"The last Metroid is in captivity. The galaxy is at peace..."
Super Metroid was the third game in the Metroid series and the antepenultimate game in the timeline (taking place before Metroid: Other M and immediately following the events of Metroid II: Return of Samus). It was released for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1994 and later released on the Virtual Console a few times in the 2000's.The plot immediately picks up where the second game finished, with Samus leaving the Metroid hatchling she found at a Federation lab for study. Ridley and the Space Pirates promptly show up and steal it, prompting a distress call which summons Samus just in time to chase them to Zebes...The game retains the Metroidvania style of gameplay of previous titles, as well as introducing new equipment. Unlike Metroid II, all the items you pick up stay with you (rather than needing to strategically choose which beam to carry), although you can switch between some in the equipment screen (unlike Metroid: Fusion where it was fixed and the 3D games where beams were selected in real time). It was also notable for being the largest game released on the SNES at the time, using a 24-Megabit cartridge (that's roughly 3MB).
Super Metroid contains examples of the following tropes:
Ability Required to Proceed: You need various abilities and equipment to proceed, as par for the course of a Metroidvania-style game, but there's one point where it's combined with Some Dexterity Required: if you wind up in the optional section where the Etecoons teach you the Wall Jump (and if you happen to save your game there), you must become at least familiar with the ability to escape. This isn't too difficult, but it's notably one of the few places where good control and execution is necessary to advance.
Advancing Boss of Doom: Crocomire, who periodically steps towards Samus, forcing her towards a wall of spikes. It's also combined with Ring Out Boss, because defeating Crocomire requires that you hit it in its mouth, causing it to step back, until it falls into a pit of acid.
Always a Bigger Fish: In Tourian, Samus runs across a room where several invulnerable enemies lay in wait for her—only to be promptly attacked and sucked dry by a Metroid.
American Kirby Is Hardcore: Inverted. While the Western SNES box arts all used the same (somewhat cartoonish) image of Samus blasting Ridley, the Japanese Famicom box art featured a much more dramatic image of Ridley and Kraid towering over Samus, who's falling backwards over a cliff and desperately charging a shot.
Anachronic Order: As mention in the description, this is the third game in the series and the third-to-last game in the overall plot.
invokedAnti-Climax Boss: Invoked. The first battle against Mother Brain is terribly easy. Not only is she weaker than she was in the previous game, but you have way more toys to blow her up with now. But then she reveals her enormous robotic body, and the battle takes a turn for the worse.
Antepiece: In the second room of the Ceres research station, the first area of the game, there's a small step you have to jump up on, in contrast to the many stairs in the rest of the area. This forces you to jump at least once and get a basic understanding of how the jump mechanics work, before you're pressed by time in the escape out of the area. You also meet Ridley there in a mock Boss Battle to test out your shooting skills, as the fight will end either when you damage him enough, or you lose too much health.
Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: When they called this game "Super" Metroid, it was for good reason. Fortunately, despite its innocent, insatiable hunger, it's on your side.
Awesome, but Impractical: The Super Missiles have the most punching power in the game, and can destroy bosses far more quickly than regular missiles can. However, they are far rarer than regular missiles, are fairly slow to fire, restocking ammo is quite difficult (only some enemies drop Super Missile ammo, and Missile Stations don't restock them, only your ship does) and sometimes have unexpected side effects — for example, while they kill Phantoon faster, they also trigger a unique, very hard to avoid, retaliatory attack where he swings a chain of fireballs across the screen eight times in a row. If you can use them well, they are very deadly, though — they're the best way to push Crocomire to his death, for example, because they knock him back the furthest.
Bag of Spilling: Samus doesn't retain any of her gear from the previous game. Unlike later games, there's no explanation for this.
Beam Spam: The Spazer Beam, which isn't short for "Spam Laser", but should be. It triples the output of the other beams (except the Plasma Beam) resulting in a wider field of fire.
