Super Metroid Review

As 2D action adventure games go, Super Metroid does nearly everything right.

It's absolutely astonishing that Nintendo let 13 years go by before making Super Metroid readily available again, but the most important thing is that you can now play this masterpiece without having to track down the original Super Nintendo Entertainment System cartridge or fumble with legally questionable emulators. As long as you have a Wii and 800 Wii points (roughly $8) to spend, you can simply go into the Virtual Console shop and add Super Metroid to your Wii's channel lineup. True, what you're getting is basically nothing more than a no-frills, emulated version of a 13-year-old SNES game that isn't a cutting-edge, technical marvel anymore, but the original game was so solid and so well-crafted that the Virtual Console version is worth ponying up those Wii points for. And by doing so, you'll be downloading one of the best 2D action adventure games ever produced.

You can expect to spend lots of enjoyable hours blasting aliens on the planet Zebes.
You can expect to spend lots of enjoyable hours blasting aliens on the planet Zebes.

What makes Super Metroid so awesome is that it fires on all cylinders. You get to run around as Samus Aran, the hottest bounty hunter in the universe, and blast aliens with a dozen different high-tech weapons, including the three-way spazer beam, the ice beam, missiles, and bombs. The ice beam freezes enemies solid, turning them into platforms that you can stand on. Other weapons tend to reveal hidden passageways when they're directed at walls and floors. For her part, Samus can also morph into a ball, perform a wall jump, and dash at supersonic speeds. The general idea here is that the planet Zebes is a large network of interconnected rooms and environments that you have to gradually work through in order to locate and fight the space-pirate bosses that have kidnapped the last surviving Metroid parasite.

Colorful 16-bit graphics and moody, atmospheric music bring the different areas of Zebes to life. If you stop and take a look around, you'll observe water flowing in the background and pulsing light emanating from volcanic vents. The music is full of dramatic beats when it needs to be, but, by and large, the soundtrack consists of subtle instrumentations that make the dank underworld of Zebes seem even spookier. Samus is a fluidly animated sprite with a healthy variety of acrobatic moves. The aliens and space pirates you'll encounter are also nicely detailed. They typically range in scale from tiny to roughly double the size of Samus. Some of the bosses exceed the visible screen area. In fact, one of the earliest bosses you'll encounter is a piglike alien named Kraid that stands so tall that you have to jump atop elevated platforms just to attack his fat head.

In addition to the already lively action and rich presentation, the game's pacing and difficulty are perfectly balanced. You'll come across new weapons and upgrades at regular intervals, which, in turn, allow you to access new areas as well as uncover secret passages in areas that you've already explored. These include the super bombs that every Metroid fan has come to know and love, and an energy grapple that lets you swing across lengthy gaps. Along the way, an automatic mapping feature keeps track of save rooms and refill areas, and shows you what areas you have and haven't yet explored. When you enter a new area, the obstacles and enemies you come into contact with will leech away heaps of health. Yet after you pick up another energy tank or locate the next suit of armor, they won't be so deadly. As for the bosses, you'll probably die two or three times against each of them before you figure out their weaknesses. However, once you figure out the right tricks, you'll totally kick that bad alien's tail the next time you restore your save file.

For your first time through, you can expect to spend eight solid hours finding your way around the planet Zebes and eliminating all of the pirate bosses. After that, don't be surprised if you feel compelled to do it again in less than three hours to witness the best ending. Super Metroid has that effect on people, as evidenced by all of the speed-run videos that players have recorded over the years. In any case, you'll be getting a good amount of playtime from your 800 Wii points.

You'll need all of the weapons and armor you collect to beat the gigantic space-pirate bosses.
You'll need all of the weapons and armor you collect to beat the gigantic space-pirate bosses.

The Virtual Console emulates the game without any problems. The graphics look sharp regardless of whether the system is set to output in 480i or 480p, and the musical layers come across just as they did on the Super NES. You can use a GameCube controller or the Classic Controller attachment to play, though the Classic Controller gets the nod for comfort because its button layout is identical to the Super NES's. If need be, you can always reassign the buttons from the main menu.

Anyone who has played Super Metroid before already knows how great it is. If you haven't delved into the planet Zebes, but you enjoy action games or you've been itching to explore Samus' 2D roots after playing the Metroid Prime series, this is the place to start. Don't worry about the original NES version of Metroid that's also available in the Virtual Console shop. Super Metroid recounts its threadbare story in the opening screen and is better in literally every conceivable way.

