Forget Nostalgia, Super Metroid Was Embarrassingly Easy

Lizzy Finnegan

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Forget Nostalgia, Super Metroid Was Embarrassingly Easy

Nostalgia usually colors the way we remember things. In the case of Super Metroid, it is easy to forget just how easy the game really was.

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MonsterCrit

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No body claimed Super Metroid was super Hard... they kinda had to tone it down a bit after the first one.
 

rpav

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This is definitely the case. I replayed this semi-recently (a year or so ago?) and was surprised at just how easy it was. I followed this by playing Zelda:LTTP, and was surprised at how much relatively harder it was... followed by Zelda 1, which was actually pretty easy too! (All your really need for LoZ is a map with the items and levels marked, which you can find just about anywhere.)

However "easy" doesn't mean "bad". "Easy" and "hard" are orthogonal to "enjoyable" or "annoying". LTTP was actually somewhat annoying. Bloodborne is pretty enjoyable. Super Metroid was a blast. We may forget how hard or easy games are (and this may change with time), but this doesn't relate to fun.
 

kimiyoribaka

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Lizzy Finnegan said:
With all of the easily accessible early retrieval options, Super Metroid might as well have made a Hylian-esque overworld and just allowed for all areas to be accessible at the player's discretion.
I'm confused. Why Hylian-esque? I don't remember any Legend of Zelda game doing this...

Lizzy Finnegan said:
Compounded with her ridiculously high jumps and reserve energy - you know, for when real energy runs out - it was virtually predetermined that no matter what enemies or environmental challenges a player encountered, they'd be more than well equipped to prevail with minimal effort.
Weren't those in the original metroid?

Lizzy Finnegan said:
The "map out everything" system completely robbed the game of the only true challenging features, established by its franchise predecessors - the challenge of exploring, experiencing, discovering, and not least of all, remembering.
In other words, Super Metroid saved the player some money by not requiring them to buy graph paper.
 

UNHchabo

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Mother Brain may just be an interactive cutscne, but Super Metroid does have a final boss fight -- Ridley. That fight is hard enough that I died even on my last 100% playthrough a few months back.

Sure, the game doesn't have the traditional level of difficulty of many games from the era (Ninja Gaiden, for instance), but it's complex, and still difficult if you are trying for a speedrun or minimum-item run. Most of the sequence breaks you mentioned rely on the "mockball" technique, which isn't that easy, and is almost certainly a bug. So maybe some of the sequence breaks involving the wall jump were intended, but I doubt the others were.

I see no problem with the map -- I've recently been playing the first two games for the first time, and trying to memorize the layout is just frustrating, and doesn't add to the challenge in an enjoyable way. Even after you get the map of an area, you still have to explore your way around, and the secret areas are still hidden, too. Not to mention that the map is essentially a checklist of "what haven't I done" that's a bit more subtle than a quest log in a modern RPG.
 

UNHchabo

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rpav said:
This is definitely the case. I replayed this semi-recently (a year or so ago?) and was surprised at just how easy it was. I followed this by playing Zelda:LTTP, and was surprised at how much relatively harder it was... followed by Zelda 1, which was actually pretty easy too! (All your really need for LoZ is a map with the items and levels marked, which you can find just about anywhere.)
Now try Zelda II. :)

I played that game all the time as a kid, and only ever beat it using the Game Genie, and I still thought it was hard. Recently I went back and tried to play it with no cheatcodes or anything, and I'm struggling. I've been able to make it to Thunderbird, and nearly defeat it, before dying. If I ever do, then I still have to face Shadow Link.
 

rpav

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UNHchabo said:
Now try Zelda II. :)
Yeah last time I tried this I remember it being somewhat of a challenge. This is in part because I haven't played it already and don't know more-or-less what to do. Nor have I finished it, sadly, because I usually get distracted. I really need to put effort into that sometime.
 

Covarr

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Eh... It's maybe a little easier than it should be, but I think it's still harder than most modern games. But ultimately, it's not about difficulty, it's about exploration and atmosphere. Any difficulty it has at all is only for the sake of structure and pacing do deliver the stuff it does best. If it'd been much harder, that would've significantly affected the tone of the game for the worse; not everything needs to be Contra to be good.

