(This post is being continually updated.)

It’s rare that there’s an immediate follow-up to a post here on the blog, but in my last post, I wrote about climbing back into the ol’ Chozo armor and trying to GIT GUD at Super Metroid again. While I’m in no way a speedrunner, I used to feel pretty proficient at Metroid 3; sadly, my skills had atrophied over the years, and I really wanted to polish them up again, and use what I’ve learned about the game in the many years since I last beat it to improve my own personal best in-game time of 1:28, which I had set wayyyyy back in the ’90s.

So how’d that go? Let’s find out…

Attempt 1 (Part 1)
US SNES version (MSU1 enhanced) on SNES9x emulator

Man, my first attempt back in the saddle was UGLY with a capital UGH. I played on the SNES9x emulator on my PC,  using a SNES-style USB controller. I couldn’t help but feel like the framerate of the emulator was screwing up my timing and I couldn’t get back into the groove. Couldn’t remember where to go in Norfair. Could not for the life of me remember how to get through Maridia — I realized later that I had entered by breaking the glass tunnel first, rather than my usual entry point of the actual elevator from Crateria, so I was all kinds of screwed up. The Golden Torizo gave me a hard time, as it took me around 5 tries to take him out — I didn’t remember him being THAT tough. Even the enemies in Lower Norfair were taking more shots to kill than seemed right. Then, when I finally staggered into Ridley’s room, he handed my ass right to me. Repeatedly, even! What the heck was I doing wrong? I had studied some videos about Ridley’s AI but I couldn’t get the hang of manipulating him. Part 1 of this attempt ended when I got the rare “Ridley stuck in the lava” glitch during a pogo — the first time I’ve EVER seen this happen in all the 25+ years I’ve played this game. (Sorry for the imperfect quality of the video, I took it off my PC monitor with my phone.) Eventually, after toying with him as you see in the video, I zapped him with the Grappling Beam a couple times and got too close, and he slid backwards into me and killed me as I only had 13 energy left.

It was at this point that I thought I’d better try this on a real Super Metroid cartridge, the way Samus intended. So I abandoned this attempt to start over.


Attempt 2
Japanese SFC version on original SNES hardware

Okay, so as good as emulation might be, I must say that, after playing them back-to-back it, it still does NOT compare to playing an original cartridge on a real SNES. (Side note: I should mention that although I have owned the US version of Super Metroid since the day it came out, I usually play my Super Famicom cartridge for no other reason than because my US cartridge is so minty — despite having played it so many times — that I tend to not want to open it or use it anymore. There is no difference between the US and JP versions other than optional subtitles during the intro.) Suddenly, I was pulling off all my old moves, wall-jumping to items early, smoothly running/jumping/shooting doors, and having much better boss fights. I still can’t pull off the Kraid quick kill, but one thing I learned only recently is that firing a charged beam into his face freezes his claw in place, keeping it out of your way.

As bad as Attempt 1-1 was, at least it helped me recall a lot more of the map, so this time I entered Maridia via the elevator, and suddenly a whole lot of my old instincts came flooding back to me (pardon the water pun). I made my way through Maridia much more easily, and realized that one of the reasons I had such a hard time in Attempt 1-1 was because I had forgotten to pick up the Plasma Beam. Like, I completely forgot it was even a thing. No wonder I was having trouble with all the enemies in Lower Norfair! This time, I took out the Golden Torizo no problem with charged beams. When I made it to Ridley, we had a much better fight and I beat him more efficiently, as I realized that during my previous attempt, I was screwing around too much and trying to be all smart about it and not being aggressive enough. Anyway, once I got to Tourian, the rest of the game was cake, like I had never stopped playing. I remembered where all the Metroids were and (mostly) remembered the quickest way to escape, although I forgot that Samus can Shinespark up the old Tourian escape shaft and derped up it the hard way. My in-game finish time was 2:09, with 57% items — not awful for being as rusty as I am.



In fact, as you can see below from my old save files still on my cartridge, I’d previously had much faster times with more items, so I knew I could do MUCH better.

Samus A and C are old saves, Samus B is this game

Attempt 1 (Part 2)
US SNES version (MSU1 enhanced) on SNES9x emulator

After beating the game on the original hardware, I went back to the SNES9x emulator to pick it up at the Ridley fight. I also switched from my SNES-USB pad to my Xbox 360 USB controller, and for some reason, I swear the game ran better. Might be my imagination, might be because I went through it on the original console, but I was pulling off moves a bit easier now. This time, thanks to some increased confidence and a more aggressive attack, combined with what I have learned about Ridley’s AI in the years since I last played, I defeated him with much more ease than when I’d gotten stuck. For this fight, I realized I had his health at 0, and let him grab me for the self-destruct (back when I was first writing Super Metroid strategies for the Metroid Database, I had experienced Ridley’s self-destruction, but didn’t know at the time what triggered it — this is one of those times I’m so grateful for the internet, and the collective findings of the hive mind). I even made my way back through Maridia to grab that Plasma Beam, and dipped into Brinstar to grab a few easy items I’d missed, and finished this game (technically my first attempt) in 2:36 with 54% items.




