Super Metroid 20th Anniversary

Twenty years ago, Nintendo released Super Metroid on the Super Famicom. Five days later, I was born. When that game made its impact in the video game world, I was but a baby, completely unaware of Nintendos and Segas fighting for market domination. However, here I am writing about game’s two decades of existence while also thinking about my own. Super Metroid is definitely a special game, but each person will find it special for a different reason. Now, I will attempt to explain why it is special to me.

My story with video games truly begins years after the release of Super Metroid, with a Game Boy Advance I got for Christmas. A kid’s first video game system usually defines what sort of gamer he or she will become, and I was no exception as I was thrown into that little Nintendo world. And it was in a Nintendo World magazine (the official Nintendo publication in Brazil) that I first read about Metroid: Zero Mission, which had just come out for the GBA and got an impressive score on the magazine’s review. A while later, I decided to check the game out… And I couldn’t put it down. I then tried Metroid Fusion, and as my curiosity for the history of games increased, I decided to try Super Metroid.

Nintendo World n 66 2004

This is the magazine that started it all for me.

Unfortunately, my first experiences with the SNES game weren’t that great. I played on an emulator with impaired controls and as a kid found it rather frustrating after being used to the core gameplay of Fusion and Zero Mission. Yet, as I started participating in the Metroid online community, I found out that Super Metroid had a very large fanbase. I knew the game was good, but I had trouble realizing what made it so special for so many people.

Last year, Super Metroid was released on Wii U’s Virtual Console system, and with that I decided to give the game another go, years after previously beating it. This time, however, I let myself be taken by the game’s atmosphere, design and music. As I played it with a more refined knowledge of video games and video game history, I could then understand what made that experience so incredible in 1994. From the way it silently leads the player in the right direction in the beginning of the game to how it uses subtle visual and sound elements to create a profound sense of immersion with those 16-bit sprites, I tried to react like a new player would’ve reacted nineteen years earlier. And it was… rather magical.

Super Metroid Wii U Virtual Console

Thanks to Virtual Console, a whole new generation can experience this classic

But recreating that feeling today is rather difficult. Super Metroid had huge influence in the industry, single-handedly creating a genre (that many call “Metroidvania” but I’d rather call “exploration adventure”) and gameplay concepts that would be seen in games like Castlevania, Tomb Raider and the Batman Arkham series. Indeed, I could talk about design decisions in Super Metroid and the influences they brought to the industry all day long. But as much as I try, I will never feel quite as strongly towards the game as gamers from a previous generation than mine do. For me, the game is like the founding father of what I would come to enjoy in newer games, and for that I can’t help but feel immensely grateful for it.