"A solid introduction to an essential series for the Nintendo console."
Plot / Concept: 6 / 10
Emergency Order: Defeat the Metroid of the planet Zebeth and destroy the Mother Brain the mechanical life vein. Galaxy Federal Police M510. The sound words you have to go with as you play the game. If you are lucky enough to have an instruction manual or read it online, then you should have a feeling for what the game is about. If you have not, well at least you get a brief idea of what to to in the opening title sequence. To beat the game, you must destroy Mother Brain. To reach her, you must unlock the statues of two of her guardians: Ridley and Kraid. Their deaths unlock the statues and allow you into the more dangerous parts of the game. Keep in mind, being a 1986 game, the very idea of any kind of plot to a game is quite new, so the focus is more on making the game playable rather than the purpose and development of the storyline.
Gameplay: 8 / 10
Among one of the fist consoles of the time to produce a multi-directional platform where players can travel up, down, left and right, Metroid broke barriers during it's launch and paved the way for the development of many future games. While a mix of Super Mario-style arcade fun and Legend of Zelda-item collecting, Metroid still delivers a more unique experience in it's own way. I have always found it to be fun to play no matter when I pop onto it as I am known for doing an entire run on this game in one shot (And making some easy money in the process). There is a lot of ground to cover in the game, including ruins, deep caverns, an underground, well-protected facility and many hidden places to explore... At least it feels like a lot of ground. Keep in mind Samus does not move very quickly in this game. If you plan to go for 100% items, this could take a couple hours, easily.
Metroid 1 is an open-end maze filled with never-ending enemies that are crawling, flying and setup to sap as much energy from you as possible. Meanwhile, your abilities to refill your energy are limited and you must discover for yourself what you must do to beat the game. No wonder there were so many strategy guides for this one. You search for items, beat bosses, discover more secrets than you figure out what to do with. This prevents the game from feeling bland. Exploration and trying things is crucial to getting through the game. Not all routes are obvious and potential dead ends may not be so dead after all.
Controls: 5 / 10
Aim up left and right to shoot... No down, no crouch, only dodge and shoot what you can. This game, no matter which way you look at it can be challenge because of the limited nature of the controls. Despite that, the control design is still fairly simple and takes little effort to catch on to how to play this game, much to the game's advantage.
Music: 8 / 10
Kraid's Theme, Brinstar, Ridley's Lair and even Tourian are still ones I am caught humming when I am bored at work because they are very creative in their own aspects. In 1986 they did not have a lot to work with, unlike today's more modern systems. It is so "8-bit", that is how I go with it.
Sound Effects: 5 / 10
The sound effects seemed a little non-believing and too "chipper" to play into such a serious game well, but the effort was there and it was decent to boot. Practically everything had some kind of effect, including beams firing, elevator hum (when it starts moving), enemies getting hit or blowing up, etc. It is, after all, 1986. What would you expect? :p
Graphics: 7 / 10
For 1986, it is not bad. Despite being 4 colours per tile, and major limits on the engine design, some of the room designs turned out to be surprisingly decent, though a greater variation in background tiles may have helped to boost the overall feel of the game design. It was still not NES at it's prime (see Super Mario Bros. 3 and Kirby's Adventure for examples) but the effort was there. The game sprites took full advantage of the completely black background that was used. For NES sprites, they were limited to 4 colours again, but one of them was used as the transparency (so the sprites better integrate into the game and do not stick out like ugly blocks), so it would make sense for the game makers to take full advantage of the black background and integrate that into the game sprites themselves, making it look like they are using 4 colours instead. Good call.
Considering how easy it is to lose samus in the first half an hour of gameplay, I would not be surprised that there is a lot of replaying this game (or giving up in frustration). Should you replay the whole game after beating it once through, you may get Samus without a suit, body suit, bikini, skin, etc... whatever it works out to. If you play it badly however, she turns away from you in shame wondering how you could have possibly taken so long to beat the game... By the way, did I mention Samus is a she? So if you beat it well enough... you will be privileged to play her with only her bailey on. (After all Justin Bailey is actually Just In Bailey) =)