Alright, so Samus found a bunch of stuff in the previous part. Like, a lot of stuff, and each one of these things allowed her to move forward. And so her exploration continued, and she headed deeper into Planet Zebes, finding more stuff and becoming able to access more zones.
|To be fair, the Grapple Beam turns out to be leagues better|
than the Hookshot.
Now, we could explore around more if we wanted, but the ship is abandoned, and its power has run low. A lot of doors don’t work just yet. In a way, a Metroidvania is a giant world to explore, but you can only access the later areas and advance the plot by getting some particular abilities first. That’s the genius of the genre; it’s a gentle form of platformer railroading, but it doesn’t feel like it. Hell, I am following a walkthrough to play this game (don’t have time to search) and even here, I found some things before the walkthrough directed me to them, because I was searching my way around (it's so easy to get lost) and discovered stuff that could be accessed even without the ice beam or the Hookshot –I mean, grapple beam. Dammit, I gotta remember.
|Have a friendly reminder that blue fire is very|
dangerous. Also. this thing will actually have
different reactions depending on what you shoot it with.
|Botwoon the sea dragon. Oddly enough NOT Draygon.|
|Pictured: Playing dirty.|
But to be fair, this monster was the one who started it!
Don’t fuck with Samus Aran.
After defeating Draygon, we find the Space Jump, allowing Samus to jump endlessly while in midair. As if she wasn’t already agile enough! That’s not all, further we find the Spring Ball, which allows Samus to jump while in ball form! T’was about time! And then, later, we also find the Plasma Beam, the best weapon in the game! Holy crap Samus, stop getting more and more powerful! I’m gonna start feeling sorry for your enemies!
|Oooh, it's golden! Now I want a gold Power Suit!|
|The place is so shaky! Either it's the place, or the game.|
Or maybe I am just picking images from a low-quality LP.
|Of course, everybody knows that aliens only recognize|
their mommies after beating them within an inch of
You know, for a game as complex as a Metroidvania – and, thus, most of the Metroid 2D platformers – it always struck me as odd that the major villain Mother Brain was a stationary creature, that represented little danger in a fight, and which used only the weapons surrounding it to fight. Since it never moves, it can’t be so hard to kill, just keep shooting at it!
|No! It's not supposed to go that way! The captured|
one must not die of a heroic sacrifice! That's BS!
...Granted, it's fairly new, but... daaaamn...
Dammit game, did this have to be a shaggy dog story in the end? That the Metroid we were heading out to save, spending a couple of hours adventuring through all of Zebes, ends up with the prisoner dead? Granted, it dies saving Samus’s life, but still, that’s really sad. Nicely done player punch, though.
Equipped with a new Hyper Beam that shoots multicolor blasts (rainbow power!), Samus kills Mother Brain (which becomes pretty easy for a last boss, it’s as if the developers wanted this to not be a true boss fight, but a story event). When it’s killed, a countdown starts. You have three minutes to escape back to your ship and leave the planet!
And of course, that’s where the developers decided to put in a bunch of mazes, and a bunch of places with lots of platforms to jump on!
|It's aright, it's alright. It was just Zebes... her homeworld...|
Okay, if anybody asks, the Death Star did it.
Anyway, I should mention that there’s an even better ending if you collect 100% of the items and save some inhabitants of the planet when you’re escaping it during the final countdown (do not cue the Europe song). I personally finished with 64% of the items collected, with over 6 hours at the counter. Passing grade for a first time, I guess. And of course, at 100% we get to see Samus without her armor. I doubt she’s in much of a mood to look happy about it, too, considering all of her tragic losses in this game.
And this is the end of the review. There’s a reason this game is sacred for so many players. It is amazing. Hard as Hell, but amazing. Nearly every detail of the gameplay and story are thought up masterfully, artfully. Every single room of this gigantic maze is made so that Samus needs either of her abilities to proceed. And she has so many abilities, too. You’re encouraged to explore and look around, often using the X-Ray Scope in order to find the secret passageways you may have missed. I may feel that the controls weren’t always perfect – even at the end I still often struggled to accomplish enough wall jumps to get to a later place, and the Space Jump and Screw Attack would often be unreliable, stopping to work halfway mid-jump, but both of these points of criticisms could be put on me not being that good at the game. Same could go for all this time I spent lost in the maze, desperately seeking my way around; it’s my first friggin’ time playing, do you expect an instant mastery? I won’t also blame those who fall to the now-legendary “Noob Bridge”, because I also had troubles with it until a quick look online revealed the dash button. Go ahead, laugh at me. I still finished the game. That’s probably one of the little issues with this game; very little is explained to you. You’re not told about the dash button outside of the game manual, you’re not told that you can do a superb upwards jump by charging after a dash… and of course, you never know how to harm a boss until you manage to hurt it through trial and error. But in the end, it’s still awesome.
The story itself is basic, and follows the premise of “show, don’t tell”: Little to no dialogue or text on the screen outside of the intro and power-ups as you find them. Whatever little beats of the story there may be are told through the actions on the screen. From Ridley stealing the Metroid at the beginning, to the story-driven fight against Mother Brain that has to go through all the phases planned. Yup, sorry, no saving that giant Metroid. Impossible. Still, making a game that is all about showing and not telling is an impressive feat. Similarly, the player is expected to figure out a lot of things as they go, which includes how to reach Tourian (by finding the statue made of four smaller statues of the main bosses in the game). The design of every section, and the plot-related events that are linked to it, are thus implemented without a word, and that’s truly fantastic.
It’s even wonderful on the side of the art; this game has some of the most detailed sprite art ever seen on the Super Nintendo. The large creatures, the complex environments, the great level of detail put in every single screen, enemy, character… it’s awesome. The music is also really, really great, always conveying the feeling that the current zone is supposed to give, whether it’s the feeling of the adventure that awaits when you land on Crateria, to the discovery of a bizarre world in Brinstar, to the darker tones of the later areas… It’s like everything is good here!
This game is a masterpiece, and if you’re a gamer, you should play it at least once. No debate. It’s all about exploring, discovering, fighting, becoming stronger, and turning into a near-perfect death machine. Seriously, Screw Attack Samus is incredible. Just don’t go in expecting a huge story.