Forget Nostalgia, Super Metroid Was Embarrassingly Easy

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Forget Nostalgia, Super Metroid Was Embarrassingly Easy

Nostalgia usually colors the way we remember things. In the case of Super Metroid, it is easy to forget just how easy the game really was.

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No body claimed Super Metroid was super Hard... they kinda had to tone it down a bit after the first one.

This is definitely the case. I replayed this semi-recently (a year or so ago?) and was surprised at just how easy it was. I followed this by playing Zelda:LTTP, and was surprised at how much relatively harder it was... followed by Zelda 1, which was actually pretty easy too! (All your really need for LoZ is a map with the items and levels marked, which you can find just about anywhere.)

However "easy" doesn't mean "bad". "Easy" and "hard" are orthogonal to "enjoyable" or "annoying". LTTP was actually somewhat annoying. Bloodborne is pretty enjoyable. Super Metroid was a blast. We may forget how hard or easy games are (and this may change with time), but this doesn't relate to fun.

Lizzy Finnegan:
With all of the easily accessible early retrieval options, Super Metroid might as well have made a Hylian-esque overworld and just allowed for all areas to be accessible at the player's discretion.

I'm confused. Why Hylian-esque? I don't remember any Legend of Zelda game doing this...

Lizzy Finnegan:
Compounded with her ridiculously high jumps and reserve energy - you know, for when real energy runs out - it was virtually predetermined that no matter what enemies or environmental challenges a player encountered, they'd be more than well equipped to prevail with minimal effort.

Weren't those in the original metroid?

Lizzy Finnegan:
The "map out everything" system completely robbed the game of the only true challenging features, established by its franchise predecessors - the challenge of exploring, experiencing, discovering, and not least of all, remembering.

In other words, Super Metroid saved the player some money by not requiring them to buy graph paper.

Mother Brain may just be an interactive cutscne, but Super Metroid does have a final boss fight -- Ridley. That fight is hard enough that I died even on my last 100% playthrough a few months back.

Sure, the game doesn't have the traditional level of difficulty of many games from the era (Ninja Gaiden, for instance), but it's complex, and still difficult if you are trying for a speedrun or minimum-item run. Most of the sequence breaks you mentioned rely on the "mockball" technique, which isn't that easy, and is almost certainly a bug. So maybe some of the sequence breaks involving the wall jump were intended, but I doubt the others were.

I see no problem with the map -- I've recently been playing the first two games for the first time, and trying to memorize the layout is just frustrating, and doesn't add to the challenge in an enjoyable way. Even after you get the map of an area, you still have to explore your way around, and the secret areas are still hidden, too. Not to mention that the map is essentially a checklist of "what haven't I done" that's a bit more subtle than a quest log in a modern RPG.

rpav:
This is definitely the case. I replayed this semi-recently (a year or so ago?) and was surprised at just how easy it was. I followed this by playing Zelda:LTTP, and was surprised at how much relatively harder it was... followed by Zelda 1, which was actually pretty easy too! (All your really need for LoZ is a map with the items and levels marked, which you can find just about anywhere.)

Now try Zelda II. :)

I played that game all the time as a kid, and only ever beat it using the Game Genie, and I still thought it was hard. Recently I went back and tried to play it with no cheatcodes or anything, and I'm struggling. I've been able to make it to Thunderbird, and nearly defeat it, before dying. If I ever do, then I still have to face Shadow Link.

UNHchabo:

Now try Zelda II. :)

Yeah last time I tried this I remember it being somewhat of a challenge. This is in part because I haven't played it already and don't know more-or-less what to do. Nor have I finished it, sadly, because I usually get distracted. I really need to put effort into that sometime.

Eh... It's maybe a little easier than it should be, but I think it's still harder than most modern games. But ultimately, it's not about difficulty, it's about exploration and atmosphere. Any difficulty it has at all is only for the sake of structure and pacing do deliver the stuff it does best. If it'd been much harder, that would've significantly affected the tone of the game for the worse; not everything needs to be Contra to be good.

P.S. Thanks

You wrote that there was this article coming along that detailed your thoughts on the game, but that you deleted the article because of a realization that the game was embarrassingly easy. That seems like a very unpleasant reaction to a thought. Was this realization really so overpowering that you would delete your prior opinions rather than save them? I think it's great when we question our past assumptions, but deleting written work makes it sound like you don't appreciate your past feelings.