Beware My Stinger Tail: This is the first game where Ridley demonstrated his deadly, serrated tail with a spaded stinger. It actually does more damage to you than anything else Ridley can hit you with, and unlike most attacks it can damage Samus while she's using the Screw Attack.
Big Bad: Mother Brain, returning from the first game.
Big Damn Heroes: The (now fully grown) Metroid hatchling shows up to save Samus in the final boss fight.
Bittersweet Ending: The Space Pirates have been destroyed for good, but it comes at the cost of killing the only Metroid that wasn't dangerous (which has repercussions in Fusion) and destroying all of Samus's home planet. And then comes the Sequel Gap.
Bootstrapped Theme: The game has a couple different boss battle themes that played for multiple bosses. The one that just happened to play during encounters with Ridley (along with Torizo, Draygon, and the escape sequences) has become the "Theme of Ridley".
Boss In Mooks Clothing: The armored Space Pirates encountered in Lower Brinstar, who throw their limbs at Samus and leap all over the place. They can't be damaged until they're coaxed into performing a jump kick, and even then they take a ton of hits to kill. Fortunately, though they respawn, Samus only has to fight them once before the door they're guarding becomes permanently unlocked and she can just jump past them any other time.
Brain in a Jar: Mother Brain, yet again. Although, when that jar is destroyed...
Chest Monster: Torizo looks just like one of the upgrade-giving Chozo statues.
Clone Degeneration: Mochtroids are a failed attempt at cloning metroids. While they can absorb some of Samus' health, the are very weak and will die from any of her ordinary attacks (no need to freeze them and use missiles).
Convection Schmonvection: The first game in the series to avert this. Without the Varia suit, Samus will slowly cook herself to death in Norfair and other heated areas. In previous games, it merely cut damage in half.
Dash Attack: The Speed Booster and all the abilities that come with it.
Destructive Savior: Let's be honest; Zebes was as good as exploded the moment Samus showed up.
Determinator: Crocomire. Even when he's melted down in a lava lake, his skeleton keeps trying to kill you.
Double Jump: The Space Jump is somewhere between this and actual Flight—gravity still affects Samus, but she can Space Jump infinitely, meaning that once she's airborne, touching the ground is just a suggestion.
Down the Drain: Maridia is completely submerged. Though, unlike the ones from that other series, it avoids being That One Level thanks to the Gravity Suit allowing Samus to traverse liquids as if they weren't there. Attempting the area without the suit, however...
Dramatic Disappearing Display: An odd variation; the status display itself doesn't disappear whilst fighting a major boss, but rather, the automap display in the top-right corner of the screen becomes completely blank during these fights.
Easter Egg: If you return to the Surface of Zebes after obtaining the Super Missiles but before descending into lower Brinstar (when it's still raining) and use the bombs and super missiles to go into the cave on the right, you can listen to the "arrival on Zebes" music again.
Unlike many of the games, Samus's Arm Cannon retains each and every upgrade she gets. So by the end of the game, the Charge Beam, Spazer, Wave Beam, Ice Beam, and Plasma Beam combine into one single, powerful weapon. The only exception is that the Spazer and Plasma beams cannot normally be combined, although they can be combined via a glitch, resulting in the fan-coined Spacetime Beam.
Excessive Steam Syndrome: In the intro level, Samus needs to escape a space station, while avoiding gushes of steam coming out from practically everywhere. If you get hit by the steam, you lose precious time to escape.
Happens again during the escape from planet Zebes, only the steam's escaping from the ground itself.
Samus's narration at the very beginning hints that the Metroid ability to drain energy can also be used for beneficial purposes, implying that the devoured energy can be used afterward. This is important for later.
In Maridia, you run into the "Mochtroids", which look suspiciously like the eponymous creatures, but are far weaker...
After defeating Ridley, the next room has the "Baby's" capsule smashed and empty.
