Metroid: A Blind Run By Valdronius
It is my assumption that Syd has a fair bit of name recognition by our readers, given that it's his website. As for my own name recognition however, I have no idea. Nevertheless, if you've read through the 100 Best NES Games Ever article, you may have seen my undoubtedly unpopular opinion that the original Legend of Zelda is an unplayable piece of garbage. Okay, I may be exaggerating a tad, but I definitely do not enjoy the game. I may have also gained your ire for proclaiming that Final Fantasy VI is the greatest game ever made. Whether or not you agree with me, I wrote a nearly 6000 word epic poem about it - what the fuck have you done for your favorite game? Yeah, that's what I thought. Well, if neither of these has won me your malcontent, this last piece of information just might be the watershed: I have never played the original Metroid.
There, I said it. Now if you want to get technical, yes, I once moved Samus around for a minute back in the 80s, although it was limited to being stuck in a hole and not being able to get out. Also, I once watched a tool-assisted speedrun that heavily abused glitches within the game, but I don't see how that's going to help me since I'm not a robot, unlike some popular members of the SydLexia.com forums. Aside from that, and what I've heard in casual conversation, I know nothing about this game. So what is this article about then? I am going to play Metroid, completely blind, and record my thoughts and adventures for your reading pleasure. Yes, in this age of technology, I am not going to look at a single FAQ. If I am absolutely flummoxed, I may delve into the game's instruction manual, but other than that, it will be as if it is 1987 again and I am a drooling preschooler who just got this game from his parents. One thing that I think may help me somewhat is that I know this game takes place on Zebes, and having played the hell out of Super Metroid in my day, I am hoping that knowledge will somehow help me here. I guess there's only one way to find out...
The brief narrative from the title screen tells me that I need to kill the Metroids and Mother Brain on the planet Zebeth (sic). Fair enough, I can handle that. Let's see if I can figure out the controls for the game. Okay, B button fires and A button jumps, that's fairly intuitive for an NES game. I take out those first two enemies, and now I've got some freedom to check out the controls. I can shoot left and right and straight up, and I can shoot up while running. No diagonal shooting, no jumping and shooting down, no ducking. Shit. No wall jump either. Okay, I can deal with this. Start pauses, Select... does nothing. Fuck, no map either. If this "Zebeth" is even half as expansive as Zebes is in the SNES game, I'm going to need a map. I wonder if I have any graph paper lying around. I don't, looks like I'm going to have to take a trip to the store. Now, from playing Super Metroid, I recognize this room. Just left of here is where you get Morph Ball in the SNES game, so I wonder if... Well, I'll be damned; I got the Morph Ball. If this game is mapped exactly like Super Metroid, then final battle with Mother Brain happens right above me...
Okay, so there's no way to get up there. Let's move on.
I've been exploring what I assume to be Brinstar and thus far my map is coming along well. I've made note of all the red doors so that I can come back once I have some missiles. Mapping the horizontal rooms is fairly easy as each room is comprised of one or more whole screens. Vertical mapping however, has been a much less exact science. Maybe I'm lazy, maybe I'm stupid, but it just seems a little more difficult to me. Hopefully a mistake on the height of a shaft now won't end up giving me the shaft latter. The first Missile Pack I find is right at the end of Brinstar, so I guess now is as good a time as any to go back and open those red doors. This also raises another mapping dilemma, the elevators. Do I try and make one continuous map, or put each area on a different map? Bollocks.
Well, I've had to cut and retape my graph paper because I ran off the edge of the map. I figured that would happen eventually. I think for now I'll put each area on a separate sheet of graph paper, and compile them once I'm done. Continuing through the labyrinthine tunnels of Brinstar, I find my first Energy Tank, as well as my first red door since picking up the missiles. Behind that door, I find my first Chozo, which gives me bombs for Morph Ball mode. Methinks there's a secret in this room. Or not. I can roll into the pipe, but there's nothing on the other side. What a bunch of bullshit. When I get a new toy I want to immediately be able to use it to find more stuff, dammit.
After the disappointment that was the bomb room, and realizing that I probably need the Ice Beam or something to continue upwards, I decide to head back to the red doors I found and mapped before. In the room before the Energy Tank, I guessed that there must be a secret hole in the floor and hey, I was right. I was expecting to find another Missile Pack. Instead, I found the Ice Beam. Go figure. Now I have to decide if I want to go back and explore, or continue up from where I got the bombs. I think I want to know what lies behind those red doors.
I am really not liking the Ice Beam. Everything takes twice as many hits to kill. I also do not like how the next secret area to the left of the ice beam is just a large trap that is a pain in the ass to get out of. Fuck you, Samus. It looks like I've looped back to the place where I got the bombs, and in doing so, I picked up another Missile Pack and Energy Tank. I've also discovered that it's a good thing I didn't come back this way first. Even with the Ice Beam, there's no way I could have made it up high enough to get to the next level. Back to the red doors!
