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Aug 12, 2011
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Metroid, that other Nintendo mega-franchise not starring a turtle-killing mustachioed plumber, celebrated its 25th anniversary last August 6.[firstpara]
For the uninitiated, the series follows the exploits of space bounty hunter Samus Aran in her quest of ridding the universe of evil space pirates and creepy, nasty aliens.

The story, obviously, isn’t anything close to original. But that was never the main point of playing these games anyway.

We, or at least those of us who never stopped being Nintendo fanboys, played the Metroid games for its open-ended, nonlinear experience, and its desolate, brooding ambience.

From its very first incarnation on the Nintendo Entertainment System to its current day versions, Metroid’s classic formula of exploring alien landscapes, acquiring power-ups to explore previously unreachable destinations, and well, blasting huge, grotesque space creatures to bits has always been the series’ biggest draw.

It’s what kept the series relevant to this very day, even in an age when the competition has seemingly boiled down as to who has the biggest explosions or the goriest visuals. The series is no doubt a classic, and an influential one at that.

So, in celebration of the series’ silver anniversary, here are 10 Metroid facts and figures that should make gamers go “Woah, I didn’t know that!” Like a Metroid power bomb.
1) Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, two Nintendo games released prior to Metroid, were lighthearted affairs. Looking to appeal to an older audience, the company decided that it needed something that was distinctly darker. That “distinctly darker” game turned out to be Metroid.

2) One of the game’s major inspiration is the movie Alien. In fact, one of the main bosses in the game, Ridley, is named after the protagonist of that movie.

3) Initially, the game was going to be released under a decidedly less unique title: “Space Hunter.”

4) It was only renamed to Metroid after one of the game’s creators, Yoshio Sakamoto, realized that the protagonist’s swift movements reminded him of taking the city metro train, and that the protagonist looked like an android. Combining metro and android together, the word “metroid” was born.

5) “Metroid” was then used to refer to the game’s enemy aliens, in spite of the term being inspired by the hero.

6) The hero was instead named Samus Aran. “Aran” was taken from the middle name of soccer legend Pele, whose full name is Edison Arantes do Nascimento.

7) Metroid was a technical achievement in those days as it was the first game that allowed players to backtrack. Unlike Super Mario Bros. and most other side-scrolling games then, players couldn’t go back once they passed an area.

8) Samus Aran is one of the first, truly significant female protagonists in the world of gaming. She was Lara Croft in an era when female leads in videogames are practically unheard of. In fact, the game only revealed that Samus was actually a girl in the game’s ending.

9) In promotional materials and in the game’s manual, Samus was referred to as a “he” to keep her real identity a secret.

10) The first Metroid game might have actually been the last. The game didn’t sell well in Japan where it was first released. When it was released in the U.S. and Europe though, the game sold well enough to assure that there’d be a next game.

And as all of you know, there was a next one after that, and then a couple more after that, and now we’re here. 25 years, and 9 Metroid games after, the Metroid series continues to take the fight to the alien scum; here’s to 25 years more!