In Tourian, you will enter a room filled with grayed-out enemies that crumble to dust if touched or shot. In the very next room, you become trapped with one such enemy, which is impervious to your weaponry. In the next second, you find out what happened to the others.
Shortly after the above, after the "Super" Metroid finishes feeding on the enemy, it then attacks Samus. There is nothing she can do to prevent this, and it will drain every last unit of energy from her—except one. Then, it will back off, hovering, and whimpering, indicating that it is the same Metroid that Samus saved in the previous game, and that it recognized Samus at the last second.
The Metroid steals the deadly beam energy from Mother Brain to save Samus and then, proving the Federation right, it uses that same energy to empower Samus.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: A small blip flying away from Zebes's ruins at the end of the game, indicating that some creatures you rescued have safely made it off the planet.
This ends up being extremely important in Metroid Fusion, as the animals return in that game and help Adam pilot Samus' ship, saving her life at the very end.
The other is far less significant but still awesome nonetheless: During your escape from Ceres at the beginning of the game, one of the doors will actually explode behind you, leaving behind an impassible hunk of glowing hot metal. This one is a lot more likely to go unnoticed, due to all the other explosions and random chaos on screen (not to mention that your escape is timed.) It's also the only instance of a door exploding in the entire game.
Fusion Dance: Draygon is apparently several members of its species that merge into a larger body.
Game Over: Should you run out of energy, the background disappears and Samus's powersuit overloads and explodes, leaving her in her underwear.
Heart Container: The energy containers (health) and missile upgrades (ammo). This was the first game in the series to utilize reserve energy tanks, which will save Samus if all her health is depleted.
Heroic Sacrifice: During the final boss fight, the baby Metroid, now huge, takes a blow for Samus and bequeaths Samus' ultimate weapon.
High Voltage Death: This is the "easy" way to defeat Draygon in Super Metroid, Samus touches current while Draygon is grasping her; and then gain Victory By Endurance while both are electrified.
Hopeless Boss Fight: The fight against Ridley in the opening. You can make him fumble the Metroid hatchling's container, but you can't stop him stealing it.
I Am Not Left-Handed: Mother Brain doesn't whip out her mechanical body until Samus has seemingly won, and has trapped herself in an inescapable room.
I'm Melting: A particularly brutal and graphic example occurs in Super Metroid, when the mini-boss Crocomire is pushed into a pit of acid. After bobbing up and down a bit trying to get out, it screams at a very high pitch and flesh starts peeling off in gooey streaks until only the skeleton remains.
Imprinting: As implied at the end of the second game, the baby Metroid is definitely imprinted on Samus, even giving its life to save Samus'.
Killed Off for Real: This is canonically the game in which Ridley is killed off for good. His appearances in Other M and Fusion being a clone and an X-Parasite copy respectively.
Kill It with Ice: Freezing was handled differently in this game, as it takes longer to freeze an enemy, instead of each shot freezing and then unfreezing them. By the time they actually freeze, one good shot will kill them.
Last Of Its Kind: "The Baby" is the last Metroid (at least until the Space Pirates capture it.) And until Fusion...)
Limit Break: The Crystal Flash technique, which requires that Samus have less than 50 units of energy, no reserve energy, 10 of each missile, and 11 Power Bombs. The player must then select the Power Bombs and input a very complicated button combination.
Mama Bear: Samus. She flat out tells you that she couldn't bring herself to kill the baby Metroid because it was innocent and looked to her as its mother, she absolutely wrecks the entire planet trying to rescue it, and she exacts swift and brutal revenge upon its killer.
Mutually Exclusive Powerups: Compared to the first and second games, this game downplays the trope; while Samus can carry both the Spazer and Plasma Beams, only one can be equipped at a time.
No Kill Like Overkill: The first game concluded with Mother Brain's self-destruct timer blowing up the Pirate base, but leaving the surface intact. But since that failed, this time the self-destruct causes a massive, Zebes-Shattering Kaboom.
