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The Gaming 5 #5 Mother 3

Note that this post contains massive spoilers for Mother 3. I’ll warn you when they’re about to get rotton, but if you want to experience the game clean, you’ve been warned.

Go fridgeWhy is it on this list?

The four preceding games are all “games” first and foremost: yes, there’s a story, heroes that grow, and villains to be defeated, but the primary focus of all of these games is the actual experience of playing the game. In a way, they are a miniscule step up from sports: you can play a game of football, but that game won’t be about something, the best you can hope for is to win, or at least to improve your own skills. Give it a few playthroughs, and nobody cares about Sigma, he’s just the last obstacle before completing the challenge.

This, of course, isn’t to say that there can’t be intricate stories hiding within even the thinnest plots. Super Metroid stars Samus Aran, a woman who, to my knowledge, only speaks “in game” during the introduction of one game out of three, and even that “dialogue” could rearrange a few pronouns to make her a complete mute. In spite of this (or perhaps because of it), even though Samus only had a total of three games between 1986 and 2002, she somehow acquired a number of apparently fan-attributed personality traits. Samus is brave and determined and solitary in her dangerous missions… uh…. like every video game character that stuck around long enough to topple the final boss. Regardless, look at the backlash against Metroid Fusion and Metroid: Other M for sullying the good name of Samus Aran… a character that had previously been little more than a player cipher. The reality is that Samus could either bulldoze everything on Zebes, or cower and never fire a shot to do anything more than defeat a boss or open a door, it was entirely up to the player.

But this is important, and it’s just as much a part of video games as jumping and shooting. More than any other medium, you are the protagonist in nearly every video game ever released. You may relate to Harry Potter, you might admire Schwarzenegger’s latest role, but it’s only in the realm of video games that you so totally inhabit a character. It’s no great surprise, really, as prior to the advent of cinema scenes, you controlled literally every movement of your digital hero for hours, so it’s only natural to feel a close bond with that tubby plumber or little metal boy you’ve been guiding all this time. Who needs virtual reality? We’ve been living it ever since the first person got into the headspace of that long, white paddle (no, it’s not just a vertical rectangle, that’s silly).

So if you get the same feeling from Super Mario Bros., why Mother 3?

Because Mother 3 knows.

For anyone that is reading this site exclusively because they like the sound of my voice in their head, and not because they like video games (hi, Mom!), Mother 3 is the sequel to Earthbound, aka Mother 2. Mother 3, like the rest of the series, was the brainchild of Shigesato Itoi, a name that Powmeans nothing to most Americans, but a fellow that has made quite a name for himself in Japan as a writer. Like… a for real writer, not someone who had to fill up a cutscene with words so “Over 40 hours of gameplay!” can be stapled onto the back of a box. Hey, I admire you, video game writers, it can’t be easy to get JRPG Protagonist #371 to prattle on about friendship for an entire scene and make it seem fresh (or at least not completely horrible); but Itoi was a writer first and foremost, which is very different from the rest of the video game industry where that skill appears to be valued somewhere below “guy who models armhair”.

Itoi started with Mother 1 (and, before I go any further, I want to be clear that I’m not claiming Itoi was solely responsible for these games, as Earthbound in particular was obviously a labor of love for other luminaries in the industry… there’s just an unmistakable tone that runs through all three games, and I find it hard to believe that kind of thing could originate from any more than one dedicated person), a game that was meant to emulate (the big in Japan) Dragon Quest series. It had its fun moments, but it was way too opaque for much of the game, and the charm that would define the following installments was buried under a crushing difficulty. Mind you, this was pretty much standard for JRPGs of the NES era, so whaddya gonna do?