The Good
Loads of weapons and armor to collect, and plenty of aliens to shoot at
Colorful 16-bit graphics and somber music convey a spooky atmosphere
The smooth pacing means you're always collecting new items or facing new enemies
You'll feel compelled to play again after you've beaten it
The Bad
Nintendo waited 13 years to let us play Super Metroid again
About GameSpot's Reviews

About the Author

15 Comments  RefreshSorted By 
GameSpot has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to toxic conduct in comments. Any abusive, racist, sexist, threatening, bullying, vulgar, and otherwise objectionable behavior will result in moderation and/or account termination. Please keep your discussion civil.

Avatar image for santinegrete

You wouldn't believe a 20 year old game is that great even today, but believe me: it is.

Avatar image for jdlok

8.5...HAHAHA.I bet you gave CoD or some shit a 10. This game as a 10 in 1994, it's a 500 now.

Avatar image for deactivated-59e0c3e2b083b

@jdlok: kind of what you would expect from someone that writes "You get to run around as Samus Aran, the hottest bounty hunter in the universe"; these are the kind of people that must enjoy Samus' Zero Suit more than her epic quests, but anyway.

Cheers for Super Metroid's 23 anniversary today!

Avatar image for The_Deepblue

I really dislike how Gamespot consolidated the original and virtual console versions of games they reviewed. To gamers who lack knowledge on gaming history, they may see the 8.5, the SNES cover art, and 1994 release date on the left hand side and think, "Well, Super Metroid must have been great, but I guess it was certainly not too exceptional or evolutionary." In reality, this title is a historic masterpiece, an apex of its genre, and almost unmatched at the time of its release. Would Gamespot have given Super Metroid an 8.5 if the publication were around back in 1994? No way. So the virtual console release page should be completely separate from the original, which should have no score slapped onto it! This goes for all original and VC rereleases.

Avatar image for jdlok

<< LINK REMOVED >> Totally agree.

Avatar image for pcty

<< LINK REMOVED >> Makes sense.

Avatar image for abcdefgabcdefgz

This game is a classic one of best on snes and maybe ever really no doubt about it. I can play it today and it holds up amazing well a true testament of its gameplay.

Avatar image for ChiefFreeman

<< LINK REMOVED >> theyre the same game. Identical, no difference except that the Virtual Console one isn't a physical copy.

Avatar image for The_Deepblue

There is a difference, actually, and I think Gamespot is dishonest to assign the score as universal to all Super Metroid releases (or any original game and its virtual console counterpart). This site once had separate entries for virtual console games and originals, but they have consolidated them.

The reason why it's bad is because Gamespot rates old games released in the modern era based on modern standards, yet on the left hand side the release date for Super Metroid, with the photo of the SNES box, is 1994. So, gamers who are not up on their game history may think that the 8.5 is the score Gamespot originally rated the game when it was released back in the day. How would they know? And so, Super Metroid is basically, due to the rating system, as good as any other 8.5 games when it was rereleased, to those who don't know better. This game is a historic achievement in gaming history. Sure, the review mentions the game's age and calls it a "masterpiece," but there is still an 8.5 rated for the original 1994 version.

Avatar image for shabreeze

Sorry, but Nintendo waiting 13 years to rerelease this game is not a real criticism. Rereleases are overly frequent and are mostly done solely to make money. There is nothing wrong with playing this on a Super Nintendo. And if you don't have one, then what's wrong with you?

Avatar image for juiceair

Even after 20 years since it's initial release, I still go back and Super Metroid on a regular basis. Some games are too good to stop playing.

Avatar image for GSJones1994

A lot of people say that Ocarina of Time is the best game Nintendo has ever made, but I think that Nintendo's greatest achievement is Super Metroid.

Avatar image for Krusher26

Nintendo would be out of their minds to not either remake this (with updated graphics) or put out another 2D effort for the Wii-U. One of the absolute best games, if not the best, ever.

Avatar image for GSJones1994

<< LINK REMOVED >> Super Metroid has aged so well over the years. Does not need a remake. Just leave Nintendo's finest creation alone.

Avatar image for SaltyMeatballs

Best game of all time no doubt.

Super Metroid More Info

  • First Released Apr 18, 1994
    • Super Nintendo
    Samus returns to the planet Zebes in pursuit of the evil space pirates, who have stolen the last Metroid larva in the galaxy.
    Average Rating4990 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Super Metroid
    Developed by:
    Intelligent Systems
    Published by:
    Adventure, Action
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Kids to Adults
    Mild Violence