Finishing Metroid II: Replay IncentivesMarch 13, 2013
This is my last Metroid II post, I promise. It’s spoileriffic, so most of it’s hidden behind a jump. Sorry.
Even in 1991, game developers wanted their games to be lasting experiences, things that their target audience would be playing ten, 20, even 40 hours after they were done. I finished Metroid II in a little over seven hours. I’m satisfied — seven hours is no small amount of time to be entertained by a black and gray Game Boy experience — but what if I wanted to get more out of it? What incentive do I have beyond the personal satisfaction of pure mastery of the game to try to get through it again?
Well, by this point, the answer to that question was simple, because it was answered by the original Metroid: offer an incentive for mastery by changing the ending.
The incentive system for Metroid II‘s ending is based on the amount of time it takes to make it through the entire game. As I’d previously mentioned, I got lost for an extended portion of my first playthrough, which, as it turns out, bumped me comfortably into the range for the “worst” ending.
The good news for slowpokes like me is that the worst ending doesn’t feel like a bummer; some games will slap you across the face with a “hey you finished, but the universe is still screwed” kind of ending. Even if it takes you a hundred hours, Samus still saves the day, the story doesn’t change, and the credits still roll. Take as long as you like, and the game still gives you a handshake and a “good job” for your achievement. Thank you, Metroid II, for not making me feel like the unskilled hack I so obviously am when it comes to Metroid.
After the credits rolled, however, I got a good, detailed-for-the-Game Boy look at Samus herself, suited and standing, looking at the screen. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it was a typical “congratulations” screen, and there’s no indication that anything better awaits those willing to venture into the depths of planet SR388 a second time.
A quick trip to GameFAQs proves otherwise; like Metroid, a quicker finish results in a better (well, “better”) ending screen.
Finish it quicker and you get running Samus. Quicker than that, you get running and jumping Samus.
Finish in the somewhat ludicrous time of under two hours, you get Samus without the suit. In a tank top and panties. Of course.I wish I could say this was a relic of a time when this sort of thing was more common, but a God of War game just came out, and I haven’t played it, but I already know there’s a minigame where one or more voluptuous topless women invite the player, as Kratos, to have sex, and the player is rewarded for “performing”, as it were. Because that sort of thing is always in God of War games. It’s like a tradition at this point. Perhaps the difference between then and now is that a company like Nintendo that appeals to younger kids might be less overt about offering a sexy reward, but it’s still here. In an industry like this, as dominated by men as it is, sex sells.
Back then, even Nintendo knew as much.