Happy Birthday, Metroid!

Happy Birthday, Metroid

August 6th marks the 25th anniversary of Metroid! YAYS!

On August 6, 1986, Metroid came out on the Super Famicom in Japan. We got it here a year later in North America. I can’t believe that Samus Aran has been with us that long! Time flies by so fast! 😮

I remember the first time I popped Metroid into my NES. The 5 notes and bass tones that played at the title screen truly set the mood for the entire game: a lone bounty hunter, armed with a cannon and space suit, descending upon the planetary fortress of Space Pirates to stop them from using alien life forms as weapons of mass destruction.



Once you started playing, you really felt like you were exploring an immense planet. Corridors were huge and rooms were packed with enemies and hazards that could easily end your progress if you weren’t careful. And just when you thought you’ve got your bearings, you’d find an elevator that descended further into the planet with rooms filled with entirely different enemies and obstacles. OY!

With so many different routes to take and rooms to explore, it was waaay too easy to get lost. You had to do a lot of backtracking in order to find the weapons and skills scattered throughout the planet (some of which were absolutely necessary in order to advance). Not to mention you had to find and defeat 2 bosses in order to gain access to the final section of the game. Remember kiddies, we didn’t have GameFAQs back then. So unless your buddies were playing it, made detailed maps (well… as detailed as six-year-olds with crayons can make maps back then) and were willing to lend them to you, you were on your own.

Metroid succeeded in making you feel like you were completely alone to fend for yourself. The surroundings, the subtle music, sound effects, everything about the game made you feel completely cut off from human life.

It also succeeded in introducing the notion that women can be just as strong and badass as men. The instruction booklet referred to Samus as a super-enhanced cyborg, so naturally we all assumed that Samus was male. If you finished the game in less than 3 hours, the suit comes off and… Samus was a woman!

Super Metroid

I know, it’s not that dramatic, but back in the day, it blew our little minds. And I think that that was one of the things I really liked about Samus. She wasn’t the typical damsel in distress. She was a take-charge type of gal; saving the day with super powerful weapons and tons of skill. We didn’t know a whole lot about her back then, but that was what made her even more intriguing. The air of mystery is what drew me to her. The simple thought that a woman would go into a base by herself and take down creatures 10 times her size made her a hero to me.

I didn’t have many Game Boy games (parents couldn’t afford it), so I missed Metroid II: The Return of Samus. I moved onto Super Metroid, and my God… that was one of my favourite Super NES games ever. It took everything from the original, and blew it up. Big. With pretty 16-bit graphics and an awesome soundtrack. It left such an impression on me that when my subscription to Nintendo Power was up for renewal, I made sure to take the special offer to renew AND get a free Super Metroid Player’s Guide. I wasn’t big on Player’s Guides back then, but I had to get this one. Just because.

I have to admit: I really didn’t follow the series much after Super Metroid. I read up about them every now and again, but I couldn’t afford to get my hands on them. Of course, now that I have an income I can go back and get them. Ah, more for the backlog… but I digress.

Ya know, I just thought of something: Nintendo put out something for Mario’s 25th anniversary, and have announced their plans for Zelda’s 25th anniversary. But they’ve been surprisingly quiet with Metroid. Unless they’re covertly planning something that will send us running to the streets praising their brilliance, I think they’re just going to let this pass without even a nod or pat on the back. It seems like such a shame that a series that has grown up with us, starring one of the more interesting video game characters out there, isn’t getting a lot of love from its creators on its special day. Well, I’m gonna change that. Right now! Kinda. 😛

I found this speed run of Metroid and thought I’d share. For those who don’t know what a speed run is… you play the game from beginning to end as fast as you can. Of course, there are different variety of speed runs, but I’ll cover speed runs in a future post.

This run was posted on Speed Demos Archive, one of my favourite sites to visit. Done by Chris Knight, this speed demon beats both bosses and finishes the game in a little over 24 minutes (I know that sounds, well, obvious, but there’s a way to finish the game by only beating one boss before the final section).

A lot’s happened in 25 years. Metorid‘s made the jump from action/exploration to pinball to multi-player madness. I wonder what kind of direction the series will take with emoting Samus. One thing’s for sure: I ain’t missing out this time. Nope! I’ve entered a phase in life where I’m going back to a lot of the things that made me happy when I was a kid. Metroid made me happy. That said, I think it’s time for me to grab my Varia Suit and get reacquainted with an old friend.

See you next mission!


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What do you think of the Metroid series? Which entry was your favourite? What do you think of the newer ones that give Samus a personality? I’d love yo hear your thoughts! 🙂

P.S. My Twitter Feed just found the Morph Ball. My RSS Feed beat the first Metroid in 10 minutes. It’s true! 😯