41 Games: Super Metroid
I have been thinking a lot this year about the ephemerality of games. How quickly old games become unplayable--either because of technical specs or changing design conventions. How that problem is only going to get worse now that more and more games exist solely on their publishers' servers.
Playing Super Metroid is a stark reminder of how little innovation there has been to this particular formula since Super Metroid. Everything about this 23 year-old game feels utterly familiar and recognizable.
But it's also a minor miracle: a game that founded a genre, whose conventions have become so commonplace that it remains accessible even today. And whatever you might say about Nintendo's practice of constantly re-packaging and re-selling its back catalog, it's *available.*
On the one hand, the familiarity of its design serves to draw attention to some of the things that are a little rough about it. The controls for special moves can be unforgiving. It has the worst grappling hook in all of video games. The narrative is non-existent.
But on the other hand, you can't help but recognize you're playing one of the rarest things in video games: an enduring classic.