The Anatomy of Kid Icarus I: Angel land story

Before I venture any further into The Anatomy of Metroid, its sibling micro-series Kid Icarus requires a look. The original games in each respective series shared a certain amount of overlap, as the Metroid staff helped put the wraps on Kid Icarus after shipping their own project. Despite have been developed and released shortly after […]

Anatomy of Metroid: XII. Breaking Badly

So that’s Metroid done the right way. Part of what makes Metroid so fun, though, is the way it lends itself to being played the wrong way. Like a lot of games at this sort of mid-grade 8-bit technology level, Metroid contains a fair few glitches and bugs that don’t render the whole thing unplayable […]

The Anatomy of Metroid: XI. Shafted again

With the Mother Brain defeated, Metroid ends up back again where it began. The final sequence of the game doesn’t involve combat or exploration but rather a tense escape sequence up a seemingly endless shaft — an echo of the game’s first sprawling vertical area, the one that definitively set Metroid apart from a legion […]

Anatomy of Metroid: X. Mother do you think she’s dangerous

Tourian is as close as Metroid comes to having “levels” in the traditional video game sense. You make it through the gauntlet of Rinkas and Metroids a screen at a time and arrive at last at the boss. Even the doors in Tourian say “serious business” — they’re orange instead of red, soaking up ten […]

The Anatomy of Metroid: IX. Eponymous

The player’s arrival in Tourian (the final zone where the Mother Brain awaits) is accompanied by a shift in tone. The visuals are stark and mechanical, a contrast to the natural formations and ancient constructs of the rest of Zebes’ underground. Even more strikingly, the background music ceases to be musical and instead adopts the […]

The Anatomy of Metroid: VIII. The hard stuff

Most of Metroid centers on the process of exploration, eschewing the arcade-borne concept of difficulty (death and restarting as a penalty) in favor of something more esoteric. Samus certainly blasts her fair share of enemies en route to the end, but Metroid lacks bottomless pits or instant death traps, and the more gear you acquire […]

The Anatomy of Metroid: VII. Norfair’s secret

As I mentioned yesterday, Metroid looks and plays like an action game, a superficial child of the arcades. But the core challenge of the game rests not in sheer combat difficulty, as it provides players with a huge arsenal, a considerable amount of life energy, and no (overt) timer to force you not to farm […]

The Anatomy of Metroid: VI. The six-billion dollar woman

Metroid did a lot of really innovative and interesting things for a game of its genre and period, but perhaps the most important idea it brought to the table was the concept of power-up permanence. Samus didn’t simply collect items that made her more powerful; once she acquired them, she kept them. The only impermanent […]

The Anatomy of Metroid: V. Frozen assets

I’m back in America, on the Internet, and at a computer. As such, I’ve updated the past two entries with images! Read them again… for the first time. Hope you’ll forgive the way Samus flips back and forth between armored/unarmored, and the occasional emulator cruft — these screens are generously provided by Rey at VG […]

The Anatomy of Metroid: IV. Ugh, wrong way, slick

The road to acquiring Metroid’s all-important Bomb has proved to be a surprisingly well-designed one, not quite guiding the player to Samus’ objectives but rather placing limitations on the game’s free-roaming spaces that allow some degree of exploration that eventually comes to an end until you stumble upon the next tool to help Samus range […]

The Anatomy of Metroid: III. Set up us the Bomb

Please forgive the lack of images in this update. I’m at a resort with a terrible Internet connection and no computer. Use your imagination for now and I’ll follow up with visuals once I get home, OK?   Once you collect your first Missile expansion in the lower right area of Brinstar, Metroid leaves you […]

The Anatomy of Metroid: II. Shafted

Once you make your way beyond Metroid‘s very clever, very brilliantly designed introductory moments, the game wastes no time in becoming promptly, well, weird. Beyond the low-hanging wall that blocks the opening area from the remainder of the game, the first vertically oriented room of the game (or at least the first that you can […]