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perri avatar 7:22 PM on 09.02.2010  (server time)
Revisiting Zebes. I play Super Metroid again after 10 years.

As a young boy in the early 90's I often swooned over my older cousin's NES. I can't recall how many hours I spent watching them play Super Mario 3, and I can't quantify my need to own one either. What I can tell you though is that receiving a Super Nintendo for my birthday in 1994 was one of the most influencial events of my childhood and definitely of my life. My parents played it safe most of the time buying me a few games I asked for, it wasn't much, we rented a lot and purchases were a real treat which is why only 'the best' games I had rented or played at a friends house made it on my 'buy' list. There was one exception to this rule though, that game was Super Metroid.

Super Metroid was a game I had never played and I needed to have it.

My SNES, like all of yours, came with a giant poster full of screenshots and art from games that were available on the system. I'll never forget my first encounter with Ridley- It was on that poster in 1994.

I wouldn't see him again until much later, in Canadian Tire of all places... Back in the mid-90's Canadian Tire was COOL! they sold toys and games, not many, but I always looked forward to looking through the shelves while my dad looked for some new powertool or part for his car. The red dragon was burned in my brain and I made the connection- This was something I was supposed to play.

You know some time passed. It's hazy now and I don't even remember finally getting the game. I'm going to assume that my cousin who worked at Canadian Tire at the time picked it up for my parents. But I really have no idea how it came into my possession. Interesting what we remember isn't it?

Now to make this short story long...

I had Super Metroid for a few years before I sold it, tragically, with all my other SNES games inorder to buy Ocarina of Time the year I got my N64. Ignorance doesn't last forever and neither does bliss. Anyways...

I recently bought the game again on Virtual Console and had an epiphany of sorts. When I was a kid I did not understand this game. I played it for hours and hours. Power ups seemed few and far between and it would seem that my memories of boss battles were all lies, existing only vicariously through box art or the internet. I did not play this game. I ran through doors I could open and did not progress beyond the 20 minute mark. Again- I played this game for YEARS. I was in awe, I was dumbfounded when I passed my 9yr old progress in about half hour.

The only way I can even think of explaining the feeling I got returning to Zebes is by comparing it to Ms.Doubtfire. When I was a kid that movie was awesome, why? Because Robin Williams was dressed as a woman. THAT'S IT! That gag was enough to keep me watching over and over. It was entertaining. Years later I'd watch it again only to realize the movie was pretty heavy. Dealing with adult scenarios like divorce and laden with innuendo. It was also still pretty funny to me years later. Now, I don't know if my affection for Ms.Doubtfire has anything to do with the fact that it was part of my childhood and maybe it isn't that great a movie, maybe I'm blinded by nostalgia but I know how I felt watching it later in life. I felt like it was a whole new movie. I felt like I was watching something new. It's a perfect example of experience informing our level of understanding. This phenomenon occurs over all artistic media and games are no exception.

Come back once you've got the Varia Suit!

Super Metroid is Ms. Doubtfire [which,unsurprisingly, was not a prequel or sequel to Citizen Kane]

Originally I had planned to break the game down and analyze the aesthetics, the music, the gameplay and what not but I think that would be a waste of our time. All I can say is the in Super Metroid is a special game in which the gameplay is satisfying enough to entertain in spite of progress and that progress is a truly rewarding event. The games vague nature makes solving the terrain a reward in itself, new power ups act as reward for traversal and traversal acts as a reward for finding new power ups. It is a rare cycle that is more compelling than most games I've played in this generation because my motivation became less about "finishing the 'story'" or getting to point B and more about my own curiosity which is something that has been missing from games since the inclusion of tutorials and cutscenes.

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