Super Metroid

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Super Metroid

Post by Agent Gold on Thu Apr 11, 2013 10:48 pm

About a week ago, I had a weekend with nothing to do. I said to myself, "I'm part way through Super Metroid, why don't I finish that once just so I can say I did? I know I got stuck last time, but I'll use a guide to get me through those moments I get stuck just so I can finish once."

When I was younger, my best friend (who is still my best friend now!) absolutely loved Super Metroid, but I never understood why. I had heard stories about it being good for speed running and sequence breaking, but I had always gotten frustrated with getting stuck part of the way through, so it was lost on me.

Now that I've finished it once, I finally get it.

The game is incredibly well designed. If you've ever finished it before, I recommend reading this article that describes how well the game guides you without telling you it's doing so.

But there's definitely more to it than using subtle tricks to give you hints while making it feel like you're doing all the work on your own. The Metroid series has a reputation for being easy to sequence break or for commonly being sequence broken. This isn't an accident--the game seems to be put together with the expectation that you will do this, maybe even challenging you to try it!

The thing that really opened my eyes here was the Space Jump upgrade near the end. With the Space Jump, you can go pretty much anywhere you like with ease (seriously, how did I never hear about this thing before I got it?). About when I got it, it dawned on me why this game was so great. Here was an official late-game upgrade that made it easy to get everywhere. But in a way, it was just making it easier to do the things you were able to do all along anyway. The order you do things doesn't really matter--you can have whatever upgrades you can reach, and how you reach them is up to your skill and observations.

Now that I've finished it, I've been spending days reading up on the game and all the ins and outs of it trying to figure out how they designed a game THIS well. Every article I read and every review I watch makes me appreciate it in a new way. If you want to design amazing games, you need to play this game.

So... Needless to say, I'm pretty awed by it.
What are other people's experience with this one?

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Re: Super Metroid

Post by Nai255 on Fri Apr 12, 2013 1:06 pm

Super Metroid remains a favorite of mine to this day. It's just one of those games that you can tell had immense effort poured into it to deliver an enjoyable experience again and again.

It does kinda make ya wonder whether the developers of certain games actually encouraged the idea of sequence breaking. Part of me always wants to think no, but then again, games like these are pretty vast and a development team with however much time they have for testing isn't going to find each and every single exploit in the infinite amount of time each and every person who buys the game will. Super Mario 64 and all it's crazy parkour tactics springs to mind, eheh.

Some people may prefer linear games, others may prefer those more open-ended. But I think games can be TOO open-ended as well. At least, if it's to the point you need a guide almost every step of the way, like in SaGa / Final Fantasy Legend. It can be pretty tough to strike a balance between the two, but then again, we can't please everybody. An interesting compromise I noticed in Metroid Zero Mission where there are hidden pathways that allow one to get by without certain items, yet technically aren't sequence breaks: at least not in the sense of passing through one-way doors from the other side, eheh.

I've always liked the idea of dynamic difficulty, and the fact Super Metroid actually lets you turn off certain upgrades, even the ones you "need" makes it that much easier to impose fun challenge runs on oneself to help keep things fresh even after playthrough number 255.

*phew* sorry if that was a little long, but I wanted to try and give my two cents without cutting any corners, or bomb-jumping off into a different thread Wink

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Re: Super Metroid

Post by Agent Gold on Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:18 pm

Nai255 wrote:It does kinda make ya wonder whether the developers of certain games actually encouraged the idea of sequence breaking. Part of me always wants to think no, but then again, games like these are pretty vast and a development team with however much time they have for testing isn't going to find each and every single exploit in the infinite amount of time each and every person who buys the game will. Super Mario 64 and all it's crazy parkour tactics springs to mind, eheh.

Most of the time, I think you're right. It feels like a lot of games take measures to keep you on the right track and don't handle very well if you go out of order. In this game's case, there's an alternate opening cutscene that shows when you've beaten the game once. During this cutscene, they show of the fact that (as difficult as it is) you can go upward infinitely with bomb jumping. This is one of the things that makes me say "they knew".

Nai255 wrote:Some people may prefer linear games, others may prefer those more open-ended. But I think games can be TOO open-ended as well. At least, if it's to the point you need a guide almost every step of the way, like in SaGa / Final Fantasy Legend. It can be pretty tough to strike a balance between the two, but then again, we can't please everybody. An interesting compromise I noticed in Metroid Zero Mission where there are hidden pathways that allow one to get by without certain items, yet technically aren't sequence breaks: at least not in the sense of passing through one-way doors from the other side, eheh.

Something I noticed from that Invisible Hand article is that while the game is sort of open and sandbox-y, it's constantly guiding you along the way. It just happens to do it in a way so subtle, it feels like you're figuring everything out yourself. (Not to say it's perfect--I did need a guide to finish, after all.) They sort of give you a set of rules (i.e. use the Grapple Beam to cross this area), and as long as you play by those rules, you will continue to be guided along the one "true" path. Once you start to find ways around those rules is when it really starts opening up. That's what I think, anyway.

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Re: Super Metroid

Post by Maetch on Sat Apr 13, 2013 12:56 am

I love the game, but I disagree with the idea of sequence-breaking being intentionally put in by the designers. There are still areas that are designed to herd you through Zebes in a pre-set route (you've got little chance of getting through Maridia without the Gravity Suit, and you need that plus the Space Jump to reach Ridley's Lair), and there are some places where you're given no clue to on how to proceed (such as dropping a Power Bomb in the underwater glass tube). Other places (like getting the Spazer Beam without Hi-Jump Boots) are more along the lines of using in-game skills to get certain items and hard-to-reach areas sooner, but you're still mainly proceeding on the game's route (unless you're exploiting glitches).

The only Metroid game I can think of where they actually made sequence-breaking a thing is Metroid: Zero Mission. They put breakable blocks everywhere as a way of letting the player access all of Zebes no matter how much or how little items are collected, to the point where you only really need nine to clear the game.

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Re: Super Metroid

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