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Episode 142: Cue the Somber Music

by Jonathan Metts - April 19, 2009, 2:49 pm PDT
Total comments: 30

As Super Metroid celebrates 15 years of rocking your world, the RFN crew devotes an entire episode to this beloved and highly influential game.

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Super Metroid is a weird, non-linear, challenging game that can't easily be explained and doesn't look terribly exciting in screenshots. It's not surprising that it met commercial failure in 1994, yet gamers around the world spread the news of its glory for years until it eventually gained respect and entered the pantheon of gaming. Fifteen years later, although it has spawned sequels, spin-offs, and imitators, none are as polished or innovative as Super Metroid, the most non-Nintendo-like of all Nintendo games. Please join Radio Free Nintendo on this brief tour of the game's history, initial impact, cult status, and legacy.

In other news, the votes have been cast, and Super Ghouls 'n Ghosts will be our next RetroActive game. The on-air discussion won't begin until Episode 144, but you can download it from Virtual Console now and start germinating your thoughts in the new forum thread.

Credits:

This podcast was edited by Greg Leahy.

Music for this episode of Radio Free Nintendo is copyrighted to Nintendo and Konami, and is included under fair use protection.

The usual music for Radio Free Nintendo is used with permission from Jason Ricci & New Blood. You can purchase their new album, Rocket Number 9, directly from the record label, or download it from iTunes, or call your local record store and ask for it!

Talkback

YoshidiousGreg Leahy, Staff AlumnusApril 19, 2009

You'll notice that the file sizes are larger than usual for this episode, and that's because I decided to output this RFN in stereo given the musical interludes included in the show. I hope everyone agrees that it's well worth it.

Bill_AurionApril 19, 2009

Did you talk about the Gameboys 20th Aniversary?

YoshidiousGreg Leahy, Staff AlumnusApril 19, 2009

It is mentioned very briefly, but if it's Game Boy love you're after, then the outstanding 50th episode of Radio Trivia Podcast Edition has got you covered:

http://www.nintendoworldreport.com/podcastArt.cfm?artid=18233

Bill_AurionApril 19, 2009

Ok thanks Greg.

AVApril 19, 2009

sounds great greg. its worthy of being bigger.

My experiences:

1) I was about 10 and we rented it. I thought it was cool but I got headaches because it was so huge and complex for my little brain. I did play Metroid 1 on NES and remember it very well but never got far.

2) It was late 90's and very early 00's I bought a used mac performa and installed 8.6 on it. My brother gave me some emulators and I got SNES style controller online for parallel port which was difficult because everything was USB at that time. I played Super Metroid form start to finish and loved it via emulator.

3) On Virtual Console I bought Super Metroid because I felt bad about using an emulator. I loved the game again using classic controller which felt way better than that crappy pc controller.

I love the music in the game.

AVApril 19, 2009

ok i finished it. Overall great job guys. I was disappointing not to hear the creepy music that is played when your killing that plant eye ball creature. That music was VERY unique and memorable.

Also I guess the fact you referenced everything at the end is because you used so much of nintendo's music .

I really wonder why you picked Super Metroid and not Game Boy for this. I love Super Metroid, but Gameboy is such a bigger discussion and had a bigger impact on videogames.

either way i enjoyed it. keep up the great work :)

For one thing, it's much easier to wrap a discussion around a game than an entire system and its massive legacy on the whole industry.  Also, fully half the RFN crew missed out on most of the Game Boy era.  I didn't have a portable system until GBC in 1998, and one of the other guys was in a similar situation.  So we're much better qualified to talk about Super Metroid.  It is in no way a statement on the importance of one versus the other.  Maybe we'll try to do something around the North American anniversary later this year... and maybe not, for the above reasons.

Great show. Also, thanks for the Radio Trivia plugs (both on the podcast and here in the forum). And props to Jonny for mentioning Wario Land 2 & 3 as Metroid successors, which they most certainly are.

