The very first Metroid, easily. It’s the first video game that scared me. I was around six years old and staying at a Lebanese friend’s home for my first sleepover. His entire extended family of well-off Beiruti were refugees from the War stuck in a gigantic house in the center of Paris. There was a constant musk of olive oil and hummus inside the house, and a weird atmosphere of mediterranean warmth weighted down by unspoken social malaise, that a child can intuitively perceive yet not intellectually explain.
My friend was about my age but way smarter and slightly more mature, possibly due to his circumstances. In any case, he was much better than me at video games and had just received Metroid as a gift from his father’s latest business trip.
Imagine playing Dead Space for the first time? That’s the tension I felt watching my friend play Metroid. It was a few months before I discovered Zelda and, with it, the concept of games being a source of mystery and adventure rather than a straightforward challenge like all the arcade-type experiences I had been exposed to until then.
The idea of being lost in a dark and seemingly endless maze filled with alien monsters was both fascinating and horrifying. The music was hypnotizing and probably the best game soundtrack I had heard so far. My friend played it for about six hours straight in front of me and went pretty far for a first try by a six years old, in retrospect. I could not sleep that night, probably due to the stress of a first night sleeping in an unknown bedroom and, as the street lights would periodically cast terrifying shadows on the ceiling, my wide open eyes kept thinking back about the corridors of Metroid. I received a NES and my own copy of the game a few years later.
I completely missed the release of Super Metroid. Never felt that big of a deal around me during its original 1994 release, to be honest, surrounded as it was by trendier RPGs, fighting games and early 3D experiences. I rediscovered the game around 1998, together with GameFAQs. That’s where my views clashed with North-American gaming culture for the first time and Super Metroid was clearly one of the most popular and revered games on the site.
Due to this constant online praise, I kinda forced myself to play the game but, by then, I had already played Symphony of the Night to death – unaware of how much it took from Super Metroid – and a similar experience but without RPG elements, cool monsters dropping new equipment, or charismatic characters sharing cheesy retorts felt like a huge step back. ＋the obvious contrarian opinion of a teenager. Since then, I have of course learned to better appreciate its influence and many innovations but I must admit it was always intellectual acknowledgement rather than personal endorsement.
I never really gave it another chance until this summer. Like seemingly many people, I played Super Metroid on NSO on the week of Metroid Dread’s announcement. Despite having watched something like 49 AGDQ speedruns of the game, I got stuck on a very notorious spot for forty minutes, looked up the solution online and was directed to a thirteen years old GameFAQs conversation, which is a cute poetic callback to my first experience with the game, I guess.
I did appreciate Super Metroid much more in 2021, especially the environmental narration, and the game peaked for me while inside the ghost ship. But one criticism I can’t shake off is Super Metroid has the worst controls of any great Nintendo game I know. The button placement never feels right. Inventory management is a constant chore. Tons of mechanics are conceptually or visually unintuitive. (I spent literally an hour on a stupid series of wall jumps that ended up inconsequential to clear the game.) The last few areas are painful to traverse. The sand caverns! Gah!
I consequently finished both Fusion and Zero Mission over the past few weeks, playing them on an original GBA, and one thing I will give them endless credit for is how much they improved the overall controls despite missing the X and Y buttons. Samus is a blast to handle on the GBA and I almost regret Super Metroid was never ported to the handheld.
The squishy Metroid amiibo. Because it is pleasingly squishy.
What is the point of making a Prime 4?
I think only Americans can answer this question.
Did anyone here get the secret message in Fusion?
Not me, but your question made me look into it and it’s a cute easter egg!