Video Game / Metroid 1

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"EMERGENCY ORDER!
DEFEAT THE METROID OF THE PLANET ZEBETH AND DESTROY THE MOTHER BRAIN THE MECHANICAL LIFE VEIN
GALAXY FEDERAL POLICE M510"

In the year 1980 of the Gregorian Calendar, employees from the nation of Japan advanced a company known as Nintendo, and an age of prosperity began. A successful exchange of consumers and developers resulted, and thousands of video games shuttled back and forth between nations. Soon, however, The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 began to attack the industry, threatening galactic peace. Nintendo struck back against this aggression, but the Crash's attacks were powerful and it was impossible to withstand it in the vast reaches of the West. So Nintendo called together mighty video game franchises to battle the stagnant market.

In the year 1986 of the Gregorian Calendar, the company decided on a risky strategy: to send a lone space hunter game to penetrate the Crash's stronghold and destroy the mechanical life-form that controlled its defenses. The space hunter game chosen for this mission was Metroid. Considered the greatest of all early shooter-adventures, Metroid successfully completed numerous missions that others had thought impossible. Despite its accomplishments, much of its hero's identity, Samus Aran, remained a mystery... unless the player beat the game in under three hours, upon which they discovered that Samus Is a Girl.

Metroid successfully sold millions of units and established dozens of mechanics now standard for subsequent video games, such as secret endings, back tracking, discoverable power-ups, and sequence breaking. Its own legacy was continued by the Metroid sequels that told the rest of the saga of Samus, and by its remake, Metroid: Zero Mission, which came out in the year 2004 of the Gregorian Calendar. In Zero Mission, Samus retells the story of her first adventure to a new generation, and includes a few twists in the story for her veteran fans.

Compare to Kid Icarus (which was built on the same game engine as Metroid and shared the same dev team) and The Legend of Zelda I (which was a major influence on the non-linear design of Metroid).

This work provides examples of:

  • Ability Required to Proceed: Samus can only do four things without items; run, jump, flip and shoot. You need the Morph Ball to even get past the first few screens, and the Missiles and Morph Ball Bombs to get anywhere. She also needs the Hi-Jump Boots and Ice Beam to access certain areas and attack the Metroids in Tourian.
  • Action Girl: Mother Brain, who battles you in her boss fight. Also, some "Sam" person or another.
  • After Boss Recovery: Defeating Ridley and/or Kraid will result in Samus's missile carrying capacity being increased by 75 (granting her an extra amount of missiles of that same number). Also, both bosses have Energy Tanks hidden in or near their lairs—even if you already have six of them, it'll replenish your health. These also double as Anti-Frustration Features.
  • Air Borne Mook: Memus, Geegas, Wavers, Mellows, Reos, Rippers, Ripper IIs, Mellas, Gamets, Gerutas, Zebbos, Holtz, Multiviolas, Rinkas... flying enemies come in a wider variety than any other type.
  • Ambidextrous Sprite: Present within the game itself; in commercials for the Famicom game, she has unique sprites for facing left and right. Interestingly, some differentiated left/right sprites are in the ROM of this game, but are unused.
  • Antepiece: This game is hard, but the devs will sometimes precede hard parts with easier versions of the hard part to give you some safe practice. It also doubles as Instructive Level Design.
    • The area where you find the Morph Ball is right next to a high wall that you can jump over from one side, but traps you on the other—the only exit out is a small space that Samus can't crawl into. The only way out is to grab the power-up and then use the new power to go through it, a warm up for the next crawl space up ahead that's littered with enemies.
    • As soon as you go right, you'll be attacked from above by Skrees. They move too fast for you to stop in time by shooting them from the side, teaching the player that they can shoot up to attack them. The Reo and Waver enemies also encourage the player to learn how to time Samus' flip jumps in order to dodge their patterns of movement, as the move is crucial to survival throughout the game.
    • There is a difficult shaft you must climb at the very end at the start of this last level, there is a similar shaft with wider platforms.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • Both Kraid and Ridley give you 75 missiles upon killing them, which cuts down on the time spent searching for missile tanks, and both of their rooms have a hidden energy tank, which will refill your health even if you have six already.