Earthbound, Mother 2, still cribbed heavily from the Dragon Quest series (which, by the SNES era, was becoming about as relevant as Kabuki Quantum Fighter in the West), but anyone willing to deal with its “dated” graphics and gameplay was in for a treat. This was where the meta-elements of the Mother series really came to the forefront, and while it could all be seen as nothing more than silly jokes to a child player, a mature gamer might recognize the variety of components on display that, in their way, mocked the very concept of video games from within a video game. In order to read a sign warning of the dangers of stepping on the grass, you must stand on the grass. A city where everything is the opposite of how it should be proves how a simple switch between Cup o' Joeyes and no really means little when you understand what will happen. A village that caged itself in is convinced that their confinement is an illusion and it’s the outside world that is trapped. A statue gets you high, a stone calls to you, and a rock speaks words. I always disparage the thinking that someone “was so high” to create something creative, but the entire game feels like a trip: something just outside reality so you can return and experience life in a new way. Earthbound may reflect the real world, but it is a fantasy first and foremost, and its tone reminds you to just have fun with it.

Mother 3, though. Mother 3 is reality.

It’s amusing that Mother 3 is the Mother game most based in a fantasy world. Mother 1 & 2 were both set in a modern, suburban environment… albeit one with psychic powers, giant pencil statues, and invading aliens. Mother 3, meanwhile, is tucked into a rural village that has a few modern conveniences at the start, but there’s no reason this couldn’t be some corner of an early Final Fantasy world (or maybe Wild Arms. I do see a cowboy hat). But while the setting is absolutely important to the game, what’s more important are the characters, and, specifically, your character. Yes, you “play as” your entire party (and one mischievous monkey) at one point or another during this game, but the central protagonist, and the number one body you inhabit during this adventure is that of Lucas, a young boy with a mother, father, grandfather, and brother.

This is about where the spoilers get intense… so click to proceed.

The Gaming 5 #4 Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

The main man!Why is it on this list?

So far, all the games I’ve used to define gaming have been predominantly single player experiences. Yes, Gitaroo-Man had a two player mode, and, technically, you could consider the “score” elements (item acquisition percentage, speed involved, damage incurred) of the previous games to be competitive, but, by and large, these are games meant to be enjoyed by a solitary person gradually being absorbed by a hungry couch. Sometimes, though, that couch hungers for more souls, and two player games are there to sate that desire. Pong, widely believed to be the first video game, was a two player competitive experience, and it’s only natural that much of its progeny follows the same template. Man versus man is going to be more interesting than man vs. machine most days, and what better way to highlight that fact than with a homicidal raccoon versus a hulking zombie?

Can’t I just compete through Ultimate Frisbee instead?

In the man v. man world of competition, video games are, at their core, just a complex set of rules for a game. Consider the difference between a “complex” board game like Monopoly and your average Mario Party installment: both are, at their core, the same kind of “game”, but one allows for so much more complicated (and fun!) distractions. There’s no way you could ever play a game of Risk where you settled disputes by springing up and organizing an impromptu round of finger football, but that’s basically what you do every round in Rampart. Video games, with the programmer working as inventor, organizer, and referee all in one, allow for much more I think comics are coolcomplex play experiences than anything available in the real world (unless you have amazingly cooperative friends).

You could toss on some gloves and box with your buddy, or get into a fistfight if everybody is receptive to the whole “losing a few teeth” thing, but you’re still going to get a more interesting experience when you’re pitting the Master of Magnetism against the Reploid. This is a fighting game, but that genre left behind the trappings of a simple fist to the face right around the time that dude in the bandana starting hurling chi balls across the dojo. And that’s even before you get into the fact that a significant chunk of the cast isn’t even human. Yes, it’s not as fun as growing wings of you own and assaulting a colleague with a dive bomb attack of your own devising, but until genetic manipulation finally grants us dominance over birds, it will have to do.

So why this game? Why not Ultimate Frisbee Pro 2099?

