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Metroid (video game)
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Metroid A video game cover. A person in a powered exoskeleton fires a projectile at a monster.
North American box art Developer(s) Nintendo R&D1 Publisher(s) Nintendo Producer(s) Gunpei Yokoi Designer(s) Hiroji Kiyotake
Yoshio Sakamoto Writer(s) Makoto Kanoh Composer(s) Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka Series Metroid Aspect ratio 4:3
3:2 (GBA) Native resolution 480p (Virtual Console)
480i (NES)
160p (GBA) Platform(s) FDS, NES, GBA, Virtual Console Release date(s) Genre(s) Action-adventure Mode(s) Single-player Rating(s) ESRB: E (Everyone) (GBA, VC)
PEGI: 3+ (GBA) Media Disk Card, 1-megabit cartridge, WiiWare Input methods NES controller

Metroid (メトロイド, Metoroido?) is an action-adventure video game and the first entry in the Metroid series. Developed by Nintendo Research & Development 1 and published by Nintendo, the game was released in Japan in August 1986, in North America in August 1987, and in Europe in January 1988. It was re-released for the Game Boy Advance in October 2004, and for the Wii Virtual Console in Europe in July 2007, in North America in August 2007, and in Japan in March 2008. Following a series of commercially successful video games released by Nintendo in the early 1980s, the company began developing Metroid alongside its sister game, Kid Icarus (1986). Metroid was produced by Gunpei Yokoi and directed by Yoshio Sakamoto, with music composed by Hirokazu Tanaka. Set on the planet Zebes, the story follows Samus Aran as she attempts to retrieve Metroid creatures that were stolen by Space Pirates, who plan to replicate the Metroids by exposing them to beta rays and then use them as biological weapons to destroy Samus and all who oppose them.

The game's style, focusing on exploration and searching for power-ups used to reach previously inaccessible areas, influenced other video games, and the varied endings for fast completion times made it a popular game for speedrunning. Metroid was lauded for being one of the first video games to feature a woman, Samus Aran, as the protagonist. Nintendo Power ranked Metroid 11th on their list of the best video games made on a Nintendo video game console. On Top 200 Games lists, Metroid was ranked 6th by Game Informer and 69th by Electronic Gaming Monthly.

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[edit] Gameplay

A person in a powered exoskeleton faces a brain in a glass-protected chamber.
Samus faces off against Mother Brain.

Metroid is an action-adventure game in which the player controls Samus Aran in sprite-rendered two-dimensional landscapes. The game takes place on the planet Zebes, a large, open-ended world with areas connected by doors and elevators. The player controls Samus Aran as she travels through the planet's caverns and hunts Space Pirates. She begins with a weak gun as her only weapon, and with only the ability to jump. The player explores more areas and collects power-ups that grant Samus special abilities and enhance her armor and weaponry, granting access to areas that were previously inaccessible. Among the power-ups that are included in the game are the Morph Ball, which allows Samus to curl into a ball to roll into tunnels and use the Bomb weapon, and the Screw Attack, a somersaulting move that destroys enemies in its path. In addition to common enemies, Samus encounters bosses whom she needs to defeat to progress. Defeating an ordinary enemy typically yields additional energy or ammunition, while defeating a boss expands Samus's capacity to carry ammunition and opens the door to the final area.[1][2]

[edit] Plot

Metroid series fictional chronology

Metroid (Zero Mission)
Metroid Prime
Return of Samus
Super Metroid
Other M

Space Pirates attack a Galactic Federation-owned space research vessel and seize samples of Metroid creatures. Dangerous floating organisms, Metroids can latch on to any organism and drain its life energy to kill it. The Space Pirates plan to replicate Metroids by exposing them to beta rays and then using them as biological weapons to destroy all living beings that oppose them. While searching for the stolen Metroids, the Galactic Federation locates the Space Pirates' base of operations on the planet Zebes. The Federation assaults the planet, but the Pirates resist, forcing the Federation to retreat. As a last resort, the Federation decides to send a lone bounty hunter to penetrate the Pirates' base and destroy Mother Brain, the mechanical life-form that controls the Space Pirates' fortress and its defenses. Considered the greatest of all bounty hunters, Samus Aran is chosen for the mission. Samus lands on the surface of Zebes and explores the planet, traveling through the planet's caverns. She eventually comes across Kraid, an ally of the Space Pirates, and Ridley, the Space Pirates' commander, and defeats them both. Eventually, Samus finds and destroys Mother Brain, triggering a self-destruct mechanism and forcing Samus to escape the collapsing lair.[3]

[edit] Development

Portrait of a japanese man, making a public speach.
Yoshio Sakamoto, the director of Metroid, speaks at the 2010 Game Developers Conference.

