Review Date: March 8, 2021

Release Date: August 16, 1987

Platform: NES

Genre: Nonlinear Platformer

Anecdotes: You may have noticed that there’s been a lack of games with female leads. That’s because, unfortunately, very few exist. Up to this point, I’ve done two Japanese female led games, one North American game with a nonhuman female lead, and one North American game with a playable human female, but only as player 2. This is the first game I’ve done with a human female lead that was released in the US. Players didn’t know that at first, though. When I found out, I was just kind of puzzled. “The Official Nintendo Player’s Guide” used male pronouns, so it was confusing. Once I concluded Samus is indeed female, which was through “cheat” passwords, I just laughed at the guide’s lack of knowledge. As far as Samus being female, I really didn’t care. It didn’t make any difference. My brothers and I played this A LOT. We never beat Mother Brain, but we had a lot of fun finding everything. We only knew a few things: how to get to Ridley’s Hideout, how lost we were if we saw gumdrops on screen, to go beat Ridley first because it’s easier, and to jump into the lava after beating Kraid because we couldn’t get out.

This is the start of what I call “Gumdrop Pass.” It’s buried deep in Norfair, nowhere near anything important, and if players see it, they know they’re lost.

Description: Samus is a bounty hunter assigned to infiltrate Zebes. Her job is to defeat Mother Brain. Samus does this by searching accessible areas for upgrades. Said upgrades will open up new areas to explore until, eventually, everything is open. The exception is Tourian, which can only (legitimately) be accessed by defeating both Kraid and Ridley. Once you defeat Mother Brain, Samus will set a detonator and have to quickly escape.


  1. SAMUS ARAN!!! Samus is pure awesome. We had so many games in 1987 that were just some guy roaming around killing things and saving the world. In 2021, having women star in their own games is now commonplace, as it should be, but in 1987, this was a novelty. While Samus herself doesn’t have much of a character as of this game’s release, she and her games are an important part of gaming history.
  2. I call it a “Nonlinear Platformer,” which means that Samus will not be going from one end of a level to the other. Instead, the whole game map is open from the start, similar to the Pitfall games that preceded this title. However, one way Metroid improved on Pitfall II was by hiding upgrades all over the map. These upgrades are mostly well placed, as there are only three dead ends with nothing of value in them. Samus is not bound to do things in a particular order; however, one particular upgrade may be required to reach another. New players will be excited for any upgrades they find. Players like me like to put together routes so that we can complete the game and get everything. Speedrunners absolutely love the Metroid series; they have routes for 100% item collection, minimal item collection but defeat all bosses, anything goes runs, and others.
  3. Since I mentioned upgrades, let me talk about how cool some of these items are. The Morph Ball lets Samus roll up and get through tight spaces. There’s an Ice Beam that can freeze enemies and Samus can stand on them. The Wave Beam can shoot through walls. However, the best thing in the game is the Screw Attack, which allows Samus to kill enemies by spin jumping into them.
  4. The maps are expansive for 1987. Brinstar is the starting with five horizontal corridors to explore. Corridors 1, 2, and 4 are all blue rocky areas; 3 is a green “futuristic” area, and 5 is a gold rocky area. Norfair is full of purples, reds, and other warm colors to imply that it’s a hot area. Ridley’s Hideout is a creepier version of Norfair; Kraid’s Hideout is full of brighter colors, but don’t be fooled by it. Tourian is perfect as a final area.
  5. I can’t forget the music. Tourian doesn’t really have music; it’s more like ambience that lets players know they’re headed for trouble. Brinstar and Norfair have relaxing tunes that are perfect for exploration. Kraid’s Hideout has a really popular song, with something that sounds like a phone ringing in the background. Personally, though, my favorite is Ridley’s Hideout. It’s slow and fast at the same time, but it really creates the creepy, haunting atmosphere that level has. It’s perfect for that area. It really gives off the feeling that Samus is going to die in there.
  6. I have seen a lot of complaints about how Samus can’t hit enemies at ground level. The regular and ice beams just go right over those enemies. However, Samus does have a way to hit them. Shortly into the game, Samus gets some cool bombs to use. If she morphs into a ball and lays a few bombs, low enemies can be hit. The bombs are awesome. They can take care of low enemies, they can blow open secret passages, and for me at least, they’re the most efficient weapon against Kraid. Samus doesn’t always have to rely on her beams.
Aww yeah!! You’re all Screwed now!


  1. The biggest flaw of Metroid? That’s easy. It’s the copy and paste level design combined with the fact that there is no in-game mapping system. There are plenty of rooms that look exactly the same. It’s bad in Norfair and Ridley’s Hideout, but Kraid’s Hideout takes it to another level. Because the maps are put together by taking a limited number of full screen size tiles, there will be repeats. Kraid’s Hideout has a screen that was used eight times. Worse, five of those appearances are in loops that don’t lead to anything. It also doesn’t help that EVERY room in the game has a black background. EVERY SINGLE ONE.
  2. Kraid’s Hideout also seems to expose another huge problem: Samus can get hit while transitioning through doors. It’s debatable whether Samus should be safe inside a door, but she can’t shoot in there, so I think she should be immune. Players will see this in Ridley’s Hideout, but not to the same extent. If Samus is really low on energy, the hit may kill her, at which point, the next issue shows up.
  3. When Samus dies, she gets a password, then she can start again at the start of an area. This can be exploited to cut out lots of backtracking, but before doing so, consider this: Samus will only have 30 Energy. That’s death in two hits in the hideouts. It takes too long to grind for health and blazing through without doing so won’t work.
  4. There are a few incredibly difficult sections in the game and at least one softlock trap. The three areas that come to mind are the shaft to climb out of Kraid’s Hideout, the precision jump required for a missile pack in Ridley’s Hideout, and the Zebetite chamber in front of Mother Brain. The first one can be “death warped” around, the second is optional, but the third must be done to finish the game.

More Screenshots:

This room may look pointless, but the game actually uses it to hide the fact that it’s loading up the palettes.
This is a nice little trap early on; players have to come through here to get their first missiles. Then they have to go back, like I’m doing here.
This is the cool (or should I say cold?) Ice Beam. Samus can stand on the frozen enemies.
And here’s the Wave Beam.
This one stupid jump guards a pack of missiles. If missed, players have to circle back, going around the entire Hideout to get another chance.
Ridley’s a joke in this game. I got the “up pattern,” so the fireballs safely just fly overhead. Then it was just a matter of landing hits with the Wave Beam. And no, missiles aren’t required to defeat Ridley.
Samus is so awesome, she can walk on lava.
I froze a Skree to reach this Energy Tank.
And now, I’ve moved on to Kraid’s Hideout. That’s a door on the left, even though it looks like a waffle. The problem is that enemy on the right. It flies horizontally into the door and Samus will take damage. Luckily, I have plenty of energy.
Go ahead and guess what part of Kraid’s Hideout I’m in. There are 7 other spots on the map identical to this.
This is my Kraid strategy; I just go all out with the bombs.
A Metroid! It’s interesting that the game is named after them; they only appear in the final area, they’re not bosses, and they’re not the heroine.
There are six turrets firing at Samus, plus those Rinkas coming at her. How is she supposed to get through this?
Well, Samus got to Mother Brain, but she fell in the lava and that was the end of her.

Final Opinion: This game has quite a few flaws, especially in Kraid’s Hideout, but Metroid games have a way of hooking me in. I have fun playing them.

Grade: B


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *