Super Metroid Still Stands as a Testament to Brilliant Game Design

Super Metroid

Rarely does a title completely nail every aspect of game design, from sound to controls to story to visual aesthetic. But the incredibly well-crafted, damn-near-perfect Super Metroid somehow does it.

This shining achievement stands above many of the games that have come out since then, and almost all of the ones that came before. The pacing is pitch-perfect. The rewards for exploration and trial and error gameplay are savory and satisfying; figuring out how to eventually get that one missile reserve that has bugged you since the outset of the game — coming upon it through some mysterious back entry — is a punch of an “aha” moment.

You’re asked to master the skillset as it broadens — sometimes with nothing more than an animal giving you hints, or a row of barriers that, once x-rayed, reveals the correct path to break through — while running at blistering speeds. This somehow creates a perfect sense of pacing.

Super Metroid

This was the first game that I felt truly spoke to me, both literally (via the opening spoken dialogue portion) and figuratively (encouraging imaginative troubleshooting and problem-solving). Collecting every power-up available was just as much my main goal as was bringing down Mother Brain. It was — and still is — a masterpiece of gaming, a gem that is as perfect as a video game has any right to be.

The one standout moment for me was when, just by a whim, I set off a super bomb and destroyed the glass tube-like tunnel that revealed the underwater world. Before this, I was completely stuck. But man, did the quicksand and shelled creatures within that world suck — until, of course, I got the deadly spin attack.

For the record, yes, I did save the animals at the end, so I got to see their spaceship safely avoid the calamitous destruction of Zebes. It was a perfect ending to an already perfect game.

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