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The RetroBeat: Now is a good time to play the first Metroid

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If you’re a Metroid fan like me, then you’re probably pumped for Metroid: Dread. But there’s an older game from the series that you can play on your Switch right now.

No, I’m not talking about Super Metroid. Sure, it’s one of the best games of all time, and it is available on the Switch through Nintendo Switch Online’s SNES library. But I want to encourage you to play the original Metroid, which NSO gives Switch owners via its selection of NES games.

Don’t get me wrong, Super Metroid is the better game. But you’ve probably already played Super Metroid several times. The NES original can be a harder game to get into. It’s more difficult, especially in the early parts of the when your health is low, enemies hit hard, and your weapon only shoots a few feet in front of you. It also doesn’t have an in-game map, so navigation can be tricky.

The first Metroid

But there is still something special about the original Metroid. Despite coming out in 1986 for a graphically limited console, it nails the eerie, lonesome atmosphere that the franchise has become famous for. The game still feels great to play. Samus is responsive and agile, so even trickier jumps are easy to make with some practice. The progression that is a staple of any Metroidvania — exploration rewarding you with new upgrades and items —  makes this game as engaging as its newer peers. You always want to keep playing until you find that next new gun or missile pack.

Metroid can be frustrating. Without the in-game map, it can be easy to get lost. You can be stuck wandering around aimlessly for hours. That’s why for most of my life I would start the game, wander around for like 30 minutes, then get frustrated and move on until I’d try again in another 5 years or so.

That’s why you should use an online guide to help you. Or you can do what I did and play along with U Can Beat Video Games walkthrough. I highlighted this YouTube channel last week, and it was its Metroid video that encouraged me to finally get this one off of my pile of shame.

The video shows you where to go and helps you find every upgrade in the game. It even explains a helpful door glitch that can help you get the Varia Suit early, which will reduce the damage you take and make the early part of the adventure more bearable.

It’ll only take a couple of hours or so with the help of the video to find your way to Mother Brain. After a daring escape from the exploding base, I think you’ll feel just as accomplished as I did. It feels good to finally beat a classic that once seemed daunting.

Now if only I could play those Game Boy Advance Metroid games on my Switch.

The RetroBeat is a weekly column that looks at gaming’s past, diving into classics, new retro titles, or looking at how old favorites — and their design techniques — inspire today’s market and experiences. If you have any retro-themed projects or scoops you’d like to send my way, please contact me.

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