The most obvious example of a competitive video game for a lot of people would be a simple, actual sports game. People understand sports, and people understand grandslamming that puck past the three-point line and into the endzone (did I get that right?). But video game sports, try as they might, aren’t anywhere near the actual experience they’re emulating. No, I’m not lamenting the lack of body odor involved in (most) video games, or that special runner’s high you can only get from towing a basketball the proper number of meters (not really a sports guy, sorry); what I’m talking about is that, by definition, a video game is merely an abstraction of a real physical activity. You’re not throwing a football, you’re pressing the X button. Hell, you’re not even just pressing the X button, you’re pressing the X button at the right time, the right number of times, and while aiming the analog stick in the right direction. This is what video games are, and I’m not disparaging sports games for being sports games, They look so friendlysimply stating that turning a simple throwing motion into a series of rigidly defined button presses is maybe not the best way to endear someone to the medium.

And, incidentally, this is what made Wii Sports such a perennial hit: a “bowling motion” actually allowed you to bowl, as opposed to having to properly line up some abstract meter. And Wii Sports would be a great introduction to gaming if only another game in the last decade actually emulated what was so great about it. Alas.

Like proper sports games (fighting is a sport!), Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3 is an abstraction of a real dog god battling an intergalactic murderess. You can no more throw a punch in reality and get a reaction from your digital avatar than slap a puck at your television and expect your virtual goalie to move accordingly. But here, with the pomp and craziness of the UMvC3 universe, you’re already in a “weird” environment, so it’s a lot more conducive to learning the “new” controls demanded of you. You can easily throw a ball in real life, but you can’t hurl a fireball, so there’s less of a disparity between the “advantages” of reality and the video game universe.

But you’ve still gotta learn all those super moves, right?

And that leads to the other reason I chose Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3: it’s kinda easy. No, I don’t mean it’s easier to beat an AI opponent than any other fighting game, what I mean is that about 90% of the roster has super moves based on variations on a simple quarter circle controller movement, or, put simply, “the fireball motion”. Punch, kick, jump, it’s all in your mind and at the push of a button; but with a little extra effort (but not too much effort), you can summon punishing lightning showers or unflinching zombie hordes. Dinner time!And the combos, an essential piece of any fighting game, are not as demanding as some franchises, but are still spectacular to behold. With just a little practice, the average player can graduate from frantic button mashing to more nuanced combat techniques. It won’t happen immediately, but video games are about improving, and UMvC3 is here to provide a plethora of “easy to learn, fun to master” options.

Aren’t there other “simple” fighting games out there?

Probably, but they don’t have Tron Bonne fighting Iron Fist. Yes, half the roster was birthed of Capcom video game hits, but the other half should be very familiar to anyone that has opened their eyes in the last decade. Let’s see here… including upcoming features, it appears that the only heroes on the Marvel side that haven’t hit the big screen are… Nova, She-Hulk, and X-23. So if you ever watched Thor, Iron Man, or Wolverine, and thought, “Hey, wouldn’t it be cool to be that guy?” Then congratulations, your wish is granted, and you can be all three at the same time.

This is not to discount the Capcom side, though, as half the fun of those guys is seeing someone interesting and then being inspired to explore their origins. Zero already appeared in one Gaming Five entry, but the rest of the gang are eclectic beyond belief, and you will get a very different experience between exploring the origins of Frank West or Mike Haggar. If part of the qualifications for these games is to create a desire to play more video games, Victory!you really can’t go wrong with a game that dares you to discover Trish’s deal.

It’s a fighting game, it’s a history of Capcom, it’s a perfect game for beginners, and it’s a wonderful way to battle it out with your friends. It’s not just a good choice for someone to learn about video games, it’s one of the Ultimates.