BTW, I owned and lost my original Game Boy long, long ago, and was without a Game Boy for several years until the Game Boy Color. I did own a Game Gear for a few years, but it mysteriously vanished from the car one day, and I can only presume it was stolen during a car wash or some shit. :( That said, I had friends with Game Boys on road trips and tapped the backlog once I got my GBC. (Fun fact: I bought Wario Land 1 in an Isreali airport.)

NWR_DrewMGAndy Goergen, AlmunusApril 20, 2009

My first Game Boy was an original platinum GBA.  Before that I owned a Game Gear and even a Sega Nomad - which was great in theory, very flawed in practice.  Those game cartridges were not meant to be portable and would often lock up when moved while being played.  I did put a lot of hours into Shining Force II and Super Tecmo Bowl III on the Nomad though.

The music in this episode is amazing...awesome job, Greg!

Yeah, like Jonny, I didn't have a GameBoy until the GBC.  I was never a fan of its monochrome graphics (yes, even in my younger years I was a graphics whore).

EjamerApril 20, 2009

Quote from: Lindy

The music in this episode is amazing...awesome job, Greg!

Yeah, like Jonny, I didn't have a GameBoy until the GBC.  I was never a fan of its monochrome graphics (yes, even in my younger years I was a graphics whore).

That is where I was as well with GB. Game Boy color was my first handheld. I played GB once or twice but that was it.

I ha never played Super Metroid until its VC release but I bought it then based on its reputation and had an experience similar to what Jon and Greg said on the podcast, I immediately fell in love with it and it made it's way into my personal top 10. I actually never beat it, though all I have left is to go into Tourian and beat Mother Brain.

A friend of mine, a lifelong game and Nintendo fan who had never played a Metroid game had been playing Super Metroid on the VC recently and actually beat it on the anniversary, not realizing that until after the fact.

EjamerApril 21, 2009

The comparison to DKC at the time is pretty interesting. While I still really enjoy DKC1 and 2 I think Super Metroid holds up MUCH better visually. Which is funny because at the time the selling point for DKC was visuals! The game was pretty much flawless in its visual style with some really impressive animations, especially for the bosses. It really is an artistic masterpiece.

DKC still looks pretty good...if you're playing it on an old, non-digital TV. Super Metroid definitely has more lasting visual personality (since DKC's prerendered sprite look has been imitated to death), and HDTV's don't mangle Metroid nearly as much when upscaling.

NWR_DrewMGAndy Goergen, AlmunusApril 22, 2009

What I find especially interesting about this Super Metroid conversation is that I had all of the exact same experiences - only mine were with the original NES Metroid.  I'm really shocked to hear that most of you guys consider it to be an unplayable mess.  All of the exploration "show but don't tell" gameplay elements in Super Metroid were done in Metroid 1 as well, just with a little less flash. 

I got and played through Super Metroid a few years after it was out (I picked it up with my first SNES in the summer of 96) and enjoyed it well enough - but not so much that I even remember anymore what my reaction to it was.  It was a fun sequel to a game I dearly loved.

I've played the entire thing through maybe 2 1/2 times (the SNES cartridge ate my save file on my last attempt, 6 months ago) but I've played through the original Metroid about 6 times at the least.  I think the last time I beat the game, it barely took 90 minutes because I knew exactly where to go next. 

That brings me to the other thing that I think sets Metroid apart from Super Metroid - the lack of a built-in map with Metroid makes it infuriating to playthrough nowadays, but back in the mid 80s when I first got the game, it just made the exploration feel more real.  You had to either make your own maps, memorize everything, or collaborate with friends.  My cousins had the game too, and we used to talk shop as to where the various missiles were at. 

I think after we'd beat the game the first time through, we bought the Big Black Book from Nintendo and that pretty much laid out the rest.

