MDb Review: Metroid: by TJ

Metroid opened up a whole new world of videogaming back in 1986. Although certainly not the first game of the "adventure" genre (whose pedigree at the time included such titles as Adventure, Superman, Haunted House, and Fathom, all for the Atari 2600), Samus' first videogame bounty-hunt most definitely took the genre to places it had never been.

The original Metroid took elements from all those older games and multiplied them a thousandfold for a truly epic adventure. Secret passages, hidden items, vast areas to explore, and most of all, a creepy feeling and that sense of not knowing what's around the next corner. It took side-scrolling action games to an entirely new level, and was a nigh-transcendental experience for gamers at the time. And your reward for completing the ultimate goal of defeating the Mother Brain and her Metroid minions? The unmasking of the mysterious bounty hunter, Samus Aran -- who turned out to be a beautiful (well, as beautiful as the NES could make her look, I guess) woman. It was a shock to all those gamers who were used to their heroes being male, with the female role reserved for the damsel in distress. Yet somehow, it seemed to be the only right way to end it.

Playing the game is tough for the beginner. Samus starts off with only 30 energy units and a short, weak beam weapon, but the hordes of enemies are surrounding her from the moment she materializes onscreen between two rocky blue towers with angry faces carved in the tops by an ancient civilzation. From there, the player needs to act quickly to find enough items, powerups, missiles and energy to survive. Luckily, the play control remains some of the most superb that I've ever experienced in any game. The jumps, falls, and general physics of Samus' movements are spot-on and make playing Metroid fun not only for the great atmosphere, ideas, story and graphics, but also for the ease of movement.

I think the original is still my favorite of the Metroid series because of its atmosphere. Hip Tanaka's mood-setting, eerie, and sometimes downright disturbing music, the perfect sound effects (like the soft crunch of Samus' feet over the rocky landscape, and the oddly appropriate bubbling noises that the Metroids made as she shot them with her Ice Beam), and the creepy enemies, which seemed a strange mix of science fiction aliens and monsters of ancient myth...all these things were ingredients to a truly groundbreaking game.