Hello. My name is Josh. And I have a question for you.
Have you heard of the “Samus” Geemer? If you are a hardcore Metroid fan, then you would know. It is an orange-colored geemer you can find in Super Metroid, in one of the corridors linking to the sunken ghost ship. It's a neat little feature, an easter egg that players were quick to notice. It followed Samus's every move, even stopping where she was. Nobody knows why this geemer was put there or what its purpose is. Not even a single programmer stepped forth to explain the purpose of this “Samus” Geemer, so many excused it as just an easter egg.
Some began to wonder what would happen if the geemer showed up in an area with no barriers blocking it from Samus. If it followed Samus and only stopped when it came upon her, it would make for a good obstacle. Heck, a whole group of them could be placed strategically and create a new puzzle gamers would need to over come. It's like with Pac-Man, how they are programmed to pursue the yellow guy everywhere in the maze.
But I know of no one who has tried to do hack a Metroid level to put in a bunch of these geemers. I never knew the reason, though one of my friends, Tony, believed it was because the “Samus” Geemer might have had a bit more complicated coding than normal geemers and no one knew how to deal with that. I thought that was a pathetic excuse as some of these same people could hack things much more complicated than anything Super Metroid had to offer. Tony told me I was being hypocritical, saying that I hacked games before and I didn't touch the “Samus” Geemer.
It was then Tony offered a suggestion. He told me that if I wanted to see what this special geemer was capable of, I should hack a Metroid game and place the geemer in a place where Samus could physically touch it. I wanted to laugh this off, but I knew Tony was right. No one, well not one person I know or heard of, has tried this before. Part of me wanted to go online to see if someone else did it, but another part of me was curious to figure this out on my own. I decided to do my own hack. It would be more fun if I figured it out on my own, right?
After obtaining a copy of a Super Metroid ROM online, I downloaded the popular Super Metroid hacker, SMILE. I had used this program in the past, but got rid of it when I started to get more interested in hacking Legend Of Zelda: A Link To The Past. I was a little rusty in using this ROM hacker, but after about an hour of toying around with it, I remembered what everything did. I cracked my knuckles and began to edit the ROM.
The edit would be simple. All I wanted to do was place the “Samus” Geemer somewhere that didn't have any kind of borders or blockage. Enemy placement was easy to do. I scrolled through the map, trying to find a place that I could place the geemer. Finding a place was proving to be more difficult than I thought. Not that there were no suitable places; I just had a hard time thinking of where to put it.
After about thirty minutes of just looking at the map and scratching my head, I thought of a good place. On SMILE's screen, I pulled up the map of Lower Brinstar. One particular room was pulled up. It was the one that lead to the X-Ray Scope powerup. Maybe it wasn't the best choice. It had a bunch of enemies of its own, it was littered with spikes, and it would get dark if I shot too many of the glowing bugs. But that's what would make it a good spot. It would add more challenge. It was easy to dodge a geemer, but how easy would it be when the level itself was almost totally black?
I placed the “Samus” Geemer in the room. I placed it on the lower ground, between the two spiked hills. I double checked to make sure I liked how the geemer was positioned. After I was fully satisfied, I saved the rom and prepped it to be run on my Super Nintendo emulator. I was feeling excited. Even though I knew that the “Samus” Geemer was probably just going to walk into Samus like a blundering idiot, I really wanted to see what would happen. I closed out of SMILE and opened up the emulator.
I loaded up the ROM and started a new game. It would take me a little while to get to the X-Ray Scope room, but I didn't care. I was a master at this game and made quick progress. Before I knew it, I had already defeated Spore Spawn and got the Super Missile. I moved through the corridors to head to Kraid's Lair. I broke through the previously unpassable barrier and jumped onto the high ledge. I walked through the monster-shaped tunnel through the path that would lead me to Kraid.
I shot at the Space Pirates that were waiting for me in the tunnel. When I got to the last one, I was surprised to see that all was there was a purple ball, an energy unit. I shrugged it off. I must have killed him from a distance. I did have some stray shots because I would constantly fire. I grabbed the energy unit and moved on. I laid waste to the “mini” Kraid and, after a couple minutes, defeated the real one. I grabbed the Varia Suit and proceeded to head to Norfair.
Next item on the list was the Speed Booster. I took the path that would take me there. I didn't like the Super Metroid map, so I had pulled up a more detailed one I found online once. I mentally marked the way to the Speed Booster. Despite playing this game countless times, there were a few things I would forget, such as which door to take, especially with the Speed Booster.
