Metroid Review

Nostalgia won't save you from the frustrating room layouts or the constantly flickering graphics.

For a number of years following its initial release in 1986, the original Nintendo Entertainment System rendition of Metroid was considered a classic in the 2D action adventure genre. After all, it got the ball rolling for the Metroid franchise and laid the groundwork for all of Samus' future adventures. However, by the early 1990s, the original Metroid had lost much of its appeal thanks to a glut of action games--including Super Metroid--that presented the same concepts in a better-paced, less-disorganized fashion. In short, the new games made their ancestor obsolete. Now, you can download and play this obsolete ancestor on your Wii by shelling out 500 Wii points ($5).

Samus can jump, shoot, and turn into a ball. And, if you beat the game in under two hours, she'll play the next run in a bathing suit.
Samus can jump, shoot, and turn into a ball. And, if you beat the game in under two hours, she'll play the next run in a bathing suit.

Some of the basic concepts are solid, if unremarkable. A group of space pirates led by Mother Brain is preparing to unleash soul-sucking creatures called Metroids across the galaxy. So, you, as interstellar bounty hunter Samus Aran, must travel to the planet Zebes to put a stop to the nefarious scheme. You begin the game armed with only a plain blaster, exploring the interconnected rooms and corridors of Zebes. But as you explore, you'll also accumulate a modest arsenal of weapons and tools. Different beams and missiles make it easier to eliminate the alien enemies that constantly respawn, as well as deal with the three bosses you eventually have to face. The tools you gather will enable you to travel as a tiny ball, plant bombs in your ball form, and jump exceptionally high. On your journey to the Mother Brain's lair, you'll also need to keep an eye out for extra missile pods and energy tanks that can increase your missile capacity and your maximum energy reserves.

Zebes is an open-ended world, and you're pretty much left to figure out the correct path through the game on your own. That's not a terrible thing by itself, but many rooms look alike, and you won't be able to refer back to and in-game map because there isn't one. Some passages are actually invisible until you shoot or bomb them. To make matters worse, there's no logical rhyme or reason behind the placement of weapons and upgrades. You'll never find them near the places you need them. The ultimate result of all of this is that you'll frequently find yourself lost, traveling through areas you're too underpowered to be in or wasting time shooting at random wall and floor tiles. A little aimless wandering can always be chalked up to providing a reasonable challenge. However, Metroid takes wandering to the extreme, so much so that players are never really allowed to develop a sense of pace or progress.

As far as the graphics and audio are concerned, the overall look and feel has held up well over the years. Many of the rooms are identical in appearance, which can make finding your way around confusing, but the juxtaposition of rocky and metallic foregrounds in front of dark backgrounds creates an overall spooky atmosphere. That atmosphere is further fleshed out by 8-bit musical interludes that are understated and eerie. The biggest problem with the presentation is the constant flickering of character sprites that occurs whenever more than a couple of enemies are visible onscreen, which is basically all the time. It won't affect your ability to shoot, but it's definitely distracting.

You'll need to draw your own maps or get them from the Internet to navigate the look-alike corridors.
You'll need to draw your own maps or get them from the Internet to navigate the look-alike corridors.

This Virtual Console release is a plain-vanilla emulation of the original NES game. While it's nice that all of the old passwords still work, it's a shame that Nintendo didn't bother to implement a multislot-save feature, similar to the Japanese Famicom Disk System. Other NES games on the Virtual Console, such as Excitebike and Mach Rider, have appeared with features that were once unique to their Famicom Disk System iterations, so it's not as if there isn't a precedent. At the very least, it would've been nice for Nintendo to do something to minimize the sprite flicker that's constant throughout the game.

Unless you're already a devoted fan of the original Metroid, you probably shouldn't bother downloading it from the Wii's Virtual Console shop. There's certainly no good reason to subject yourself to such a disorganized and frustrating game when--for only a few dollars more--you can download the similar, yet superior-in-every-way Super Metroid instead.

The Good

  • Accurate emulation of the Nintendo Entertainment System original
  • You can see where the series got its start

The Bad

  • Look-alike rooms and invisible passageways make navigation frustrating
  • As does the complete lack of an in-game map
  • Nintendo didn't bother to fix the constant flickering of character sprites
  • Other 2D action romps, such as Super Metroid, have rendered this one obsolete

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Ezioprez9709

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Good for the time, but annoying now. Still fun now though, in short bursts.

