Retro Review: Metroid (3DS/Wii Virtual Console)

4 mins read
The original Metroid is renowned for giving birth to one of the first major female gaming icons, bounty hunter Samus Aran. She made herself known through her gritty space adventure that led players to believe she was a male cyborg. While her gender was initially shrouded in secrecy, Metroid’s quality by the standards of today is eerily apparent – it is no longer as relevant to today’s gamers as it was in 1986.

In space… there’s nothing
Metroid sounds straightforward enough. The helmeted heroine is tasked with foiling the dastardly ambitions of space pirates who wish to acquire a deadly species known as Metroids for their own schemes. Clad in a suit of armor and prepared to battle using her arm-cannon, Samus sets off on her mission through hazardous locations in an open-world environment. As you progress, you’ll pick up a few new items that make Samus stronger and allow her to further explore the planet, while occasionally fighting bosses and traversing difficult obstacles.
The game plays out as a 2D side-scroller. Samus has mostly free range to roam around the game’s world, aside from the areas that require specific items to access. The new tools that Samus acquires are reasonably fascinating and diverse, ranging from various fire-power upgrades to the ability to roll into a ball (allowing her to access tight corridors). It all sounds pleasant in concept, but the world feels decidedly claustrophobic and the scenery tricks the player into questioning which way they came from and where to go next. Without a map, you will spend an unhealthy sum of time attempting to determine just where you are and how to get to the next major point of interest. Despite this, traversing corridors and engaging aliens in combat is fairly appealing if you’ve got a lot of time on your hands.

In terms of length, the game can last anywhere from an hour to ten depending on the player’s familiarity with the scenery. There is a save function via passwords so that your progress can be saved post-death. While an actual save function ala The Legend of Zelda is absent, the Virtual Console release allows you to suspend your progress indefinitely, so there’s no need to use passwords…unless you want to bask in the glory of codes such as “JUSTIN BAILEY”. The cheats actually contribute to the title’s longevity, and using them can tone down the potentially alienating difficulty. Additional replay value can be derived from the alternate endings (which depend on how quickly you complete your mission).

The visuals are the chief concern with the game today. Since your surroundings feel dark and perplexing, it will be a nuisance for new players to navigate through the world maze. The enemies and bosses look sufficient for the 8 bit era though, and more than a few are rather creative. The soundtrack is composed of terrific and memorable chip-tune melodies that still maintain some value for retro fans.

While Metroid is not a dreadful game, it regrettably comes off as primitive, archaic, and baffling. If you happen to have an extra 300 Wii Points, you would be far better off purchasing the SNES masterpiece, Super Metroid.

– Clark A

This is the bio under which all legacy articles are published (as in the 12,000-odd, before we moved to the new Website and platform). This is not a member of the DDNet Team. Please see the article's text for byline attribution.

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