Another thing I wanted to ask is this: Did anyone else think that Metroid Fusion and Zero Mission played almost more like a Ninja Gaiden NES game than a Metroid sequel?  The climbing on walls and wall jumping combined with the fast pace made the game feel significantly different.

Anyways, great episode, really enjoying it.  I think i'm going to replay Metroid this week.  Maybe Super Metroid again soon too.

NWR_DrewMGAndy Goergen, AlmunusApril 22, 2009

One more comment, now that I'm about halfway done with the podcast - it's really distracting when someone is talking, and then in mid sentence, they fade out to music.  I mean, I like the Metroid Tunes as much as the next guy, but it's weird to have people interrupted like that.

yoshi1001April 22, 2009

Quote from: DrewMG

One more comment, now that I'm about halfway done with the podcast - it's really distracting when someone is talking, and then in mid sentence, they fade out to music.  I mean, I like the Metroid Tunes as much as the next guy, but it's weird to have people interrupted like that.

Yes, I agree the segues could be better. As I mentioned before, I actually won my copy of this game off of Nintendo when they were on AOL. I had played the NES Metroid a little, but I liked this one a lot better and have played it at least a half-dozen times. I actually have beaten NES Metroid (as an unlockable in Prime), and the gameplay in Super Metroid just seems so much tighter and better laid out. One thing you forgot to mention about the weapons is that some enemies behave differently depending on the weapon used. For example, Phantoon behaves very differently depending on whether you use super missiles or the charge beam to attack, and Golden Torizo can actually grab your missiles and throw them back at you.

gojiraApril 22, 2009

I played a bit of the first Metroid, but never really got into it. 

I got Metroid II by saving up Kool-Aid points.  Not really expecting much, I totally fell in love with the game.

At the time Super Metroid came out I also frequented a local video game rental store and they had a Japanese import copy that I saw being played.  So I knew Super Metroid was coming.  But the commercial was pretty lame. 

I first played the game renting it with a friend.  We got stuck/lost a couple of times and when we finally finished the game we had logged in 16 hours.  16 hours?!?  The game can be beaten in under 2 hours so thinking back on that is funny.  Now I've beaten the game so many times I don't remember.  I used to be able to beat the game in under 2 hours with 100% items no problem.  I truly love every aspect of the game, which is why it's my favorite of all time.

I think I could talk about Super Metroid for two hours myself.  The graphics and the music which bred the atmosphere.  The opening and ending sequences blew me away.  The bosses and minibosses were so much fun.  Using the grappling hook and space jump/screw attack was so much fun.  I can't speak my love enough for the game.  I even own the Japanese soundtrack. 

EjamerApril 22, 2009

I played Metroid 1 first back in 89 or so. While I enjoyed it the game was never one of my favorites. It had too many frustrating elements (I still have nightmares trying to get up the column of "blow up and reappearing" blocks of doom. Most frustrating thing ever in gaming. Not only that but the boss fights were lame and generic besides motherbrain which was unique but still mindless in that you shoot her until one of you dies.

adadadApril 23, 2009

Quote from: DrewMG

What I find especially interesting about this Super Metroid conversation is that I had all of the exact same experiences - only mine were with the original NES Metroid.  I'm really shocked to hear that most of you guys consider it to be an unplayable mess.  All of the exploration "show but don't tell" gameplay elements in Super Metroid were done in Metroid 1 as well, just with a little less flash. 

Wow, that must have taken a lot of resilience! Have to say Metroid is the only purchasing decision I regret making so far on the VC, I just can't get into the game at all. I can see the potential and want to like it but I hate the fact that after I die I reappear but with only a tiny modicum of health, and the idea of killing enough enemies to regain that health without getting killed first, especially if you have several health tanks, is unbearable. You basically have to put in a password everytime you die past a certain point! I suppose it'd be ok to play on an emulator with savestates but I haven't done that. Honestly I thought Kid Icarus was a far far superior game. The exploratory levels in that were far more manageable.

