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Metroid - Nintendo Wii Virtual Console Review

by: David Sanchez ; edited by: Michael Hartman ; updated: 4/17/2012 • Leave a comment

The first installment in the Metroid series is tough, but it's also a good look back at retro gaming, and it provides a great history lesson for fans of the series who want to see just how Metroid got its start.

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    Where it All Began for Samus - Metroid Review

    Metroid - Original NES Box Art  

    In 1986, the first entry in the Metroid series was released to critical acclaim. Rather than just offering quick shoot ‘em up thrills, this sci-fi game took things in a different direction: Metroid was a side-scrolling action-adventure game that consisted not only of shooting action, but also exploration. Should gamers shell out 500 Wii Points for this NES classic? Or are they better off downloading a different Virtual Console title?

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    Storyline

    Metroid introduced bounty hunter Samus Aran to the gaming world.  

    If you owned the original Metroid cartridge along with the instruction booklet, then you understood that you had to control bounty hunter extraordinaire Samus Aran in order to save the galaxy from the threat of the evil Space Pirates. Unfortunately, the Virtual Console version doesn’t feature any plot explanation, not even in the game’s built-in Wii manual. And because this first entry in the Metroid series isn’t heavy on plot details at all, don’t expect to really know anything as you play along.

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    Gameplay

    Metroid combines shooting with action-adventure elements, which is something fans of the series have come to love.  

    As Samus Aran, you must navigate through a number of areas (split up into rooms), defeat alien monsters, and collect health and weapon upgrades. You equip laser beams, missiles, ice beams, and other such items to tear down enemies and road blocks. And as is customary in the Metroid series, you can also roll up into a Morph Ball to get to those hard to reach areas or use the legendary Screw Attack to destroy enemies.

    Metroid is not an easy game by any means. Enemies are tough, certain room layouts repeat, and you are bound to be confused as to what to do next at times. As a result of this, many gamers now feel like the title isn’t up to today’s standards. Others, however, enjoy the sadistic difficulty and see it as an excellent history lesson. Video games were tough in the ‘80s, and it took a lot of patience and hard work to get through them.

    Due to Metroid’s severe difficulty level, there’s a great sense of satisfaction that comes with progressing through the game’s levels. When you get health upgrades or weapon power-ups, you can’t help but feel a sense of joy, and knowing that Samus is getting stronger as you progress motivates you to continue playing through her tough quest.

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    Graphics

    In 1986, Nintendo still hadn’t exploited the full potential of the NES. Despite looking like an early NES era game, however, the first entry in the Metroid series is full of retro charm. If you played this game back in its heyday, memories of those late night play sessions will come flooding back. If you’ve never played this game, your reaction to the visuals may be a bit different, but there’s no denying that the graphics in Metroid on the NES hark back to a simpler time.

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    Sound

    Metroid made history by featuring a female protagonist during a time when most video game stars were men.   The sound design of Metroid is a completely different story. Yes, everything has a distinct NES sound, but the music in this first entry in the Metroid series is truly timeless. If you’ve played later games in the series or the Smash Bros. games, you’ll recognize a lot of the music here. One of the things that makes the game’s soundtrack truly stand out is its creepy vibe. You can’t help but feel like you’re isolated on a distant land when you’re playing Metroid and you hear some of the game’s themes. It’s creepy, it’s thrilling, and it’s awesome.

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    Lasting Value

    For 500 Wii Points, you can get a pretty lengthy game in Metroid. If you’ve never played it before, be prepared to do a good deal of backtracking, and expect to see repeating rooms to the point where you may be confused a few times. This game laid the groundwork for the rest of the games in the Metroid series, and it manages to provide a history lesson on both the humble beginnings of the series as well as the tough games that were constantly released on the NES. Additionally, there are several endings that can be seen depending on how fast you clear the game, so Metroid definitely warrants subsequent playthroughs.

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    Metroid Overall Score

    Metroid laid the groundwork for what would become a unique and enthralling series.  

    Metroid is a tough-as-nails game, and as such it doesn’t hold your hand throughout the experience. Because of this, many gamers and critics feel that the game doesn’t hold up all that well. This may be because of its repeating room layouts and sometimes unfair difficulty, or it could very well be because most gamers have been treated with kid gloves in some of today’s games, which aren’t always challenging and offer hints aplenty throughout the experience. If you’re a more open-minded gamer, however, feel free to give Metroid a download. This title spawned a compelling series, and it has even inspired games such as Cave Story. If you want a good old-fashioned retro challenge, you can’t go wrong with Metroid.