30 years ago today the platforming of Super Mario Bros. and the exploration of The Legend of Zelda coalesced into science fiction action adventure starring a person in a powerful suit of armour. Shh. Don’t want to spoil the Metroid surprise.
Launching in Japan for the Famicom on August 6, 1986, Metroid combined elements of two Nintendo classics to create an entirely new Nintendo classic, creating a whole new action-adventure sub-genre in the process.
Gathering items and equipment to unlock previously unexplorable areas started here. Today similar games are referred to as Metroidvania games, due to Castlevania: Symphony of the Night re-popularising the sub-genre. I prefer Metroid-like.
Metroid is also famous for its protagonist, Samus Aran, famously revealed to be a woman to players completing the original game fast enough, despite being referred to in the instructions as a “he.” It’s easy to surprise people when you flat-out lie to them.
1991’s Metroid II: Return of Samus for the Game Boy upgraded the power suit from the first game into the now-iconic, rounded-shoulder Varia Suit, the default look for Samus when she isn’t running about in blue space spandex.
Over the years we’ve seen the Metroid series transform from a 2D platformer to an excellent first-person shooter, in one of the smoothest transitions from pixels to polys ever pulled off (Nintendo had a knack).
Right now Samus and the Metroid series are in a bit of a stasis. The last game released in the series proper was 2010’s Metroid: Other M, which was good, if a bit heavy on unwanted story elements.
There’s a new game coming later this month, Metroid Prime: Federation Force, which doesn’t feature Samus Aran and heavily features a sports game set in the game universe. Fans of the series aren’t thrilled by the milestone passing without a major appearance from one of gaming’s first female heroes, but they wouldn’t be nearly as disappointed if they didn’t care.
Besides, there’s still time. The original Metroid didn’t come to the States until August 1987, We’ll call it a year window.
Now let us reminisce! Share your favourite Metroid memories in the comments below.