Metroid 25th Anniversary

Last year we had Nintendo’s main mascot, Mario, turn 25. A Mario themed Wii was made available, along with a Mario themed DSi and a special edition Super Mario All Stars collection for the Wii. This year we have Zelda’s 25th Anniversary and Metroid’s 25th Anniversary. Yes, this year is also Metroid’s 25th birthday too, but  it has been slightly overshadowed by Zelda’s remake of Ocarina of Time in 3D, upcoming release of Skyward Sword for the Wii, and its world-wide Symphony Concert, to say the least.

Metroid was first released in Japan in 1986, published by Nintendo, and is a science fiction action adventure video game. The creators behind the series were Yoshio Sakamoto, Makoto Kano and Gunpei Yokoi, who is also notable for his creation of the Game & Watch and GameBoy. Beginning with Nintendo Research and Development 1, Nintendo’s oldest develpment team headed by Gunpei Yokoi, Metroid was born. It has continued up to this day with big help from Retro Studios, Team Ninja and Nintendo Software Technology. Having sold 16 million copies, Metroid is one of Nintendo’s most successfully financial franchises. You would wonder why its 25th wasn’t celebrated much. But, one person in particular made sure that Metroid 25th Anniversary didn’t go unnoticed.

Darren Kerwin, a massive Metroid fan and founder of the website Shinesparkers, took the time to speak to us about his website and Metroid. Spoilers included for those of you that haven’t played any of the games and plan on doing so!

Orla: Hello Darren! Thank you for taking the time to speak to us here at Nintendo Scene about your love for Metroid! Can you give us a little description on your website Shinesparkers?

Not a problem! It’s a pleasure to be taking part in an interview with Nintendo Scene, I’m a huge fan!

Shinesparkers officially launched as a Metroid enthusiast website back in August 2010 and offers exclusive content and features to compliment the existing Metroid fan community. Our most notable features include our interview with Nate Bihldorff who gave Nintendo’s first official word on the controversy on Metroid: Other M and also offered a fantastic opportunity to speak to someone who has localised several Metroid games.

We have also had interviews with Gene Kohler (Character Artist, Metroid Prime) Tommy Tallarico (Video Games Live) and Jeron Moore with Chad Seiter on a new Metroid arrangement which is part of “PLAY! A Video Game Symphony”. We feel very privileged to have spoken so many great people, and we hope that we will continue to get that same level of support in the future.

 Orla: How did you first come across the Metroid series?

I first became a fan of Metroid back in 2004 when my good friend Jesse sent over his copy of Metroid Prime from the USA. Prior to that, I only knew of Samus Aran as a ‘robot’ character from Super Smash Bros Melee and didn’t really care too much for the series. It was only when I experienced Metroid Prime that I truly fell in love with it. I eventually played my way through every game previous to Prime and every game since.

 Orla: There are 11 titles in the series, which one is your favourite? And why?

A fantastic question! My immediate answer would be Metroid Prime due to its level of atmosphere, exploration and secrets. It has battles that have left me on the edge of my seat and puzzle elements that have caused me to scratch my head and contemplate. However, Super Metroid impresses me on so many levels because it also offers the same experience within a 16bit environment. I was amazed that a game like Super Metroid could give me the same enjoyment and challenge as Metroid Prime did.

I think my favorite aspects from Metroid Prime has to be that moment when Meta Ridley flies down on the Artifact Temple and destroys the relics I had just collected in order to open the Impact Crater. After a long journey around Tallon IV to gather them all, it was the last thing I was expecting. The game taught me a valuable lesson, that nothing is easy or straight forward in Metroid and just when you think it’s the end, it probably isn’t,  there is a twist at every corner. I also really loved the varied environments of Tallon IV they were simply breathtaking. The vast icy wasteland of Phendrana drifts and the Chozo Ruins ambient setting were memorable and a pleasure to traverse.

Super Metroid’s epic showdown against the Mother Brain was quite memorable. Just when you think it’s all over and Mother Brain is about to unleash her final attack to bring an end to Samus’ life, the baby Metroid swoops in. Then in an act of selflessness, it restores life back to Samus only to have Mother Brain unleash a barrage of deadly attacks, bringing an end to its life. The music ends abruptly, the background turns dark and time stands still for a moment as the remains of the Metroid fall down on to Samus.

It was the most powerful experience I had ever seen in a SNES game until that point, a sad moment which turned to anger. The acquisition of the Hyper Beam meant I could focus that anger on the Mother Brain and I had a great deal pleasure of shooting her in the face, watching her head recoil due to the impact. Her death was followed by an epic escape sequence and the destruction of planet Zebes. It is truly one of my greatest gaming memories.

 Wesley: I really like Other M, but it’s quite different to the other games in the series. How would you rate it?

I think it’s clear that Metroid: Other M is a game that has been notorious for division amongst gamers and fans. I tend to avoid this question, but on this occasion I think I shall answer with my own honest thoughts (calm down people it’s just a game afterall!)