I stopped playing Super Metroid prior to high school because I did find it difficult. Since college, I play it at least once a year and am having an easier time with the game, having beaten it several times. I will grant that the final boss was silly, but I wouldn't call the game embarrassingly easy as I would be accusing my younger self of being incompetent (and why I generally discourage people from making generalizations about a game based on their private skill-level). My grasp of metroid-style games and my mechanical reflexes have improved in these years.

But to be honest, none of this matters. The difficulty level means nothing compared to the silence my character experience when running through a quiet hallway, and the chilly feeling I had from the atmosphere it created compared to other games that just blared music during play. It ran smoothly and never crashed. It had detailed enemies. The map often tricked me by not showing secret entrances and stopping me with dead ends. So yeah, looking back I think the game is easier for me to play. But that won't change the fun I, or my younger self, had with the game.

I remember it still managed to kill me several times (even I died once when I met the giant Baby Metroid). Yes, she has a lot of things; but starts with none. And in the way of collecting them, she's still vulnerable; and most of those alternate paths aren't spelled out. There was no Internet to tell you about them back then (maybe in magazines like Nintendo Power you could find all those secrets).

So if I may, what's the point of this article?

I mean not that I disagree that Super Metroid isn't particularly difficult, but what does that have to do with anything?
Difficulty has never really been among what the game is generally praised or notable for in the first place.

Without a discussion of whether this detracts or adds to the game in some way, it really just feels like you're wasting a bunch of words to state a fact. I mean unless you're starting from an assumption that more difficult = betters, which I would argue is utterly false (and this coming from someone who considers Dark Souls one of the best games released in I don't know how long ... ). - there plenty of amazingly great games out there that aren't hard because being hard to complete isn't the point.

So what does Super Metroid's difficulty level have to do with anything?

cynicalsaint1:
So if I may, what's the point of this article?

I mean not that I disagree that Super Metroid isn't particularly difficult, but what does that have to do with anything?
Difficulty has never really been among what the game is generally praised or notable for in the first place.

Without a discussion of whether this detracts or adds to the game in some way, it really just feels like you're wasting a bunch of words to state a fact. I mean unless you're starting from an assumption that more difficult = betters, which I would argue is utterly false (and this coming from someone who considers Dark Souls one of the best games released in I don't know how long ... ). - there plenty of amazingly great games out there that aren't hard because being hard to complete isn't the point.

So what does Super Metroid's difficulty level have to do with anything?

I disagree whenever modern game easyness is lamented you often see super metroid as one of the games on the list of games that are full of that good honest difficulty of way back when.

It's really not easy the first time you play it. I think you need to throw those goggles back on, because I put all my friends through it, and if it wasn't for some guides they would have fucked themselves and might've not bothered finishing it. In fact, a lot of people who start it have difficulty noticing any clues and adapting to the bosses.

I literally face palmed reading this article. No one is going to find these short cuts easy or even adapt properly when they first play. There are no arrows to point it out to you, and most people don't think like that. Also, the whole reason you can actually find a way to pass certain obstacles is for replay-ablilty. At the end it counts the time you took to beat it, so it encourages you to find different paths (and that is a challenge). And even then, none of my friends could effectively deviate from the original path, especially not dying while trying.

Super Metroid does have all the challenge of exploring, experiencing, discovering, and remembering *smack*. The remembering part would have been harder in the previous Metroids, so I'd give you that, but it's a "whoopti doo" from me. I could imagine many people would get absolutely sick of it if they couldn't find where they were in it's big ass map. Actually, that's the reason some people I knew couldn't be stuffed with the original Metroid, including the rewards weren't worth it.

Also, I agree with the Mother Brain (I think most do), but this has been said a thousand times before, especially from me on this very site. It's not the worst thing though. It was still fascinating the first time you see it, and it has the excellent execution of feeling big each time, but I would've preferred a proper challenge all the same.

Your simple points are a load of fluff though. I bet you didn't do so well the first time. I'd put all my money on it.

While I admit Super Metroid doesn't really push you at any point, I wonder how much of its ease comes from experience with Metroid in all its NES hard glory. While never punishing, health drops were lower, progress could be ambiguous (bomb for a hidden passage in a place you wouldn't expect one to get the high jump boots), and even at max health, those bosses could knock you around. By the time Super came along, you just got used to bombing everywhere to find stuff, even getting good at expecting them in certain areas. Toss in an X-ray scope, health stations and an auto map, and no wonder I never had a problem.