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Rick-Occulus

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Even taking your complaints into serious consideration I think your rating is way too low.

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tafusoy

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,,,wow. I can handle a moderately good score for Zelda's first entry but I tend to view Metroid as an even more revolutionary title combining free-roaming adventure with platforming. This game was and is still great despite pushing the NES a bit hard some times(mother brain battle comes to mind, chug chug chug). You guys really need to do a better job reviewing older games within the context of their era.

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The_Deepblue

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Gamespot, the consolidation of VC games and their originals is not a good idea. Why? The NES cover art and 1986 release date make it seem that the score is for the original game, judged by the standards of its time, not the virtual console version judged by today's standards. Sure, people should read the review, but we know that many take a gander at the score, and possibly the box art on the left, and leave with a newly formed opinion of their own concerning the game and the rating. This looks bad, Gamespot.

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danilogw

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Acutallly, it was common at the time that the player would write his own map (pen, paper) so he wouldn´t get lost...


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JRLennis

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I am a gamer that has been around since the days of Coleco Vision. I have witnessed and been a part of every gaming era since then and have enjoyed the ride immensely. I know the difference between a good game and a mediocre one, and can fairly judge them by the standards of the era they were released in. Remembering Metroid when it was new, I can honestly say that this 5.5 rating is completely unjustifiable. Yes, there were a lot of flickering issues, but a great majority of games on the NES had this problem so Metroid doesn't deserve to be singled out, and in any case it was not a game-breaking issue. As for the lack of in-game maps and the multitude of obscure secret passages, Metroid was, at its heart, a game of exploration that rewarded the player for checking every nook and cranny. Who doesn't appreciate bomb-jumping into a narrow passage to find a surprise energy tank or missile pack? (And while a lot of passages did indeed look the same, simply counting doors in the vertical bits was usually enough to prevent you from getting lost. I never had a problem.) I was mesmerized with every facet of this title, in particular the moody atmosphere and the inventive way of exploring previously inaccessible areas. 2-D scrollers simply hadn't done this before.

It's true that Super Metroid was superior in every measurable sense, but it had a template to follow, and Nintendo spent a long time refining the formula that made the original Metroid a success.

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eze_sl89

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if this guy is due to review Super Mario Bros. he would give it a 3, saying super mario doesnt have the ability to play it in 3d. Please, gamestop, just... fire this dude. he doesnt know what video games are. noob.

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SolidTy

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25+ year old game gets reviews in 2007! YAY! It didn't do well, but it was amazing for it's time.

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grimhope

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5.5 gamespot!?!?!?!?! Really? You do realize that this is one of the most influencial video games of all time right....RIGHT? This reviewer needs to go! Pronto!

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Ramiro92

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I believe that beyond the technical aspects, you have to put in place the player, this game was very frustrating, how could at that time playing a game so long without any map? really do not know, this game is very depressing when playing, but still has a spark of life.

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Ramiro92

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I think 5.5 is too little, the right note would be 6.5 The game has many problems, and lacks lots of things essential, but still a good game, despite its many defects, has meant the beginning of a revolutionary era in the gaming world.

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zzamaro

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This is the same review as the GBA version of the game. The points are understandable but why put it here? This review belongs to the GBA version of the game, not the NES version which was released 26 years ago.

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fishdingo5

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Wow really a 5.5. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but come on, this was released in 1986 and you want an in game map? The Gamespot Philosophy says "We Take Time and Originality Into Account" but obviously not here. This game was an absolute (yes glitchy) original but it has to be judged by the standards of the 8-bit 1980's.

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zildjiansboy

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This review is backwards, this game was one of the first sci fi / action adventure / shooter games to come to any console and you hold it to standards that it itself created by it's very existence ? You sir are a complete nonce, why not go take a dump on super mario brothers or the original zelda while you are at it.

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Ezioprez9709

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@zildjiansboy: I second this notion.

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penpusher

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I find judging this by modern standards a bit ludicrous, it was made in the 80's for crying out loud!!! Not everyones that bothered about the map.

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Metroid

First Released Aug 15, 1987
released
  • Famicom Disk System
  • Game Boy Advance
  • NES

Samus Aran's first adventure was also one of the first games to utilize a password system to save your progress.

5.2
Mediocre

Average Rating

3502 Rating(s)

8.2

Developed by:

Published by:

Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
Everyone
Mild Fantasy Violence