Happy 30th birthday in advance Samus Aran and Metroid
This summer will become a very special summer for a certain Galactic bounty hunter. Yes, I´m of course talking about Samus Aran. I know that it´s hard to believe that Nintendo´s original Metroid game turns 30 years old on the 6th of August this summer, but it´s true (Nintendo released “Metroid 1” to the NES console back in August, 1986). And that´s most definitely something that we should celebrate. However, it seems like Nintendo have no big plans in stores for Metroid´s 30th anniversary party. So it appears as if the Metroid fans have taken the matter into their own hands, thus the “#Metroid30” hashtag on Twitter (the tag was created by @Metroid30th):
Personally, I don´t understand why Nintendo doesn´t give Samus Aran and the Metroid series the credit which they so deserve? I mean, not only was Samus Aran one of the very first well-known video game female protagonists. “Metroid 1” also proved that you could indeed mix sci-fi, platforming, adventure, action and exploring in one single game (the development team pushed the NES machine to its limits pretty much). I don´t know about you of course, but “Metroid 1” changed my views on games for all time when I played the game at the age of 8 (this was around 1991). Because at that time, I had only played a few SEGA Master System games (“Alien Syndrome” was the first video game that I ever played). So you could just imagine how an eight-year-old kid would feel when he (or she) got the chance to explore the alien-like world of Zebes (that´s the planet where “Metroid 1” takes place).
Well, if you can´t imagine what that might have been like. Then I will do my very best to remember what I felt at the time. Right of the bat, I did not experience “Metroid 1” by my own. As I played the game together with my best friend. And that alone made the gameplay experience even better, because we talked, played and breathed Metroid 24/7 (pretty much). And I still remember how impressed I was with “Metroid” when my friend showed me the game on his NES console, because in my mind, “Metroid” was the ultimate sci-fi experience (I grew up watching Star Trek as a kid). Sure, today you can laugh at Metroid´s graphics, sound effects and music quality. However, that was not the case back in 1986 (I played the game for the very first time in 1991). You see, at the time “Metroid 1” offered stunning graphics, tons of adventure, exploration and gameplay value.
The story about the young me, and a Galactic bounty hunter named Samus Aran
In the matter of fact, I do remember that I was surprised over how open the world was in “Metroid 1” (I couldn´t believe my eyes when my friend showed me how big the world of Zebes was). And I also recall that I thought that Metroid´s in-game physics engine were really cool. As I liked the thought of pretending to be a Mecha space ninja as a kid (TMNT and ninjas in general, were cooler than ice in the early 90s). That was of course not the case, since Samus Aran was a Galactic bounty hunter (I had a pretty wild imagination as a kid). Anyhow, truth be told. I did not finish “Metroid 1” before the mid 90s (I found the game to be rather hard when I was a small kid). However, I did actually get to see the end of “Metroid 1” when I was about 9-10 years old (my older friend finished the game after many nights and days of playing). And what a great moment, because little did I know that Samus Aran was a female (at the very beginning of the game, we actually thought that Samus was an Android).
Even so, I wasn´t disappointed or angry when I found out that Samus Aran was a girl. On the contrary, I started to like Samus even more after that. Because I was around that age when I started to realize that girls are actually really cool. And funny enough, I meet my first girlfriend thanks to the NES console (she liked Super Mario Bros and Metroid a whole lot. And we got each other’s attention while talking to class mates about our Gaming adventures in-between classes).
I would also like to mention that Nintendo created a lot of mystery and magic behind “Metroid”, as Gamers started to talk about hidden codes, eastereggs and such (keep in mind that the Internet was not yet available for the public, so we had to rely on friends, telephone helplines and Gaming magazines for information). And that was like an adventure of it´s own, as people tried to find out what was true, and what was not true. And many “Metroid” players also made their own stories, drawings and clothes (I´m guilty as charge xD).
So in a way Nintendo had managed to create a universe outside the games own digital world (Nintendo had achieved the very same thing with “The Legend of Zelda” and “Super Mario Bros” in the past). And many of us even made up our own “Metroid” games while playing outside with friends (I used to spend a lot of time exploring the woods where I lived as a kid). So I owe quite a lot to the creators of “Metroid” (Makoto Kano, Gunpei Yokoi, Hiroji Kiyotake and Yoshio Sakamoto), as Samus Aran and “Metroid” had such a huge impact on me while grown up. I would also like to point out that I really liked Samus Arans looks and design (I liked the idea of a blond space Amazonian warrior). However, I had no idea how big Samus Aran was as a kid (my English skills were somewhat limited). So it was not until later that I understood that Samus was a 6’3″ and 198lb heavy Amazonian woman (as seen in Nintendo Power).
