24 years ago, Super Metroid was released. I didn’t know it back then, but Super Metroid would eventually become a very integral part of my life for different reasons. Those who are close to me know the ties I have to the game, but today I want to take advantage of its anniversary to share my story with the rest of the world.
I remember my first encounter with Super Metroid a lot. As with any 90’s child, I loved to go to the video store and rent some SNES games. It was the highlight of every Friday, because my parents would take us to rent some games while they rented movies. It was thanks to that that I was able to save many different worlds from disaster. From the Mushroom Kingdom to Baron, from the past to 20XX.
It was on one of those trips to the video store that my brothers would first rent Super Metroid. I had no interest in the game, in fact I remember that I rented Mickey’s Magical Quest for myself. My older brother wanted to rent Super Metroid, so in a way that was the “mature” game we rented, while Mickey’s game was the “childish” one among the bunch.
We had a video game magazine that had a walkthrough for Super Metroid, a game we might not have been able to clear otherwise. The magazine included a bunch of cool tricks too, like wall jumping. It was thanks to this that we were able to get to the final boss of the game, and how my nightmare actually began.
An epic struggle for many different reasons
We finally got to Tourian, and after many metroid fights we were able to reach the final boss: Mother Brain. I’m going to say that I was quite a coward on my younger days. This is coming from a child who actually had to walk away from the movie theater when watching The Matrix because of the scene where a bug crawls into Neo’s belly button. When I first saw Mother Brain in her tank, I was petrified, then seeing her with her monstrous body scared me beyond belief. I had to leave the room and run the the living room crying because of fear.
It really was a shame, because that fight was one of the most epic moments in video game history.
When you are a child, it seems very easy to be able to run away from your fears. My brother and cousin didn’t share this thought, and in classic family bullying fashion, they forced me to watch the fight. From that moment I decided that I didn’t want to know anything about the game ever again. How naive of me.
My only comfort was knowing that we would eventually had to return the rental, and since we rarely rented the same game twice, my woes would be over.
You can’t escape from your fears
When I was younger, my family used to do frequent trips to Monterrey, to get a checkup for my brother and his medical condition. I really liked those trips because we would dine at Carl’s Jr. and buy games for cheap at the flea market. It was thanks to those trips that I purchased my original copy of Pokemon Red. I didn’t go to all the trips, and on one of those trips my brother bought a new SNES game: Super Metroid.
I don’t blame him, Super Metroid is a fantastic game. Of course, I wasn’t actually thinking of that, I was thinking of ways I could hide away from Mother Brain when the time came. It wouldn’t be the first time either, many people had rented the game and brought it to my house to play it in the past. Luckily the game isn’t the fastest to clear unless you are a speed runner, so rarely did I have to stomach the final fight again.
Eventually I figured out that I didn’t had to hide from the game, I could just hide the game from me. So I took the game and hid it behind to shoe drawer. When they asked where the game was, I just claimed that I didn’t know and that perhaps it was lost. I’m proud of my hiding place, because no one ever managed to find it. It spent literally years hidden until I came clean about the whole situation, but I’m getting a bit ahead of myself.
The advent of emulation
As my SNES stop functioning and I got my first PC, I discovered the beautiful world of emulation. I can’t think of a single PC I had where I didn’t download Snes 9x and a couple of my favorite games like Mega man X. ROM packs usually included Super Metroid, but emulation was so personal that I didn’t mind its existence at all. In fact I would actually play it from time to time. Even despite my biggest fears, the game was pretty good and I would enjoy most of the game by myself.
One day I decided that I’ve had enough of this childish fears, and decided to tackle the game head-on. I booted up my ROM of the game and played through all of it. I reached the Tourian elevator and created a save state. My heart was beating so fast that I just had to get away from the game, so I went out for some fresh air and to play with my neighbors.
After getting some fresh air, I was ready to finally confront the mother brain once and for all. I made my way through tourian. I fought the metroids and witnessed the baby almost killing me. I went through mother brain’s chamber with my heart racing as fast as it possibly could. With every zebetite I would destroy, my heart would beat faster. Just knowing that every possible screen scroll could finally render mother brain filled me with anxiety, but I pressed on.
When I first saw mother brain, I just had to pause. I didn’t pause in game, I paused the emulation so that I could stare into the mother’s eye. I needed to take my time to stare into my terror. I needed to break this phobia. I just had to get over it. A couple of minutes later my heart was finally slowing down, and I realized that my head had augmented my fear to ridiculous levels, but seeing the true mother brain wasn’t as terrifying as it was on my memories. I felt strong. I had finally done it! I faced my worst nightmares and I came back victorious.
Afterwards I finished the fight and killed mother brain. I knew how the battle would play out thanks to my brothers and how they forced me to see it. Seeing mother brain vanish into dust and the escape timer gave such a feeling of accomplishment. My work here was done and I had to get the hell out of there! I ran as fast as I could (in game) and got out of Zebes. I didn’t rescue the animals because I am a monster. I saw my ship flying away from a crumbling zebes. I had finally done it!