After Nintendo's release of commercially successful platforming games in the 1980s, including Donkey Kong (1981), Ice Climber (1985), and Super Mario Bros. (1985), as well as the critically-acclaimed adventure game The Legend of Zelda (1986), the company was interested in entering a different genre. They began work on an action game,[4] which they dubbed "Metroid", named after the game's eponymous creatures, and a portmanteau of the words "metro" and "android" according to Yoshio Sakamoto, the game's director.[5] Metroid was produced by Gunpei Yokoi, who previously produced Donkey Kong, Donkey Kong Junior (1982), and the original Mario Bros. (1983). The project was directed by Sakamoto, who previously worked on designs for Donkey Kong Junior, and it featured music written by Hirokazu Tanaka, who also composed for Duck Hunt (1984).[4] Makoto Kanoh was tasked to create the characters and scenarios, and Hiroji Kiyotake designed them.[6] Officially defined as a scrolling shooter video game, and intended to combine Mario's jumping with Link's object-driven ability-enhancing along with the style of science-fiction-inspired action games like Commando (1985) and Contra (1987), Nintendo released Metroid for the Family Computer Disk System on August 6, 1986, and on the Nintendo Entertainment System one year later.[4] The game was developed alongside its sister game, Kid Icarus (1986), which shared elements and programmers with Metroid.[7]

The production was described as a "very free working environment" by Tanaka, who stated that, despite being the composer, he also gave input for the game's graphics and helped name the game's areas. Regarding the music, Tanaka said he wanted to make a score that made players feel like they were encountering a "living organism" and had no distinction between music and sound effects. The only time the main Metroid theme is heard is when Mother Brain is defeated, to give the victorious player a catharsis. During the rest of the game, no melodies are present because Tanaka wanted the soundtrack to be the opposite of the upbeat tunes found in other games at that time.[8] Part way through development, one of the developers asked the others, "Hey, wouldn't that be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?", an idea which was incorporated into the game.[9] While Alien (1979) was never mentioned during development, the team is said to have been influenced by the film's atmosphere, and the series has since been one of their biggest inspirations.[10]

Nintendo attempted to set Metroid apart from other games by making it a nonlinear adventure-based game, in which exploration was a crucial part of the experience. The game often requires that players retrace their steps to progress, forcing the player to scroll the screen left in addition to moving it right, as was the case in most contemporary games. This element, called backtracking, was a new concept at the time. Metroid was also considered one of the first to impress a feeling of desperation and solitude on the player. Following The Legend of Zelda, Metroid helped pioneer the idea of acquiring tools to strengthen characters and help progress through the game. Up until that point, most ability-enhancing power-ups like the Power Shot in Gauntlet (1985) and the Starman in Super Mario Bros. offered only temporary boosts to characters, and they were not required to complete the game. In Metroid, however, items were permanent fixtures that lasted until the end. In particular, missiles were mandatory to finish the game.[4]

After defeating Mother Brain, the player is given an end screen based on the time it took them to get there. Metroid is one of the first games to contain multiple endings, with five in total. In the third, fourth, and fifth endings, Samus Aran appears without her suit, and for the first time, reveals herself to be a woman. In Japan, the disk card media used by the Disk System allowed players to save up to three different games in Metroid, similar to the three save slots in The Legend of Zelda in North America. Use of an internal battery to manage files was not fully realized in time for Metroid's international release. The North American version of Metroid uses a password system that was new to the industry at the time, in which players write down a 24-letter code and re-enter it into the game when they wish to continue a previous session. Codes also allow for changes in gameplay; the "JUSTIN BAILEY" code lets the player play as Samus without her Power Suit, and "NARPAS SWORD" grants Samus infinite ammunition, health, all power-ups, and a modified Ice Beam.[4]