Easy? I dunno, I remember dying and/or getting stuck quite a few times in that game. Among other things, there's a stupid statue-thing somewhere in Norfair that blocks pretty much all your shots. I think I had to fight him probably close to a dozen times before finally getting lucky and killing him. Hardest boss in the game, and he wasn't even a real boss.

And the complaint about sequence-breaking just seems like nitpicking. The fact that you can wall jump to get early stuff is great on subsequent playthroughs (it's like NewGame+, for a game that doesn't have NewGame+), but I think that the number of people who accidentally made the game too easy by doing so on their first playthrough is pretty tiny. Speaking for myself, I didn't even know that you could wall jump until getting stuck in that cavern where you're supposed to learn it.

So you've got a game that can be a bit too easy if you choose to sequence-break right near the beginning (that's pretty much the case with any game that allows sequence-breaking, though), and is fairly easy after the stupid statue boss I mentioned above, which doesn't seem like all that bad of a thing. I will give you that the X-ray scope and the final boss were both pretty lame (though the former was really just a time-saving device so you didn't have to bomb/speed dash literally every stone block), but the map was a nice touch. A great game, really -- and if it was a little bit too easy, well, that's not always the worst thing. I certainly wouldn't call it embarrassingly so.

MonsterCrit:
No body claimed Super Metroid was super Hard... they kinda had to tone it down a bit after the first one.

I vaguely recall someone on Youtube complaining about its alleged imposing difficulty. I agree with the author that the game was too easy, but that doesn't stop it from being one of the best games of its era.

Metroid isn't about difficulty though, is it? I've only ever played Super Metroid and Metroid Prime, but neither game relies on challenging combat to be fun. Metroid has become all about the atmosphere, the expanding world, the exploration, and the story. The shooting is there for flavor, and to give you something to do between your discoveries. I honestly never thought it was detrimental to the games for them to be easy.

President Bagel:

MonsterCrit:
No body claimed Super Metroid was super Hard... they kinda had to tone it down a bit after the first one.

I vaguely recall someone on Youtube complaining about its alleged imposing difficulty. I agree with the author that the game was too easy, but that doesn't stop it from being one of the best games of its era.

Well to youngsters most retrogames are considered hard. Pfeh. I mean they COmplain about the Dam in TMNT... for christ sakes. the Dam was child's play compared to the military base. WOuld hate to see how these would fare against a game like Gradius.. sans KOnami code.

TheVampwizimp:
Metroid isn't about difficulty though, is it? I've only ever played Super Metroid and Metroid Prime, but neither game relies on challenging combat to be fun. Metroid has become all about the atmosphere, the expanding world, the exploration, and the story. The shooting is there for flavor, and to give you something to do between your discoveries. I honestly never thought it was detrimental to the games for them to be easy.

The Original Metroid was never so much about combat, but in true early game fashion.. When you made a mistake.. it punished you for it.. hard!. It wasn't shy about accidentally dropping you into a lava pit that you'd never get out of... and god help you if you commited the cardinal sin of getting the wave beam after you got the ice beam.

Super Metroidhad a more fine tuned difficulty curve. The game made a point of ensuring you always had the tools to get out of any situation you got into. It also made a better go at hinting where you should go next which meant the game play flowed a little more smoothly.

In the case of Super Metroid, it is easy to forget just how easy the game really was.

I didn't buy Super Metroid when it first came out, specifically because of the missing difficulty. Still don't own it.

That said, the lack of difficulty I experienced was likely due to other games I had beaten recently. Have you finished Super Contra, Battletoads, Prince of Persia, or Super R-Type? Super Metroid becomes a cakewalk.

Consider that she's the woman who found Paper Boy to be more interesting from a philosophical standpoint rather than for it's challenge. The Nintendo Hard games I enjoyed early on have spoiled much of gaming for me, and I suspect that Lizzy's even further into the same boat.

>.>

I'm confused

Who was claiming Super Metriod was 'hard'?

cause it really wasn't, besides, 'difficulty' isn't what made that game a classic.

*This is an obvious exaggeration and should be neither quoted nor taken seriously.