Nor did I know that “Metroid” was heavliy inspired by H. R. Giger´s art and Ridley Scott’s 1979 science-fiction horror film “Alien”. I also found out that half way through the development of “Metroid 1”, one of the programmers told Yoshio Sakamoto (a key member in the development of the Metroid series) the following:
“Hey, wouldn’t that be kind of cool if it turned out that this person inside the suit was a woman?”.
So, in a way. I have learned a lot about Samus Aran, “Metroid” and the development of the series over the years. And even though Nintendo has released ten (and soon eleven) Metroid games to date. I still like “Super Metroid” the most though, because, in my opinion. “Super Metroid” offers the best platform/action/adventure gameplay experience, there is (don´t get me wrong. I love the “Metroid Prime” series, but I like 2D platforming more). In the matter of fact, “Super Metroid” is one of the very few games which I play through at least one time per year.
And I´ve been doing that since its release in 1994. I also enjoy listening to Kenji Yamamoto and Minako Hamano´s awesome “Super Metroid” soundtrack, and I´ve been doing that for over 22 years time now. Another funny side note about me and “Metroid”. I finished “Super Metroid” before I completed “Metroid II”, because I never owned a Gameboy console. So it wasn´t until much later that I got the chance to play through “Metroid II” (I couldn´t afford a Gameboy when the game launched in Sweden).
The Metroid Prime days
However, I lost my ways with the “Metroid” series in the late 90s (mainly because I started to play more and more games on PC). So it wasn´t until Nintendo and Retro Studios released their FPS/action/adventure “Metroid Prime” (this was back in November, 2002) that I got hooked up on “Metroid” once again. I actually bought the Gamecube for the sole reason to play “Metroid Prime” and “Resident Evil Remake”. Anyhow, I sure don´t regret doing so. And both of my younger brothers enjoyed “Metroid Prime” as well (I got sold on the idea of seeing the world of “Metroid” through the eyes of Samus Aran in a first-person-view). Even so, I couldn´t deny the fact that I really wanted to see a “real” sequel to “Super Metroid”. Sure, I bought”Metroid Fusion” and “Zero Mission” later on (I love both of them). Still, I really wanted to play a full-blown AAA 2D action/platform/adventure adaption of “Metroid”.
How Nintendo and Metroid lost it´s ways
So I got quite excited when I heard about Team Ninja´s and Nintendo´s “Metroid Other M” (the game launched in September, 2010). However, the game turned out to be everything but the game that I had hoped for. So “Metroid Other M” became a rather big disappointment for me. And since the game sold pretty poorly (the average score was just above 79% via Gamerankings and Metacritic). I honestly thought that the “Metroid” series was done for. Especially since the years just went by without any announcements of a new “Metroid” title. Well, let´s just say that I didn´t have any hight hopes for the “Metroid” series after “Metroid: Other M´s” release.
And when I found out about Next Level Games cooperative first-person shooter “Metroid Prime: Federation Force” in June last year, I saw red. Because not only wasn´t Samus Aran the main star of the game, but MPFF was announced as a Co-OP FPS shooter for 3DS. So it came as no suprise to me that most of the Metroid fans saw MPFF as an insult to the Metroid series (thus the cancellation petition). And I agree with the fans to 100%. MPFF is not what I wanted (Nintendo just slapped the name “Metroid” on to the front of the game, even though MPFF has very little to do with “Metroid”). And what´s even sadder is that “Metroid” has a 30-year-old legacy to its name, and still Nintendo treats “Metroid” like this? That´s beyond ignorant, in my opinion. So I think it´s about time that we (the Metroid fans) let Nintendo know that we want a REAL “Metroid” game (Starring Samus Aran as the main protagonist).
That´s also why I think that it´s really important that we bring a lot of noise on Metroid´s 30th anniversary in August this year. Because I truly like the idea of having a new “Metroid” game for the NX console. And who knows? If the game turns out really well, we might even get a “Metroid” movie (or TV-series) as well (that´s something which the fans have wanted to see for years). What I´m trying to say is that it´s up to us to make all of this happen. As it seems like Nintendo couldn´t care less about “Metroid” anymore. There is still hope though, as the Metroid community is very much alive and kicking.
With that said, are you ready to celebrate Metroid´s 30th anniversary this summer? And what´s your favorite Metroid game and memory? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section down below!
Robin “V-Act” Ek
The Gaming Ground
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