains all of her energy before it realizes who she is, and then departs. Samus recharges her energy and confronts Mother Brain, the biomechanical creature that controls the base's systems. Mother Brain nearly kills Samus, but is then attacked by the Metroid larva, which drains it of its energy and transfers it back to Samus. Mother Brain recovers and destroys the Metroid in retaliation, but is in turn destroyed by Samus with an extremely powerful weapon created from the energy given to her by the Metroid. Afterward, a planet-wide self-destruct sequence begins, which Samus narrowly escapes.
Super Metroid was developed by Nintendo R&D1 with a staff of 15 people managed by Gunpei Yokoi. The game was directed and written by Yoshio Sakamoto, and produced by Makoto Kano, with music composed by Kenji Yamamoto and Minako Hamano. The game, which was released almost a decade after the original Metroid game, took half a year to gain approval for the initial idea, and actual development of the game took two more years to complete. When asked why the game took so long to make, Sakamoto responded, "We wanted to wait until a true action game was needed. [...] And also to set the stage for the reappearance of Samus Aran." The music uses 16-bit versions of music from previous games, and previously visited areas reappear. Previously seen areas were added to Super Metroid to add a sense of familiarity that would satisfy players of previous Metroid games.
The developers' primary goal was to make the game a "good action game". They wanted the game to have a large map, but found it difficult to organize the amount of graphic data involved. Coming up with several ideas, the developers decided to break the game up into many mini-adventures. New weapons are introduced to the Metroid series in Super Metroid, including the Grapple Beam, used to latch a laser beam onto the ceiling. The game is the first in the series to let Samus fire in all directions while moving, and it is among the first open world games to offer the player a mapping facility. The feature shows the outlines of rooms, locations of important rooms, and dots for special items. Shortly before the game's release, the Entertainment Software Rating Board, a self-regulating organization, was formed in response to the increasing violence found in games such as 1992's Mortal Kombat. When asked whether he thought that recent game violence controversy would cause any negative backlash for Super Metroid, Sakamoto stated, "We don't think there's too much violence in the game." Using Samus as an example, he explained that her purpose is to maintain peace in the galaxy, claiming, "It's not violence for the sake of violence." The game was demonstrated at the Winter 1994 Consumer Electronics Show, and was named the best SNES game at the show by GamePro.
Super Metroid was released by Nintendo in Japan on March 19, 1994, in North America on April 18, 1994, and in Europe on July 28, 1994. It became available for download over the Nintendo Power flash memory cartridge in Japan on September 30, 1997. It was later released as a Virtual Console title for the Wii in North America on August 20, 2007, in Japan on September 20, 2007, and in Europe on October 12, 2007. In Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Super Metroid is also one of the trial games available in the "Masterpieces" section, which uses Virtual Console technology to emulate older hardware and have time constraints. Super Metroid was released for a Wii U's Virtual Console on May 15, 2013. It was available during the Wii U Virtual Console trial campaign for a cheaper price, and it was reverted to its regular price on June 13, 2013. Users who own the Wii Virtual Console version of the game will be able to get the Wii U Virtual Console version for a reduced price.
Super Metroid was met with widespread critical acclaim, receiving an aggregated score of 95.50% percent from Game Rankings, making it the website's 7th highest-rated game. When the game launched in Japan, GamesRadar's Andy Robinson noted that it was released "at the wrong place, at the wrong time". Struggling against more commercially popular games, such as Donkey Kong Country in 1994, along with the launch of the PlayStation and Sega Saturn video game consoles, Super Metroid sold poorly in Japan. With the help of strong marketing from Nintendo, Super Metroid sold better in North America and Europe, and a year after its release, Nintendo placed it on their Player's Choice marketing label. However, since none of the games in the Metroid series up to this point had enjoyed the level of success that the Mario and The Legend of Zelda franchises had, Nintendo did not make another Metroid game until eight years later, with the release of Metroid Prime (GameCube) and Metroid Fusion (Game Boy Advance) in 2002.
