Whilst browsing the Nintendo Entertainment System line-up on my Switch this weekend, I was pleasantly surprised to come across the four ‘new’ titles added to the selection. Gradius Stage 5, Mighty Bomb Jack, TwinBee and of course Metroid. Now if I’m to be honest here for a second, I’ve never played the original Metroid before. Although I’ve heard great things about the game. I wish I could have experienced this in its heyday, however, I am still grateful to finally get the chance to play this classic.
An exercise in patience
Metroid takes place on the planet Zebes. As the bounty hunter Samus Aran, players are tasked with a mission by the Galaxy Federal Police to infiltrate the space pirate’s home planet and stop them from using Metroids (alien life-forms) on bringing destruction to the galaxy. Set out in a two-dimensional setting, the game has players venturing back and forth through screens which represent different locations on the planet. As you enter each screen, you’ll be greeted with a wide array of alien life-forms and since you start off with just a beam gun at the beginning, you’ll be dodging most of these enemies at first.
Originally, I found the game to be frustratingly difficult. Without using the suspend points that this emulated version offers on the Switch I started the game over and over again. Often I died because I ventured so far out that I’d end up at a dead end, and would become overwhelmed with the enemies when making my way back. The only reason it was a dead end is that I didn’t have the necessary gear to blast through certain doors. However, after a while, I became more and more familiar with my surroundings and found where each screen took Samus to, and this is when the beauty began.
I became more and more familiar with my surroundings and found where each screen took Samus to, and this is when the beauty began.
Changing screens, and minds
As mentioned above, players will only begin the game with a weak beam gun, equipped on the character’s arm, and the ability to jump. But as players explore more and more areas, you’ll discover that there are quite a few tricks in Samus’s arsenal. Some of these power-ups include bombs which can be utilised with one of the other power-ups known as the Morph Ball. The Morph Ball transforms Samus into a ball to reach hidden tunnels. Another power-up allows Samus to freeze enemy’s mid-air, and then use them as platforms to reach higher areas, which in the beginning are completely out of reach. With enemies coming at players from all sides in a variety of attack patterns, players will have to find and use as many of these power-ups as possible. Admittedly during my playthrough, I found that my favourite ability was jumping. Yes, although this is an action adventure title, platforming is often your best tool for success. More often than not I found that the best way to retain my health or energy was to dodge the enemy. However, if you’re low on health or certain ammo, it’ll be best to acquire this from a defeated enemy.
Metroid is an action-adventure title that not only combines platforming strategy with gun-slinging action but also takes it to the next level by using your environment around you. As mentioned, enemies are but one of the things around the player, that you’ll have to use to reach new or hidden areas. Since the game isn’t linear like most of the action-adventure two-dimensional titles of its age, Metroid grants players that “open world” feeling to the game which allows the player a feeling of endless exploration, with satisfaction once you’ve discovered how to reach a new area and are rewarded with a new power-up. Be warned though as enemies will keep re-spawning after leaving and re-entering an area. Although the enemies are frustratingly annoying in the beginning, once you’ve become accustomed to their attack patterns, you’ll be able to dodge or demolish them with ease. Metroid is definitely a Blast from the Past and one I recommend playing. Yes, I’ll admit I wanted to give up on it after about 30 minutes into the game, but after giving it a little more patience, especially with exploration, I was delightfully rewarded.