#2 Metroid


Those of you reading this that were fortunate enough to actually get an original Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) upon its release may recall that the system included Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt. It was an innocent time when plumbers nonchalantly cast themselves down large green tubes that lead into the bowels of the earth, and little children gathered around the television to shoot wild ducks for a laughing puppy. Then, in August 1986, a game arrived that pulled players out of their living rooms and into deep space.

#2: Metroid

Much like other games covered on this list, such as Castlevania IV, Metroid is a unique case of a Nintendo title of the past taking the console’s typical library into a brand new direction. Science fiction was by no means new to gaming. Most of the Atari 2500’s library was made almost entirely out of the genre. However for a burgeoning system like the NES it was a risky move to step out of their initial comfort zone. Nevertheless, the game has stood the test of time and Metroid is a name that many immediately associate with Nintendo.

The game stars intergalactic bounty hunter, Samus Aran, journeys to the planet Zebes to stop the malevolent cybernetic lifeform – Mother Brain – from conquering the galaxy. The player begins the game by initially trying to stop space pirates from trying to use Mother Brain’s secret weapon: the Metroids. Simply put, Metroid is one giant maze of interlocking tunnels and secret passages. The entire game consists of the player making use of a fairly complex map to navigate the intricate environment. Doorways switch between ordinary panels, force fields, vertical drops, and even tiny holes. Eventually (after many MANY hours of trial and error), the player reaches Mother Brain’s loyal guardians Kraid and Ridley. Once defeated, the game concluded with a final showdown with the Mother Brain itself.

Samus Aran is one of the original video game badasses. The bounty hunter entered battle with an advanced set of armor that allowed for super powered jumps, punches, explosives, and even impossible feats such as compressing into a perfect tiny sphere. However Samus’ most powerful weapon of all was the signature arm cannon. This multipurpose space gun could fire charged energy blasts, flame bursts and projects an electromagnetic plasma grapple for climbing. Samus’ greatest attribute, however, wasn’t revealed until the very end of the game. Once Mother Brain was defeated, the hero’s helmet was removed, revealing that Samus was a woman. While not an earth shattering twist, it was refreshing and interesting to find out that this slayer of space dragons had been a woman the whole time. By concealing her gender until the end, the game made players realize that great acts of heroism could come from anyone of either gender. Even the Nintendo of yesteryear was capable of substantial existentialism…..with explosions.

Over the course of thirty years, eleven Metroid games have been produced. Each one has offered and unique look on the classic character and Samus herself has even appeared in every Super Smash Brothers game to date. Samus’ most recent venture, Metroid: Other M, was met with very split reviews; mostly due from her being teamed up with an overly dominant captain to whom Samus was uncharacteristically submissive. It was also the first time that Samus spoke with a heavy amount of dialogue and also featured her in the now infamous “zero-suit;” a skin tight one piece leotard made out of science. Some heavily criticized the zero-suit on the grounds of it bringing down an iconic champion of female equality. Others either didn’t care or immensely supported it for…well…obvious reasons.

Despite the hit or miss nature of the more recent titles, Metroid is a Nintendo staple that many hail as an essential classic. It easily evokes images of Star Trek and Star Wars, yet somehow makes the player feel like they’re actually combining the two into an epic adventure. As is the case with its protagonist, Samus has and always will be among the greatest gaming heroines of all time. Pick up a copy from Amazon, eBay, or vintage game stores and suit up for one amazing space epic.