Shadow of Phoenix

New Project: Upgrading Samus in Super Metroid

In the first project of my mission to understand how games can help us better ourselves, I’m examining Super Metroid. More specifically, the upgrade system of Super Metroid. The mechanics of upgrading Samus provide us with methods of upgrading ourselves. The inspiration to investigate the upgrade system of Super Metroid came from reading a book called 20 Essential Games to Study. Written by Joshua Bycer and published by CRC Press.

In chapter two, Bycer presents Super Metroid as a guideline for the action sub-genre Metroidvania. Metroidvania comes from combining Metroid with Castlevania. On page 6, Bycer explains that “The upgrades in Super Metroid radically changed your movement and offensive options over the course of the game. Samus was easily controllable from the start, and she only got better over time.” He further explains that upgrades are rewards for player exploring the environment. Plus, some paths can only be accessed if the player has obtained specific upgrades. Enemies also become stronger as Samus increases her strength. I’m fascinated by how players are encouraged and rewarded to continuously improve Samus. I want to explore ways of encouraging and rewarding myself to constantly grow myself in the real world.

I have actually not played Super Metroid. It was released on the Super NES at various dates in 1994 depending the region (NA, JP and PAL). I grew up with the Sega Genesis and PlayStation. I had friends that had Super NES consoles. We played many games together but I don’t remember playing Super Metroid. As much praise as Super Metroid receives, I would think I would remember it if we did play it. I really did not hear about how the Metroid series is great until I watched videos from the online community of video game collectors such as AlphaOmegaSin, The Game Chasers, BeatEmUps, and others. I’ve been interested in playing the Metroid games for a long time now but I have not had the chance. Now that I’ve read Bycer’s chapter on Super Metroid being one of the video games worth studying for its game design, I have to find a way to play it.

I do not own a Super NES console and currently buying an authentic Super Metroid cartridge means parting with a good chunk of cash for a nearly 30 year old video game. Right now, the best way for me to play it is the Nintendo Switch Online. Once I subscribe to Nintendo Switch Online, I will figure out a how to capture game footage from the Nintendo Switch. Hopefully I can accomplish that this week. Once I do accomplish that, I will record my gameplay of Super Metroid and write about my experiences as I play. Then post it on this site. Thank you so much for reading.

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