The Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) had its 30th birthday on October 18th, so what better way to celebrate the occasion than playing some Metroid? Well, MTRD, to be exact:
MTRD is a minimalist take on the original NES classic, and it feels fitting considering the limitations original 8-bit programmers and musicians had to work with. There’s something to be said about even further limiting the scope of an already retro game, and to be honest I think it works perfectly. All of the graphics are made with ANSI art, which is built with only text characters. It’s very similar to the more well-known ASCII, but with a wider range of 256 letters, numbers, and symbols. You would think reducing a full Nintendo game into hyper-minimal text graphics might be a little strange, but again, it really does work.
Continuing the trend of self-limitation and minimalism is the fantastic chiptune soundtrack, arranged and produced by Beatscribe. It features fresh and simplified takes on the original Metroid OST, but he also manages to add his own personality and flair to the music. Familiar melodies come and go, managing to sound both nostalgic and original while keeping the chiptune instrumentation alive and well. You can get the MTRD soundtrack on Bandcamp, for name-your-price with no minimum. However, the music is excellent– especially if you love Metroid– so I highly recommend throwing him some dollars for his hard work and effort. Musicians gotta eat, too!
MTRD was created for the GameJolt MetroidJam, a game jam specifically geared towards making Metroid-style tribute games. For the uninitiated, a “game jam” is a type of event where a handful of development teams get together and attempt to make the best game possible in a very limited amount of time, sometimes as little as one weekend. Again, limitations seem to be a recurring theme here, and I’m personally very happy with that. In my opinion, limitations breed the best art, as evidenced by the “golden age” of retro gaming where gameplay trumped graphics, and melody took precedence over sound quality. In a way, creating a box of limitations often causes you to think outside of the box, becoming more creative and pushing yourself to achieve the same goals.
All in all, MTRD is an excellent tribute to an amazing classic that lives on in the hearts and minds of people everywhere. The playtime is approximately one hour, so if you’ve got a moment or two definitely check it out and give it a go. Thoroughly impressive and charming to boot, this little gem definitely sticks out in my mind as one of the coolest indie tributes I’ve ever played. Highly recommended.
Once you’re done with all that, why not celebrate the Nintendo Entertainment System’s 30th birthday by dusting off the system and playing the original Metroid? Fair warning: it’s still really, really, really difficult. In fact, on second thought, maybe just stick with MTRD. Less rage.