The anniversary of the release of the original Metroid is coming up on August 15th. Many of my friends are banding together to show our love by making and sharing some Metroid things, and using #Metroidcelebration.
Metroid was the best game ever created.
I’ll just cut right through all the cruft right off the bat and point out that, the biggest contributing factor in my belief that Metroid was one of the best games ever created, likely has much to do with how old I was when I discovered it.
Metroid was released in August of 1986. When it came to my home, I was somewhere between 7 and 8 years old. I have 2 older brothers(7 years older than me), who let me watch them play through it. I was just old enough to feel the excitement of being allowed to stay up all night with the “big boys”, sitting in the dark watching as they explored this entirely alien world.
My exposure to video games at this point had been pong, some Atari games, and then Mario, duckhunt, etc. I’m not even sure if we had gotten the Legend Of Zelda yet.
Consider that timing, and that all of my thoughts on Metroid are tangled and wrapped firmly in the comforting blankets of new childhood experiences.
The Metroid opening sequence began and immediately, it stood out. This was DARK. The colors were dark, the environment was creepy, the music was serious. This was totally different from the lighthearted bouncy experiences I was familiar with.Mix that with getting to hang out with the “big boys” as they conquered the game, and WOW, I was hooked.
Also, I was a scifi/space nerd at a young age. Someone in a space suit was infinitely more appealing than an elf with a sock on their head (lookin’ at you Link). Somehow in my brain, space suit and aliens is so much more serious than elves and dragons. I don’t know why.
As soon as you entered the game, you were presented with an option. Exit the screen to the right, or exit to the left. WOW. There were options, there was exploration! Even if you tried to blast through, ignoring anything extra like you would in, say, Sonic the hedgehog, you were met with an obstacle that required you go explore other areas for the power up (the morph ball in this case)… Not only did this game allow you to explore, it encouraged it!
On an actual serious game design note, this first area was a perfect example of how to educate people on your game mechanics. Not only did you learn you had to explore, you learned how power ups worked, and all without a single line of text.
On top of the fact that you could completely choose what direction to go in, I was amazed when my brothers found secret passage ways. This was a new concept to me completely and suddenly expanded the potential size of the game exponentially in my mind. I envisioned hidden secrets all over the place.
That’s about it.
I’ll admit. Metroid is possibly not the greatest game ever built. I’ve shown it to my kids and they think it looks neat, but modern games like minecraft and skyrim have superseded Metroid in all the angles I pointed out above.
It will always hold a special place in my heart though, so long live Metroid!
My Notable Metroid Memories
- My brother Shawn could do this insanely fast rapid fire by using his index and middle finger on the A and B keys instead of his thumb. I used the NES controller that way from that point forward. I still recall the entire foldable couch-bed shaking as he blasted away at things with blinding speed.
- Donnie and Shawn spend a ridiculous amount of time (in my vague memory) curling into the morph ball and dropping bombs at just the right moment to propel themselves ever upward, like a ladder of explosions. I don’t know if this was truly needed at any point in the game but I do remember them getting fairly high in the air.