EHHHHHHH, you ALMOST got me. Thank christ I actually read everything in an article before passing judgement or else I'd look really fucking stupid right now. *looks up*

TitanAura:
*This is an obvious exaggeration and should be neither quoted nor taken seriously.

EHHHHHHH, you ALMOST got me. Thank christ I actually read everything in an article before passing judgement or else I'd look really fucking stupid right now. *looks up*

I assumed that was just referring to the last sentence, where the * actually was.

P.S. Thanks

Now speedrun it if you please.

The comments here:
> "Duh no one ever called it hard"
or
> "Liz it's really hard and you're just too good at the game"

I remember it being fun. It was a gorgeous game. It rewarded exploration. Options to make the game easy doesn't mean everyone found or used those methods.

I've played the game too many times to be able to judge the difficulty of it now. At this point, I find it pretty damn easy.

Still can't beat it in much under 4 hours though, so I've never legit seen every ending change.

I'd like to bring something up even though the article only mentions it: "In the article, I wrote about how depressing the game really was. I wrote about how it perfectly captured the essence of isolation, desperation, and loss. I wrote about how it was the first title of the series to portray Samus Aran as more than just an unapologetically solitary bounty hunter, but rather as a human being driven by maternal instinct on a doomed mission to rescue her adopted little metroid spawn from the dread Space Pirates."
"...which she affectionately refers to as "the baby," and delivers it to the Space Science Academy on Ceres for research."

Sorry but the game wasn't about Samus trying to rescue an "adopted" alien and she doesn't refer to it as "the baby" in the game or instruction manual (she refers to the metroid as "a larva"). Timeline wise after getting it she immediately (and I do mean immediately after getting in her ship) gives the metroid to some scientists after it helps her out of a cave to do some energy extraction experiments on. She leaves it in their care when their experiments are promising (not to mention Metroids actually being good in some way was something she was really surprised by and didn't think of until after the scientists conducted their research) and only goes back to get it because the space pirates steal it (she recieved a distress call) and they would have likely used to make more and tried to weaponize them like they did before.

There's one scene in the game that's debatable (when the screen turns black when it dies) but Samus doesn't really care in the ending to Super Metroid or in Fusion. The only time she ever showed any emotion (and I do mean she showed, the screen turning black isn't her showing emotion because again she doesn't seem to care) towards it was in Other M, but that's a whole other can of worms.

That said, yes Super Metroid is very easy unless you try to speedrun it.

If this was my article, it would have been titled, "Forget Nostalgia, Super Metroid is not as great as Metroid Prime." Though I would not go with such a flame bait-y title of course. :P

I've played Super Metroid a lot less than Prime, Fusion, and Zero Mission, so I still find it harder than those three. It doesn't tell you where to go like most Metroid games which is great, I just never found the environments as fun or interesting. Without that familiarization, I definitely am not as good at Super Metroid as the others I mentioned, so by default it's harder for me.

Ok I'm the 100th person to say this today, but of course Super Metroid isn't hard when you know the game. As you learn more about it and acquire more items, it become much easier. That's where the replay value of 100%ing or speedrunning the game becomes apparent. Since your health and several of your weapons capacities in the series depends on how exploratory you are, a knowledgeable player can adjust the difficulty to suit the challenge they crave. Super even has the distinction of being able to turn off every upgrade, meaning the damage resisting properties of the second and third suits can be disabled, too, without having to do "hell runs" through Norfair or put up with the water physics.

This game and Zero Mission expand greatly upon the player controlled challenge by letting you skip items. I played through Super once without grabbing the grapple beam. Getting into the wrecked ship and through Maridia without it is a test of your speedbooster/shinesparking and wall jumping skills. It's not too hard once you get the reflexes down, but adds to the replay value. I think someone has gotten to Ridley's lair without the space jump. (Still trying to figure that one out.) Skipping items and low percent runs are why ZM has the 15% endings.

The original, Super, Zero Mission, and the original NA version of Prime (which is easily sequence broke) have so many ways to play them, both to make it easier, or to go after stronger enemies sooner. The others unfortunately railroad you through the item progression, making difficulty settings and skipping energy tanks and missile expansions the only ways to add challenge to them.