The Gaming 5 #4 Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3

  • System: Playstation 3, Xbox 360, and Vita. But it’s not available digitally, because licensing is a scourge.
  • Number of players: Two. That… was kind of the point.
  • What about One Player Mode: It’s a great way to practice against an AI opponent, and you do have to do it at least once to battle the one and only Galactus. It’s kind of amazing that this is the only game where I feel like his might was properly utilized (Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is second place… and then nothing). Galactus is a gigantic purple clad “man” in a skirt who wants to devour the Earth: how is he not the final boss of every Marvel game?
  • It can’t be all good: Oh, so, despite having a team of three, every run through One Player Mode only unlocks one character’s ending? And it’s just the character that landed the final blow, so if Phoenix got chumped on a bad hit, I’m out of luck? Thanks a lot, guys.
  • Dinner time!Favorite Character: The fact that Tron Bonne made it back into the fold made my bitter, twisted heart grow three sizes. I missed Mega Man Legends on its initial release, so Marvel vs. Capcom 2 was my first introduction to Ms. Tron and her adorable servbots. I still remember a friend and I trying to figure out her deal from her moveset. She throws a rock… is she related to Guts Man?
  • Did you know? Of the original, pre-Ultimate MvC3 lineup, the only character without any form of action figure/model merchandise was Mike Hagger (if you consider Sir Arthur and Maximo to be the same character… which I do for merch). With the Ultimate crowd added, there’s Red Arremer/Firebrand and, I believe, Frank West. Amusingly enough, Strider had an action figure for… Mavel vs. Capcom (he fought Spider-Man!).
  • Would I play again: Yes. Granted, I’ve logged more hours in Marvel vs. Capcom 2 by virtue of existing longer, but UMvC3 is my go-to for fighting games with friends, so it sees play pretty often. Incidentally, MvC2 might have made this list if it wasn’t balanced about as poorly as a match between a towering mutant hunter and a kitty cat.

What’s next? Mother’s Day. Please look forward to it!

Go read Hawkeye!

The Gaming 5 #3 Gitaroo Man

Shake it!Why is it on this list?

Single Player Video Games have grown to be stories based on achieving one goal: get to the end and save the princess, get to the end and save the world, get to the end and beat the bad guy, get to the end and find out your penguin girlfriend has gotten fat, etc. The moment to moment of the levels and experience are not emphasized, but what is important is reaching that finale, that all-encompassing goal of “beating the game”. Obviously, this has not always been the case. The concept of the “high score” was practically invented with video games (sorry, grandpa, your cone with a ball on a string high score is not a real thing), and, though the score counter has gone the way of Master Higgins, gamers are continually bringing the concept back for competition and skill reasons. Mega Man X has absolutely no concept of a scoring system in game, but feel free to watch speed runs and low item runs and that one amazing guy that can play the entire game without getting hit or dashing. Point is, games may have abandoned scores long ago, but the concept is constantly being revived by the people actually playing the games. See also: achievements/trophies.

I wanted at least one game on this list to exemplify the “score” concept in a straightforward, clearly showcased manner. Gitaroo Man was chosen as a fine representative of “easy to learn, difficult to master, and here’s where you rank.”

Well Why Not Every Other Rhythm Game in the Universe?

Gitaroo Man has a few advantages over other rhythm games. For one, it is very straightforward with its controls. It’s a simple, stupid thing, but the fact that the X prompts come from cardinal south and Triangle prompts come from cardinal north go a long way to reminding a player unfamiliar with the Playstation 2 (or PSP) control layout what direction their thumb should be chasing. Additionally, every level/song begins with an “intro”, which, please take note every Fly somewhere around your heartrhythm game that has missed this lesson, is absolutely essential if you want the player to start in anything other than a failing state. Hey, call me crazy, but it kinda helps when you know the BPM of a song when you’re expected to “play” it. Also, all of the songs involved here are original. I have a hard time playing the “games are art” card when a game simply rehashes something that is already considered artistic. Sharp Dressed Man is a national treasure, does tacking a “game” onto it make it better?

And, oh yeah, there’s mariachi skeletons.

Come again?