Noob Bridge: The Trope Namer is the infamous collapsing bridge in Brinstar, where the game requires a mechanic that has never come up before (dashing) to cross a bridge. It is possible to cross without the run button, but extremely difficult as it requires precise timing and is more of a Self-Imposed Challenge than a proper solution.
The Shinespark will rocket you in a single direction until you hit an unbreakable obstruction or until your energy becomes too low (strangely, this game's Shinespark is the only instance in the series where this technique consumes energy)
Nothing Is Scarier: When Samus first arrives on Zebes, the music, sound effects, and environment take on properties unique to this part of the game. There are no enemies, the music is hushed and ominous, there's a thin haze in the air and vermin everywhere, as if the place hasn't been disturbed or set foot upon in years. This lasts for at least three sections of the game, until you return from Brinstar back to Old Tourian, and all of a sudden Space Pirates are everywhere, and a Chozo Statue (actually a "Torizo") suddenly wakes up and attacks you!
Perhaps the eeriest part of this whole sequence is when Samus acquires the morph ball. As soon as she does so, a spotlight hits her, following her until she leaves the area. As she does so, it's clear that several devices that weren't on before have suddenly activated. The sense that you're being watched and that the planet is slowly starting to come to life around you is very creepy...
The Ceres space station also pulls this trick. The background music is just the ambient drone of computer systems. The entire area is lit in a dull, blue light. As you proceed, you come across the corpses of scientists, but with no sign of what actually killed them. The tension slowly builds until it finally climaxes when Samus enters a seemingly-empty room. The room is completely silent, save for the Metroid chirping in the corner. The player just knows something's about to happen, but the game takes its time with revealing exactly what that is.
Power Glows: The Charge Beam, Speed Booster, Screw Attack, and Hyper Beam all make Samus glow to varying degrees and are easily some of her most powerful abiliies. Especially the Hyper Beam, where Samus starts glowing for several seconds after acquiring it to let you know that shit just got real.
Quicksand Sucks: Fortunately the Power Suit protects Samus from drowning. It will not, however, prevent damage from spikes that may happen to be placed at the bottom of a pit of quicksand...
The "mock ball" (aka, the "mach ball") trick allows Samus to move at dashing speed while in Morphball form, allowing her to reach certain areas without needing the Speed Booster. There are numerous walkthroughs and speedruns on youtube that show how both tricks can be done.
Sexy Silhouette: When performing the secret "Crystal Flash" move, Samus's power suit briefly disappears and she is surrounded by a cocoon of energy. At the center, a nude (or perhaps in her underwear) Samus remains in the fetal position until the recharge is complete.
Shock and Awe: Samus can shoot open the turrets mounted on Draygon's boss room, leaving an electrified open socket. If Samus then allows herself to be grabbed by Draygon, she can electrocute him by latching on to the exposed wiring with the Grapple Beam. This damages Samus slightly but defeats Draygon much more quickly than she would with any of her other weaponry.
Shoot Out the Lock: This is one of the series' main schticks. This game introduced Power Bomb and Super Missile locks (in addition to the colour coded beam based locks and missile shields) for the first time. As well as "Gadora", a door shaped like a huge eye.
Shotguns Are Just Better: The Spazer beam (incompatible with plasma beam for some reason; it's the only game this happens in. Zero Mission had it as an inherent function of the Wave Beam and Fusion was A-O-K with the two being combined. Here, it can glitch the game badly enough to crash if the two are used together.)
Shoulders of Doom / Giant Poofy Sleeves: This was the first game to feature the Varia Suit in its iconic form, in that it combines both the shape from Metroid II and the colour scheme from the first game.
Space Pirates: They're even call such by name, although they're firmly entrenched in Zebes rather than space at the moment.
Special Attack: These abilities are not mentioned anywhere in the manual and, unlike the Wall Jump or Shinespark, aren't taught in game (Although some show up in the game's Attract Mode.)
