Metroid: Zero Mission was released in 2004 for the GameBoy Advance. It is a remake of the original Metroid on NES, but with more than just upgraded graphics. Instead, it includes new items, areas, and mini-bosses.
The story is also pretty much the same. The Galactic Federation sends one of their best bounty hunters, Samus Aran, to Planet Zebes to destroy Mother Brain, a mechanical life-form that controls the Space Pirate’s fortress. This is done so they can retrieve stolen creatures called Metroids from the Space Pirates, or they will use the Metroids as lethal weapons.
If you aren’t familiar with Metroid games, they usually have large worlds with unique environments. In these areas, there are many items Samus can use to improve her suit, weaponry, or gain new abilities. Many of these items can cause previously inaccessible areas to be opened. For example, if Samus does not have the Varia Suit in a hot room, she will constantly take damage. Once she obtains the Varia Suit, she can then go into these scorching hot rooms without being hurt.
If you go into one of the burning rooms without the Varia Suit, you will have to leave before you die. However, that room will be displayed as a different color than normal rooms on your map to show that you need the Varia Suit. This map is a big reason of why Metroid NES was remade, as it did not have one at all. Maps are crucial in Metroid games, as it is very easy to get lost. Another neat feature on the map is that when a room has an item, that room will have a circle in it on the map. When you collect that item, the circle will turn into a dot.
It’s not a very detailed icon, but that is due to the GBA’s resolution. However, the game has very good sprites. It’s easy to tell what everything is, and has a nice simplistic look while still looking really great.
Something else that I absolutely love is the music. They’re not the best quality due to it being a GBA game, but they are still very catchy and perfectly fits the area you’re in. One of my favorite songs from the game is the first theme in Brinstar.
Warning: The next part contains possible spoilers for something towards the end that was not in Metroid NES. If you would not like to read this, skip to the part that says “Spoilers End Here.”
Spoilers Start Here
After you defeat Mother Brain and escape, Samus will leave Planet Zebes in her gunship. However, the Space Pirates find her and shoot her down. She crash-lands back on Zebes next to the Space Pirate Mothership. Samus’ gunship and Power Suit were destroyed in the crash, so she is left with just her Power Suit and Pistol, which can stun enemies when fully charged.
Samus’ only option is to go inside the Space Pirate Mothership. This is one my favorite parts of the game. There are tons of Space Pirates you have to try to run and hide from because you don’t have any way to kill them. Also, since Samus no longer has her Power Suit on, she can now crawl. That’s right, Metroid can crawl. Anyways, once you get far enough in the ship, you will find a Chozo boss. Defeat this boss to get a new, and even stronger, Power Suit. Then, Brinstar’s theme comes on. This part truly feels great, because now you can kill the Space Pirates with this epic tune playing. It’s such an amazing feeling. Also, now you can true final boss: Ridley Robot. Once he is defeated, the game ends with another escape sequence. It wouldn’t be a Metroid game without it.
Spoilers End Here
This game is great, but like with every game, there are some negatives.
In this game, once you gain the Speed Booster you can do a trick called Shinesparking. If you gain enough speed and press down, Samus will store that energy. Jumping will release this energy and cause Samus to go flying in the direction you press. This game requires you to do puzzles with shinesparking in order to get extra item tanks. The shinesparking puzzles are extremely tough and require very fast reflexes. I tried doing one for about an hour, but I could never end up doing it correctly.
There’s also some weird hit boxes in various areas. It was especially noticeable during the boss fight with Kraid. In order to damage Kraid, you need to shoot missiles into his mouth. However, there were various times when I clearly saw the missile go into Kraid’s mouth, but he did not receive any damage from it. It’s not a huge issue, but it was annoying and made the Kraid fight harder than it needed to be.
Overall, Metroid: Zero Mission is an outstanding game. I especially loved its map, pixel art, music, and just the gameplay in general. It has minor issues, such as shinesparking puzzles and odd hitboxes, but it doesn’t drag it down too much. In all, I’d give Metroid: Zero Mission a 9.5. It’s an amazing Metroid game, but is it better than the newly released Metroid: Samus Returns, or the long-time classic: Super Metroid?
If you’re interested in playing Metroid: Zero Mission, you can buy it on the Wii U Virtual Console. You can find more details and purchase it here.