At about 35-years-old, the video game industry is still relatively young, but it’s easy to forget just how far we’ve come in that short time. Taking a look back at classic franchises and juxtaposing their origins with their most recent installments really puts things into perspective, as I’ve done here with the Metroid series.
Like the bizarre creatures the games are named for, Metroid has had a bumpy evolution, with long hiatuses and tangents into first-person perspective. The winding mazes and lonely atmosphere in the original were conveyed with simple pixel graphics and waveform audio, but the free form gameplay and female protagonist were revolutionary for their time.
With the most recent installment, Metroid: Other M, the experience is more guided, more story-driven, and presented with glossy 3D graphics, voice acting, and orchestrated music. Interestingly, however, there was a conscious attempt at modeling the controls after the original NES game, but they still manage to slip in some clever use of motion control.
Facing Ridley in the original game was likely an intense moment for any kid back in the 80s, but who would have ever imagined playing a Metroid game in which you get to run up to him, stick an arm cannon in his mouth and blow him away! It’s easy to be a picky gamer, but the games of today go way beyond even the dreams of my seven-year-old self.