P.S. Thanks
 

MtnGamer

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You wrote that there was this article coming along that detailed your thoughts on the game, but that you deleted the article because of a realization that the game was embarrassingly easy. That seems like a very unpleasant reaction to a thought. Was this realization really so overpowering that you would delete your prior opinions rather than save them? I think it's great when we question our past assumptions, but deleting written work makes it sound like you don't appreciate your past feelings.

I stopped playing Super Metroid prior to high school because I did find it difficult. Since college, I play it at least once a year and am having an easier time with the game, having beaten it several times. I will grant that the final boss was silly, but I wouldn't call the game embarrassingly easy as I would be accusing my younger self of being incompetent (and why I generally discourage people from making generalizations about a game based on their private skill-level). My grasp of metroid-style games and my mechanical reflexes have improved in these years.

But to be honest, none of this matters. The difficulty level means nothing compared to the silence my character experience when running through a quiet hallway, and the chilly feeling I had from the atmosphere it created compared to other games that just blared music during play. It ran smoothly and never crashed. It had detailed enemies. The map often tricked me by not showing secret entrances and stopping me with dead ends. So yeah, looking back I think the game is easier for me to play. But that won't change the fun I, or my younger self, had with the game.
 

CaitSeith

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I remember it still managed to kill me several times (even I died once when I met the giant Baby Metroid). Yes, she has a lot of things; but starts with none. And in the way of collecting them, she's still vulnerable; and most of those alternate paths aren't spelled out. There was no Internet to tell you about them back then (maybe in magazines like Nintendo Power you could find all those secrets).
 

cynicalsaint1

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So if I may, what's the point of this article?

I mean not that I disagree that Super Metroid isn't particularly difficult, but what does that have to do with anything?
Difficulty has never really been among what the game is generally praised or notable for in the first place.

Without a discussion of whether this detracts or adds to the game in some way, it really just feels like you're wasting a bunch of words to state a fact. I mean unless you're starting from an assumption that more difficult = betters, which I would argue is utterly false (and this coming from someone who considers Dark Souls one of the best games released in I don't know how long ... ). - there plenty of amazingly great games out there that aren't hard because being hard to complete isn't the point.

So what does Super Metroid's difficulty level have to do with anything?
 

rbstewart7263

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cynicalsaint1 said:
So if I may, what's the point of this article?

I mean not that I disagree that Super Metroid isn't particularly difficult, but what does that have to do with anything?
Difficulty has never really been among what the game is generally praised or notable for in the first place.

Without a discussion of whether this detracts or adds to the game in some way, it really just feels like you're wasting a bunch of words to state a fact. I mean unless you're starting from an assumption that more difficult = betters, which I would argue is utterly false (and this coming from someone who considers Dark Souls one of the best games released in I don't know how long ... ). - there plenty of amazingly great games out there that aren't hard because being hard to complete isn't the point.

So what does Super Metroid's difficulty level have to do with anything?
I disagree whenever modern game easyness is lamented you often see super metroid as one of the games on the list of games that are full of that good honest difficulty of way back when.
 

Nazulu

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It's really not easy the first time you play it. I think you need to throw those goggles back on, because I put all my friends through it, and if it wasn't for some guides they would have fucked themselves and might've not bothered finishing it. In fact, a lot of people who start it have difficulty noticing any clues and adapting to the bosses.

I literally face palmed reading this article. No one is going to find these short cuts easy or even adapt properly when they first play. There are no arrows to point it out to you, and most people don't think like that. Also, the whole reason you can actually find a way to pass certain obstacles is for replay-ablilty. At the end it counts the time you took to beat it, so it encourages you to find different paths (and that is a challenge). And even then, none of my friends could effectively deviate from the original path, especially not dying while trying.

Super Metroid does have all the challenge of exploring, experiencing, discovering, and remembering *smack*. The remembering part would have been harder in the previous Metroids, so I'd give you that, but it's a "whoopti doo" from me. I could imagine many people would get absolutely sick of it if they couldn't find where they were in it's big ass map. Actually, that's the reason some people I knew couldn't be stuffed with the original Metroid, including the rewards weren't worth it.

Also, I agree with the Mother Brain (I think most do), but this has been said a thousand times before, especially from me on this very site. It's not the worst thing though. It was still fascinating the first time you see it, and it has the excellent execution of feeling big each time, but I would've preferred a proper challenge all the same.

Your simple points are a load of fluff though. I bet you didn't do so well the first time. I'd put all my money on it.
 

