Retrospective Super Metroid


You remember the first time you played Super Metroid like it was yesterday. The moody music, the lonely feeling of exploring planet Zebes, the sense of discovery around every corner. This SNES classic still holds up today as a masterclass in environmental storytelling and gameplay design. Released in 1994, Super Metroid transported us to an alien world, gave us a huge array of abilities to discover, and set us loose to explore at our own pace. The result was a deeply atmospheric experience that rewarded curiosity and skill. In the years since, few games have matched its perfect blend of action, adventure, and mystery. If you've never played Super Metroid, you owe it to yourself to experience this seminal chapter in Metroid history. And if it's been a while, it's time to rediscover why this 16-bit masterpiece still looms large in the memory of gamers worldwide.

The Atmosphere and World-Building of Super Metroid


When Super Metroid released in 1994, it set the standard for atmosphere and world-building in gaming. From the opening title screen, you're transported to the lonely, foreboding planet Zebes.

The environments are diverse yet cohesive, ranging from the overgrown Brinstar jungle to the technological marvels of Norfair. Each area has its own memorable music theme that pulls you in. The ambiance is further enhanced by subtle details like drops of water echoing in caves, steam vents hissing, and machinery humming.

As you explore Zebes, you piece together what happened after the last Metroid game through scans, log entries, and the environment itself. Tourian, the Space Pirate base, shows signs of a struggle. A massive, empty holding tank hints at sinister experiments. These details, drip-fed through gameplay, make you eager to delve deeper into the mystery.

Progression in Super Metroid feels rewarding because the world gradually opens up. Early on, portions of the map are inaccessible until you gain new abilities that let you overcome obstacles, like the Grapple Beam allowing you to swing across gaps. Revisiting areas with your upgraded arsenal and accessing previously unreachable power-ups instills a sense of mastery over this dangerous planet.

Nearly 30 years later, Super Metroid remains the pinnacle of immersive sci-fi action-adventure. The compelling world-building and atmosphere stand the test of time, drawing you into a tense, moody experience that inspires curiosity about what lies around every turn. If you haven't yet explored the depths of planet Zebes, you're in for a dark, rewarding journey.

Powerful Upgrades and Ability Gaining


One of the coolest parts of Super Metroid is gaining access to awesome power-ups and abilities that open up new areas for exploration. As you progress, you'll find a bunch of upgrades for Samus's Power Suit that give her new skills and make her stronger and more versatile.
  • The Morph Ball lets Samus curl up into a little ball to roll through narrow passages and drop bombs. Once you have this, you can access new tunnels and secret areas.
  • The Charge Beam and Spazer Beam upgrades make Samus's arm cannon more powerful so she can blast through tough enemies and obstacles. The Spazer even lets you shoot three beams at once!
  • The Hi-Jump Boots let Samus jump much higher, allowing her to reach ledges and platforms that were previously inaccessible. These open up vertical space for exploration.
  • The Space Jump lets Samus do a double jump to reach even higher areas. This, combined with the Hi-Jump Boots, gives you a ton of aerial freedom to discover new places.
  • The Grapple Beam lets Samus swing across gaps and climb certain walls. This completely changes how you traverse rooms and the overall map.
As you find each new upgrade, think about how it can be used to access unexplored areas. Half the fun of Super Metroid comes from gaining a new ability, then retracing your steps to discover all the new secrets that have opened up to you. The ability gating means you'll be eager to find the next power-up so you can see what's behind the next locked door!

Memorable Boss Fights

Mother Brain


The final boss in Super Metroid is the infamous Mother Brain. After making your way through the Zebes underground and defeating Ridley, you come face to face with this biomechanical menace. Mother Brain attacks by shooting rings of energy from her tank and sends metroids to drain your energy. You have to use the ice beam to freeze the metroids and missiles to damage Mother Brain while avoiding her energy rings. Once you've defeated her, you only have 3 minutes to escape the self-destructing base. This fast-paced battle and escape sequence provides a climatic ending to an epic adventure.



Phantoon is a spooky ghost-like creature that inhabits the Wrecked Ship. To defeat this poltergeist, you have to use the X-ray scope to see its shadowy form and hit it with super missiles or charge shots. However, Phantoon will disappear and reappear in different locations, all while firing energy bolts and releasing little ghost creatures at you. The creepy music and sounds effects make this a memorable fight. Defeating Phantoon allows you to progress to Maridia.


