How Super Metroid Inspired a Whole Genre of Indies

Super Metroid is a phenomenal game and despite being nearly 25 years old, it’s still an amazing experience. We played through it again recently and here’s why we think this game has inspired so many indie developers.

Gameplay

Super Metroid teases the player throughout by showing you something you can’t get to it so you head off elsewhere.

Through exploration, you’ll eventually get a new item or ability that’ll allow you to finally get where you wanted to go.

The formula for Super Metroid’s gameplay loop is so good that it can be taken and applied to plenty of different styles and aesthetics from the Mexican stylings of Guacamelee! to the insect kingdom of Hollow Knight.

Of course, developers need to ensure that the world is interesting to explore, backtracking is enjoyable, and power-ups are fun to use.

Visuals

The original Metroid wasn’t great to look at and you could easily get lost in the world because everywhere looked so similar. However, Super Metroid made the areas in the game more memorable with the visuals and included excellent little details like creatures munching on rotting corpses that scurry away as you approach them.

Keep in mind that these were all done with glorious 16-bit visuals, an aesthetic that many indie developers are masters of. However, you don’t need to stick to the 16-bit aesthetic. As we’ve seen, there are plenty of great indie games inspired by Super Metroid that use different visual styles.

Narrative

Super Metroid tells a story without a lot of text or dialogue. The game creates an atmosphere through its music and minimalist compositions and uses the prologue to tell you why you’re on the mission.

Indie developers can learn a lot from how well Super Metroid’s narrative is conveyed without forcing the player to read a lot of text, sit through cutscenes, or read tooltips. When it comes to the narrative in this game, less is more.

Age

A quarter of a century may seem like an age in terms of video games but it’s the perfect amount of time for someone to play a game as a child, grow up, become a developer, and start making games the way they always dreamt of as a child.

It’s no surprise that the indie scene is full of games that draw inspiration from the 8-bit and 16-bit eras. We’re even starting to see an influx of games drawing inspiration from the late 90s (Dusk, for example).

Commercial Success

While Super Metroid was critically-acclaimed, it came out towards the end of the Super Nintendo’s lifecycle and didn’t sell a lot of copies. This means that the AAA developers of the time weren’t inclined to saturate with similar games and copies.

Now that indie developers can make games with the same scope and polish that AAA developers were making in the 90s, there are plenty of wonderful indie titles made by teams who like Super Metroid just as much as we do!

Which other games do you think have influenced indies?

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