I feel Metroid Other M had some great characterisation, I feel Jessica Martin’s performance as Samus gave an accurate portrayal of a character who is detached from society with a tragic childhood. Although we’ve had dialogue from Samus throughout the series (e.g. Zero Mission, Super Metroid, Metroid Fusion) this is the first time we have heard it spoken. I feel it was a great opportunity to understand more about Samus as a person and her past within the Galactic Federation which offered a good understanding her relationship with Adam Malkovich, a character fans were introduced to in Metroid Fusion. The relationship between Samus and her father figure was nice to see, yet there are some questionable points such as Adam not authorising the use of the Varia Suit in a heated area which was potentially a life threatening moment, one I just can’t see happening if Adam truly respected Samus.

Another complaint I have is the gravity feature. I believe Yoshio Sakamoto said in an interview he felt the Gravity Suit looked silly due to its purple colour, I don’t believe that is a good enough reason to exclude it and feel strongly that it should have been added because it’s such a core element of Metroid that we have been used to for so long and this goes against tradition. I also disliked the search view during those moments where you had to focus in on a certain point and the second person over the shoulder views slowed down the fast-paced action of the game.

The game did however do a lot of things right, especially with its control scheme, which had a good range of control considering the limitations of the single Wii remote and it was great to see the series return to a 2D style game using first person elements that i’m sure were encouraged from the Metroid Prime series as a way of giving further exploration to the game. Other M also connected the stories of Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion well, which filled the void and lack of explanation between the two games. Finally, those cut scenes are quite spectacular, especially the opening and that epic fight against Mother Brain and Samus from Super Metroid…an incredible introduction to a game that I feel will always be considered the love/hate game of the series. The M in Metroid: Other M should certainly stand for Marmite!

(Marmite is a spread made from yeast extract, widely available in Britain and well known for people either loving or hating it)

 Orla: There was a lot of celebration for Mario’s 25th, and this year for Zelda, but Metroid got pretty much nothing. How do you and the crew at Shinesparkers feel about this?

As much as we feel Metroid should have had a celebration just as much as Mario and Zelda, we understand and respect that Nintendo are focused on Zelda’s 25th anniversary celebrations. On the other hand, we also didn’t want Metroid’s 25th birthday to go unnoticed and that’s why since December 2010, I came up with the idea of two projects to mark the historic milestone. One was a creative tribute called Harmony of a Hunter (which you can find here), where I wanted to focus on the musical aspect of the series, and a personal tribute in the form of a tribute video, consisting of short videos from fans of the series.

We eventually gathered 24 great musicians, each bringing something unique to the table. From the start I wanted the album to feature tracks that were memorable and music that was not covered much by the video game remix and arrangement communities, if at all! Those artists created 36 tracks, which covers a variety of genres such as metal, orchestral, dubstep and trance. The album also featured a chip tune style arrangement of a variety of classic Metroid themes and we even had a real life choir cover various Metroid themes! Harmony of a Hunter is not only the largest Metroid fan made album out there, but it’s also the most diverse.

For our tribute video, we put out a big notice on some of the largest Metroid fan websites, asking fans to contribute short video messages to pay tribute to Metroid’s anniversary, giving them a platform to express their thoughts on the franchise and to wish Samus a happy birthday. I was amazed by the volume of responses and felt confident that we had created something very special. I decided to contact a few of my notable friends in the video game industry to contribute to the video, and was very impressed to find some that were happy to do so.

 Orla: We were extremely impressed by your ‘Metroid 25th Anniversary Fan Tribute Video’, which you were Project Director for. Was it hard to put the video together? Were you happy with the finished product from all that were involved? There are some big names there!

 Putting together a video like this is not difficult when you have so many fans that are happy to contribute. I had no issue in struggling to find people to pay tribute to their favourite series. I am overjoyed at how well received the video was and I can’t thank the fans enough for getting involved. They have really proved to the world just how much Metroid is respected and cared for, and I have to also say a huge thanks to those notable gaming industry people such as Daisuke Amaya (Creator of Cave Story) and Jeff Skalski (Producer of Bioware Mythic) for their time. It was quite a team effort!

I owe a lot to Infinity’s End (Ryan Barrett) and MetroidMaster1914 (Elias Thompson) for asking Yosuke Hayashi on my behalf to contribute to the video when they acquired an interview with him earlier this year. CapCom (Devin Monnens) of the Metroid Database also helped out with some of the translation and the biggest thanks must to go to Elias again for editing the whole video together. Without him we wouldn’t have had the quality end product we have.

Orla: Thank you Darren for your time, here’s to the Metroid series, Happy Birthday Samus!

Huge thanks to Orla, Wesley and Nintendo Scene for giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts and feelings on this historic milestone for the Metroid franchise. I am so proud to have been a part in marking the anniversary and I hope people appreciate the efforts we have made to try and make that happen. I am proud to be part of a fan base that is so passionate about what they love.

Happy 25th anniversary Metroid!

Many thanks again to Darren for talking with us. You can watch the tribute video to Metroid right below.

2 Responses to “Metroid 25th Anniversary”
  1. Oh my days, awesome review. A true Metroid ambassador. Great read.


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