Having said that I don't mean to condemn the Metroid series at all because I've played most of them now and enjoyed them all, especially Super Metroid and the Prime trilogy. Definitely found that there is something oddly engaging about Super Metroid that makes it stand out in a class of its own.

Also bear in mind I'm coming at all of these games as completely fresh on the VC because I wasn't into console games before the N64/PS1 era. I can definitely imagine your prior knowledge of Metroid could mean you could avoid some of the annoying aspects of the game that I couldn't get past in order to really enjoy it.

Armak88April 23, 2009

I suppose my experience with this game is pretty different from most of you guys. The first Metroid I ever played was the first Metroid Prime. I loved it and played it to death finding every possible power up and expansion. Eventually, I unlocked the original Metroid and played that. I got pretty far but I don't think that I ever beat it. I then bought Fusion and loved that and bought Zero Mission. I then bought Super Metroid when it came out on VC.

When Super Metoid first came out I was pretty young and didn't know anything about gaming media or release dates, I pretty much knew what was out based entirely on what was on the shelf at BlockBuster. I also only really got 3 games a year if I was lucky, birthday, Christmas and one that I maybe saved up for. So when Super Metroid hit I didn't even know it existed. That being said, after playing it on the VC I think that it is the best 2d Metroid, although I agree with Jonny that Zero Mission is probably the most refined and best controlled.

All the Metroid talk has caused me to take up the charge in finishing my file in corruption on hyper difficulty, and makes me wish that there was some way to play Metroid 2. I have now played and beat every 2d and 3d metroid with or close to 100% completion with the exception of Metroid 2 which I have never played. I enjoy just about every aspect of the series and I think that this podcast was a great tribute to one of it's strongest entries. Keep up the good work guys.

Spak_SpangApril 24, 2009

My first real Metroid game also was Metroid Prime (I had played a little bit of the original Metroid as a kid). The original Metroid has not aged well at all and is pretty hard to go back to. The re-make (Metroid: Zero Mission) was so much better and it was one of my favorite Game Boy Advance games.

The only Metroid games I have not played in any way (including demos) are Metroid II: Return of Samus and Super Metroid. Metroid II has also aged poorly from what I have heard, and I don't want to spend $8 on Super Metroid if I am not sure I will like it. Makes me wish Nintendo offered demos like Microsoft does for Xbox Live Arcade games.

EjamerApril 24, 2009

Quote from: TJ

My first real Metroid game also was Metroid Prime (I had played a little bit of the original Metroid as a kid). The original Metroid has not aged well at all and is pretty hard to go back to. The re-make (Metroid: Zero Mission) was so much better and it was one of my favorite Game Boy Advance games.

The only Metroid games I have not played in any way (including demos) are Metroid II: Return of Samus and Super Metroid. Metroid II has also aged poorly from what I have heard, and I don't want to spend $8 on Super Metroid if I am not sure I will like it. Makes me wish Nintendo offered demos like Microsoft does for Xbox Live Arcade games.

I am almost positive you will like Super Metroid if you enjoyed Zero Mission.

Yeah TJ, Zero Mission is very similar to Super Metroid, so if you like one, you will probably like the other.  Eight bucks is a pretty small investment for a game that you will almost certainly love!

EjamerApril 25, 2009

Quote from: Jonnyboy117

Yeah TJ, Zero Mission is very similar to Super Metroid, so if you like one, you will probably like the other.  Eight bucks is a pretty small investment for a game that you will almost certainly love!

Not to mention that Super Metroid seems to hold up REALLY well, because as heard in that podcast discussion you can be a first timer to Super Metroid long after its release and still enjoy it. That is something I don't think you can say about Metroid 1. Also you guys inspired me to go back and play Zero Mission, it has been so long since I played it!

Spak_SpangApril 25, 2009

Cool. Next time I have some points (right now I have 300 and no money to buy more) I will consider getting Super Metroid.

