Usually I post articles called “What Are We Playing?” when I start a game or two that I plan to write about when I’m done. They’re always games that are new to me — even if they’re old, I’m playing them for the first time. So why am I alerting you to the fact that I’ve been playing good ol’ Super Metroid?
True confession time: Even though I’ve plowed through Super Metroid dozens of times since it came out (I lost count somewhere around 38 back in the ’90s, so I’d estimate 60-80), it’s actually been YEARS since I’ve done it. And in the few times I’ve picked it up more recently, a terrifying truth revealed itself to me: I’ve actually forgotten how to do it.
More specifically, I’ve forgotten my old route through the game. The one I used to run when I would just decide to pick up Super Metroid and blow through it at any given time. It was practically muscle memory — I didn’t even have to think about what I was doing, it was just second nature.
I mean, I was “the Metroid guy” to my friends back in the day — the whole Metroid Database thing, and all that. So if I pick it up again now, it’s not exactly my first rodeo, but I honestly can’t recall the last time I actually did it. Because of that, I find myself stumbling around a lot. Can’t remember which doors to go in, which doors not to bother with, what items are where, and most importantly, where to go next.
So the other day, I decided: it’s time for me and Samus to get our groove back.
My goal here is threefold:
- To remember my old route. I had what I called my “comfortable” route through the game. It wasn’t a super low-percent item run, but it wasn’t 100% either. It wasn’t the fastest — I’ve never really been a speedrunner at the game, at least not in the sense that speedrunning is done these days. But the amount of items I would grab would afford me enough weaponry and energy for me to complete the game at my own skill level without worrying about running out of resources or dying, and my usual in-game time at the end was around 1:30. Good enough to get the best ending, but not pushing it too hard so as to risk a Game Over at any point. Which brings me to my next goal…
- To improve upon my old PB of 1:28. Again, that’s in-game time, because back in the day we didn’t have those cool timers that the speedrunners have now. But, even though I know I could never compete with the insane world record times that runners put up now, I have been paying attention to what they’re doing, and this old dog has learned a few new tricks. I can do the thing (I don’t know what the kids call this move) where you run and jump and Morph Ball without losing speed, and use it to get the Super Missiles early and bypass the Spore Spawn battle. That’ll easily knock a little chunk of time off my total, even if I don’t cut down on too many of my “comfortable” items. I’ve been studying YouTube videos explaining enemy AI and speedrun techniques. So while my goal is definitely not to play at the competitive level, I just want to improve my own game a bit. And when I do, I’d like to…
- Make a video of my run! Really, what I want to do is run through the MSU1 audio version (if you don’t know what that is, look it up) on SNES9x, because it sounds frickin’ awesome and would make a cool video, whether anybody watches my YouTube channel or not. (You should though. And you should subscribe and like my videos too, because that’s what you do as part of a gaming community.) (Thanks!)
Anyway, I’m really doing it just for myself. Maybe it’s part of a mid-life crisis or something, I don’t know, but I feel bad that something that’s been such a major part of my gaming life has decayed, and I want it back.
Don’t worry, Sam and I will get through this. Together!