North American box art, depicting Samus Aran in battle with Ridley.
|Release date(s)||JP March 19, 1994
NA April 18, 1994
PAL July 28, 1994
Super Metroid (スーパーメトロイド Sūpā Metoroido?)[a] is an action-adventure video game published by Nintendo, developed by its Research & Development 1 (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, and in Europe and Australia on July 28.
Super Metroid was directed and written by Yoshio Sakamoto, and produced by Makoto Kano with Gunpei Yokoi serving as general manager. Super Metroid is a direct sequel to the 1991 game Metroid II: Return of Samus. In the game's story, bounty hunter Samus Aran brought a Metroid larva from the planet SR388 to the Ceres space colony, where scientists believed that they could harness its power. After leaving the colony, Samus received a distress call and returned to find that the Metroid larva was stolen by the Space Pirate leader, Ridley. Samus follows him to the planet Zebes in attempts to retrieve a stolen larva. Super Metroid 's gameplay focuses on exploration, and its progression revolves around the search for power-ups that are used to reach previously inaccessible areas. The game introduces new concepts to the series, such as the inventory screen, an automapping facility, and the ability to fire in all directions.
Super Metroid received critical acclaim, and is considered by critics to be one of the greatest video games of all time, owing to its great use of atmosphere, gameplay, audio, cinematic elements and graphics. Despite this, the game sold poorly in Japan, but fared better in North America and Europe. Super Metroid became popular among players for speedrunning, and its gameplay and design influenced other games, such as Shadow Complex and Axiom Verge. The close releases and similar gameplay concepts of Super Metroid and Konami's Castlevania: Symphony of the Night resulted in the foundations of the "Metroidvania" genre. The game was followed by the 2002 release of Metroid Fusion and Metroid Prime, ending the series' eight-year hiatus. Super Metroid became available as a Virtual Console title for the Wii console in 2007, and for the Wii U in 2013.
Super Metroid is an 2D, side-scrolling action-adventure game, which primarily takes place on the fictional planet Zebes—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. Samus can run, jump, crouch, and fire a weapon in eight directions; she can also perform other actions, such as wall jumping—jumping from one wall to another in rapid succession to reach higher areas. The "Moon Walk" ability—named after the popular dance move of the same name—allows Samus to walk backwards while firing or charging her weapon. The heads-up display shows Samus' health, the supply mode for reserve tanks, icons that represent weapons, and an automap that shows her location and its surroundings.
Throughout the course of the game, the player collect power-ups that enhance Samus' armor and weaponry, as well as grant her special abilities, allowing Samus to access areas that were previously inaccessible. The Morph Ball allows Samus to curl into a ball, roll into tight places and plant bombs; the Spring Ball adds an ability to jump while in Morph Ball form. The Speed Booster can be used to run at high speeds, and can crash onto barriers and enemies. The Space Jump allows Samus to jump infinite times to cover great distances. The Grapple Beam can be used to swing across open areas. The X-ray Scope is used to see items and passages through walls and other surfaces.
Super Metroid features an inventory screen, in which the player can enable and disable weapons and abilities, combine Samus' weapon beams, or replenish her health by using acquired reserve tanks; when the supply mode is set to "auto", the reserve tanks are automatically used if Samus' health is depleted. 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. The player can also save the game at Samus' gunship, which fully recharges her health and ammunition as well. Super Metroid has three endings based on the time taken to complete the game, which determine whether Samus poses with or without her suit. The best ending is achieved when the game is completed under three hours.
Super Metroid opens 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 believed 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 by a dragon-like Ridley—the leader of the Space Pirates. Samus escapes from the space colony when its self-destruct sequence is activated, and follows Ridley to the planet Zebes. There, she searches for the stolen larva in a network of caves, and finds that the Space Pirates rebuilt and expanded their base on Zebes.