    • Die enough times to Mother Brain and the passwords you get will leave the Zebetite barriers leading to her broken when entered.
    • If you're playing the game on the original hardware and have two controllers, you can press start on Controller one, then press Up and A on Controller two at the same time to end your game and go to the password screen without dying.
  • Armless Biped: It is established quickly as a very successful morph in the Metroid setting with the Dessgeegas, Novas/Sovas and Sidehoppers. With the exception of the Novas, they all have the ability to walk on the ceiling, jump toward the floor and "fall" upwards.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Wave Beam does more damage than the normal or Ice Beam, can hit the various crotch monsters, can destroy several rocks quickly and can shoot through walls. Unfortunately, you need the Ice Beam to reach certain areas and to kill the Metroids in Tourian (even if you decide to skip the Metroids, freezing them with the Ice Beam is still the better option for doing that). The Wave Beam is the best weapon to beat Kraid with, however.
  • Bee Ware: Zebbos are basically giant flying vespids
  • Big Bad: Mother Brain.
  • Bizarrchitecture: This game has the most alien and isolating environments in the series, designed to make the player uncomfortable rather than for pacing or flow. A perfect example is the final ascent at the end; the platforms are incredibly small and awkwardly spaced, while in Super Metroid and Metroid: Zero Mission, the same platforms are much larger and less obstructive to the player.
  • Black and White Morality: Samus is a clear cut protagonist, whike the Space Pirates and their goal to exploit the Metroids are unquestionably evil.
  • Bounty Hunter: Take a wild guess who. To drive the point home, the Famicom version places a bag of money next to completed game files.
  • Broken Bridge: The entrance to Tourian is cut off by a very high ledge with a hole that only the Morph Ball can squeeze through, with an acid pit below it. Normally, you have to kill Kraid and Ridley to activate their statues near the entrance, which will create a bridge across when you shoot them. A very skilled player can get across by using luring an enemy into the room, freezing it with the Ice Beam and Morph Ball Bomb jumping off of it.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": Polyps and Dragons have a superficial resemblance to what those words are meant to describe at best.
  • Checkpoint Starvation: Since this game precedes the introduction of Save Stations in the series, there are five checkpoints in the entire game, and all of them are at the start of each area you enter.
  • Classic Cheat Code: By accident; the famous JUSTIN BAILEY code is just a side-effect of the password calculation system and is but one of many codes that bestow Samus with a leotard. The far less famous NARPAS SWORD (Not A Real or North American Release Password) actually is a special, unique password, however.
    • ENGAGE RIDLEY MOTHER FUCKER. Sadly, that code has now become a system-killer in the 3DS port. Using it on a NES emulator will also crash the game on the spot.
  • Collision Damage: Every enemy, except for the dragons which try to shoot Samus, Skree which try to explode near Samus and the Metroids who try to latch onto Samus, rely on this. The bosses Ridley, Kraid, Fake Kraid and Mother Brain have projectile attacks but can still cause collision damage.
  • Continuing Is Painful: Every time you get killed or use a password to continue where you left off, you spawn with only 30 Energy. A patch for the ROM not only adds the saving system, but also saves your health (no grinding to regain your health after loading!) and offers a (although minimalist) map screen!
  • Convection Schmonvection: Unlike later games, the Varia Suit is not needed at all in Norfair, as all it does is increase Samus's defense by 50%. Taken Up to Eleven in that she can even go into the area wearing nothing but a leotard and knee-high boots, and she still takes no heat damage unless she directly touches lava.
  • Copy And Paste Environments: One of the reasons that the original is hard as hell, especially for people who played the sequels; this was, however, crucial in making a fairly large world without running out of cart space. The upshot is that many of the secret area entrances are copy-and-pasted as well, so finding one can make it easier to find others in the same area.
  • Cores and Turrets Boss: Mother Brain does not attack Samus directly - she instead relies on her turrets, lava pools and Rinkas to attack her while she sits still.
  • Critical Annoyance: Dadadadadadadada-
  • Critical Existence Failure: Getting to zero health results in Samus's entire body exploding instantly.
