Playing through all the 2D Metroid games was something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. While Metroid Fusion always haunted me as a game I never got to beat (until recently) the series always piqued my interest. Who doesn’t want to be a badass bounty hunter in space blasting aliens left and right? After talking about the games with other retro collectors and watching various videos about them, something became perfectly clear. I NEED to play these games. The urge to play through the entire line of 2D Metroid was there, but there wasn’t a drive to play them quickly. That all changed on that fateful June morning, when Nintendo announced Metroid Dread.
While I was watching the direct I already had 1 Metroid game under my belt; Metroid Zero Mission. Being a remake of the original Metroid for the NES I had a blast playing it. Only real annoyance for me was trying to get the speed boosts and shinesparks right to snag some tricky missile tanks. Aside from that I loved playing it and was already in the middle of Samus Returns for the 3DS. When the Direct came out and the announcement was made I knew I had a ticking clock to finish the rest of the series. Which meant I needed to not only beat Samus Returns, but Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion as well. So in essence I had to beat 2 and a half games until October 8th to be fully prepared and up to speed for Dread. With the clock ticking, I knew I was going to need some help to get through these games quickly.
I don’t claim to be a speed runner. I like to play games at my own pace and I don’t try to beat them as fast as possible. I’m willing to give it a shot since the Metroid games have different ending screens depending on your completion time. Yet these are my first play throughs and even though I had time before October, I still wanted to get these games finished. I was in the middle of Samus Returns when the Direct hit and I was already over 13 hours into the game. Mostly because I was going in as blind as possible and trying to figure out the puzzles and how to get missile tanks that were just out of reach. Some had me scratching my head eventually giving up until I found a new ability I needed to get it. Eventually I caved and looked up some walkthroughs because I had other things that needed doing and 2 more games to play. Eventually I did beat it, and vowed one day I would come back to it and beat it with a much better time.
After Samus Returns, I had the most famous of all the games next. Super Metroid. A game that many have praised as one of if not THE best SNES game of all time. This game was nothing but hype, and I was both excited and scared to play it. Excited to play a masterpiece of a game that I missed out on as a kid, but scared that the game was overhyped for me and I wouldn’t enjoy it like so many others have. Thankfully my fears of this game being overhyped were quelled the second I started playing. Going through the space station where Ridley takes the baby Metroid scared me, but motivated me because I wanted to save it. Full disclosure I did use a guide to help me on where to go. Zero Mission and Samus Returns help with pointing you in a direction, but Super doesn’t tell you at all. I was playing this on my SNES Classic and while I could read the manual via a QR code on my phone, I skipped the middle man and looked where to go once things started rolling. My old fears from getting stuck in Fusion were getting to me, especially with Super Metroid. I was afraid that if I took one wrong turn or go down the wrong path I would be stuck with no way out. One area where if I wasn’t using a guide I don’t think I would’ve figured it out would be the glass tube you go through early in the game. Using a power bomb would break the glass and open up a whole new area to explore. I don’t think I would’ve figured that out had I not been using a guide. Now even though I was using a guide, there were multiple times where I solved the puzzles for certain missile tanks before the walkthrough got to them.
If there was one thing I have to critique this game on, it’s the wall jump. The wall jump was the absolute worst part of this game. People have mastered this technique flawlessly, there are YouTube videos of gamers doing an infinite wall jump and sequence breaking the game like no tomorrow. The one part where you are required to do the wall jump took me well over 20 minutes to get out. It didn’t help that there was a missile tank hidden away in the corner at the very top. When I finally did nail the wall jump I knew nothing could stand in my way of getting through the rest of the game, and what a game.
Now I had the game I was looking forward to the most, Metroid Fusion. This was more than just beating the game to catch up, this was a redemption. My first experience with the game you can read here but after FINALLY beating it I can say for certain that Fusion is my favorite Metroid game. Replaying it it became very clear to me that as a 12 year old I was VERY impatient when playing Fusion. Sure having the game be linear with the computer AI Adam telling you where to go has gotten some criticism, but I was thankful for it. When I was 12 I was just blowing through the text and not reading a single thing other than the manual. Not reading the text definitely was part of the reason on how I got stuck, also not shooting every square inch of a room to find that one block that would become an exit.
So why is Fusion my favorite? Yes it was my intro into the Metroid universe, but the game just worked for me. Super was dark and while I liked it, I loved how Fusion used the GBA’s colors to the fullest. Playing this on a 101 model GBA made those colors pop like no other game did, only comparison would be Zero Mission since it’s on the same system. Samus controlled very well and doing the wall jump didn’t drive me up a wall. Even with a clear mission there was still tons to explore in the game. Your objective wasn’t always a straight line and along the way you would find little secrets and other ways around an obstacle. I can definitely say that playing the other games helps with the story threads in this one. One minor spoiler, I took pause when I saw Ridley’s frozen body in the middle of the game, and then a you discover something later on that definitely boosted the story for me.
So now I’ve beaten all the 2D games, what do I think about them? Easily one of the best franchises in all of gaming and now one of my top favorites. I won’t however shy away from the fact that these games are difficult (but fair) and may not be for everybody. There are aspects of all the games that require you to think outside of the box and perform some tricky maneuvers to snag the harder to get ammo upgrades. As a kid I was definitely confused on where to go first and even though that was my own fault since I didn’t read the dialogue. Zero Mission and Samus Returns give some hints on where to go, but Super doesn’t. You’re truly alone in that game and while for fans that’s the best part of the game, I can see it being frustrating for more casual gamers. Of course games are subjective and maybe a more casual gamer would love the feeling of isolation and exploration. There is no shame in playing these games with a guide to help you on where to go but I do encourage shying away from the guide and exploring a bit on your own. Finding a hidden missile tank out of the blue always put a smile on my face.
If you’ve never played these games I highly recommend giving them a try. Best part is that you don’t have to play all 4 games like I did, the stories do intertwine a bit, but if all you have access to is Super you won’t be confused as to what is going on. However I would highly recommend playing Zero Mission and Samus Returns instead of the original NES version of Metroid and Metroid II: Return of Samus for the Game Boy. Reason being is that these games are far less forgiving and rely more on the player to make a map of the game. If you want to collect all of them be warned that the physical versions are getting pricey. Price Charting has a few of the games loose for over $100, mostly the GBA games. If you have a Wii U you can download almost all of the games digitally for far cheaper. Only one you would be missing would be Samus Returns for the 3DS if you go the Wii U digital route. A great game that isn’t too expensive at the moment. As a whole I am so happy I played all these games and feel more prepared than ever for Metroid Dread. At the time of this writing I’m currently playing Dread and all of the tricks I’ve learned from the previous games have helped me tremendously. Even if Dread is your first entry into the series, it’s an amazing series of games that I’m sure you’re going to love. True there hasn’t been much, and we’re still waiting on Metroid Prime 4, but hopefully Nintendo will get the hint. Gamers love Metroid, and want to see more. I know I sure do.