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The History of Metroid

After the release of Metroid II on the Game Boy it was all change for Gumpei Yokoi's R&D1. The team was split into two divisions; Intelligent Systems, responsible for handling console games, and another responsible for developing handheld titles.

Intelligent Systems was split up into even more development teams, one of which was formed by Metroid honcho Yoshio Sakamoto for a single purpose... planning a true Metroid sequel yet to be approved by Nintendo management, aimed squarely at the SNES.

The one shot group was named Team Shikamaru, and it held members from every other team inside R&D1 - it represented the very best talent they had. With Yokoi and R&D1 buried in endless Super Mario Land sequels Team Shikamaru continued its cause to create the Metroid Sakamoto had always dreamed of, and it'd turn out to be the biggest cartridge game ever made.

After the reasonable sales of the first two games it wasn't easy for Sakamoto to get the SNES Metroid off of the ground. Thanks to Nintendo's concerns over how well it would sell, the now-legendary instalment had its budget cut constantly and was almost cancelled three times due to the fact that, at the time, it was the biggest cartridge game ever made.

But just as the underdog series has been one for bad timing, it's also managed to defy all odds on more than one occasion. Sakamoto and his team managed to build a Metroid that didn't just surpass all expectations, but redefined 2D gaming completely.



From the moment the console powered on and moody red computer text sombrely announced "Metroid 3," the mood was back. Dead scientists littered the title screen, Samus's spared baby Metroid floating solo in a destroyed and corpse-littered lab.

In true Metroid fashion the pace - and tension - soon picked up and not but a few minutes into the game you encountered Ridley himself, before rushing to escape the self-destructing space station as it bellowed and exploded from within.

And just like the intro, Super Metroid did everything bigger; bigger story, bigger set-pieces, bigger bosses. The scramble to recover the galaxy's sole remaining Metroid - now in the hands of the dragon-like Ridley - took Samus back to the rebuilt pirate base of Zebes, with beautiful environments far beyond anything genre fans had seen.

Lava pits, jungle nightmares and underwater caves lay ahead in Samus' mission, and an updatable map, x-ray scans and tons of hidden areas took exploration to an entirely new level.

Suit upgrades included the Indiana Jones-style Grapple Beam, which allowed Samus to swing across chasms like a futuristic Tarzan, and new boots properly her through walls and obstructions at the speed of sound.

The game's non-linear design even gave birth to the fine tradition of speed running, as players competed to reach the end credits as quickly as possible by skipping areas or exploiting bugs.

10 comments

  • JosefMotley - January 8, 2010 3:53 a.m.

    they totally ruined metroid when it went 3D. everything that makes it metroid remained (unlike say mario 64) but these traits are the most ill-suited to adapt into a first person game ever. exploration? hard enough in 2D, in 3D the hidden passages and non-linear routes are just intensely frustrating, especially with a HUD that covers so much of the screen you feel completely removed from the action. i spent most of metroid prime rolling around in a ball just so i could actually see what the hell was going on. platforming is something that no first person game has ever done well and this is no exception. lastly the metroid prime games just don't feel anything like the old ones, they feel americanised and generally less cartoony and stylish. they should have just been a seperate series of games rather than running such a beloved and understocked franchise into the ground for the sake of fashion. PAH
  • AyJay - September 21, 2008 2:28 a.m.

    W00t first comment! metroid is always underrated
  • DARK HUNTER - November 17, 2008 8:49 p.m.

    Halo got boring real quick. Metroid prime did'nt. I have the first two in the trilogy and i'm going to get the third and i can say that between halo and metroid, i'd pick metroid. Metroid prime 1, 2 and 3 are awsome games and last longer and do better than halo. i like first person shotters and all, but halo is justlike every other shooter, while metroid should be in its own genre. It is that different feel that metriod gives that makes it way better than playing halo over and over.
  • Nodoudt - August 28, 2009 1:33 a.m.

    And I agree with Dark Hunter, Metroid beats Halo 1-3 ANY DAY. Hands down.
  • Cyberninja - August 25, 2009 7:32 p.m.

    the 2d metroids are the best
  • ihopethisisnotantistasblood - September 20, 2009 4:59 p.m.

    "Metroid Prime Hunters online beats Halo online" come on, i'm a metroid fan and i don't like halo that much but i know that's a big lie
  • madasivad - September 3, 2009 1:14 a.m.

    Return of Samus didn't introduce the Wave Beam or Bombs. It did introduce the Spider Ball though.
  • Dread - September 2, 2009 10:20 p.m.

    Why the hell does it say it doesnt rival the legend of zelda?Ive played nearly all of the legend of zeldas except oracle of seasons/ages & 4 swords, Metroid sick owns Zelda. Maybe not Mario but still.The only Metroid game i havent playd r Metroid 2. Metroid Prime Hunters online beats Halo online,but i think its a tie on which franchise its bettr since Metroid doesnt really hav multiplayer games except Hunters & Echoes.
  • Edge2k10 - August 30, 2009 7:29 p.m.

    I didn't realize that Metroid had such a struggle to get off the ground. It's very fortunate that Nintendo finally realized how to market the series.
  • Nodoudt - August 28, 2009 1:32 a.m.

    A little bit of me died inside when the gave this to Ninja...Next thing you know it's gonna be Metroid Extreme Beach Volleyball o_O

Showing 1-10 of 10 comments

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