  • Difficulty by Region: Zigzagged, as enemies in the Famicon version tend to have more complex patterns than their NES counterparts, making combat more difficult. All the same, the Famicom still lets people save their game. The Famicom has less lag too, meaning the player will take less cheap hits. The NES version also requires you to beat the game in one hour to get the best ending, whereas the FDS version gives you two.
  • Dummied Out: Aside from the aforementioned moving left sprites for Samus, a Fake Ridley (that functions to Ridley what Fake Kraid does to Kraid) appears in the code as a functional enemy with its own sprites, but does not show up in the game itself.
  • Early Game Hell: You start off with only a short range blaster and what amounts to a few hit points worth of health. Once you get a few energy tanks, the weapon upgrades and the Varia Suit, the game gets significantly less hard.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The first Metroid game had some strange designs. Samus was a brunette with '80s Hair, not a pony-tailed blonde. Ridley was... this thing instead of his fearsome modern design, Kraid was hairy and the same height as Samus, and the back of the box says that "left alone the Metroid[s] are harmless" when later games make fully clear that Metroids are always dangerous and the Pirates are idiots for trying to control them. The very next game has even has Metroids be deemed such a large threat that the Galactic Federation orders their extermination. Also, doors close after a set period of time if you do not enter after shooting them open (except red doors, which never close after being shot open - in later games, they'd turn blue).
    • Also noteworthy is that this is the only game in the series where Samus's gender isn't clear right away, with even the manual referring to her using male pronouns, in both the Japanese and English versions. Later installments consistently use female pronouns and show her without her armor in various cutscenes and death animations, making the secrecy and "twist" in the original seem out of place in retrospect.
    • Several gameplay mechanics feel absolutely weird, especially if one plays the later Metroid games first before playing this one. The game has no map, Samus always starts at 30 energy points after you load your saved game/use a passwords, regardless of your Energy Tank collection, and there's only the default beam, Ice Beam, and Wave Beam in the game. The default beam doesn't even shoot across the entire screen and requires a power-up to do so, which was never used again by the 2nd game onward but was brought back in the remake.
  • Earn Your Bad Ending: Getting the two No Frills endings requires you to beat the game in over five hours. In a normal playthrough, Samus raises her fist in victory, but the armor stays put. Doing this with Armorless Samus will have her back toward you and her arm thrown over her face in shame.
  • Excuse Plot: Sure, there's some backstory in the game, and the scope of it is greatly expanded upon in the sequels, but here, you're just a bounty hunter on a mission to blow up some space aliens.
  • Fake Difficulty: A big reason why the game is so hard is because it uses a lot of cheap difficulty tricks; there's no map, so unless you use a guide, a lot of the items have to be found through Trial-and-Error Gameplay—the Copy And Paste Environments do not help at all. And no matter how many energy tanks you collect, Samus will always start with 30 hit points, forcing a player to waste a lot of time farming for health (especially if you have all of the tanks), and all that health can easily be whittled away by the merciless barrage of enemies due to Samus' weak stamina (although the Varia Suit helps mitigate this) and lack of Mercy Invincibility—and if you die, you go right back to having 30 HP again. To make matters worse, there are more than a few spots where its extremely hard if not impossible to dodge certain enemy attacks. On top of that, Samus' jump is very floaty and she can be easily knocked back on contact with an enemy. Norfair also has some deep pits that are extremely hard to jump out of, even with the Hi Jump Boots. Oh, and there's no save stations, so if you die in one of the five areas, you have to start right back at the beginning of each of them (the only mitigation being that you get to keep whatever items you collected already).
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Despite the Metroids being built up as the ultimate threat of the game to defeat, destroying them or even fighting them is completely optional (avoiding them is possible, but extremely difficult). Destroying them has no bearing on the gameplay either, as they simply respawn. In fact, you're better off just freezing them and moving on, since you'll be needing a lot of missiles to fight Mother Brain.
  • The Goomba: Zoomers, the most common enemy and the first you encounter. Like actual Goombas, they move around nimbly, but that's it—they don't even directly attack you. They only take a couple hits to kill, but you can't hit them while they're on your ground level, so you have to jump over them or use Bombs to dispatch them.