Along the way, Samus defeats four of the Space Pirate bosses — including Kraid and 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 battles Mother Brain, the biomechanical creature that controls the base's systems and all the enemy forces on Zebes. 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 the Hyper Beam—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. If the player rescues Dachora and the Etecoons — the creatures Samus encountered earlier in the game — during the escape, they are shown leaving the planet in the distance.
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. Intelligent Systems, who co-developed the original Metroid with R&D1, handled the programming for Super Metroid. 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." Previously visited 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 distributed on a 24-megabit cartridge, making it the largest SNES game at the time of its release. The game's opening dialogue — "The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace" — was voiced by Dan Owsen.
The soundtrack for Super Metroid was composed by Kenji Yamamoto and Minako Hamano, and uses 16-bit versions of music from previous games. According to Yamamoto, he came up with the game's theme by humming it to himself while riding his motorcycle from work. In addition to composing music, Yamamoto served as a sound programmer and created sound effects for the game. These simultaneous roles allowed him "to produce distinct Metroid music with a sound programmer’s ear, with a sound effect creator’s ear, and with the approach methodology and theory of a composer." The arrangements and remixes of the game's themes were used in Metroid Prime and its sequels, because Yamamoto wanted "to satisfy old Metroid fans. It's like a present for them." The album, Super Metroid: Sound in Action, was released in Japan on June 22, 1994 by Sony Records, with the catalog number SRCL-2920. It features music from the original Metroid and Super Metroid, with additional tracks arranged by Yoshiyuki Ito and Masumi Ito.
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 was re-released in Japan as a downloadable game for the Nintendo Power flash memory cartridge. 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. 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".
When Super Metroid 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.
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).
After Super Metroid 's release, there would not be another sequel for eight years, as 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. Gunpei Yokoi — who was involved in producing the first two Metroid games — left Nintendo after the commercial failure of the Virtual Boy, and died in 1997 in a car accident. During the series' hiatus, fans eagerly awaited a Metroid title for the Nintendo 64. Sakamoto considered creating an N64 title, but was not interested in being part of its development, mainly because of the console's controller. Nintendo approached another company to make an N64 Metroid, but the offer was declined because the developers thought they could not make a game that could equal Super Metroid 's standards. Shigeru Miyamoto said that Nintendo "couldn't come up with any concrete ideas" on the N64 game. Super Metroid 's co-developer Intelligent Systems considered continuing the series on the Game Boy Color, but the idea was dropped due to the handheld's technical limitations.
In 2002, Nintendo released two new Metroid games for the GameCube and the Game Boy Advance, titled Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion respectively, marking the return of the series after an eight-year hiatus. Metroid Prime—the first 3D title in the series—was developed by Retro Studios, a newly formed second-party developer based in Austin, Texas. Co-produced by Miyamoto, Prime is an action-adventure game that is played from a first-person perspective, with third-person camera being used on the Morph Ball gameplay. Metroid Fusion, a 2D sidescroller, was developed by Nintendo R&D1—the same development team that previously created Super Metroid. Fusion 's gameplay, screen layout, and controls mimic those of its predecessor. Because of its focus on storyline, Fusion unfolds in a more linear manner than previous Metroid games. Both Prime and Fusion garnered critical acclaim, with the former winning several Game of the Year awards. After Metroid Prime, three more games in the first-person perspective and a pinball spin-off were released, including its sequel, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes.
As 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. With the close releases of Super Metroid and Konami's Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, the formula on exploration and weapon upgrading elements these games presented would form the foundations of the "Metroidvania" genre. The gameplay and design of Super Metroid influenced other games, such as Shadow Complex, The Swapper, and Axiom Verge. Several ROM hacks of Super Metroid have been released by fans, which added new features that are not included in the original game. Super Metroid: Redesign, created by "drewseph" in 2006, features new items, expanded areas and modified physics. In 2011, a Japanese hacker "SB" released a ROM hack titled Metroid: Super Zero Mission, which intends to combine elements from Super Metroid and a later released Metroid: Zero Mission.
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