[edit] Reception

The Nintendo Entertainment System version of Metroid sold over one million units in North America.[6] In Nintendo Power's list of the Top 200 Games, Metroid was ranked the 11th-best game made on a Nintendo video game console.[11] Two years later, the magazine also named Metroid the fifth-best game for the Nintendo Entertainment System in its Best of the Best feature, describing it as a combination of Super Mario Bros.'s platforming and The Legend of Zelda's exploration and character upgrades.[12] On Top 100 Games lists, the game was ranked 6th by Game Informer[13] and 69th by Electronic Gaming Monthly.[14] In 2009, Game Informer put Metroid 7th on their list of "The Top 200 Games of All Time", saying that it "started the concept of open exploration in games".[15] Metroid's multiple endings enticed players to race through the game as fast as possible, a video game art form now commonly known as speedrunning.[4] The game was re-released or made available several times after its original launch. Linking the Game Boy Advance game Metroid Fusion (2002) with the Nintendo GameCube's Metroid Prime (2002) using a special cable unlocks the full version of Metroid.[16] An emulated version of Metroid was available as a bonus upon completion of Metroid: Zero Mission (2004).[17] A Game Boy Advance port of Metroid, part of the Classic NES Series collection, was released in Japan on August 10, 2004, in North America on October 25, 2004, and in Europe on January 7, 2005.[18] The game arrived on the Wii Virtual Console in Europe on July 20, 2007, in North America on August 13, 2007, and in Japan on March 4, 2008.[19]

In a retrospective focusing on the entire Metroid series, GameTrailers remarked on the original game's legacy and its effect on the video game industry. They noted that starting with Metroid, search and discovery is what continues to make the franchise popular. The website felt that the combination of detailed sprites, original map designs, and an intimidating musical score "generated an unparalleled ambience and atmosphere that trapped the viewer in an almost claustrophobic state". They also noted that the Morph Ball, first introduced in Metroid, "slammed an undeniable stamp of coolness on the whole experience and the franchise", and they enjoyed the end segment after defeating Mother Brain, claiming that the race to escape the planet Zebes was a "twist few saw coming". The game brought "explosive action" to the Nintendo Entertainment System and a newfound respect for female protagonists.[4] Noting that Metroid was not the first game to offer an open world, nor was it the first side-view platformer exploration game, and neither was it the first game to allow players to reach new areas using newly acquired items, Gamasutra praised Metroid for being perhaps the first video game to "take these different elements and rigorously mold them into a game-ruling structure".[20]

Reviewing the Classic NES Series version of the game, GameSpot noted that 18 years after its initial release, Metroid "just doesn't measure up to today's action adventure standards", giving the game a rating of 5.2 out of 10, for "mediocre".[21] For the Wii Virtual Console version, IGN commented that the game's presentation, graphics, and sound were basic. However, they were still pleased with Metroid's "impressive" gameplay, rating the game 8.0 out of 10, for "impressive".[22] In GameSpot's review of the Virtual Console version, they criticized its "frustrating room layouts" and "constantly flickering graphics". In particular, the website was disappointed that Nintendo did not make any changes to the game, specifically criticizing the lack of a save feature.[23]

Metroid's gameplay style, focusing on exploration and searching for power-ups to reach previously inaccessible areas, influenced other series, most notably the post-Symphony of the Night titles of the Castlevania series.[24] The revelation of Samus being a woman was also lauded as innovative, with GameTrailers remarking that this "blew the norm of women in pieces, at a time when female video game characters were forced into the role of dutiful queen or kidnapped princess, missile-blasting the way for other characters like Chun-Li [from the Street Fighter series] and Lara Croft [from the Tomb Raider series]".[4]

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Number of Players:  Single-player
Publisher:  Nintendo
Developer:  Nintendo R&D1, Intelligent Systems
Console:  Nintendo Entertainment System (NES)
Genre:  Action Adventure
Release Date:  August 6, 1986[
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More Metroid reviews
Quick Tip by . September 26, 2010
posted in The Gaming Hub
Seen as one of THE titles on the old NES and time has looked at it badly. Too ambigous to play without a guide for a first timer and some parts are just cruel to get through.
review by . July 27, 2010
posted in The Gaming Hub
This is certainly a Nintendo classic, but the 8-bit graphics look a bit dated. It just pales in comparison even to the SNES Super Metroid (much less the Prime series). If you want side-scrolling Metroid, I'd recommend just getting Super Metroid, or Metroid: Other M when it comes out.
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