I got to the tunnel that, at the very end, would have a door that would lead to the power up. I ran as fast as I could. I noticed another purple energy unit, this one located underneath a crumbling platform where an enemy would normally lay beneath. I was surprised, but pressed on and entered the room. I nabbed the Speed Booster and ran towards the door I came in from. I had to move fast or else the acid would get to me. I admit I was afraid of the acid as a kid, and still even now. I was always afraid I would drown in the acid.
On the way out of Norfair, I noticed some enemies were missing. Well not missing. More like replaced with more energy units. Some of them I could account for. I was still shooting and fighting several enemies as I went through Norfair, making my way back to the elevator. But others were a mystery. I wanted to say that it was just more stray shots. But what of that one energy unit I saw earlier when I was getting the Speed Booster?
I decided to ignore it. I jumped onto the elevator. As soon as it reached the top, I turned to the left and exited the area. I got in the room with a bunch of rippers were, you know those floating bug things that can only be killed by a super missile. I was supposed to get the Ice Beam upgrade, but opted not to yet. I had already grabbed both the Wave Beam and Power Bomb earlier on, via sequence breaking, and a power bomb was all I was going to need to get to where I needed to go. I was really good at walljumping. I positioned myself and skillfully walljumped all the way back up. The last jump was tricky as I had to jump out and veer back at the right time, but I managed to get back on the high platform, above the top ripper.
I rolled into the morphball form and laid down a power bomb. The pathway opened up. There before me was the door that would lead to the “Samus” Geemer. I suddenly felt a little hesitant. I had no idea what exactly would happen when I stepped through the door. But I pushed myself on. I shot the door and it opened up, granting me access inside. I walked through and now found myself in the room leading to the X-Ray Scope.
The room was lit by the firefleas, the glowy bugs I mentioned earlier. Grapple hook blocks covered parts of the ceiling. Spikes covered parts of the floor. I hated traveling in here because the firefleas were so fragile. One touch, they die, and the room got dimmer. I wondered if I added a little too much of a challenge, given at how little items I had picked up on the way. I shrugged it off and continued walking further into the room.
I noticed something off almost right away. I knew I hadn't made any shots since I got in the room, for fear of accidentally killing a fireflea, and yet I found a purple energy ball, floating about where the first waver, the pointy flying creatures that like to kamikaze dive at Samus, should have been. I paused and tried to think of an explanation. I wanted to right it off as a glitch, but that seemed like a cop out. I didn't know what else it could be, through. I continued forward, jumping from one gray block to another, carefully avoiding the firefleas.
As I headed down the room towards the edge, I found two more energy units. I tried to ignore them as I jumped down to the lower ground. I didn't see the “Samus” Geemer right away. It must have walked further to the left. There wasn't much room where the geemer could walk without walking into spikes, and I didn't see it anywhere on the higher ledge's tip. I walked all the way over until I saw the spikes sticking out of the ground. Sure enough, there was the “Samus” Geemer, sitting contently against the first spike in the row.
I was confused. Shouldn't it be going towards Samus? Then I realized I might not be close enough to do that. I moved in closer, inching slowly over. Sure enough, when I got close enough, the geemer seemed to spring to life. It instantly walked towards Samus. It moved a little faster than I remembered. I let it get close before I jumped over and landed on the other side. Instantly, it changed direction and came back towards Samus. I repeated this until I was getting bored. I decided to see what would happen if I let the geemer touch Samus. I sat her still and waited. The geemer got closer and made contact with her.
I was shocked by what happened next.
Samus had instantly died. I'm not kidding. One touch from the “Samus” Geemer and she went into her death animation, armor breaking off and everything. I swore under my breath. I was glad that I had saved not too long before going into that room, but I was beside myself, trying to think of how that happened. I was at full health. How did that thing kill me with full health? I had two energy tanks, both full. No other geemer did this much damage, so why was this one different?
I was determined to find out. I loaded the game back up, returning where I was the last time I saved. I made my way back to the room, albeit a little slower than I thought. I re-entered the room. This time, there were no energy units. The wavers were back. Great, I thought. This would make my journey to the edge more difficult. I wished I had gotten the Ice Beam. I pressed on and got to the edge. I miraculously managed to avoid hitting any firefleas.
