Metroid

I've never played any Metroid game before, although the Metroidvania genre is one of my favourites. Titles like Hollow Knight, the Ori series, Guacamelee 2 or The Messenger belong to my games of all time, so I finally wanted to check out where it all started.

In the last few weeks, I played the games in release order, skipping both NES titles because they haven't aged very well, and remakes of them exist anyway. Also, playing without a map system sounds annoying. So let's take a look:

Super Metroid

  • Release: 1994
  • Platform: SNES
  • Played on: Nintendo Switch

This one is included in the Nintendo Switch Online subscription, so I played it on my Switch. Most people think this one is a masterpiece. I tried to temper my expectations, but it holds up exceptionally well, like most SNES games, even after almost 30 years!

The only bad thing I could say about this game is the controls. The movement and jumping are way too floaty, and the default button for switching weapons is on Select. Fortunately, the buttons can be rebound and make the whole thing more bearable.

I got stuck a few times and had to look up a guide. When in doubt, use a power bomb. Everywhere, no matter what.

Metroid Fusion

  • Release: 2002
  • Platform: Game Boy Advance
  • Played on: Android (RetroArch)

The fourth title released almost ten years later. It's a bit different from the other titles because a) it's more linear, which I didn't mind, and b) there's more focus on the storyline. What I loved the most is the atmosphere. The space station filled with X parasites is quite eerie.

The controls in this one are much improved compared to Super Metroid, albeit the GBA has two buttons less. The way you control Samus is more precise and makes the platforming more fun. Also, the ability to grab ledges was a welcome addition.

Metroid: Zero Mission

  • Release: 2004
  • Platform: Game Boy Advance
  • Played on: Android (RetroArch)

Only two years later, Nintendo followed up with a remake of the first Metroid game. This one felt more like back to the roots (obviously) with the changes introduced by Fusion.

Not much to say here except that it's just as good as Fusion, and the new area where you have to play as Samus without her Power Suit (Zero Suit Samus) is fantastic and caught me off guard. It was well implemented and added a nice variety.

AM2R (Another Metroid 2 Remake)

  • Release: 2016
  • Platform: Windows / Linux / Android
  • Played on: Android

AM2R is an unofficial remake of Metroid II which unfortunately received a DMCA takedown request. But once something is on the internet, it stays there. So I had no trouble finding the Android APK of the latest version.

The game captured the spirit of the official titles perfectly and feels authentic. It also added some excellent quality of life improvements like curling into the morph ball with a button press instead of pressing down twice. Or various options to tweak the controls to resemble them like the SNES or GBA titles.

One thing to nitpick is that the fights against the various Metroid species can feel a little bit wonky because of their hitbox.

Fun fact: The creator, DoctorM64, had been hired by Moon Studios to design levels for Ori and the Will of the Wisps.

Metroid: Samus Returns

  • Release: 2017
  • Platform: Nintendo 3DS

The following year Nintendo released an official remake of Metroid II. I have the cartridge lying around but haven't played it yet because I just played four titles in a row and didn't want to feel burned out of the series.

Another concern is that the 3DS is not comfortable to hold anymore after playing with the Switch for the past four years. Hand cramps are not very fun after playing with the device for only 15 minutes. I'll probably end up using the Citra emulator and play it with a controller instead.

Screenshots

I've taken some screenshots while playing with RetroArch. Here are three screenshots of each of the two GBA titles, Fusion and Zero Mission, using the Dot shader.

The GBA games are stunning, and I'm amazed at how much detail they could cram in that small resolution (240 × 160 pixels).

Conclusion

Yup, Metroid is a fun series. All of the games feel distinct, have good pacing and are worth playing. Plus, they are relatively short. Each game took me about 3 to 5 hours. I think Fusion was the one I enjoyed the most, with Zero Mission being quite close.

Maybe I'll tackle the Prime series next. I'm still hoping for a Switch release of the trilogy before Prime 4 arrives this next year.