Gitaroo Man is basically a parody of typical shonen and western stories: U-1 is a put upon loser of a teenager who only wants to impress the cute girl and prove to the bully that he’s not an “infinite loser”. U-1 discovers, with the help of his mentor/dog, that he is a special boy with a special heritage and is the mystical Gitaroo Man. U-1, Gitaroo Man, must use his magical weapon, the Gitaroo, to collect the seven legendary gitaroos, and power-up to the True Gitaroo Man and defeat the nefarious intergalactic despot, Zowie, and maybe win the heart of a young maiden along the way.

While the plot of Gitaroo Man is pretty standard, its details are a little on the… different side. Each legendary gitaroo is a different enchanted musical instrument, like a bass “axe” that is a for real axe… and is wielded by a flying demon baby clad in a diaper and riding a choo choo. And that’s the first level. Things steadily escalate through a UFO with a synthesizer and “Dance Till Your Death” rays, an Mojo Mojo Mojo King Bee!Elvis impersonator with a trumpet and an inexplicable bee costume, and a space shark that transforms into a giant sized DJ Sumo robot. Finally, after a brief romantic interlude, U-1, in one of the most difficult battles in the game, faces a trio of mariachi skeletons in the only drum solo that has ever been worth a listen. Were I a horrible person, I would imbed a MIDI of that song into everything I have ever published. Be glad if I never change my mind. Yes, there is more to the game after the Sanbone Trio, but who cares, learning to trust in your own skills and vanquishing dancing skeletons is the only climax I will ever need.

So scoring and “whacky” is all it takes to make a game essential?

No, not in the least, but this is a game that will make you want to play it again and again. I swear I’m not bitter about Guitar Hero and Rock Band killing the “story rhythm game” genre in favor of all licensed songs all the time (yes I am). Gitaroo Man is a game that can be completed in an hour, but has years worth of details crammed into every scene. And this is important! If you’re going for the “high score”, if you’re trying to achieve the best Gitaroo Man rank possible, if you want to be the True Gitaroo Man, you’re going to be playing these same songs over and over and over again. It’s natural, no one is born a perfect guitar player, and no one is born just knowing how to conquer Bee Jam Blues. So, if you’re going to play a level over and over again, it’s only polite of the developers to make a game that is overflowing with details and, dare I say it, Bat and Bad are the same thingaffection if you’re going to see it all continually. Hell, I must have played one of my favorite songs in this game, Flyin’ to Your Heart, about a million times before a friend pointed out the “very Japanese slot machine building” in the background. It’s a silly detail, and, from a gameplay or story perspective, adds absolutely nothing to the game, but it’s a fun thing to notice between bouts of swearing at missed notes.

Gitaroo Man might not be the best game in the universe. It never redefined the video game paradigm like some of its peers. Hell, I’m pretty sure it sold like seventeen copies in its first run. But, to me, it’s a perfect game to “teach” someone the concept of scoring in a game. You either hit the right note or you don’t, and, in the end, there’s no surprise when you score low because you didn’t see a single “Great” on the screen. A newbie might take a long time to attain every perfect, but Gitaroo Man hits all the right notes, and scores S rank every time.

The Gaming 5 #3 Gitaroo Man

  • System: Playstation 2 and PSP. Horribly, the PSP version is not available on Vita.
  • Number of Players: 2. Oh yeah, there’s a two player competitive mode. It’s quite fun if you can find someone on the same skill level as yourself… But you’ll S-rank Tainted Lovers well before that happens.
  • This isn't that songPort ‘o Call: The PSP version, Gitaroo Man Lives!, has two new songs available in a new two player co-op mode. Downside? Even when this game was new, I didn’t know a single other human being in my immediate area with a PSP. Way to go, Koei.
  • Favorite Song? Much like the Josie and the Pussycats (movie) soundtrack, I’ve been listening to the entirety of this OST for the last fifteen years. As a result, a number of Gitaroo Man songs are practically a part of my soul. And I can barely recall the name of any given hit from my high school years! I’m weird. What was the original question? Oh yeah, let’s see here… hm… Yes, I think I will have to acknowledge the skeletons’ Born to Be Bone as my absolute favorite Gitaroo Man song. I petitioned the local courts to allow me to drive any speed when this song comes on in my car, but they didn’t go for the idea.
  • Did You Know? U-1, the mighty Gitaroo Man who saves an entire planet from tyranny and gets the girl in the process… is voiced by a girl. Specifically Lenne Hardt, who has also voiced Tekken’s Anna Williams and Transformers’ Arcee (in video games, to be clear). That poor kid just can’t catch a break.
  • Would I play again: Hells yes. This is basically my go-to Playstation 2 game, and it’s ideal for a quick pick up and play to see if I can finally defeat Master mode. Here’s a tip: I can’t. Added bonus: I don’t even have to find wherever my memory cards are hiding to enjoy it!