Now on the lower platform once more, I walked over to confront the “Samus” Geemer. It was in the same place as before. This time, I decided not to approach it. I kept a good distance away from it, staring at it. It stayed on the side of the spike, clinging to it almost like a spider. I thought about my options. I could kill it, but how could I learn more about it if I killed it right away? I was at a loss. I should have been prepared with a plan when I did this.
That's when it happened. The “Samus” Geemer started walking towards me. I was so caught up in my own mind that I didn't notice until it was almost too late. The geemer was almost upon Samus. I moved Samus back until she was against the first platform. The geemer got closer. When it was too close, I jumped up onto a higher ledge. It continued to follow me, no surprise. Knowing it could climb walls, I continued trekking back up until I reached the stone platforms above the spikes. I jumped on one. Surrounded by spikes, I felt safe here. I watched as the geemer came to the edge. I smirked as I waited for it to stop and move back down, having nowhere else to go.
Instead, the geemer did something I had never seen geemers do outside of Metroid Other M. It jumped right at Samus. I let out a scream of surprise and jumped away just as the geemer landed on the stone block. I paused the game and stared in shock. How was it able to do that? It was impossible, wasn't it? None of the other geemers in this game displayed this behavior. Was the “Samus” Geemer really that special? Did it have extra coding in it not present in other geemers? No, that was nonsense, wasn't it?
As I was distracted by my thoughts, I inadvertently unpaused the game. I was unable to notice the geemer lunging in the air until it was too late. Once again it struck and killed Samus in a single blow. I gritted my teeth as I watched the death animation play out again. I slammed my palm against my computer desk, cursing loudly. This one hit kill didn't make any sense. I wanted to look at the coding directly, but far as I knew, that was impossible. So I had to figure out the limits of this geemer on my own. I loaded the game up once more. This time, I was going to be more prepared.
Before I entered the room, I first took a trip down to Norfair. I wanted to grab the Ice Beam. This way, I could freeze the geemer before it hit me. This shouldn't take me too long. The room wasn't too far away. Heading down the elevator and corridors, everything seemed to be in order. I hadn't spotted anymore of those energy units floating around. I got into the room that held the Ice Beam. I immediately equipped it. But when I got out of the room, things had changed.
There were still enemies, but only about half of what there should have been. And the energy units returned, the same exact number as the missing enemies. Logic told me that they were killed, but how? I hadn't shot at them and Samus was the only thing that could really kill them, I thought. As I made my way back to the room in Brinstar, I noticed more energy units all around. I was getting a little creeped out at this point. The random appearance of these energy units wasn't normal. Sure it might be possible with proper hacking with SMILE, but I didn't do anything to get this kind of result.
I re-entered the room cautiously. The room was totally normal this time. It was easier to navigate around the firefleas now that I had the Ice Beam. I froze the firefleas and wavers in their place. I jumped down to 'greet' the “Samus” Geemer. I paused momentarily and then inched Samus over towards the left.
I saw the “Samus” Geemer just sitting there idly. I prepared myself this time. I moved towards the geemer, ready for whatever it had to throw at me. Once Samus was close enough, the geemer started to move towards her. It was moving at a faster pace than before. I moved Samus away just as the geemer lunged at her, landing barely a pixel away. It instantly jumped in the air again. Not prepared to let Samus die again, I swung her around and shot at the geemer with a splash of ice. The geemer immediately froze. I took a moment to take a breather. That was really close.
The moment of relaxation didn't last long. The geemer unfroze faster than I expected. Even in midair, it still moved towards Samus. I jumped out of way. I started firing the ice beam multiple times. This normally makes short work of the weaker enemies. But the geemer remained alive even after twenty shots. I was stunned. It was impossible for a geemer to survive that many shots without getting killed. While it was an overkill, I readied my super missile as I ran away to make room so I could prepare to shoot. The orange geemer moved even faster now. I ran all the way to the left and was blocked by those stupid spikes. I fired a super missile at the geemer, expecting to see it explode in pixelated death.
Instead, it just bounced right off. My eyes widened. I shot another super missile. The same thing. After about ten super missiles, the geemer was still coming for Samus.
I had to stop. I was in shock by what was happening. A geemer that had such high health? Such a thing didn't exit in the Metroid universe. Even the gray geemers in an earlier part of Crateria, invincible to most weaponry, were killed by a single power bomb or a super missile. What kind of health could this orange geemer have that would enable to withstand so many super missiles? The only ones I know that can sustain this many super missiles were some of the bosses like Ridley and Mother Brain. How was it even possible this geemer had HP as high as a boss?
