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Series-ous Talk – Metroid

Series Logo.

I haven’t talked about any game series for awhile, so today I thought about writing not just one, but two articles. I’ll be posting the second one later as I need to finish up the overall analysis. A great segway into the topic of famous game series is none other than Nintendo’s Metroid series. Let’s dive into the world of science fiction action games.

Screenshot taken from the original NES release of Metriod.

The series got its humble start on the Famicom Disk System in 1986 and later the NES in 1987 to universal praise and acclaim. We follow Samus Aran, a human bounty hunter enhanced by a cybernetic suit, as they have to defeat Metroid creatures aboard a research vessel in space. The first game definitely took influence from both Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda in creating their gameplay conventions. Many of the extensive jumping segments over various platforms was a key part of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda’s non-linear exploration makes an appearance in this game. One thing that this game revolutionized was being able to travel to the left of the screen than always moving right, granting the player the ability to backtrack and potentially find hidden items and paths in previously explored areas. It was a great game in terms of art direction, music, and the challenge it presented to players. However, no one was ready for the surprise at the end of the game as the protagonist is revealed to be female. To me, this is what setup for future games to feature female protagonists in video games due to their being hardly any female leads during the infancy of the games industry. Not only was the original game creating new opportunities for game mechanics, but also granting more diversity in the who could be considered the hero in a video game.

Screenshot from Super Metroid. Notice the improvements to the graphics and noticeable mini map in the upper right hand corner of the screen.

After the original game was released, it would be a few years until the release of Super Metroid on the SNES, which was been stated as one of the greatest games of all time. This game puts more focus and emphasis on the exploration of the game world as players need to find power ups in these areas to reach previously inaccessible areas. Some new features that this game presented was having a mini map, an inventory system, and finally Samus has the ability to fire in every direction similar to Contra. Again this game was praised for it’s graphics, music, and gameplay. This game has become rather popular for speedrunning and has been feature for virtual download on various platforms over the years. Metroid Prime was released for the Nintendo Gamecube and help move the direction of the series over to 3-D in 2002. The game again won massive critical and commercial success and have been placed as one of the best video games of all time. It won several Game of the Year awards and has gotten an enhanced release in 2009 in both Japan and North America. In short, there have been many game conventions that this game has created, which have become standard in the games industry making this one of the most influential game series of all time.

Metroid Prime gameplay, which shows many aspects of an FPS, but Nintendo still considers the game first person adventure game.

I would say that everyone should try to play a Metroid game in their life, both from a developer and casual gamer standpoint. There are many design choices and aspects that people interested in becoming a game designer could learn a lot from. Even regular players could play through this game and have fun through the work that has been put into this long standing franchise.


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