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An Illustrated Life

The Metroid Chronicles Chapter 1: Survival

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Metroid; one of the most beloved games of all time, a genre defining science-fiction masterpiece, and I’ve never played it. Seems odd doesn’t it? I like to think of myself as a well-read (well-played?) gamer, and if anything lean Nintendo, yet I’ve never played Metroid. “Alright” you say, “you may not have played the original, but surely you’ve played one of the many sequels? Perhaps Super Metroid, which is considered by some to be the best game of all time”? Well that dear reader, is where the plot thickens. Not only have I never played the 1987 original, I have never finished a single game in the series, never even played more than a few hours. 

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That’s right terribly drawn Mario. Let eternal shame rain down upon me.

I am of course familiar with one miss Samus Aran (the 4.8 billion hours I have put into the Super Smash Brothers series saw to that). I know words like Brinstar, Ridly, Space-Pirate and morph ball. I know what a Metroid is, (and that it should of course be avoided) but that is all I really have, a passing knowledge. So that is why I am setting out on this mission; to play though the Metroid series. It may take a while and have many pit-stops along the way, but any great journey starts with a single step.

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And so it is that I, armed only with my 3DS and a map from a very old issue of Nintendo Power, begin my play-through of Metroid.

From the very beginning, Metroid feels like a fight for survival. Not only does the first beam only shoot 8 freaking feet,

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but you start with only 30 health. Now, many games start you out with fairly low health capacity, but Samus has a capacity of 99 health from the very beginning. It’s like this cocky bounty hunter left for planet Zebes all likeimage

I like to think of the beginning of the game as Samus hunting the local wildlife, eating anything she can to stay alive.

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Let me tell you about the enemies in Metroid. Those sumbitches take 5, 10, even 20 health from the get-go and to describe some of their attack patterns as erratic is an understatement, so Samus’ first task is to hunt and build up some resistance. That brings me to my first point; Metroid is freaking hard. Everybody knows that modern games have lost their edge in many ways - that NES era difficulty was so much more sinister, and this game is no different. Is it the most difficult game on the NES? Lord no! But it does make me praise the Nintendo Gods for the beautiful invention that is the Virtual Console suspend feature.

What really strikes me about this game though is the way ahead of its time non-linearity. How many NES games give you the option to explore a large game-world on your own, giving you the freedom to find your own way? The game world is pretty huge, and it has some pretty opaque secret paths. Zebes would be pretty damned difficult to navigate without that Nintendo Power map.image

At this point, I have pretty sufficiently explored Brinstar and Norfair, delving deeply into their dank rocky crevices and fiery chasms, and I can barely wait to explore the rest.

Check back soon to read all about my continuing adventures on planet Zebes!

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