Retro Sci-Fi Games: Metroid

Posted by Guest Author on Mar 14, 2008 in Videogames |

Retro Sci-Fi Games: Metroid

It seems almost impossible to fall over in a game store without knocking over a few dozen sci-fi themed games, so we wanted to take a look at the ten best examples of the genre. Our twist? Retro! So here’s one glimpse of the future from the past:


Barren landscapes. Strange alien life-forms. A mysterious civilization. A harsh and minimal soundtrack. Absolutely no dialog. All of these things combined to make Nintendo’s Metroid an immediate sci-fi stand-out on the system.

In the game, the player is thrust directly into a foreign land with very little explanation. The seemingly unending caves twist and turn like a maze, going both vertically as well as horizontally. The confusion is pushed even further with the several impenetrable doors and other seemingly impossible to reach areas. This was something new to many gamers. The idea of backtracking and unlocking secret areas all the way back where you started from was still a relatively new one for home-consoles. While these days it has come to be more of an annoyance to some gamers than a special feature, it certainly made for interesting, if not laborious, secret hunting as well as serving to extend the life of the game greatly.

While the dark and strangely organic visual presentation set the mood, it was Hirokazu “Hip” Tanaka’s incredible soundtrack the really drove it home. Much like the overly elegant orchestral music in 2001 was a surprise, Tanaka’s ultra minimalistic sounds were music to the ears of many gamers tired of wall-to-wall sugar-coated 8-bit tunes. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Metroid was, and still is, a rare example of a game that truly feels like an alien artifact pulled from the primordial cosmic soup.

Zac Bentz is a regular contributor to the Japanese culture blog Japanator, runs his own Japanese music review blog ZB’s A-Z of J-Music and plays crazy electro-rock in The Surfactants. He lives in Duluth, MN with his wife, pets and a closet full of adventure.

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