I decided I wanted to get away from the geemer. I looked up and saw a waver close by. I jumped up and froze it. It was in the right position to let me get on the higher platform on the far side of the room. Below, as I stood on the frozen waver, I saw the geemer start jumping up towards me. I jumped away and landed on the spikes above. I saw the geemer land on the frozen waver as I moved towards the stone block. I stopped and looked over. I didn't see the “Samus” Geemer following me.
I continued over towards the room with the X-Ray Scope. I didn't mind taking damage from the spikes. I had plenty of health to spare. I opened the door using a missile and got the X-Ray Scope upgrade. A favorite upgrade of mine, I wished games after this kept this neat little feature.
I didn't want to go back through that room, but what choice did I have? I had nowhere else to go. I could just turn off the emulator and remove the “Samus” Geemer. And that was exactly what I was going to do. I save stated right in front of the door and closed out of the emulator. I reopened up SMILE and removed that gawdamn orange-colored geemer from the room. I saved the room and closed down SMILE and reopened the emulator. I loaded up the game and restored the save state. I went into the room, expecting the ROM to be back in its original state.
I moved Samus across the spikes once more. I jumped down, unafraid this time since the orange geemer was gone. Sure enough, I didn't see the geemer anywhere. Relieved, I made my way back towards the door. I decided to make some more progress in this game. I had enough fun with the “Samus” Geemer. I dodged the firefleas and wavers and was about to shoot the door.
Suddenly there were multiple screeches. They sounded just like the sounds the wavers made when they were killed by Samus. Then, one by one, I heard the firefleas dying, the room rapidly growing dimmer. Shocked, I moved over to the left to see what was going on. When I reached the fourth block, I could see the orange geemer positioned on the platform made of three blocks. There were two firefleas still flying around. A single waver flew around, above me and turned around and flew back.
As it neared the orange geemer, something unexpected happened. As the waver was right above, the geemer jumped straight up, aiming the spikes for the flying creature. In an instant, it was dead. The orange geemer proceeded to kill the remaining firefleas, and now the room was totally dark. I was unable to see the platforms anymore. The spikes were still visible, but just barely. I could make out Samus easily, but the orange geemer was now almost totally invisible, blended in somehow in the blackness of the background.
I tensed up. I knew it was a matter of time before the geemer would attack Samus. I turned and made a run for it through the door. I was relieved that I made it before the geemer had a chance to attack me. I relaxed as the gameplay returned to normal. I proceeded to play the game, trying my best to forget what happened. I wanted to face off against Phantoon so I could get the Gravity Suit, but I had to go to Norfair first to get the Grapple Beam.
I went through a couple of rooms, killing enemies to replenish my health and missiles. I soon got to the room with the glass tunnel, the one that breaks when a power bomb is used. I would only do this when I got the Gravity Suit upgrade because it is hard to move in water without it. I almost exited the tunnel, but suddenly Samus flashed like she was hurt and was thrown back. Out of the right part of the tunnel came the “Samus” Geemer.
What? How did it get there? I never placed it there. The geemer walked over to Samus, but then stopped. It seemed to almost stare at Samus until it jumped upwards. Its spikes hit the glass and broke it in an instant. Great, this was all I needed to happen. I moved Samus towards the way she came in. Progress was, unsurprisingly, painfully slow. The geemer moved almost unhindered by the water. It was making its way towards Samus. I managed to get out of the room before it could get too close.
I was taken aback by what I saw in this room. The “Samus” Geemer was in here, too, somehow. It actively attacked the enemies in the room, killing them with its spikes. Only when the enemies were gone did it turn its attention to Samus. I looked at the 'carnage' it left behind, a series of energy units. Was this what I was seeing earlier? Were the stray energy units the result of the “Samus” Geemer? The idea seemed preposterous, yet I had seen it happen before my eyes.
I made a run for it. The “Samus” Geemer chased after me, moving about twice as fast as before. I was too preoccupied in trying to get away than question how this was all possible. I made my way back towards the elevator leading out of Brinstar and back to Crateria. I encountered the “Samus” Geemer in a couple of the corridors on the way back, and each time I froze it so I could escape easily. Eventually the geemer stopped appearing and I didn't notice anything odd.