Well, I think I have fully explored Brinstar, at least, as far as my current capabilities will allow. I found a room with what looked like miniature statues of Kraid and Ridley, but I couldn't make it through. I have the Long Beam now, and while it still takes twice as many hits to kill every fucking enemy, at least I can fire the length of the screen. Albeit only three bullets at a time. I have two elevators I can pick from. One has a large scary monster above it, the other does not. For now, I'll go down the less scary elevator.
Getting off the elevator I notice two things: the bubbly walls and the music. This tells me that I'm in Norfair now. I have two choices, go left or right. I choose to go down, through the secret bomb spot. Unfortunately, there's nothing down there, at least, nothing that I can see at this point. Why must this game tease with empty secret passages?
Norfair seems to be absolutely littered with goodies. I haven't been down here that long and already I've found seven Missile Packs, three of which were right next to each other. Also, I've found the High Jump, the Screw Attack, and some sort of gun enhancement, the nature of which eludes me. In Super Metroid, Screw Attack is one of the last things you get. Am I near the end of the game? I certainly hope not. This will have been painfully short and disappointing if that is the case.
Well, it seems Norfair holds no more items for me to find. I found two more Missile Packs, a dead end room and lastly, another ominous elevator. Intuition tells me that Ridley lies in wait down this elevator, but as I haven't beaten Kraid yet, I'm not sure I should be taking on Ridley. Decisions, decisions. I'm a bit of a lazy bastard, so all that backtracking to get to Kraid seems undesirable at this point. Ridley, prepare yourself!
Ridley is dead. He was incredibly unchallenging. He moved up and down and spat fireballs at me. I responded by freezing said fireballs, standing on top of them, and blasting the living shit out of him with missiles. After beating Ridley, I expected to be able to go through the door behind him. I could not, however. I fear that I have done something out of proper order and have irrevocably screwed up my game. All I am left with in this area are some impossibly high jumps and a door that I can't get through. Looks like it's time to backtrack and take care of Kraid.
Now Kraid is dead. Kraid was much more difficult than Ridley was, but at least I got some sort of reward, even it was just a bunch of missiles. Oh well, time to move on. I think I'll head back to the room with the two statues. The room with the statues led to Torian in Super Metroid, and this room looks like it could lead to where I expect Mother Brain will be. Hmm, the statue of Kraid looks kind of funny, but Ridley's statue is the same, and nothing else appears different about the room. It appears I've reached a dead end. If I have to fight Ridley again, I'm not going to be happy.
I'm not happy. Ridley was just as easy the second time around. I once again froze his fireballs, stood on top of them, and pumped him full of sweet, sweet missiles. It's probably a good thing I came back though, since I never figured out how to open that pink door. Apparently, you need to fire ten missiles at it. Go figure. I am rewarded for my efforts with my fourth Energy Tank, and I now feel very confident that the statue room is where I need to go.
I return to find that both statues are now blinking, and I discover that shooting them creates a bridge to another elevator. Hooray! Tourian, here I come.
Tourian is much like I expected it to be from my experience with Super Metroid. I did have an "Oh shit!" moment when I encountered my first Metroid, but I froze its ass and blew the living hell out of it with missiles. I expected Tourian to be a little longer. I am a little disappointed to find that only two vertical descents and two horizontal rooms separated me from the final battle with Mother Brain. Speaking of which, let's see how that goes...
Victory! Mother Brain was actually a lot tougher than I thought she would be. Damn those energy circles. Fortunately the Metroids are very generous when it comes to life and missiles, so I was well equipped when I got there. One obligatory escape sequence later I receive my due reward; a single screen of text telling me that I'm awesome. I already knew Samus was a chick, so the whole helmet coming off wasn't as shocking as it would have been had I beat this game 20 years ago.
Overall, I found Metroid to be pretty fun. I am left a little crestfallen however, knowing that I didn't find everything. I know I missed an Energy Tank somewhere, there was a Missile Pack I could see but couldn't get to, and a sizable chunk of Ridley's area was left unexplored. Oh, I never did find the fucking Wave Beam., unless it was the mystery weapon I found in Norfair and for some reason I couldn't use it because I hadn't defeated Kraid or something stupid like that. I'm sure some of you may laugh at me over the things I missed, but I posit that not one of you would've done any better without Nintendo Power or a friend showing you the way. So fuck you! Uh... I mean, thanks for reading! In case you're curious, here's what my map looked like in the end. Now get out of here.
Posted by: Valdronius
THE LAST METROID IS IN CAPTIVITY. THE GALAXY IS AT PEACE.