  • Hard Levels, Easy Bosses: The levels are loaded with hazards and hostile wildlife that will make short work of you if you keep your guard down. The boss fights aren't a total cakewalk, but they're much less challenging in contrast, especially since two of the bosses (Ridley and Mother Brain) just stay stationary while attacking you with projectiles, while you spam missiles at them in turn.
  • Heart Container: Energy Tanks. There are two more of them than the maximum number you can have, and they fully restore energy upon collection, so save one for your final run... or don't.
  • Horn Attack: Geegas apparently have "poison" in their horns. Also, Zebs and Gamets.
  • Hyper-Destructive Bouncing Ball: Multiviolas, which get faster the deeper into the planet you go.
  • In a Single Bound: The High Jump power up, which is not required but makes the various secret passages that end up going nowhere much more bearable.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Later games make it obvious Samus is a woman from the start, and address her with female pronouns, making The Reveal obvious to modern players. This combined with Pop Culture and It Was Sled effect.
  • Lethal Lava Land: Norfair, Ridley's Hideout and Tourian. Brinstar and Kraid's Hideout seem to use super-corrosive acid instead. Hacking the game reveals that every horizontal room has the lava/acid effect hard-coded into it to save on game memory; the tiles are either changed or covered up with solid ground so it won't harm the player.
  • Life Energy: The cyborg known as Samus has a space suit that can absorb the power of those he defeats to replenish his health and restore his ammo, according the instruction manual. Which is why the space pirates, all three of them, fear him. Metroids can drain life energy directly from hosts, quickly killing them.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: The Famicom Disk System version has nearly a minute of loading every time Samus enters a different area.
  • Made of Iron: Despite initial impressions, the weaker Rippers can be killed by your normal beam weapon—100 beam shots, to be precise. You're better off just freezing them with the Ice Beam or blowing them up with a single missile. Their hardier counterparts are immune to everything, even your Screw Attack!
  • Mercy Invincibility: Part of why the game is so hard is that Samus' mercy invinciblity lasts less than 1 second.
  • Minus World: The game's glitchy secret worlds can be accessed by getting yourself stuck in doors, are many times larger than 'real' map, and inspired vast inflorescences of conspiracy theory before it was proven they were caused by the game reading its own code as level data. They are also abused for Speed Runs.
  • Mook Maker: Air tubes, which make progressively faster and more damaging mooks the deeper into Zebes you go.
  • Mutually Exclusive Powerups: One cannot hold the Ice Beam and the Wave Beam at the same time, requiring those with one wanting the other to go back to where they initially found it (they respawn once Samus picks up the opposite beam). Inputting the NARPAS SWORD code (which grants the player every powerup save Energy/Missile Tanks) curiously gives Samus the Ice Beam, but with a blue colored Wave Beam sprite (presumably the game's way of handling having both weapons at once).
  • Multiple Endings: There are five, all earned based on how quickly you beat the game:
    • Beat the game in over five hours, and Samus raises her fist in victory, but the armor stays put. ** Beat the game in over five hours with Armorless Samus will have her back toward you and her arm thrown over her face in shame.
    • Beating it between 3 to 5 hours makes Samus' helmet disappear.
    • Beating it in less than three hours makes Samus' armor disappear, revealing a purple leotard. Pressing Start at the end of the credits allows you to start a new game as Armorless Samus.
    • Beat the game in less than an hour (two in the FDS version), and Samus will be shown wearing a bikini.
  • New Game+: After beating the game you get to keep all of Samus's power ups for future times playing through except for her Energy and Missile Tanks, which you have to find again. Still, it can allow you to finish the game much faster...
    • ... and if you beat the game in under three hours (or just get the password from someone else), you can play through the game without the Power Suit, with all the controls and power ups still working the same for an unarmored Samus. Just a one time thing for this game though - this reward never crops up again, and when you do play as an unarmored Samus in Metroid: Zero Mission, she's much weaker without it (here, the unarmored look is cosmetic more than anything).
  • New World Tease:
    • The entrance to Kraid's Lair is the second room you enter in the game, but you can't access it until you get the Morph Ball Bombs. Likewise, only a small section of Norfair is accessible without bombs.
