Metroid (3DS Virtual Console)
Continuing with my reviews for the Metroid series, here comes the original game for the Nintendo Entertainment System that also appeared on several other systems. There isn't much to say here. Its difficulty is brutal by today's standards. Not only are the controls limited and make fighting common enemies already a challenge, but death means that you start at the last elevator with only 30 points of health, forcing you to grind for health in order to have a decent chance for survival. Beam upgrades do not stack and each one only exists in a single place, unlike in Metroid II: Return of Samus where you have various chances to change your beam without insane backtracking. The biggest problem is that one of the upgrades is the Long Beam, so for the most part you'll be stuck with a short range for your shots because the alternatives Ice and Wave are superior choices.
The way I play through this game is to grab the Ice Beam and no other one ever, then head for the High Jump and the godlike Screw Attack immediately. The Screw Attack allows you to kill enemies by merely jumping into them which is really a godsend because of the limited controls for shooting. Metroid gets so much easier from that point onwards, although the bosses are still no pushovers. Of course, you won't know the location of all the upgrades the first time you play it, so you either employ a lot of patience or play with a guide.
The most important thing for this review is to mention that a remake was released in 2004 for the Game Boy Advance (also available on Wii U Virtual Console). Metroid: Zero Mission got overhauled with all gameplay improvements the series had seen up to that point and provided additional areas for Zebes on top of that. The only downsides are a lengthy stealth section that should have never existed and the implementation of power bombs feeling like an afterthought, but those are only minor dents in a shiny armor. So if you want to experience the origins of the Metroid series, go for Zero Mission. The best part? The original Metroid is included as unlockable, so Metroid as a standalone game is redundant.
|Controls||10||Can't crouch, let alone shoot while crouching. Can't shoot
down during a jump either. Beams do not stack.
|Gameplay||The design is very rough and hasn't aged well, especially when
taking into account how Metroid has evolved over the years.
|Story||A concise mission briefing and good atmosphere.
Varied enemy designs and a sense of disturbance.
|Single-player||No hints, no map, no mercy. The balance between reward and
punishment that is displayed here is not satisfying anymore.
|Graphics||Flickering sprites were common on the NES and can be glanced
over, but severe slowdowns with several enemies on screen cannot.
|Sound||Early video games that rose to fame have one thing in common
and that is a memorable soundtrack. No exception here.
|Value||Navigating through Zebeth (spelling error intended) will likely take
over five hours the first time because of the high difficulty.
|Replay Value||Sort of a new game plus where you start without energy tanks and
missiles, but keep all of your other upgrades.
|Score||4||Better grab the remake Metroid: Zero Mission. That one is not only
drastically improved, but also contains the original as unlockable.