Yes, after a long hiatus, I return to you with a Sandwich Review of the Nintendo’s Super Metroid! This was the first time I had ever played this game and only the second Metroid game I’d ever played (Metroid Prime being the first, which I never got around to finishing). With Super Metroid’s legendary fame, I expected it to be great, and I was not disappointed! But like all sandwiches, it isn’t perfect for every palate.
The first area was a space station. Samus was lowered into the room via glowing elevator thingy.
There didn’t seem to be a floor, but there were platforms. I moved right and fell onto one, prompting the screen to scroll down a little. I continued downward to each platform in succession until finally I encountered an automatic door.
After a little more navigation, I encountered a room with a short ledge that I couldn’t walk through.
Such a trivial-looking obstacle should be easy to overcome. Pressing some buttons revealed both the “shoot” and “jump” buttons. I jumped up and over the ledge and proceeded into the next room.
This room had nothing but a broken capsule surrounded by dead bodies. Not a welcoming sight.
I knew, as the hero of the game, I would probably have to fight whatever did this. What exactly that might be left me a little anxious. The next room replaced my anxiety with fear.
My first reaction was a natural one: shoot first and ask questions later. He flashed every time he was hit. The boss then flew up and away from my shots. Using the ledge in the room, I was able to jump high enough to hit him. He then charged at me, causing damage and blocking the ledge. With a little experimentation, I found that I could aim diagonally upwards while shooting, allowing me to hit him without using the ledge. He returned fire by spitting actual fire at me. Surprised, I was hit by the first shot, but reacted fast enough to jump over the second. Unfortunately, he wouldn’t go down, and he escaped with the baby Metroid.
Explosions rocked the station. Warning klaxons blared and a self-destruct message and timer appeared on the screen. The door that I had used to enter the room opened, and I didn’t need another hint. I ran back through the exploding station and into Samus’ ship to begin the game proper.
THE BOTTOM BUN
I decided to serve this sandwich with soup to help me make a point: this game is incredibly well designed. One of the things that really stuck out to me was (oxymoronically) the lack of text. For example, without any written instructions or interruptions, those first 5-10 minutes taught me everything I needed to know to play Super Metroid.
The first few rooms showed me. . .
• left-right navigation
• up-down navigation
• the concept of doors
• the concept of rooms
The second-to-last room reinforced the tone and mood of the game. You start to feel suspense and dread, but still you must move on.
The boss battle itself is a full combat tutorial. It exploited the natural instinct to fight back when cornered. It taught me. . .
• shooting (although I had learned earlier by accident)
• I can jump and shoot
• things flash when they get hurt
• touching enemies hurts me
• projectiles hurt me
• I can aim in different directions besides “forward”
After the boss fight, the escape was something of a test of your abilities. It also reinforces the idea that going backwards can sometimes be where you need to go to progress in the game.
The game’s overall design never falters throughout the game (except for the infamous n00b bridge). It always leaves hints about how or where to proceed. There’s often oddly labeled blocks in the rooms that you can open later with the right power-up. As you play, you feel smarter and more skilled every minute. . .
THE CRUD IN THE CENTER
. . .Until you feel stupid and frustrated. Or at least I did. There were about 3 times in the game when I got really stuck, gave up, and looked to the internet. The game’s world is massive, especially for a Super Nintendo game. It’s easy to get lost, even with a map.
Like I said earlier, the game leaves a lot of hints and odd blocks that basically tell you, “come back later.” The problem for me was that there were so many of them that I couldn’t remember all the places I needed to come back to. As a result, I forgot some important backtrack areas and got stuck. If only I could have marked the map in some way. . .
Another gripe of mine is that switching equipment is cumbersome. Using the “select” button means that giving up moving or shooting to do it. Also, you can only switch to the next item, not the previous one. If you press “select” too many times, you have to go through the whole list again. The awkwardness may have been intentional to add some tension in fights and emphasize preparation; but in the heat of combat, it felt like I was being punished for trying to switch to the right item. Unfortunately, the SNES controller is limited in buttons, and the “select” button was the only one left for that functionality.
THE TOP BUN
Super Metroid just feels right.
As the game progresses, you get stronger and stronger. Whenever you need to backtrack, you’ll notice how much easier the rooms are since you got all those power-ups.
There’s often multiple solutions to the same problem, which really helps you feel like you’re in the game instead of some third party playing things out the way they’re supposed to.
The boss fights are very well balanced. Each one challenges your skills, and you come out of them with your own war stories to tell. In fact, I’ll share some now. . .
PHANTOON was the first boss that I couldn’t defeat on the first try. He could only be damaged occasionally, and his fireballs hit very hard. There was a spinning, fire-wheel attack that I kept getting hit by and eventually dying to. After some experimentation, I realized that I could dodge it by shooting a hole in the flame ring just before it hit me and then jumping through. I wasn’t able to dodge it every time, but I dodged it enough times to come out with a win.
DRAYGON was the first boss that made me feel helpless. I was able to damage him a few times, but his grab attack was so damaging that I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep up. I jumped and shot and did everything I could. I had only a single bar of health left when he grabbed me again, and I knew this would mean death. Then I saw the exposed sparks of a turret that I had destroyed by accident. I had also acquired the grapple beam not too long ago. I thought, “this isn’t going to work, but what else am I going to do?” I shot the grapple beam at the sparks. Both he and I began flashing as the electricity coursed through us. Though I too was losing health, I continued to hold the grapple hoping he would die first. He did. I left the arena with a sliver of health left and the satisfaction of cheating death.
RIDLEY is one of the hardest boss fights I’ve ever encountered in any game. He seemed smart too. It’s common for bosses in games to leave themselves vulnerable at regular conditions or intervals, but Ridley never did that. There was no easy road to victory. I expended almost every single resource and ability I had in order to defeat him after what seemed like the 20th try. All the jumping, dodging, and shooting had left my thumbs sore. All I could think at the time was, “It’s finally over.”
ASV Rating: A
Sandwich Rating: “All the wasted years…!”
Maybe I should start calling these “Squidward Ratings.”
EDIT: Ridley does not need to be hit in the head. That was just my memory being unreliable as memories are.
EDIT 2: Embedded some YouTube for example music. Also bolded the boss names in the Dessert section.
EDIT 3: Last one I promise. Re-did the spoiler warning to more closely match older spoiler warnings. Changed some words around. Don’t ask me where because I already forgot. Added “Next” and “Prev” links on all sandwich reviews.