Spin Jump Attack, also known as the Pseudo Screw Attack, which allows Samus to hurt a single enemy if she spin jumps while the Charge Beam is fully stocked. Connecting with an enemy inflicts damage and consumes the charged shot, but unlike the Screw Attack, this does less damage, and Samus will be hurt like normal if the damage isn't enough to destroy the enemy. This technique can also be used defensively in some cases — it offers temporary invulnerability against Phantoon's projectiles, which is quite welcomed since some of Phantoon's attack formations sweep the entire screen.
Five-Bomb Drop, which does Exactly What It Says on the Tin if Samus morphs into a ball while the Charge Beam is held, then released. Depending on how long the charge is held, the bombs are launched at different trajectories.
Crystal Flash, which allows Samus to utilize weaponry reserves to recharge her energy in a pinch. Also counts as a Limit Break, since it can only done under very specific conditions and only with 50 units of health remaining.
Each beam by itself, when combined with the Charge Beam and a Power Bomb, has a special maneuver which usually creates some sort of Sphere of Power or effect that surrounds her and damages enemies. They're all done the same way, but each has a different effect. Also doubles as a Mutually Exclusive Powerup, because the other beams must be turned off for the specifically chosen one to work.
Speed Run: Encouraged, as per series tradition. You need 3 hours or less to see Samus in her leotard, although dedicated players have been able to complete non-TAS runs in less than one hour.* The game clock only advances when you have control of Samus. During cutscenes, as well as traveling through doors, time is not counted.
Acquiring the Charge Beam allows Samus to damage weak enemies by spin jumping into them while the beam is charged.
Colliding into most enemies while using the Speed Booster/Shinespark in any capacity will kill them.
The Screw Attack does nothing but this, and when combined with the Space Jump basically makes Samus death incarnate without firing a single shot.
True Sight: The X-Ray Visor shows you hidden passages and invisible objects.
Turtle Power: The oft-forgotten and turtle-like Tatori and Tatori, Jr. creatures in Maridia are non-hostile toward Samus; Tatori even lets Samus stand on top of it to access an Energy Tank and a Missile Expansion.
Uncommon Time: Ridley's boss theme (also used for several other battles and the escape from Zebes) is in 5/4 and Mother Brain's is in 7/8.
Underground Monkey: half a dozen different colours of Space Pirates, of increasing power. From the wimpy grey Pirates in Old Tourian to the nasty red variant in Maridia that required the plasma beam to harm. There were also a pair of gold Pirates that served as sub-bosses before Ridley's lair.
Unexpectedly Realistic Gameplay: Shortly after defeating Crocomire, the player runs into a platform which ramps upward, a long pit and blocks that can only be broken by speed boost. Did you know you could use Super Speed to create a long jump? Well, you do now! The game never told you beforehand that combining Super Speed and long jumping was possible, so the only way you could know about it is to just take a (literal) leap of faith.
Unstoppable Rage: When Samus watches her "baby" Metroid get killed right in front of her. Between the music, the blackening of the background, and the way the Hyper Beam bounces Mother Brain's head like a ragdoll, you know that this is the first time you have seen Samus very, very pissed.
Utility Weapon: Every weapon you get (beyond the basic power beam) will help you bypass a specific obstacle.
Videogame Caring Potential: If you choose to, and if you even bother to go off the beaten path to look around while the planet is exploding, you can rescue Dachora and the Etecoons during the final escape sequence. (Fusion reveals that this is canon, even if you choose not to.)
Wham Line: Or rather, "Wham Sound Effect". The chirping noise that the Super Metroid makes before it releases Samus serves as a cue for the player that it was the Baby Metroid from the beginning of the game. Applying some Fridge Brilliance, this trope is in effect In-Universe: the last thing the Baby Metroid heard from Samus before being kidnapped was the siren of her "danger" alarm, which is what causes the Super Metroid to realize who she is, and lets her go.