Tag Archives: classics

UWG Top 10: #10 – Super Metroid

To this day, I still don’t know how I managed to choose Super Metroid.

Lets face it, 1995 was a completely different era for gamers. It was the age of Super Nintendo vs Sega Genesis, Mortal Kombat was still considered to be extremely controversial, Nintendo Power was a huge selling magazine, game purchases were done only in big retail stores and more importantly, online blogs, game sites, and social media didn’t exist. I know to many of you, I just blew your mind, but yes, buying a game was a major process back then and usually involved trying to convince your parents to shell out the necessary money.

Walking around the local Toys ‘R’ Us (when they used a crazy yellow ticket system to purchase games), I can remember coming across a game called ‘Super Metroid’ featuring a character in a orange suit fighting a dragon like character. I had played the original Metroid years before on the NES, but I’m not sure I made the connection. You see, I had never played Metroid to completion as back then in my young age, that wasn’t why I played games. I played to have fun and also lacking any sort of direction, I never made it very far. For years, Super Metroid would act in a similar way, more as a playground than something I pushed to complete.

The magic of Super Metroid for me came from that game’s ability to tell a compelling story without the use of things we see now a days in cutscenes or character dialogue. When booting up the game, the only time you’ll see story based text is at the very beginning from the heroine, Samus Aran, giving players a quick overview of the story so far. Amazingly, the game’s story really unfolded through player exploration. You see, the entire map was open for the player to explore as they see fit with the only requirement being that you found the necessary tool or weapon in order to access the place where you want to go. These days we call these types of games “Metroidvania” so you can see where that term originates from. Navigating to different zones changed the music and visuals of the area around you giving way to new enemies and challenges to overcome. This style has also made Super Metroid a prime candidate for speed runners, showing off incredible feats and ways to get around locked off areas in abnormally short amounts of time.

Other elements of Super Metroid that really stand out for me are the boss battles sprinkled throughout the world. Each zone typically had a mini-boss along with an end boss battle and each proved to be challenging yet extremely memorable. I can remember the first time I entered Kraid’s lair in Brinstar, the music gave way to a more ominous sound letting you know that something was coming. Entering into his chamber the floor crumbled away and this three screen high monster rose up forcing you to climb the room to his head level to shoot a few missiles into his mouth.

Fighting the spirit monster Phantoon on the Wrecked Ship was also a standout moment for me. As you enter this crashed ship on the surface of planet Zebes, the power has been completely sucked dry. You’re navigating through this now derelict ship looking for any signs of life. Your scanners sense a power spike coming from one of the central locations on the ship where you eventually come upon this odd looking creature known as Phantoon. Turns out, this spirit has fed on the raw energy of the ship and can phase in an out during the battle. It’s a tense, exciting fight and victory means the ship’s power and systems are restored.

Lastly, the progression system in place isn’t anything to write home about with what we have these days, but back then it did a really great job of making you feel like a complete badass. Starting the game relatively weak, you continually upgrade and grow in power during your time on planet Zebes. Even though you’re a full equipped badass bounty hunter, you never quite feel like you’re overpowered as the game does an excellent job progressing with you.

Even to this day, Super Metroid manages to capture what I feel is great about video games. While many games just don’t stand up against the test of time, for me, it’s still incredibly fun after all these years. Samus Aran and Super Metroid is main reason why I still have my old SNES with me and feel compelled to return to Zebes to face off against Mother Brain every few years. In fact, I think I’m a bit overdue.

Thinking back, I still really don’t know what appealed to me about Super Metroid, but I’m glad I took the chance on it. It’s one of my favorite games I’ve ever played.

Derek of GamerCrash.com had the honor of kicking of this most epic of top 10 lists for us! If you liked what he had to say about Super Metroid, why not head on over to his site and see what he has to offer on all the most recent gaming happenings and rumors!


Honor to the Classics

Image by Flickr User:n0cturbulous
Image by Flickr User:n0cturbulous

It was rather early in 2008 when Square-Enix announced their plans to re-release Chrono Trigger for the Nintendo DS.  After playing through the fully upgraded visuals and new 3D perspective of Final Fantasy III, I was eager to see what sort of treatment Chrono Trigger would receive.  Would Square-Enix rebuild the game with a 3D engine, or keep the visuals in 2D but re-draw all of the sprites?  The soundtrack certainly deserved to be re-mastered, maybe even with a symphonic performance track.  My head was buzzing with the thoughts of one of my favorite games being brought back and drastically improved.

 Then the first screenshots came out and they were… the same as always.  It seemed that the only changes being lauded by Square-Enix were the inclusion of anime-style cutscenes (which were already made for the PS1 port, and could be watched anytime on Youtube), an extra dungeon or two, and a Pokemon-esque battle arena.  Hoo-freakin-ray.

Needless to say, I gave up on buying this seemingly lackluster port and moved on to other major releases in 2008.  Nearly five years (and one massive sale) later, I decided to pick up Chrono Trigger DS and complete yet another playthrough of a classic RPG.  What I found upon this tiny cartridge was not just another lackluster rom-dump of an old game, but the perfect version of a Super Nintendo classic.

Right from the start of the game, there are two new options that take advantage of the design of the DS.  The first of these is using the touch screen controls to navigate the game menus and commands.  The second gives the option of playing with all of the menus displayed on the lower screen of the handheld, leaving the actual game world on the top screen.  This is huge.  Chrono Trigger is well-known for its distinct art style by Akira Toriyama, and being able to enjoy the game’s visuals without any sort of menu clutter is an excellent upgrade.  All of the memorable battles and gorgeous sprite work were presented like never before, and I was able to appreciate the art from a new perspective.

The story has been expanded to a degree as well.  A fresh translation was completed and included, which provides a more accurate and fleshed-out narrative.  This means that all of the “cafes” from the SNES version have been transformed back into taverns and pubs, and any sort of mature content/dialogue has returned, which certainly gives the cast of characters more depth.  The cutscenes add a bit of flair to the game, and run quite nicely on the DS.  Furthermore, an extra ending was added, which creates stronger ties from the game to its pseudo-sequel, Chrono Cross.  All of this is topped off with an in-game encyclopedia which catalogs and details every enemy, boss, item, and ending as the player encounters each one.

So far, this post must seem like nothing more than a roaring endorsement of Chrono Trigger DS (guilty as charged), but what I am really trying to get across is that this game serves as a template more publishers should follow when re-releasing older titles.  Instead of simply providing players with a fancy emulator to play old games, companies should be piling on special treatment to these classics.  Imagine downloading a game from the Virtual Console or PSN Classics and receiving tons of concept art, developer interviews, or even the original instruction manual for a game.  Planning to release an HD collection of games from the Playstation 2?  Include the original versions, voice actor interviews, bonus games; really the sky’s the limit with this stuff.  It may cost a bit more to add these tidbits to a re-release, but the content is certainly worth it and I am ready for video games to receive the same fanfare and treatment as the film industry.

-Chip, Games I Made My Girlfriend Play