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Metroid (1986) – 89/100

– The game that started the whole franchise, and yet it was the last one for me to play. Heck, I even played it’s remake Zero Mission (which I will review later) before I played this one. The thing is, I’ve played it for years on a computer, but it wasn’t until recently that my good friend Arta got me the Game Boy version of it, which allowed me to play it on a GameCube, so I could finally enjoy the original story with a controller as it should be.

The game was originally released in Japan in 1986, North America in 1987, and Europe in 1988. It was re-released and remade for Game Boy Advance in 2004, released for Wii in Europe and North America in 2007, and finally released for Wii in Japan in 2008.

The story is the first in the Metroid chronology, and sets place on Zebes where Samus is trying to retrieve Metroid organisms stolen by Space Pirates. They plan to replicate them by exposing them to beta rays in order to use them as biological weapons. This is basically the premise that gets re-imagined in many of the later games such as The Prime Trilogy and Super Metroid. In addition, the game play and scenery also feels familiar.

Like in Metroid II: Return of Samus, there are no cut-scenes or intros to explain the game.  You start right in the caverns of Zebes with enemies to your left and a power up to your right. The powerups don’t tell you what they do, and your only way of knowing what they do are based on the symbols (which have become standard in the franchise). Also, like Metroid II, there are no maps, and it is very confusing to know where to go at first. The story is hard to understand at first. The rooms/tunnels all look the same, seem to go on forever, and eventually end up with either a power up or a temporary dead end. However, once you find the room with the two boss statues, things start to make sense.

I am obviously not going to keep making comparisons to how this one is similar to Zero Mission (because they are  the same game). The differences lie in the fact that this game does feel older instead of just looking older. Like Metroid II, the controls are not smooth at all. This can be very frustrating when you get hit by enemies over and over again. Zero Mission feels a lot smoother like Metroid Fusion does, has more bosses, more areas, and… oh yeah… has SAVE STATIONS. Have I mentioned that this game does not have them???

Instead of Save Stations, when you die, you return to the beginning of the area with your power ups, but only with 30% health, which is why once you’ve died, it’s so easy to die again. This is all due to a password system to get you back to the start with your power ups. However, if you play it on the Game Boy version, the passwords are already saved for you.

The locations, bosses, and objective (because it all takes place on Zebes) is very similar to Super Metroid. However, like Zero Mission, that game has way more going on. More bosses, more areas, and more powerups. This game is very basic in comparison to those later games, though it may not seem so at first. To get to Tourian and face the Metroids and Mother Brain, you have to beat Kraid and Ridley to open the pathway.

There are two areas in the game: Brinstar and Norfair. No water areas, no forests, no haunted spaceships, just caverns and lava areas. Each area has a path that leads to lower areas. These areas are Kraid’s Hideout and Ridley’s Hideout. These areas are basically mazes to get through to face these two bosses. What’s interesting in this game is that there are not as many powerups around. There are quite a few hidden missiles, but you actually get the majority of your missiles from beating these two bosses.

Other power ups include the Long Beam (which makes your beam shot farther.. obviously), the Screw Attack, High Jump Boots, the Varia Suit (which helps reduce damage done to you), and 8 energy tanks are hidden throughout the game.

The two types of beams in this game are the Wave Beam and the Ice Beam. I am not a fan of the Wave Beam because it does not shoot rapidly. It is harder to control, but does more damage. The Ice Beam is more helpful, and it is necessary to beat the Metroids at the end (which is why there are actually two of them hidden in the game).

Once you beat both bosses, you go to Tourian, face the Metroids and face Mother Brain. This boss battle always takes me two tries, cause the first time you have to shoot things to get to Mother Brain, and all the stuff going on around you racks up a lot of damage. Luckily, those things won’t be there if you die and try again. If it takes you two tries, going straight up to Mother Brain and shooting it over and over again is very easily.

Finally the game ends with you going up a very tall room to escape before the time runs out. This is slightly hard because of the controls, but I have always been able to do it on my first try.

All in all, it was very enjoyable playing the game that started the franchise. It actually amazes me because it is quite a difficult game, and I can’t imagine how people must have felt about it when it came out in 1986. The beauty of the version that I played is that once I won, is that it started me at the beginning with all the power ups already in hand. This was fun, because it made the game much easier and quicker. It made me try to speed-run it (though I haven’t gotten the best time yet) and appreciate the detail of the game so much more than just getting frustrated at it over and over again.