“The operation was
Years have passed since my original encounter with the mother brain. It literally took me years, but I did it. I faced by biggest fears and triumphed. I finally felt compelled to reveal that our Super Metroid cartridge had never been lost. I figured I would probably be punished, but I didn’t care, there was nothing that could stop me at that moment. I was ecstatic and no one would take that away from me. Not only that, I had also sort of unlocked Super Metroid as a game I could keep playing as much as I wanted. I was finally free to enjoy this masterpiece.
My first ventures into speedrunning
I played a lot of Super Metroid over the years, and had gotten the sub 3 hour ending a bunch of times. I knew I had done some sequence breaks, but I wanted to go lower and try to get sub 2 hours. I knew how to wall jump at the time, in fact I don’t think I’ve ever beaten the game without sequence breaking. I honestly don’t know how am I supposed to get the grappling hook before the wave beam. Still, there was one rumored trick I had heard but never actually seen: The early super missile before Spore Spawn.
I first heard about this trick from the magazine which had the original walkthrough we used. Of course, we no longer had that magazine so I had to resort to the internet to discover the trick. I eventually managed to find a scan of the magazine, and got to learn the trick to getting the early super missile. Early on, the way of getting the early super was to run on the super missile hall way, but crouch just before the barrier stopped the progress. If done correctly, Samus would clip into the barrier, and you could run into the next one and repeat the trick. After clearing every barrier, you were free to collect your super missile and completely skip Spore Spawn.
That single trick got me pumped, and I decided to search the internet for other sequence breaks. Thanks to my curiosity, I managed to find Metroid2002.com. I was on summer break at the time, so I had a lot of free time to practice, so I went ahead and practiced every single speed trick that was featured on the page. I practiced so much that I was finally able to do a sub 1 hour clear time (in game time).
One thing led to another, and I ended up in the speeddemosarchive.com site. I was finally able to see an actual speedrun of the game, and taking Smokey’s 00:38 single segment as a starting point, I decided to go and break the record.
Breaking the record
Along the way I noticed that many newer tricks were not implemented in the world record. I took this opportunity to reinvent the route and add some new tricks to the run. Thanks to a lot of help from Kejardon, I got some new strats for my attempts. Kejardon is one of the most knowledgable SM players I’ve known, and without his expertise on hit boxes and enemy data, most of the tricks wouldn’t have been possible. Thanks to him, I was able to alter Draygon’s fight to incorporate shine sparks and devise the original 2 round Phantoon with the usage of the wave beam and power bombs. We are both credited in metroid2002.com for this:
All this happened around 2006, and submitting runs was particularly tricky. We didn’t have streams like now and submissions had to be done on a VHS. Recording on a VHS is extremely tedious because you need to make sure you rewind the tape each time, otherwise you risk running out of tape at the right moments.
It took me a lot of time and attempts, but I finally managed to get my 00:37 ready for submission. The run wasn’t that impressive, in fact I believe it had worse execution that the current record, but it had some superior techniques. I could have gone as low as 00:35 with proper execution. I packed the VHS and asked my dad to mail it to SDA.
I was so excited about my achievement, and posted about it on the m2k2 forums. It immediately gathered some attention and inspired other speed runners to challenge that time. Another user claimed to have gone as low as 00:36, so I immediately got back to running to beat that time again. Of course, neither of us could have seen what Hotarubi was cooking at that time.
Hotarubi out of nowhere
I woke up one day and did my daily Super Metroid practice. It was later that day that I logged into m2k2 and got a message from another user, replying at one of my request to share tactics, that I was probably aware by now of what happened overnight with Hotarubi. I didn’t know anything about it, so I went to speeddemosarchive and found something truly amazing. 00:32. A user by the name of Hotarubi had submitted a 00:32 single segment time that was absolutely amazing. He brought some newer tactics and route changes, and his execution was close to flawless. He came out of nowhere and beated every single one of us. He was now the person to beat.
Unfortunately, I was never able to beat his time. I did a trial run using an emulator with his route and some of my newer tricks and managed to get a 00:31, but the execution had to be absolutely perfect with some godlike luck in places like the Phantoon fight. I tried my best, but was never able to get close to beating that time. My summer break was also over, so I didn’t grind the game anymore, but still cleared it from time to time to avoid getting rusty.
Even if I wasn’t successful at speed running anymore, I did find a whole new world in speed running. Thanks to it I was able to connect with other streamers and even speed run other games. I recommend trying speed runs at some point, the challenge and burden of execution involved is a great way of rekindling some of your old favorite games. They are also a great way to abridge a game, so you can relive your favorite moments in fragments of time.
Happy birthday Super metroid!
It feels weird to attribute so much to a single game, but Super Metroid has really been that and much more to me. From teaching me to face my fears, to challenging me to be the best, it has always been a source of self-improvement in my life. Thank you Super Metroid!
And see you next mission!