I, like most of you, have an incredible backlog of games. Many of these games I've never even started but are widely regarded as some of the best ever created. Part of my 2012 Gaming Resolution is to play through and finish as many as I can. I decided to start with the SNES since I haven't really played anything from that era in a long time (I'm not sure if MegaMan 9 and 10 counts or not?), it has many must-play games, and it is the console that kept me company when I was growing up. I figured I'd open up with a bang and give Super Metroid a shot as this game is always in the discussion as one of the best of all time. How did it go? Well, as you may infer from the title; mixed results!
Welcome to Zebes.
2D platformers are my jam. When I was young, I played so much Super Mario Bros. 3 and Super Mario World that I now instinctively hold down the dash button for all games regardless of dashing abilities. With that said, I was completely unprepared for Zebes. My only other experience with Metroid was spending a few hours with the original NES game and getting absolutely nowhere. For the first hour or so, I was feeling Super Metroid. I was digging the atmostphere and experiencing the sensation of isolation it's well known for. The control scheme was a little funky, but I was willing to let it slide. I thought assigning diagonal aiming to the shoulder buttons worked really well when my brain got used to it. Unfortunately, as I ventured further and further into the game, the frustrations began to mount. Most of my experience with the Norfair section was spent getting out of or falling into the lava. Yep, the entire time. In the lava. As my patience was slowly eroding, the things I liked in the beginning became sources of anger. Falling down pits with no way back, getting stuck and finding out I have to bomb the rock that looks exactly like the other rocks that cannot be bombed, getting stuck and having to do moves I didn't know I could do... this last one culminated in my rage-quitting one night and actually searching Google for the strings "Super Metroid sucks" and "Super Metroid terrible". Yeah, I'm not proud of that one. The middle section of the game was mostly spent with a clenched jaw and an eye twitch, but I was able to progress. Unfortunately, any new challenge the game threw at me was met with swearing and a quick trip to youtube.
This is where I hung out.
All good things must come to an end
I ended up finishing the game with a time of 8:42. The last few hours went fairly well but the damage had been done to my psyche. I felt like Homer when he was driving back from New York behind the garbage truck, with no windshield. It only took me two tries to beat Ridley and I got no joy or satisfaction from it almost as if the game owed it to me. I did really enjoy the final fight with Mother Brain and the cutscene with the Metroid. Of course, I didn't make it to my ship the first time before Zebes detonated, but I just laughed it off. It seemed fitting all things considering.
This happened to me.
It's not you, it's me
My frustrations were all my fault. Metroid is a platformer unlike any I had played before but I kept trying to bend it to fit a mould I was comfortable with. Mario and Mega Man are very much reactionary type gameplay with similar physics with regards to running and jumping. When I play these games I'm almost constantly in motion, not so much with Metroid. If you rush into a situation without a plan, you'll be knocked around and land in the lava or a pit of spikes or those fucking plants that hold onto you. I kept rushing into situations. Secondly, I didn't learn the controls or get very good in general. I've finished the game and I still can't control Samus worth a shit. Between the floaty jumps, overshooting platforms and bouncing around like a pinball taking damage, it was rough. Ask me to do a wall jump and there's a 50% chance I'll get it to work. I've seen people doing play-throughs and holy shit, the game looks amazing when you're good! Thirdly, there were puzzles! My brain wasn't ready for this. The game gives you subtle hints each time you're supposed to do something, but my mind was in platformer mode not adventure game mode. I kept thinking I was stuck and then I'd check youtube and be pissed because the answer was fairly obvious. Which brings me to my last and maybe most important fault: At 32 years old, I'm incredibly impatient compared to when I was 12. Maybe I can blame an age of instant news, instant media, instant everything, or deadlines from school and work having to be met by a certain time; but now my reaction to being stuck in a game is to want to be given the answer immediately rather than figure it out. I hope this is something I can work on and learn to just chill again and explore...
I did not become a Jedi.
Am I happy I finally played through Super Metroid? Yes and no. I'm happy for getting to experience the atmosphere and the amazing level design. I played mostly from midnight - 2 a.m. with headphones which I feel is a must. I'm also happy the game made me take a look at myself and how I can try to regain that sense of exploration I may have lost growing up. I think if the 12 year old me had owned this game he would have spent months learning to master and love it. The only thing I really regret is that my impatience sabbotaged my experience and I didn't give it a fair shake. I wish I could write a note saying "Just relax." and then Eternal Sunshine myself. I would recommend everyone give it a go, but I'm pretty sure everyone already has. I'll lock up and turn off the lights.