Chris Slate of the Game Players video game magazine thoroughly enjoyed Super Metroid, claiming that it "easily lives up to everyone's high expectations". He was satisfied with how Nintendo mixed complex gameplay with "state-of-the-art" graphics and sound. Slate found the newly added auto-mapping feature something that players really needed, saying that it was the only feature in Super Metroid that the original Metroid should have had. Concluding his review, Slate stated, "Action fans can't afford to miss Super Metroid. [...] You'll want to play through again and again even after you've beaten it." Nintendo Power mentioned that the game "may well be the best action adventure game ever", calling it the "wave of the future". They praised the game's graphics, sound, and controls, while their only negative comment was, "Even 100 megabits of Metroid wouldn't be enough." Electronic Gaming Monthly gave Super Metroid their "Game of the Month" award, comparing it favorably to the original Metroid and applauding the graphics, the many weapons and items available, and the music. Each of the four reviewers gave it scores of nine out of ten. GamePro criticized that the controls are often awkward or difficult and that many of the power-ups are either lifted from other SNES games or simple upgrades of other power-ups in the game, but praised the game's massive size along with the auto-mapping feature, saying it "makes a potentially frustrating game accessible to a far wider audience." GamesRadar was pleased with the game's "phenomenal" soundtrack, complimenting it as "one of the best videogame scores of all time".
The former British video game publication Super Play, which had three editors review the game, also enjoyed it. The magazine's Zy Nicholson noted that the game was better than his favorite game, Mega Man X, describing Super Metroid as "more of an experience than a game". Comparing the game to the 1986 film Aliens, Nicholson felt that the game was best experienced when played in the dark with the volume turned up. He found the game so compulsive that he was tempted to play "without eating or sleeping". The publication's Tony Mott named the game's atmosphere its best aspect, calling the game a mix of Turrican (1990), Aliens, Exile (1989), and Nodes of Yesod (1985). Appreciating the game's controls, Mott applauded Nintendo's ability to create a refined gameplay. He concluded his review by calling Super Metroid "undoubtedly the best game I've played this year so far", predicting that anyone who plays the game would be "playing a game destined for classic status". The third reviewer, James Leach, agreed with Nicholson and Mott that Super Metroid was what Mega Man X should have been. Concluding his review, Leach wrote that Super Metroid contained everything he looked for in a video game: "playability, hidden tricks, powerful weapons and steamingly evil baddies". After summarizing the reviews, the magazine's verdict was, "We all love this game. Super Metroid is absolutely marvelous and you should own it."
IGN called Super Metroid 's Virtual Console version a "must-own", commenting that although the game was released nine months after the Wii launched, they felt that it was worth the wait. For players who have never played Super Metroid, IGN claims that they owe themselves as gamers to "finally find out about what you've been missing all these years". In his review for GameSpot, Frank Provo found it "absolutely astonishing that Nintendo let 13 years go by before making Super Metroid readily available again", but considered the most important thing was that players "can now play this masterpiece without having to track down the original Super Nintendo Entertainment System cartridge or fumble with legally questionable emulators". Despite admitting that the Virtual Console version was essentially "nothing more than a no-frills, emulated version of a 13-year-old SNES game" that was no longer cutting-edge, he was still pleased with it and reiterated his belief that Super Metroid is "one of the best 2D action adventure games ever produced".
Super Metroid has had a lasting effect on the video game industry. Starting with 1997's Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, the Castlevania series of video games borrows the backtracking and weapon upgrading elements from Super Metroid, leading to the term "Metroidvania". Because Super Metroid gave players awards based on how long it took them to complete the game, it has become a popular choice for speedruns, a style of play in which the player intends to complete the game as quickly as possible for the purpose of competition.
Awards and accolades
Super Metroid received several awards and honors. Electronic Gaming Monthly named it Game of the Month for May 1994, gave it an Editors' Choice award, awarded it as the Best Action Game of 1994, and named it the Best Game of All Time in 2003. In IGN's yearly Top 100 Games of All Time lists, Super Metroid was ranked 3rd (2003), 10th (2005), 4th (2006), and 7th (2007). GamePro listed Super Metroid as one of the 15 Retro Games for the Wii You Must Play. Super Metroid was placed 1st on GamesRadar's list of the Best Super Nintendo Games of All Time, beating out Chrono Trigger (2nd) and The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (3rd). Super Metroid was also named the best Super Nintendo game of all time by ScrewAttack, beating out The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (2nd) and Final Fantasy VI (3rd). Classic Game Room's CGR Undertow series named Super Metroid the best Super NES game of all time as well, beating out The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past (2nd) and Super Mario World (3rd). Nintendo Power named Super Metroid the best game in the Metroid series, beating out Metroid Prime (2nd) and Metroid: Zero Mission (3rd).
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