I honestly can't remember the first time I played Metroid. It was probably at a friend's house. In those days I was lucky to even have an NES (having worked all summer to buy one on my 10th birthday in 1986). I think in my entire time of having an NES I probably only owned 6 or 7 games. Games were expensive, and the local video store in the town where I grew up didn't rent out the games. Likely it was that same friend who let me borrow the game for an extended period of time (but he definitely never let me borrow his gold cartridge Zelda).
Metroid reminded me instantly of another game I had played to death: Pitfall 2. In Pitfall you didn't have a map, the screen wasn't just a repeating image with different colors. You were playing in an open world...on the Atari 2600. I absolutely loved that game more than all other 2600 games so when I saw Metroid for the first time I was instantly hooked. I finally felt that here was a game that was truly pitting me against the game world in a battle of survival. Farming for life wasn't a chore, it was the game loop. In much the same way that crafting entices gamers today, farming for life from enemies you killed was part of the joy of playing the game. It was like collecting coins in Mario.
I played Metroid on a 13" black and white TV that I was lucky enough to have in my room. That TV had served as our family's main set when our color console TV was on the fritz, which was quite often. I was addicted, so much so that I played throughout the night past my bedtime. Quietly with no sound on and playing as quiet as I could so my parents didn't wake up I painstakingly battled my way to Kraid's Hideout every time. For some reason this seemed like the easier area to go to since it was the first area I noticed and I assumed the lava levels would be more difficult. It was a major mistake, but I didn't care. I didn't want to beat the game; I wanted to explore it and feel that terrifying rush of trying to survive in this hostile alien world.
Eventually I would get more time to devote to the game and try other regions and finally beat it, but not without losing many of my passwords or getting stuck in locations that required a hard reset. It was a definite struggle and one which made me feel very accomplished once I had completed the game. It solidified Metroid to me as one of the best experiences to be had on a Nintendo console, but I had no idea that it would pale in comparison to its Super Nintendo succesor.
Yeah, I never had a gameboy and didn't get around to playing Metroid 2 until the late 90s. And in a world where I was focused more on music magazines than gaming magazines (I was just learning how to play guitar) I had no idea Super Metroid even existed until I was with a friend at the video store looking for movies to watch. The Super Metroid box instantly grabbed my eye and I told my friend we weren't going to be watching movies that night at all, but playing this game. There was no alternative. We went to his house, popped the cartridge in and played all night long until the sun came up, beating the game in 16 hours. We were blown away. We would take smoke breaks throughout our session (thankfully I left that habit long ago) and geek out on what we had seen, where we should go, what rooms were now accessible with our new weapon or ability, and then rush back in to play more. It was a glorious night and I'm not sure I'll ever again feel that level of joy from a gaming session.
When I went to college my roommate owned Super Metroid and that was when I first got 100% and learned how to speed run. My fastest time was 1:11 and my fastest 100% was 1:31. How amazing of a game is it that this 16 hour epic game that consumed almost an entire day of my life could be beaten in just over an hour. I didn't have cheats or walkthroughs. I figured out the sequence breaks on my own, based on the abilities that the game gave me. Or should I say, that the etecoons gave me. Yeah, the first time I encountered the etecoons I thought I had ended up in a game breaking room, similar to my days playing the original title. So we quit, restart, and never returned to that section again. Not until much later did I realize what they were telling me. I had learned from using the Space Jump that the developers expected a certain amount of precision and timing to perform basic moves. So after what was probably hours and hours of practice I finally released myself from that chasm prison. The snarky etecoons weren't laughing at me and my misfortune; they were helping me learn. They wee helping me learn how to break the game. In some ways the etecoons are the Yoda of the Metroid universe and they will forever have a dear place in my gaming memory, as you can tell by my screen name.
I'm going to end my memories at this point, since this wall of text is much too long as it is. The only Metroid games to take me to those heights again would be Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2. The others I have enjoyed, but have nowhere near the affinity to than I do for Metroid/Super Metroid. The isolation in those games is so complete, and that's truly what I loved about them. It was me alone on this planet against an alien presence. There were no rules, no guides. Figure it out. I will probably never get to have that from a Metroid game again as I can tell the developers are trying to bring more people into the fold, not limit its appeal. For that reason I absolutely love games like Hollow Knight that bring me back to that feeling of dizzying unawareness of where to go or how to proceed.
But I am happy that Nintendo has created games like Fusion that bottle in the experience a little more, as I can tell that it really has succeeded in bringing in new gamers to the series. Many of the things I like about the old games are what turns others off and I hope that Sakamoto and his team are going to give both types of fans a game for the ages in just six days.
Last edited by super_etecoon - on 02 October 2021