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Played in 2023
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The flaws of the original Metroid are well apparent: despite being a pretty small map, the visual similarity of hallways makes it a real maze to navigate (especially without any in-game map) and the ridiculous amounts of random wall-bombing needed to progress make the game less of a puzzle and more tedious brute-force trial and error.
That being said, while it wasn't executed perfectly, the core idea here is so brilliant I'm willing to forgive a lot of that. On top of that, the visuals, music, and general mysterious atmosphere are executed so well, and are such a radical departure from the other games Nintendo was releasing at the time, that it real feels like you're playing something special. Don't get me wrong, Super Metroid absolutely blows this out of the water, but there is still the germ of that greatness within the original game.
This little gem has a delightful atmosphere with a perfect NES-era world design of Samurai castles. There are so many cool details to the enemies (like the ninjas who have a little bamboo snorkel when they go underwater). And the music is absolutely incredible, one of the best soundtracks on the NES.
The combat is hard-as-nails, with some great challenging enemy encounters and a lot more bullshit ambushes with so many projectiles and sprites on the screen that it lags. Although it resembles the first Zelda game, this is more of a bullet hell. I don't think I could ever have gotten through this without the Switch's rewind feature.