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Metroid: Black Sheep of Nintendo


Jigga say wha? One of the Big N's top franchises is considered a black sheep? Uh huh! The title, Metroid, seems to have been created inspite of Miyamoto, not along with his vision. The thought process probably went like this, "He is doing White so let's do BLACK!" Well it paid off, right?

It all started when Shigeru Miyamoto onto the scene with his Super Mario Bros. and Donkey Kong franchies. They blew up on the Nintendo Entertainment System. Miyamoto became the big shot. Former big shot, Gunpei Yokoi (RIP) was not pleased with this and gathered three others to create his own four man R&D1 team for a new title. Who was among them? Yoshio Sakamoto (Kid Icarus) was set as director, Hiroji Kiyotake was in charge of the art design of the upcoming hero(ine) and his(her) gritty enemies, and Makoto Kanoh took care of creating the world of future title, all dark and gritty as can be. Yeah, I said four, Yokoi was the producer.

Dark and gritty? Nintendo? No way! Mario is super colorful and as I said before, Yokoi wanted to do something different and pretty much the opposite of what Miyamoto was doing. He use to be the superstar with titles like Duck Hunt, Excite Bike, and Ice Climbers. Then this guy comes along with Mario and such and ruins everything. What is a man to do but turn his "rage" into drive and make a new game. It was time to do something different.

courtesy of Rockvillian

Yokoi wanted atmosphere, a dark atmosphere. He wanted something full of life. Looking for influences they stumbled across Ridley's Scott's Alien. They looked at it so heavily that they named a boss (probably the most famous Metroid boss ever) after the director. The team worked hard to create an out-of-this-world experience. With wierd and nasty creatures, exploring, open levels that seem to go on with no hope in sight, and darkness, how did the man persuade you to keep going? upgrades. Who doesn't like advancements?

Some similarities can be compared to Miyamoto's Zelda at this point, like wierd creatures, advancements, and the open-ness of the game. Both games originally featured the battery save system when they were originally created on the Famicom Disk System. These games were later ported over to cart since the unpopularity of the disk drive (explanation why they originally skipped on disc format?). They both came out in the same month of the same year in the US (don't know which day for Metroid) but only one of them had the battery. Nintendo did decide to "hold off" on the battery in Metroid. This was likely cause it didn't sell well in Japan. I guess the mindset was, "if it doesn't sell well here, let's make a 'gimp' version that probably won't sell well elsewhere." Were they wrong ...

Since Zelda came out first, people will say it was the first true "sandbox" game or open-leveled. Well it turns out, these games were made at the same time. Just one released before the other (why did I write utter here?). Maybe Metroid would've got a tad bit more credit, had it been released first. It didn't help that Zelda was being pushed with marketing out the butt!

Yes, I know that last one isn't for The Legend of Zelda but just thought you should see it!
Pretty bad? Could've been worse.

So the games are very similar but not really. Gun to sword and future to past relations are just the tip of the iceberg. The obvious and biggest difference is that in this game you are a female. It wasn't until halfway through the development of the game when one of the four joked saying, "wouldn't it be kind of cool if it turned out that the person inside the suit was a woman?" And so it was, and it was good ... mmmm, very good! To keep it a secret, they planted the "he" in the instructions. Those sneaky monkeys!

Since the title bombed in the Land of the Rising Sun and did well in the States, it was a question on whether this would ever have a sequel. But after 1991, when Yokoi created Game Boy, his team decided to take another stab at it with Metroid II: The Return of Samus.

This next game would be the only 2D version of Metroid not to be directed by Sakamoto. Kiyotake took over and it is apparent. The game is more linear than before and instead of exploring it was more of a seek & destroy mission. Hmmm, reminds me of another series. What was it, oh yeah, The Adventure of Link. They weren't the same but both had follow-up games that strayed from the original. But in all, the game was still a Metroid game. They even added a "twist" ending to it when Samus allowed one baby Metroid to live.

Allowing the enemy to live? That sounds unheard of. When you played Mario, did you ever let Bowser live at the end? Nah, you launched him into the smoldering lava. How many Nintendo games did that before?

Much like the console brethen, it did well in the states but not even close to Zelda or Mario standards. Many blame the linearality (yeah, it's a word cause I just made it up!) for why it didn't do so good but it did help lay the foundation for what would become what come consider Metroid's best.game.EVAR. Oh, you know what I am talking about...

I wonder if this explains why I like Metroid/Samus so much? Hmmmmmmmm...

[Inspired, copied, sourced: CVG, go there for more specifics]
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About BlindsideDorkone of us since 11:46 AM on 11.10.2006

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