SundoulosApril 27, 2009

I finally got to listen to this yesterday while doing some yardwork.  This podcast makes manual labor much, much more enjoyable. :)  I don't normally do this, but I'll probably archive this one so that I can listen again in the future.

Great job on the editing, Greg! I for one, enjoyed the musical interludes between the discussion.  It was very retronauts. :)  As I said with the Zelda: Ocarina of Time episode, I look forward to future installments to episodes like these as the oppotunities present themselves.

Anyway, I loved this episode as it featured one of my favorite games of all time, Super Metroid.  I rented this game at launch, but I probably didn't own it until a few years later when I could actually work and save up the money to pay for it.  Anyway, I have great memories of playing this in marathon sessions with one of my best friends over a summer break from college; it was one of our last hurrahs before he moved to a different part of the country. 

I bought this on Virtual Console soon after it appeared.  Like Jon, I actually got stuck somewhere and temporarily put it aside, largely because as a dad I have little time to set aside for gaming these days.

To some now, the original Metroid might seem like an unplayable mess, but to a 12 year-old in 89 kid who had grown up on the Atari system games, games with the apparent depth and complexity of Metroid and Zelda were just mind-blowing when they arrived.  Yeah, games like Metroid were difficult, but it didn't have the frustrating, controller-tossing, difficulty of some other early NES-era games.  I had a much harder time handling games like say, the original Castlevania or Double Dragon.

And, yes... the Metroids in the original game were completely nightmare-worthy.  It was one of the earliest memories I have of a video game evoking any sense of fear. 

Oh, the original Metroid was definitely impressive in its day.  I just think it's very, very difficult to return to it now, as its flaws are more pronounced in light of more modern offerings.  The existence of highly refined sequels like Super Metroid and Zero Mission probably make the original game look worse than if it could be played "in a vacuum".

Armak88April 28, 2009

I actually found that the original metroid played better the further into it you got. Once you get the high jump and the ledge grab and a half decent gun the game isn't nearly as unforgiving. But all the same, zero mission and super metroid are far and away superior.

EasycureApril 29, 2009

Just wanted to say that I loved the Super Metroid Retrospective. When the RFN crew is really passionate about a subject, the discussion gets very interesting. The episode was really on the same level as Retronauts.

Super Metroid is one of my all time favorite games. A friend of mine either had it or rented it when I was eleven or twelve, because I remember playing it briefly. After that, I never touched it and forgot about it as system generations shifted. In 2002, I got the 150th issue of EGM that ranked Super Metroid as the best game of all time. Since I was getting back into SNES games, I decided that I would track the game down and play it. That summer I finally received a copy of it from a friend and couldn't wait to try it out.

I had a hard time getting started. I never played a lot of shooters, so I found myself dying quite a bit. I think I faced the Chozo Statue five embarrassing times before I got the hang of it. One of the first things I noticed was how creepy Super Metroid was. The feeling of isolation is so strong, and certain areas definitely play to that, such as Maridia and the Wrecked Ship. Other touches such as the dead hunter outside of Kraid's lair add to the overall effect. I'm pretty sure I jumped a few times, like when I fought Kraid for the first time.

One problem I had in the game was with wall jumping. It can be a hard technique to master. I fell down the trap door in Brinstar that's before one of the energy tanks, and there's no way out without wall jumping. I thought my poor SNES controller was going to break from the noises it made as I tried to make it up the shaft. I finally made it to the top and went back for the energy tank, only to fall back down again.

The last thought about the game that comes to my mind is how stressful the end of the game can be. It's not the fight with Mother Brain, but the escape afterward. You're in such a hurry, that it's easy to miss a jump up the shaft and fall a few screens down. Then it was a pain to deal with the room with the corridors that led to dead ends. Every time you mess up, that counter will throw you off if you let it.

It was such a great experience playing through it that summer. I ended up playing through probably three or four times. I think I'll probably end up doing another run through it this summer.

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