Super Metroid is an action-adventure game developed and published by Nintendo for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System in 1994. It is the third installment in the Metroid series, following the events of the Game Boy game Metroid II: Return of Samus (1991). Players control bounty hunter Samus Aran, who travels to planet Zebes to retrieve an infant Metroid creature stolen by the Space Pirate leader Ridley.
Following the established gameplay model of its predecessors, Super Metroid focuses on exploration, with the player searching for power-ups used to reach previously inaccessible areas. It introduced new concepts to the series, such as the inventory screen, an automap, and the ability to fire in all directions. The development staff from previous Metroid games—including Yoshio Sakamoto, Makoto Kano and Gunpei Yokoi—returned to develop Super Metroid over the course of two years. The developers wanted to make a true action game, and set the stage for Samus’s reappearance.
The game received widespread acclaim, with praise for its atmosphere, gameplay, music and graphics. It is often cited as one of the best video games of all time. Although the game did not sell well in Japan, it fared better in North America and shipped 1.42 million copies worldwide by late 2003. Alongside Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Super Metroid is widely credited for establishing the “Metroidvania” genre, inspiring numerous indie games and developers. It also became popular among players for speedrunning. The game was followed by the 2002 release of Metroid Fusion and Metroid Prime. It was emulated for the Virtual Console service on various Nintendo platforms since 2007 and as part of the Super NES Classic Edition microconsole in 2017.
Super Metroid is a 2D, side-scrolling action-adventure game, which primarily takes place on the fictional planet Zebes from the original game—a large, open-ended world with areas connected by doors and elevators. The player controls Samus Aran as she searches the planet for a Metroid that has been stolen by Ridley, the leader of the Space Pirates. Samus can run, jump, crouch, and fire a weapon in eight directions; she can also perform other actions, such as wall jumping—jumping from one wall to another in rapid succession to reach higher areas. The “Moon Walk” ability, named after the popular dance move of the same name, allows Samus to walk backwards while firing or charging her weapon.
Throughout the course of the game, the player can acquire power-ups that enhance Samus’s armor and weaponry, as well as grant her special abilities, allowing them to gain access to areas that were previously inaccessible. The Morphing Ball allows Samus to curl into a ball and roll into tight places; while in this form, she can plant bombs once a Bomb power-up is acquired. The Spring Ball adds the ability to jump while in Morphing Ball form. The Speed Booster can be used to run at high speeds and crash into barriers and enemies. The Hi-Jump Boots allow for a higher jump, and the Space Jump allows Samus to jump in midair. The Grapple Beam can be used to swing across open areas. The X-ray Scope is used to see items and passages through hidden walls and other surfaces.
The heads-up display shows Samus’s health, the supply mode for Reserve Tanks, icons that represent weapons, and a map display showing her location and its surroundings. The inventory screen allows the player to enable and disable weapons and abilities. While the beam weapons can be combined, the Spazer and Plasma beams cannot be used simultaneously. At the game’s end, Samus obtains the Hyper Beam, a powerful weapon generated by the energy given to her by the “super Metroid”, the matured version of the larval creature which she seeks over the course of the game. The backup units called Reserve Tanks can be used automatically when Samus’s health is depleted. The game also features an automap to help players navigate the different areas of the game. Additionally, the player can use the map computer found in each part of the planet to reveal unexplored areas. To save their progress, the player must find and use one of the save stations scattered around the planet. The game can also be saved at Samus’s gunship, which fully recharges her health and ammunition as well. Super Metroid has three endings based on the time taken to complete the game, which determine whether Samus poses with or without her suit. The best ending is achieved when the game is completed under three hours. Additionally, an optional task alters the game’s end slightly. If the player chooses to rescue the Dachora and the Etecoons, friendly creatures encountered by Samus in the game, they are shown leaving the planet in the distance.