The Nintendo Resolution: Metroid – Zero Mission

Metroid Zero box
Console: Game Boy Advance via Wii U Virtual Console
Start Date: January 14, 2016
End Date: January 14, 2016

Confession: I’ve never beaten the original Metroid.  I did, however, beat the Game Boy Advance remake, Metroid: Zero Mission, when it came out back in 2004.  After replaying Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion a couple of years ago, I was eager to revisit this one too.  So when it was finally rereleased via the Wii U’s Virtual Console this January, I dove right the fuck in and plowed through it in one day.

The problem with the original Metroid is that, because it’s old as hell, it doesn’t have the features that we’ve come to expect from games of this nature.  No saving (aside from a notoriously complicated password system), no in-game map, no guidance of any kind.  In addition to its enhanced graphics, the remake makes all these problems go away.  The new game has more or less the same layout as the original…

Metroid Zero comparison

…but it adds save rooms, a map screen, and more abilities pulled from future games.  Basically, they Super Metroid-ized the original game, and also threw in some of the story and cut scene elements from Metroid Fusion.

Metroid Zero Samus

This all makes for an immeasurably greater experience, pushing Metroid: Zero Mission up near the tippy-top of the franchise’s best games.

For most of the campaign, you’re basically playing through a prettier version of the original NES game – rolling around, bombing walls, and defeating bosses like Kraid…

Metroid Zero Kraid beat

…and, eventually, the Mother Brain herself:

Metroid Zero Mother Brain beat

Once you beat Mother Brain, that’s where the original game ends.  In Zero Mission, however, that’s where the coolest part of the game begins.  Samus’ trademark armor is stolen from her, and she is forced to sneak through the Space Pirate’s Mother Ship with just her Zero Suit and a shitty pistol.

Metroid Zero story

This section is all about stealth.  If the Space Pirates detect you, they can completely murder you in one or two hits, so you have to sneak around, sloooowly making your way through the area.  If you do get detected, your only option is to run like hell and hope you won’t get caught before you find a hidey-hole somewhere to duck into.  It’s pretty difficult and extremely intense.  The music during this section is incredible, and reminds me a lot of the score to John Carpenter’s The Thing it’s spooky as fuck, and really serves to heighten the intensity.

After an extended period of this type of gameplay, you finally get your suit back…

Metroid Zero Chozo

…and the enemies who were previously so indestructible can now be blown to bits in one shot.  You find yourself running confidently through the same areas you just cowardly snuck through, plowing through Space Pirates like they’re fucking nothing.  This transition is one of the most empowering moments I’ve ever experienced in a video game.  It’s so awesome.

Finally, you face the real final boss, Mecha-Ridley…

Metroid Zero MecaRidley

…and he’s super easy.  Killed him on the first try, and beat the game.

Metroid Zero mission accomplished

Here are my stats:

Metroid Zero state

That item-collection percentage is pretty pathetic, but I am pretty proud of my clear time.  The website lists the average completion time as 5 to 5 1/2 hours, so hey it looks like I’m above average for once!

I was so happy to revisit this wonderful game.  I think I’d rank Zero Mission as #2 in the entire franchise, second only to Super Metroid – and its user-friendly nature makes it a perfect starting point for anyone looking to get into the series.  If you’ve never played it before, and especially if you’ve always been frustrated by the original Metroid, this is a must-play.


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