    • The room leading to Tourian is accessible early on, but Kraid and Ridley have to be killed to activate the bridge allowing access to its entrance.
  • Nintendo Hard: This game is likely the hardest in the series - the lack of a map combined with Cut-and-Paste Environments makes it easy to get lost, and the enemies/bosses can hit hard without the proper power ups. There's a save feature in the FDS version, but you can't save whenever you want - only when you die. Plus, you respawn with only 30 units of health, so you have to grind to regain your remaining health (or hunt down an Energy Tank). Trying to beat the game with only the three mandatory power-ups (Morph Ball, Bombs and Missiles) makes the game even harder.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Rippers, the common, slowly floating enemy you usually find in horizontal tunnels. While they're very hard to kill with your normal beam, they don't even try to attack you—in fact, it's better just to freeze them with your Ice Beam so they can be used as platforms. Even its Norfair counterparts are barely any more threatening, aside from moving faster.
  • No Sidepaths, No Exploration, No Freedom: In stark contrast to the rest of the game, Tourian is a very linear, straightforward level with no power ups, where your goal is to fight your way past the Metroids, reach Mother Brain and then destroy her.
  • Oddly Small Organization: The Space Pirates are hardly the fearsome force the manual make them out to be. The local fauna and general geography are your most constant dangers in their so-called base. They managed to steal quite a lot of Metroids all the same. The manual claims Mother Brain gave life to the Multiviolas, but they still aren't referred to as Space Pirates.
  • Offscreen Start Bonus: The Morph Ball is placed just to the left of the starting point. You can't progress more than a few screens to the right without it, so it serves to demonstrate to new players that you can go left — which was important at the time, as most platformers of that era held firm to the principle of When All Else Fails, Go Right.
  • One-Hit KO: Hitting any regular enemy with a missile or the Screw Attack will always inflict this on them.
  • Opening the Sandbox: You start off with just a meager blaster, and getting the Morph Ball allows you to get past the first few rooms. Getting the missiles and the morph ball bombs basically let you explore anywhere you want—the rest of the items are needed so you can have a fighting chance of survival while you explore, although the Hi Jump Boots and Ice Beam are needed to access certain areas.
  • Palette Swap: Activating missiles turns Samus's arm cannon blue when in her armor. The Varia Suit upgrade turns her armor white (pink/purple when missiles are activated). Unarmored, the Varia Suit turns Samus's hair and gun from brown to green (and adds some green pixels to her boots).
    • A few enemies are also palette swapped, usually appearing together in the same area (typcally, one variant takes twice as many shots to kill as the other) while other enemies with the same function get different sprites in other areas. Particularly, red/brown Metroids are slow but more likely to come after Samus while green Metroids are fast but likely to lie in wait (or get caught on bits of scenery).
    • Fake Kraid is physically distinct from Kraid by being brown with blue hair and not yellow with green hair.
  • Pivotal Boss: Ridley's movement is limited to jumping in place and turning around if you get behind him.
  • Portmanteau: The name Metroid is a mashup of the words Metro and Android.
  • Power-Up Letdown: The Ice Beam kinda sucks in this game. Freezing an enemy deals no damage, only unfreezing them does that. This means twice as many shots to kill something. Of course, you won't think it's a letdown once you go to Tourian...
  • Quicksand Box: The game has no map and gives you no hints and not much of a sense of direction. Its very easy to get lost in this game without a players guide.
  • Railroading: The game is very non linear and gives you a lot of freedom, but it uses this to give the player some sense of direction while you start Opening the Sandbox. You can't even get past the first few rooms without finding the Morph Ball. To access Kraid's Lair, most of Upper Norfair, Lower Norfair and many other rooms, you need the Morph Ball bombs. And to access many rooms, including the boss rooms and rooms with items, you need to have at minimum five missiles to blow open their locked doors. And to access Tourian, both Kraid and Ridley need to be killed.
  • Red Herring: There exists a look alike of Kraid that dies in one hit, though to find it, you have to pretty far off course so most players do not see it.
  • Regional Bonus: The NES version has a New Game+ and a Debug cheat, which weren't in the FDS version of the game.