What’s next? Earth is in peril, and only a karate man, a floating giant head, and a chivalrous knight can save it. Please look forward to it!

Quiet, pooch

The Gaming 5 #2 Super Metroid

Sing it with meWhy is it on this list?

As I mentioned in the Mega Man X article, the best video games are the ones that evolve with the player’s skills. You’ve mastered running and jumping? Great, now let’s turn into a ball! Got being a ball down? Welcome to the wonderful world of bombs. Etc. However, a significant difference between Super Metroid and Mega Man X is that MMX is “level based”, and X’s abilities only ever improve in the service of reaching the end of the next stage; by contrast, Samus Aran’s abilities improve not only her combat effectiveness, but her ability to reach and explore new areas. In a way, this is a minor difference between the two games, and in another way, this tiny difference created an entirely new genre from arguably the exact same components. Jump, shoot, and now explore.

So why Super Metroid and not Metroid or the various similar Castlevania games?

Super Metroid is the pinnacle of what began in Metroid and Metroid II. Super Metroid’s predecessors were both excellent games in their own rights, but things like the beam limit (oh, picked up the Wave Beam before Tourian? Too bad!) and the Spider Ball (fun for exactly three seconds before a rolling boredom settles in) scream “first try”. Also, Super Metroid’s minimap and pause maps are such a revelation, it’s nearly impossible to go back to the old “break out the graph paper” prequels. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night liked the map system so much that it stole it wholesale and never looked back. Sure, Igarashi, you had Zelda in mind, not Metroid, we all believe you.

Speaking of Castlevania, the Metroid series has always had one very important leg up on the Castlevania series: power-up acquisition. REASSIGN AConsider: in Super Metroid, there is a power-up hiding under Mother Brain’s old brain tank, a location that is visited very early in the game. In Castlevania, this power-up would have to be a weapon or armor of some strength, yes, but, due to it possibly being found in the early minutes, it would have to be fairly weak, so as not to imbalance the early enemy challenges, or completely outclass every single item you’d find afterwards… but if you find this secret later in the game, it’s basically trash. In Super Metroid? The power-up is a missile upgrade, which is useful whether it’s your first upgrade or last. Yes, there may not be a point in the game where you need 200 missiles at your disposal, but it is handy to have a full compliment if you’re diving into the fires of Norfair to confront a certain space dragon.

Additionally, Castlevania’s “leveling” system seems perfunctory on Samus’s “just a tank” gameplay. Samus can take a hit, in fact, she can take many hits and keep on trucking, never having to particularly worry about killing a thing. This is different in Castlevania, as the monsters involved are supposed to be interesting challenges, but… well… you’ll be overleveled for some reason, either due to finding decent gear or looking for decent gear, getting lost, and killing so many enemies Alucard’s level accidentally precludes the idea of a boss being a remote challenge. Obviously, this is its own kind of fun if you enjoy that kind of thing, but it’s a poor lesson for a video game novice. Grinding should not be encouraged, by accident or design.

So Super Metroid is a good choice because it’s easy?