Fact that Nintendo only made one 2D Metroid as open as open as Super in the past 21 years might be one reason why it's also a popular game for ROM hackers[1] (also most hacks up the difficulty because they expect players to be series veterans). I'm playing through Super Metroid: Redesign again, and the wall jumping and pixel perfect running jumps are something even save states can't really help you with (though saving on a whim is a godsend against some reallly powerful enemies). Even if you, for whatever reason, don't wish to play ROM hacks, I'd recommend looking at playthroughs/LPs online of Redesign and Super Metroid Eris (especially Eris for it's gorgeous original environment graphics). Super Zero Mission is another one to look out for.

UNHchabo:
Mother Brain may just be an interactive cutscne, but Super Metroid does have a final boss fight -- Ridley. That fight is hard enough that I died even on my last 100% playthrough a few months back.

Indeed. Ridley is a damage sponge is most of his incarnations. Every other boss in Super either has a weak point and obvious strategy, or is a push over. Ridley is an erratic beast that can be hurt anywhere but his tail. Dodging skills are a must, and even the screw attack can be defeated by his tail. It's a war of attrition, arguably the only one in the game, too.

I believe this game and the comic and/or manga that came out around the same time is also what started the whole personal issue Samus has with Ridley. He's the true threat in her eyes (much more so if you take into account the interpretation of the story where he is the supreme leader that rebuilds the pirates' ranks after every defeat and Mother Brain is just the AI base commander/lead researcher). After Ridley's defeat, getting the metroid larva back is the final part of her quest.

[1] Disclaimer: Hairless Mammoth does not endorse piracy (both software and naval based), "sticking it to the man" (in the form of piracy), or aggravated hair loss by playing super hard games made by sadists. He always strokes his SNES cart of Super Metroid for good luck before playing Redesign and quits for a few hours if it gets too frustrating. If you wish to try out any unofficial game mentioned by this guy in plaid pajamas, carts can still be found on ebay and are worth their prices.

Nailing the difficulty is pretty hard, even the vania portion of metroidvania couldn't really do it. Most of the exploration castlevania games where quite easy as well.

While it wasn't what you would call 'Nintendo hard' I certainly don't remember Super Metroid being hard when I first played it. When I played it again 5 years ago yeah it was damn easy, but I find that to be the case with most childhood games I replay today: Super Metroid, A Link to the Past, Secret of Mana, Chrono Trigger, etc. Chrono Trigger was especially easy.

With a game like Super Metroid I would imagine most people remember lots of little things like where things are found and generally where you need to go next?

I'm really failing to see your point.

Something being easy is hardly an innate negative.
Even taking into account some of it being, as you say, almost impossible to lose, it's still a memorable experience regardless.

You seem to fall into a mental trap of thinking things have to be a certain way to be any good.
Well, it's not that simple.

Anyway, there is of course, the simple fact that with enough practice, anything gets to be fairly easy.

I can play through A Link to the Past without giving it much thought. (usually. Watch me fail horribly when I have an audience though. As you do. XD)
Same for Super Mario World.
Mario 64, Mario Galaxy and so on.

I mean, even something really challenging stops being that hard if you've spent enough time with it.
I can play gradius advance or the like most of the way through without dying...
But that's a matter of practice.

Still, Super Metroid isn't hard, true. But... Does it matter?
Who cares?

Sure, Super Mario 2 (the lost levels version), is hard, but that doesn't make it innately better than the easier original.
Nor are things like Super Meat Boy or even I wanna be the guy good (or not) merely for being hard.

I mean, what are you even getting at with this?

Super metroid is a good game, even if it is easy. Even if it contains 'challenges' that are explicitly fake. That's not the point.

For me the difficulty had to do with knowing where to go next, it was bit overwhelming at times, I remember wondering aimlessly around for 2 days before discovering i had to use bombs to blow up a crack on the floor in order to fight the first boss.

@Lizzy That is the thing, though. Nintendo sort of evolved to favor accessibility back in the SNES era of gaming, which helped a lot of young gamers get their first steps into the gaming hobby. The reason I found Super Metroid a challenge, along with a number of other titles at the time, was that I didn't have a huge reservoir of experience to draw upon.

The other thing Nintendo does well is their party games, which unfortunately I haven't been playing much because of a lack of people to actually play with locally. Some people complain about nintendo not embracing online gaming, but online multi-player is a completely different beast from local. Anonymous online play is basically like playing against a much more sophisticated self learning AI than, say, someone right next to you in an arcade.

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