  • Rock Monster: The manual says Polyps are living, poisonous lava, though to the player, they may as well be lifeless geyser hazards.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Trope Namer. This was a huge secret in the original game, but now everybody knows it.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Beating the entire game with only the bare minimum of power-ups; the morph ball, the morph ball bombs, no energy tanks and only collecting 1 missile expansion (not counting the extra missiles you get from beating Kraid and Ridley). It's possible, but it makes an already challenging game downright nightmarish to get through, since Samus can only take a couple of hits before keeling over. It also makes Tourian an absolute nightmare to get through, since you need absolutely perfect timing and reflexes to evade the Metroids.
  • Sequence Breaking: The game started a series wide tradition of doing this thanks to some tricks you can pull off. Many of these tricks are frequently used in speedruns.
    • The Morph Ball, Bombs and Missiles are the only things absolutely required to beat the game (making seven power ups optional), though you will probably need the Ice Beam too if running an absolute minimum run.
    • A "Bomb Boost Jump" can be performed by laying a bomb and unmorphing before it detonates. Samus will be sent into the air by the bomb, and she can jump higher than normal.
    • If Samus rolls off a ledge in Morph Ball form and unmorphs, she will be in her standing sprite, and she is able to jump.
    • The Varia Suit can be collected without the Ice Beam by Door Jumping up to the Varia Suit's room in the shaft that is two rooms from the Varia's location.
    • The Varia can also be collected without the High Jump Boots but with the Ice Beam. Samus must abuse a Waver by freezing it over and over to get to the Varia. The Waver may not always line up correctly though.
    • Ridley's Lair or the area leading to the High Jump Boots can be reached without the Bombs by using the "Door Jump" glitch in the "green bubble" area of Norfair.
    • The Ice Beam can be collected without the Bombs by using the Door Jump.
    • Kraid and Ridley do not have to be defeated to get into Tourian. If Samus lures a Reo from Corridor Number Two into the room with the Stone Statues and freezes it above the acid, she can perform a difficult Bomb Jump to reach the other ledge.
  • Sequel Hook: The games ending warns that while Samus succeeded in her mission and restored peace, it may be invaded by the other Metroid (s). This is followed up in Metroid II: Return of Samus.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Ridley, whose name is derived from Ridley Scott, the director of Alien, a huge influence to Metroid.
    • As an unintentional one, the phrase "DRAGON BALL Z Dragon Ball z" is a functional password due to the way the game is coded, predating the actual show by three years.
  • So Near Yet So Far: You can reach the entrance to Tourian almost immediately after getting the Morph Ball and Missiles, but you can't actually get past the statues to the elevator room until you kill Kraid and Ridley.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The game's intro spells the planet the game takes place on as "Zebeth", as opposed to the manual and future games, which use "Zebes". A few enemies are also spelled differently in the manual compared to how they are spelled in later games (Reos, for example, are spelled as "Rio").
  • Spoiled by the Manual: The instruction manual details almost everything in the game. Emphasis on "almost", for when they get to the Escape Sequence, all they said was, "If you manage to destroy the last enemy, Mother Brain, wait for a message to flash across the screen a second later. Something big is in store for you! We can't disclose it here, but we can tell you that the game is not over yet!"
  • Stationary Boss: Mother Brain, who does not direct attack at all but waits at the end of a locked down death course.
  • The Missing No: The invincible frozen Zebetites and Mother Brains in the secret worlds found using the door glitch.
  • Underground Level: The whole game is one big one. The only time Samus appears above ground is in the ending.
  • Violation of Common Sense: There exist quite a few expansions and power ups hidden under fake pools of acid or lava, most of which you have to go out of your way to fall in.
  • Wall Crawl: Zoomers, Zeelas, Violas and Sovas do this.
  • When All Else Fails, Go Right: Extremely averted. The Morph Ball is placed to the left of the start point, just to teach the player that going left is a thing, and even the tiny detail of Samus's starting pose averts this (she faces the screen, to avoid suggesting that right is "forward").
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Samus has brown hair when in her "Justin Bailey" leotard, but getting the Varia Suit powerup turns her hair green to show it's working.
  • You Have Researched Breathing: Samus needs a power up just to be able to crawl through small chasms and shoot her beam more than a few feet in front of her.

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