Barring some gray doors that must be soaked in space pirate blood, Samus does not concern herself with the monsters of Zebes. As a result, “health” is less important in the “can I take a hit from that geega” sense and more a signifier of where not to go. Enter a room, and your energy tanks are draining faster than an industrial strength toilet? Way to go, you found a place you’re not supposed to be, maybe go try somewhere else. The challenge in Super Metroid is the navigation, not the minute to minute You have enough health for this?“monsters”. A Mega Man or Mario game is a race against your own hit points; a goomba or met may end a successful run right at the finish line simply due to suffering too much damage earlier in the level. A comparable situation in Super Metroid is not a zoomer, but a wall. Do you have the skills/items to overcome this obstacle? Do you know the best way to handle this situation? Ridley’s lair is not guarded by some invincible boss, it is guarded by boiling lava and an “impossible” jumping challenge. The challenge is learning what will make Samus “get there”, not memorizing an enemy’s pattern or remembering to save enough energy tanks.

And remember, death in video games is always ephemeral, the true “setback” of death is, in the end, wasted time: you must now restart the level, and expend your own time completing challenges you already once completed. Super Metroid doesn’t have to kill Samus to slow down the player; just ask anyone who spent days running around Zebes looking for the next area when all they ever had to do was super bomb that one stupid tube. Not that I’m still bitter decades later…

So you’re sticking to the bold stance that Super Metroid is a worthwhile game?

Better men than I have outlined exactly why Super Metroid is a great game. See the excellent Anatomy of Metroid book by J. Parish for See you next missiona complete breakdown of why this might be one of the most well-constructed video games ever. Hell, just play the game, and you’ll likely innately sense the perfection like so many of us did in ’94, back when gaming alternatives included luminaries like Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit. Super Metroid is not only a good game, it is an ideal game for learning about games, and how to play games. Once the local college approves my syllabus, this is the first game I’m assigning for homework in Video Games 101.

The Gaming 5 #2 Super Metroid

  • System: Super Nintendo, but also available on the Wii/WiiU virtual console service. Interestingly, this is the only Gaming Five game that does not have a portable version or remake available. This is unacceptable!
  • Number of players: One Samus Aran, alone in her powersuit, forever.
  • Favorite area: Norfair Depths, home of Ridley, is just so delightfully inhospitable. Every inch of the place is covered in lava and spikes and oppressive heat, and the Space Pirates are all hanging out, ya know, chilling, soaking up some rays. And you ever notice how the whole area has a lot of really small passageways? How did the boss even get into his lair? Ridley is too big.
  • Did you know? This game was released stateside on my birthday. This… means something.
  • Did you know (Not related to me edition)? As of writing this article, there is an adorable website Give the kid a toy to play with for a good pictureat supermetroidguide.com. It’s, like, an old Angelfire site dedicated to Super Metroid. I want to be clear here, I am not mocking this site in any way, I genuinely love that we live in a world where this is a site that was apparently made sometime recently (it mentions Other M) but looks like it was made in 1999. Some delightful nostalgia.
  • Did you know (Okay, let’s talk about the game edition)? While it was just kind of implied before, later release Metroid Zero Mission confirmed that Samus Aran spent a significant part of her childhood living on Zebes. Setting aside how a human child could survive five minutes on a planet where giant bugs can damage an entire powersuit, this means that Samus should have some emotional attachment to the place. So Samus Aran returns to her old neighborhood as an adult, finds it infested with a criminal gang, expels the mob, leaves, and returns sometime later to find she did practically no good the first time. Her second visit lasts about two hours, and, when she leaves, the entire planet, and everything on it, is blown to pieces. And Metroid Other M decided Samus would have PTSD over the baby.
  • Would I play again? I’m told that sometimes when I am involved in boring meetings or other events where I could be spending my time elsewhere, I enter a sort of “trance state” and my eyes glaze over. Some mystics have described this state as a sort of nirvana, but I know that when that happens, I am just playing Super Metroid in my head.

What’s Next? Let’s ignore the power of plasma beams, and move on to the punishing power of music. Please look forward to it!

Do I have to say it?