When I reached the shaft the elevator was contained in, I stopped. I wanted to refill the rest of my missiles. I hadn't opened the missile door straight across yet. After opening it and depleting five more missiles, I made my way around the firefleas contained in this room. It was a little easier avoiding them here. I froze a couple to make the progress easier. I entered the room and refilled my missiles. Satisfied, I exited the room. Time to head back to Crateria. I planned on taking another way towards Norfair. It still required the use of that tunnel, but maybe if I went a completely different way than I usually did, the geemer wouldn't show up.
I reached the door and gasped when I saw that it was grayed out. I shot at it, trying to get it to open. But of course it didn't work. I gritted my teeth. I wasn't sure if I should be pissed off at this point or scared. Something was really wrong here. As I tried to think of what to do, I heard those same death sounds from before, and in an instant, the room went dark. Knowing what was about to happen, I panicked and tried shooting the door. I cursed as it refused to respond. I could barely make out the form of the “Samus” Geemer as it quickly made its way towards Samus.
Without warning, it jumped at Samus. This time, there was no instant death. Instead, the geemer clung to Samus's head. The game played the sound that you'd normally here when picking up an item, whether it be an upgrade or expansion. A box appeared as if Samus really did pick up an item of some kind. In the box, it said something that almost chilled me.
“I will never leave you.”
What did this mean? Was the geemer talking to Samus? How could that be? My mind reeled, trying to think of an explanation. As I tried to think, the game froze for a few seconds before Samus suddenly died, the death animation playing for another time. When Samus respawned in the last save station she was in, I noticed that the door was again grayed out. In the corner of the save station room, I saw the “Samus” Geemer. It walked up to Samus, stopped, and stared at her.
Not wanting to see the death animation again, I closed out of the emulator. I rubbed my head and tried to comprehend what just happened. I know it wasn't too spooky, and I normally don't get scared easily. But something about that geemer was off to me. Why was it put in the game? How could Nintendo let that be in the game?
I called Toby a few minutes later. I told him of what happened with my experience with the “Samus” Geemer. He laughed at me at first and asked if I was joking. I insisted that I wasn't lying and eventually he started to take me a little more seriously. He went on to explain that he never had anything like that happen to him when he used SMILE and wondered if something was up with the program itself. I didn't see how that could be the problem. Every SMILE download was the same wasn't it?
Toby informed me that SMILE became open sourced and that there was the very real possibility that someone else got a hold of the code. He went on to ask me just where I got SMILE. When I told him the website's name, he told me in a serious voice that the site I went to was not the official place to get SMILE. He said I must've gotten a different SMILE, one with an alternate code that may explain the results I got.
That may be, and perhaps he was right. That would help me feel better, knowing it was just a slightly different program. But I couldn't get at ease no matter how hard I tried. I sat in my chair for several minutes, drawing in a few breaths to calm me down. I mustered up the courage to open the emulator back up and play Super Metroid.
But upon opening the game, I was greeted with a rather disturbing sight. At first, all I could see was an up close image of the “Samus” Geemer, in a similar fashion as when you see Samus's face at the very start of the game when she narrates. Then it faded away and slowly back in. I thought it was going to take me to the save state room, but I was wrong.
Instead of being at the save state room, everything was still considerably darkened. Samus stood in the middle of an unrecognizable room. Clinging to her head once more was the “Samus” Geemer. The text “I will never leave you” appeared again, this time in larger text and placed on the very bottom of the game window. Samus was appearing to be clawing at the geemer and tried to remove it from her face. She looked like she was suffocating, but the geemer wouldn't let go. Samus eventually dropped on the ground and the text “I will never leave you” slowly changed to a darker tinged phrase “I like you, Samus”.
I shut down the emulator for the final time. I deleted SMILE off my computer and the ROM. I bought a real Super Metroid cartridge along with a real Super Nintendo off of eBay. It was pricey but to experience a true, unhacked experience of Super Metroid, I felt it was worth it. The game and console arrived within days. I plugged it in and began to play.
I didn't experience any more strange happenings in the game after that. Being a cartridge and not a ROM, SMILE, or whatever was responsible, was unable to hack the game. I still play Super Metroid to this day. But every time I go in that one small corridor near the sunken ship, the one with the one particular orange-colored enemy, I exercise caution as I stare at the “Samus” Geemer moving to place itself above Samus at all times. This corridor fills me with worry every time I enter.
Now I know why there is a barrier.