Redd the Sock

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While I admit Super Metroid doesn't really push you at any point, I wonder how much of its ease comes from experience with Metroid in all its NES hard glory. While never punishing, health drops were lower, progress could be ambiguous (bomb for a hidden passage in a place you wouldn't expect one to get the high jump boots), and even at max health, those bosses could knock you around. By the time Super came along, you just got used to bombing everywhere to find stuff, even getting good at expecting them in certain areas. Toss in an X-ray scope, health stations and an auto map, and no wonder I never had a problem.
 

The_Great_Galendo

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Easy? I dunno, I remember dying and/or getting stuck quite a few times in that game. Among other things, there's a stupid statue-thing somewhere in Norfair that blocks pretty much all your shots. I think I had to fight him probably close to a dozen times before finally getting lucky and killing him. Hardest boss in the game, and he wasn't even a real boss.

And the complaint about sequence-breaking just seems like nitpicking. The fact that you can wall jump to get early stuff is great on subsequent playthroughs (it's like NewGame+, for a game that doesn't have NewGame+), but I think that the number of people who accidentally made the game too easy by doing so on their first playthrough is pretty tiny. Speaking for myself, I didn't even know that you could wall jump until getting stuck in that cavern where you're supposed to learn it.

So you've got a game that can be a bit too easy if you choose to sequence-break right near the beginning (that's pretty much the case with any game that allows sequence-breaking, though), and is fairly easy after the stupid statue boss I mentioned above, which doesn't seem like all that bad of a thing. I will give you that the X-ray scope and the final boss were both pretty lame (though the former was really just a time-saving device so you didn't have to bomb/speed dash literally every stone block), but the map was a nice touch. A great game, really -- and if it was a little bit too easy, well, that's not always the worst thing. I certainly wouldn't call it embarrassingly so.
 
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Metroid isn't about difficulty though, is it? I've only ever played Super Metroid and Metroid Prime, but neither game relies on challenging combat to be fun. Metroid has become all about the atmosphere, the expanding world, the exploration, and the story. The shooting is there for flavor, and to give you something to do between your discoveries. I honestly never thought it was detrimental to the games for them to be easy.
 

MonsterCrit

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President Bagel said:
MonsterCrit said:
No body claimed Super Metroid was super Hard... they kinda had to tone it down a bit after the first one.
I vaguely recall someone on Youtube complaining about its alleged imposing difficulty. I agree with the author that the game was too easy, but that doesn't stop it from being one of the best games of its era.
Well to youngsters most retrogames are considered hard. Pfeh. I mean they COmplain about the Dam in TMNT... for christ sakes. the Dam was child's play compared to the military base. WOuld hate to see how these would fare against a game like Gradius.. sans KOnami code.


TheVampwizimp said:
Metroid isn't about difficulty though, is it? I've only ever played Super Metroid and Metroid Prime, but neither game relies on challenging combat to be fun. Metroid has become all about the atmosphere, the expanding world, the exploration, and the story. The shooting is there for flavor, and to give you something to do between your discoveries. I honestly never thought it was detrimental to the games for them to be easy.
The Original Metroid was never so much about combat, but in true early game fashion.. When you made a mistake.. it punished you for it.. hard!. It wasn't shy about accidentally dropping you into a lava pit that you'd never get out of... and god help you if you commited the cardinal sin of getting the wave beam after you got the ice beam.

Super Metroidhad a more fine tuned difficulty curve. The game made a point of ensuring you always had the tools to get out of any situation you got into. It also made a better go at hinting where you should go next which meant the game play flowed a little more smoothly.
 

Wiggum Esquilax

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In the case of Super Metroid, it is easy to forget just how easy the game really was.
I didn't buy Super Metroid when it first came out, specifically because of the missing difficulty. Still don't own it.

That said, the lack of difficulty I experienced was likely due to other games I had beaten recently. Have you finished Super Contra, Battletoads, Prince of Persia, or Super R-Type? Super Metroid becomes a cakewalk.

Consider that she's the woman who found Paper Boy to be more interesting from a philosophical standpoint rather than for it's challenge. The Nintendo Hard games I enjoyed early on have spoiled much of gaming for me, and I suspect that Lizzy's even further into the same boat.
 

Lunar Templar

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>.>

I'm confused

Who was claiming Super Metriod was 'hard'?

cause it really wasn't, besides, 'difficulty' isn't what made that game a classic.