Vintage Super Metroid "Samus Vs Ridley And Kraid" Poster
Super Metroid is probably the most important video game of my lifetime. In retrospect, it’s almost as if every single day of my young existence were just steps leading up to playing this game. No other game would hit as hard or have the impact that Super Metroid did. This video game was legitimately a peak moment in my life, sad or wonderful as that may be. Nintendo had me right where they wanted me and for a few months in 1994, I cared about absolutely nothing else. Given how great this game is, that doesn't seem too insane but let me explain:
The first entry in the series —Metroid— released for the NES in North America in August 1987. It was a complete mystery to me, a first-party game that I never actually owned as a kid. Everyone else did, though, so I ended up playing it often, I borrowed it from friends and wound up spending a lot of time talking and thinking about it. This game was fun but also insanely difficult (at the time) and just downright fucking intimidating. Being stuck lost and stuck in some underground tunnel with that creepy repetitive music playing(Kraids hideout theme...what a track) while increasingly strange creatures chipped away at my health was enough to hook anyone. I gleaned info about the game from the instruction manual, friends, and older people in my neighborhood, about enemies and bosses and about what happened further into the game, because this game at my age was just impossible. You had no maps, no hints, and no idea what to do, you are just dropped into this fucker having to blast your way out. The concept of open world exploration was just too daunting for my brain at the time, I was used to linear action and this game broke that mold really early. There are still sections of this game that I can't get through without a map. I got exactly NOWHERE in this game for years as a kid but, regardless, it still had an extremely strong reputation for me. The music, characters, weapons, everything just seemed mythical. We were taught nursery rhymes and fairy tales as kids but now all that shit seemed stupid; Kraid and Ridley felt important. I can still remember where I was when I first heard that Samus was actually a woman inside that suit (school lunch room, I was eating a bologna sandwich) AND on top of that, if you beat the game fast enough, she appears without her suit at the end of the fucking game! I don't think I ever beat the game in total until much later in life but that didn't stop it from carving out a very important place in my heart. When the next entry in the series was announced, I had to have it right away.
Metroid 2: Return of Samus was released in November of 1991 for the Game Boy and I received the game as a gift that Christmas along with Simpsons: Escape from Camp Deadly. The December issue of NP featured a ten-page article about the game and offeredthe help of maps and hints, but still this game was still hard as hell. The limited color palette of the Game Boy made backgrounds hard to distinguish and everything just felt cold and distant. It was easy to get lost in this game and feel overwhelmed. Even thinking about it now, the game is pretty massive. There are nine large sections to explore and there was no way I was going to be able to tackle this game at the time. I loved it and played it all the time, but I always hit a stopping point (near the third or fourth section, after getting the spider ball). Regardless, the mythos grew and I loved this franchise to death. Then there was a dry spell for a few years until news of a new Metroid being in development started creeping into pages of Nintendo Power near the end of 1993. It eventually got up to a full-blown, five-part comic that started in Volume 57, the February 94 issue, and ran until Volume 61 in June. The previews looked so cool — Kraid was bigger than the screen?! We now knew that there were four areas to explore now, more enemies, more bosses, new weapons and abilities. There was a map system and everything just looked gorgeous. This became the most anticipated game of my entire life.
So...Super Metroid was released in April 1994, and my 12th birthday was the following May. I was luckily able to convince my mom to let me pre-order the game as an early birthday present. I still had a subscription to Nintendo Power at the time and the May issue of NP featured a Super Metroid cover and a 12-page article about the game. Unfortunately (but also fortunately) my issues always arrived a month early and with Super Metroid not being released until the end of April, I read all about the game weeks ahead of time. It detailed so much about the game — it was the biggest tease but only intensified my anticipation. I pored over every word and studied every image repeatedly, the lack of mentions or screenshots of Maridia or the Wrecked Ship is probably why both places still feels so foreign to me when I play the game. The very last page of the article showed the entrance to Ridley’s lair in Norfair sitting in a pool of lava teasing another large area. The opening of the doorway was a huge open-fanged creature's mouth, an updated version of the entrance to the hideout in the original Metroid.It looked so menacing and ominous. Ending the game coverage with that image was the perfect hook. I took that magazine with me wherever I went. Sometime in April, my family took a trip up to Nashville to go to Opryland with my Aunt and Cousins, and I made sure to take this issue of NP so I could read it in the car. Obviously, I couldn't fucking wait to play this game. Finally receiving the game was another instance in my life where all of the anticipation was worth it. Maybe it’s just easier to have your mind blown as a kid because everything is always new, but there were so many times when my expectations were exceeded as a youth. This fucking game was something else, though. It delivered on every level imaginable and I played it for days. If you have played this game, you know exactly what the fuck I mean. Just the thought of descending deeper and deeper into Norfair to fight Ridley gives me goosebumps. This game arrived at the very height of my video game obsession. Looking back now, it almost felt like everything that happened before had been leading up to this moment, to this game. Like I was being trained to play Super Metroid. Every game I had played, every trick, every tip, every move was in preparation to play Super Metroid. It just hit at the perfect time for me. Sadly, though, this was the last significant video game experience of my life.
The rest of 94 was spent playing this game. Near the end of the year Super Punch-Out came along and was a pretty big deal, but then I got a promotional VHS from Nintendo Power for a new game called Donkey Kong Country. The new DK had been previewed and rolled out in NP near the end of the year. It looked great and I got it for Xmas that year. There were many video game moments afterwards that were special, but it still all paled in comparison to my time with Super Metroid.
This poster is one of the rarest Super Metroid artifacts, it was included in a UK gaming magazine at the time (hence the staple holes holding the poster in the mag) and is IMO the coolest piece of Metroid art there is. Originally used for the Japanese Famicom box art, there are tons of reproductions out there, but don't be scared to drop the cash for the real fucking deal.
Here is a link to a translated interview with the development team, this was originally exclusive to the Japanese strategy guide that was released in May 1994. It was translated to English and put up along with artwork scans for everyone to enjoy in 2009.