…And I’m back.
Nintendo Entertainment System
I love Super Mario Bros., and I love –although, apparently do not own– The Legend of Zelda. Shigeru Miyamoto made some classic game on this system. But when push comes to shove (and my friends are people totally not afraid to shove a person over video games), my very favorite NES game is Gunpei Yokoi’s Metroid.
Metroid: The Empire Strikes Back of NES games. From the menu screen, it is clear that this game is something special. Video game menu screens are rooted in the arcade’s tradition of the attract mode. They tend to be flashy and noisy to get you excited to play the game. Not so with Metroid. Metroid starts with tense, moody music over a cool night sky. It immediately stands out as something different than its peers, something more subtle. Twenty years of advancement later, it is this subtle atmosphere that makes this game still worth revisiting.
Graphically, the game is very successful at creating an rough-hewn alien landscape. The environment is filled with cracked stones and ancient-looking statues. The monsters that you must fight look truly alien: They look weird without looking silly. It is a world worth exploring.
I love the art of the game’s visuals, but the single most impressive thing about this game is the music, scored by Hirokazu Tanaka. Game music of this era almost always sounds bouncy, catchy, and simple, but not Metroid’s music. Here, the composition is ambient and layered, creating the mood of being all alone on a hostile alien world with no map. I love a lot of old-school game music, but this is the only truly mature soundtrack I’ve found on the NES.
The gameplay for Metroid is solid, but doesn’t quite live up to the high bar of the game’s atmosphere. Although pioneering in its non-linearity, by today’s standards the game is a little too repetitive and a little too backtracky. Also, there is entirely too much camping at a enemy-generator as you slowly kill enemies over and over again, slowly replenishing your health. I hate that shit so damn much. Also, would it have killed them to include a battery so we didn’t have to enter in a stupid password?
So, the game has some real flaws. And other games have done pretty much all of the neat things Metroid has done, and some of them have done it better. Including the Metroid series itself. still, I fucking love this game. It is a fun, moody masterpiece.
Also, *SPOILER* the main character, Samus, is a lady. That’s pretty cool.
Download the Metroid theme. Log into Gmail as email@example.com. the password is “cautionwetfloor”.
Originally published at The Triangle. You can comment here or there.