Last Saturday was the 25th anniversary of the original Metroid's release at Japan for the Famicom. The crazy thing is that Nintendo of Japan ignored it and yet put up the website for the Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary last night. The Metroid franchise has been pretty much third fiddle in the lineup of Nintendo franchises as Mario and Zelda are at the top of the ladder due to their popularity. Sure, Metroid doesn't get the same name recognition as the two I mentioned, but it is definitely one of the most beloved gaming franchises of all-time revolutionizing certain game mechanics that seem crazy at the time. More importantly, it achieved that was a first, a female protagonist that was strong and fearless named Samus Aran.
Metroid flipped the script on gaming back in 1986 where linearity is nonexistent and exploration was key to success. exploration was unique back then where danger was lurking at any moment and one wrong move being unprepared can mean a look at the game over screen. Samus was limited with her abilities at the start, but as she gains new tools such as the signature morph ball, missiles, and bombs, she is able to transverse through more of the world she's in and eventually become a wrecking machine at the end of the game. Later games in the franchise improved on the formula such as Super Metroid becoming one of the greatest games of all-time and the Metroid Prime franchise taking things under the first person perspective.
My personal experience with the Metroid franchise started with Super Metroid, but I didn't remember my time when I played it as a kid. However, I did play it over again four years ago when it came out on the Wii's Virtual Console and you can read my review on how it still holds up today somewhere in my blog. Even back then, it was still a franchise I respect a lot as I finally realized how beloved it was when Metroid Prime came out. That game is still among my top ten favorite games ever. The funny thing about the Metroid franchise is there wasn't really any bad main games throughout the years (unless you count Other M, which I think is not bad as most would say), which is saying something compared to other Nintendo franchises. You can probably argue that Metroid is Nintendo's best franchise from a critical perspective and yet its 25th anniversary get ignored by Nintendo themselves, which is truly a shame. Then again, Metroid is not that popular in Japan compared to here at America, which Nintendo fans can hope they decide to do something about the 25th anniversary of the US release, but who knows.
Anyway, happy belated 25th anniversary Metroid!!!
If you want a better and proper celebration of this, check out the great NeoGAF thread filled with fanart, videos, and more.