Metroid, often considered one of the great classics of video gaming, is a game that I really did not like very much. Now, please, before you go whacking me with that baseball bat there, I only ask that you at least hear me out on this! Giving Metroid a low score isn't some deliberate way of trying to ruffle a few feathers or draw attention to myself, but I really do have valid concerns judging my dislike of this game.
Metroid is the type of game that I would have liked, could have liked, should have liked, but didn't like. The game is innovative and interesting, filled with the thrill of adventure. Even though I have some problems with the game, I honestly do not have a hard time seeing why anyone else would like it. But still, I must be truthful in my opinion of this game, which has reached such a conclusion for two big reasons that I will point out later in this review. But I shouldn't get ahead of myself just yet.
In this side-scroller, you set out in space as a bounty hunter named Samus Aran. Samus' mission is to penetrate the center of the planet Zebes and destroy the space pirates who are attempting to multiply a powerful life-form, dubbed "Metroid," which would prove dangerous and threatening to the galaxy. In order to thwart the evil plans of the space pirates, Samus must defeat their leader, the Mother Brain, and restore order.
The magnificent world of Zebes is like one long level, made up of areas such as Brinstar, Norfair, and Tourian. Samus starts out with a rather weak gun and 30 points-worth of energy, nothing else besides. But not soon after, you'll be finding some very interesting items which allow you to do things such as firing missiles and curling up into a ball to drop bombs. Also included in the list of items to find, are energy packs, of which Samus starts out with only one. Each energy pack can hold up to 99 energy points, and these points can be refilled by finding power-ups when you kill enemies. The enemies you meet range from little spiked creatures crawling along the ground to bigger creatures that hop up and down or fly towards you. Not to mention that there are two mini-bosses, Kraid and Ridley, which you must defeat along the way.
The game control is one area in which I had a problem with this game, though it is not one of the two big aforementioned problems I have concerns over. Samus jumps back a little too much and becomes a little too "paralyzed" when hit by an enemy, making the character a bit hard to keep a good handle on at times. Jumps can sometimes be a little hard to control as well, but nothing really major there. Control is pretty tight besides.
Many good comments on the game's graphics have been exchanged, but I must say that I never was really impressed by them at all. Maybe I should give some leeway, considering this was one of Nintendo's early titles, but it still doesn't have the pizzazz I hoped for. There isn't very much variety, a lot of the areas (and enemies) look strikingly similar to each other. Plus, the backgrounds are completely black, nothing else. I will give merits, though, to some good detail and character animation, especially the wonderfully animated Samus.
One memorable thing about Metroid is the main theme. That song is one of those that is hard to forget, very well composed. The theme you hear while adventuring in Norfair isn't very bad, either. Those are the two which are noticeable above all, the others being good as well. The sound effects are a problem which I have with the game. They tend to cut the music off at times, especially noticeable when you are typing in a password. Plus, when you're low on energy, that constant beeping noise will make you want to kill Samus just so you don't have to listen to the constant "Bip, Bip, Bip, Bip."
But now that I've held off long enough, I will finally be able to reveal what it is about the game that so pushes me to my lower level of appreciation for it. Both of the big reasons for my dislike contribute immensely to what I guess I should call the frustration factor.
First of all, it's not until the very end of the game that power-ups give you more than 5 energy points a piece. Enemy difficulty rises as the game advances, maximum energy points rises as the game progresses, but the amount or worth of power-ups does not rise at all until the very end. When you have advanced slightly past the middle of the game, you'll have to spend a lot of time collecting energy, keeping in mind that every time you start or continue the game, you only begin with 30 energy points. Because the difficulty and abundance of the enemies becomes great, it is almost essential that you spend a lot of tiresome time in one spot, gathering as much energy as you possibly can, instead of keeping a steady pace by allowing you to continue through the game and safely collect power-ups as you move along. And if you even dare let yourself get hit by one-too-many enemies, you have to collect the energy all over again. Attempting to defeat a boss makes this even worse, because you have to spend a whole lot of time collecting energy, only to die to the boss in a short amount of time, leaving you to have to spend a whole lot of time collecting energy all over again. Because energy-collecting becomes a major part of playing the game, at least the first time around, it easily becomes too much of a chore.
The second big reason I dislike this game is because of the mud/water/quicksand or whatever it's called. Throughout the areas of Zebes, there will be many spots where the ground is covered in a quicksand-like substance. When wallowing in this substance, it will eat away at your energy and also restrict you from jumping as high as you usually could. This usually (not always) isn't a problem, except in the area of a boss. Boss rooms always have a bed of this quicksand substance at the bottom, with the boss on a platform above it. If you fall into the floor, you have to keep jumping and jumping and jumping and jumping, hoping that at least one of the jumps will be high enough for you to finally get back on a ledge again. By the time you're finally back in position, you've already lost half of your energy, and next thing you know, a few, maybe even one more hit from the enemy's attacks will knock you right back in the goop again! The bosses themselves aren't very hard, it's just the quicksand-whatever-it-is that makes these bosses, especially the final one, some of the most frustrating bosses that I've ever faced! By the time I finally defeated the end boss, after being killed dozens of times by the quicksand trick, I didn't even care to finish the game anymore, I just wanted to get the it over with so I could quit.
I've only beaten Metroid once, and I don't know if I ever will again. There are many secrets which many people, myself included, will still have yet to uncover after the first try alone, but it's not quite enough to motivate me to play the game again (not so soon, anyway). I really, really, really don't want to give Metroid a score such as I'm giving it, seeing as how the game is very interesting and innovative, and how it is a game that I know I really could have liked, but the two problems that I outlined are just unforgivable in my eyes, as they always seem to get me extremely irritated and frustrated with the game. Luckily, though, this original Metroid game spawned a sequel, Super Metroid, which I (luckily) own and enjoy very much.
- Story (6/10):
- Gameplay (9/10):
- Control (6/10):
- Graphics (6/10):
- Sound (7/10):
- Challenge: Above Average
- Thrill (4/10): (Frustrating)
- Replay (4/10):
- Overall (4/10):
And to all you Metroid fans who take offense at this review -- Bleah... :P
My Score: 4/10