Attempt 3
Japanese SFC version on original SNES hardware

Now we’re cookin’! My third go went much better, although I still had to go down a few hallways and peek into some rooms to see what they were and if they were worth exploring. But I started feeling much better about the game during this run (even remembered to Shinespark up that Tourian shaft this time), and I was actually shocked to find that my final time was only 1:37 — just 9 minutes behind my old PB! Funnily enough, I got 54% of the items again, even though I know I grabbed some different stuff this time. So there’s definitely room for improvement, as I felt during this run that I was still not up to par and I could have executed better and skipped some items and rooms.




Attempt 4
Japanese SFC version on original SNES hardware

This time, I felt like I was making some real progress! I pulled off the Mockball to get the Super Missiles early and skipped the Spore Spawn fight. I also passed over a few more items that I figured I could do without (how many Power Bombs do you really need, anyway?). Ridley actually killed me once, due to my low item count and some sloppy fighting on my part, but I took him out on my next try, and the rest was smooth sailing. The result?

…SUCCESS! Despite the crappy photo, you can see that I have beaten my decades-old PB of 1:28 with… a new PB of 1:25! And an item count of 46%!


While I’m very happy about this (and I’m actually surprised that it only took me four attempts), I can’t help but feel like I can do better.  (According to the Super Metroid leaderboards at speedrun.com, this puts me around 935th place! XD)I thought for sure that skipping the Spore Spawn would save at least 5 minutes. Maybe it does, and I just need to get through the rest of my route faster? Maybe my goal for my “comfortable” route should be 1:20? Maybe I need to learn some more advanced strats? (There’s still that Kraid Quick Kill to master, and I haven’t quite got the hang of Damage Boosting yet.)

But for now, I’ve accomplished two of the three goals I set for myself at the beginning of this project: I remembered my old Super Metroid route, and I beat my old PB. I still want to make a playthrough video, but I also feel like I want to get a little faster, smoother, and more efficient before I do it. So…I’m gonna keep going!

See you next mission!


Attempt 4.1

I re-loaded my last save (at Samus’ ship in Crateria) and just ran through the final sequence again, and improved by a minute! New PB: 1:24!



Attempt 5
US SNES version (MSU1 enhanced) on SNES9x emulator

Even though I’m having better luck on the original hardware, I need to pull this off on SNES9x if I want to make a video. So even though I’ve achieved my new PB, I’m still working on my game. This time, I mockballed to the Super Missiles early, skipped some items, improved my route a little bit, got my first-ever Kraid quick kill, and had my cleanest Crocomire fight ever. I was feeling REALLY confident that this run was gonna be a new PB by a few minutes at least — until I finished with an in-game time of 1:26. WTF?  pfft. I blame the emulator.

Seriously though, this was my best time on the emulator so far, and I’m pretty happy with the fact that I have bested my PB a few times now. Still not a world-class speedrunner, but I’ve mostly got my confidence in the game back.


Attempt 6
Japanese SFC version on original SNES hardware


Early Super Missiles and a Kraid Quick Kill gave this run on original hardware a great start, and I had a very good Ridley fight, but I actually thought the rest of this game went worse than Attempt 5 in terms of my movement and execution. I even screwed up something pretty major that I don’t even wanna talk about here. So I was SHOCKED at the end when I realized that I had blown away my previous in-game PB of 1:24 with a new PB of 1:18!

I didn’t expect to get sub-1:20 any time soon, so this was a real confidence booster. And since I still know I could improve, I think an even better time may be possible. My items are still at 44%, and I think that’s about where I’m comfortable. And, since I thought Attempt 5 overall went better for me, but turned out to be 6 minutes slower, I am actually convinced that playing on original hardware makes a huge difference.

I have to wonder how much more I can push it before this stops being a “comfortable” route for me, though. If I can’t get the hang of manipulating Ridley, or learn a few more advanced strats that I can easily execute, this may be about as far as I can push it until it stops being fun. But for now, I’m pretty sure I can still do better…


Attempt 7
Japanese SFC version on original SNES hardware

This time, I knew I had a good game in the bag. Early Super Missiles, but I missed the KQK (only hit 3 of the Super Missiles, then he stood up, but I nailed him with only one more Missile so it was still a short fight). Despite this, I still had confidence that I was on a good pace. Found a slightly better route through Maridia, had a decent Ridley fight (think I’m finally getting a handle on it again), and finished with another six minutes shaved off my time for a new PB of 1:12!

I even apparently picked up another item somewhere (not even sure where) and wound up with 45% items. Despite what I said just above in Attempt 6, this route is actually becoming pretty comfortable for me, and I’m looking at a few other techniques to see if I can’t make a few more improvements. Mockballing to the Ice Beam early is the next thing I’m going to try, and we’ll see how that will change my approach (I guess I could then take a different route to the Speed Booster and Wave Beam), but I’m not sure how much time that will actually save. I’ll give it a shot!