Draygon is a rock-like aquatic creature in Maridia that grabs onto your head and drains your energy. To defeat this crustacean, you have to use the grapple beam to latch onto the creatures in the room and swing into Draygon to stun it. Then blast away with missiles and charge shots before it recovers. However, Draygon may grab onto you again, so you have to quickly grapple and swing away. Patience and fast reflexes are required for this unique fight.

The boss fights in Super Metroid each provide a unique challenge that requires mastery of Samus' abilities and weapons. Overcoming formidable foes like Mother Brain, Phantoon and Draygon creates a sense of accomplishment and progress in this influential action-adventure game.

A Masterclass in Level Design

Super Metroid is a masterclass in level design. The world is open but still guides you in the right direction, and there are secrets around every corner for observant players.

Interconnected Levels


The levels in Super Metroid are intricately connected, with multiple paths between areas. As you progress, you'll unlock new abilities that open up alternate routes and sequence breaks. You might find a hidden path early on that leads to an upgrade you're not supposed to get until later. This interconnectivity makes the world feel cohesive and rewards exploration.

Subtle Guidance

Although the world is open, Super Metroid guides you without being overly obvious. Crumbling platforms lead you in the right direction, and the level design subtly points you to unexplored paths. The game teaches you new mechanics through level design, without spelling everything out. Trying out new abilities and seeing where they lead you is part of the fun.

Secret Areas

Super Metroid is packed with hidden secrets for eagle-eyed players. Shoot random walls to find hidden passages, or drop bombs in suspicious spots. You might uncover an optional mini-boss, a missile expansion, or other goodies. Many secrets build on each other, with one hidden path leading to another and another. Exploring thoroughly and experimenting will lead you to many surprises.


The levels also shine in creating a moody sci-fi atmosphere. Each area has a distinct feel, from the overgrown jungle of Brinstar to the hi-tech laboratories of Tourian. The soundtrack and ambient sound effects enhance the tone of loneliness and mystery. Super Metroid's environments have aged gracefully, still holding up today as wonderfully atmospheric.

In summary, Super Metroid is a masterwork of level design and world-building. The levels guide without hand-holding, reward exploration at every turn, and create a memorable sci-fi atmosphere. No wonder it's considered an all-time classic.

Speedrunning and Sequence Breaking

Super Metroid is a speedrunner's dream. Released in 1994, this SNES classic featured an expansive world to explore with all kinds of sequence breaks and shortcuts for skilled players to discover.

Infinite Bomb Jumping

One of the most well-known techniques is "infinite bomb jumping," where Samus can chain together bomb explosions to reach extreme heights and access areas early. By laying a bomb, then jumping up and laying another bomb at the peak of her jump, players can ascend vertical shafts that would normally require the Space Jump upgrade.


The "mockball" allows Samus to roll into a morph ball without needing the Morph Ball upgrade. By rolling while pressing jump at just the right time, players can access tunnels and passages early on. Mockball requires precise timing but offers a lot of potential for sequence breaking.



Once Samus has the Speed Booster upgrade, she can store a "shinespark" charge and release it to zoom at high speeds in any direction. Creative players can use shinesparking to blast through corridors and access secret passages. Some of the most advanced techniques involve chaining together multiple shinesparks, bombing in mid-air to change direction, and shinesparking at a 45 degree angle.

Boss Order Manipulation

In Super Metroid, the bosses you face depend on which upgrades and items you've acquired. By obtaining certain power-ups out of the intended sequence, skilled players can manipulate which bosses appear and when. One of the most common examples is defeating the Spore Spawn boss in Norfair to get the Wave Beam early, then heading to Brinstar to face Kraid and grab the Ice Beam without needing to defeat Phantoon in Wrecked Ship.

Super Metroid set the template for open-world 2D action games with its enormous map, compelling upgrades, and freedom of exploration. For dedicated fans, mastering the many advanced techniques and sequence breaks provides endless replay value, even 25+ years later. With so much hidden potential beneath the surface, Super Metroid deserves its place in speedrunning history.


Super Metroid revolutionized the action-adventure genre and still holds up today. The atmospheric soundtrack, moody visuals, and sense of isolation pull you into the experience. Exploring the depths of Zebes is rewarding and chilling. The boss battles are epic and Samus is one of the coolest protagonists in gaming. If you've never played it, do yourself a favor and pick up Super Metroid on the SNES Classic or Virtual Console. It's a masterpiece that deserves to be experienced by every gamer. Over 20 years later, Super Metroid remains at the top of its class.



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