1. Intro & Brinstar. Edit
I've still got a box in the attic, I think it's from an old air conditioner, that's just about full of game consoles, controllers, joysticks, a zapper, a tangled octopus of wires and adapters, and several Sega Genesis and Nintendo "tapes." I always hated when kids would call them tapes. I'm not sure why I keep them, I haven't played them in a while, but It seems a shame to just throw them away. Maybe I'll give them all to a niece or nephew, or perhaps a friend's children. Well, maybe not all of them.
The last time I played any 8-bit games on a physical console, I mostly play emulators lately, was a few years ago. I'm 28 now, and living with my boyfriend of 4 years. He plays a lot of Xbox and Playstation, Call of Duty, GTA, stuff like that, and he teases me for not playing anything newer than N64. Also for being a Nintendo "fangirl" since I'm so unfamiliar with titles on the Playstation, Dreamcast, Xbox, let alone the Atari, which I never even owned. I don't know, I just can't get into more recent games, and I grew up with Nintendo. Maybe I'm just being nostalgic.
I remember that the last NES cartridge I played was the original Metroid. I always liked that game, even though I was never really great at it. It was a huge maze, and I would just get lost, or carried away exploring. I've seen my brother beat it before, and I beat Super Metroid, but on the original I mostly liked wandering around the labyrinthine hallways and corridors. It has interesting, if not very stellar graphics, and great sound for such an old game. And if you're only familiar with the newer 3d Metroid titles, you should totally check it out.
Anyway, like I said, Metroid was the last NES cart I played before I put the system into storage. I was playing alone, as my boyfriend had to work that afternoon. He had dropped me off back at our apartment, having driven me to and from a medical procedure that had been performed under general anesthesia. He could only get the morning off from work, but that was fine as I was pretty out of it from the sleeping gas. I only planned to lie around and be a lump anyway.
Tired as I was after getting home from the clinic, I really didn't feel like sleeping for fear that I'd be awake all night. So I shambled from the sofa, squatted in front of the TV, popped the oddly shaped hunk of grey plastic into the front my Nintendo (A sizably larger, oddly shaped hunk of grey plastic) and turned the console on. The game started up nicely as usual. I pride myself on keeping my games in their black vinyl sleeves, and original boxes.
I pressed the start button and began a new game quickly, before too much of the opening theme could play.That music used to kind of give me the creeps, which I suppose was the intended purpose, and as a fully grown adult I'm not ashamed to say that it still does. I watched Samus materialize as her iconic fanfare played, then began my adventure on Planet Zebeth... or Zebes depending on which game you're playing... whatever.
Anyone who has played a hard copy of Metroid probably won't be surprised to read that the game was experiencing some graphical glitches. It's pretty typical, and probably gets worse as the circuit board ages. In any case, I didn't find it odd that some of the color palettes were sporadically abnormal, sprites were a little shaky, or pixely, or that floor and wall blocks were incorrect.
I made my way through the first area of the game called Brinstar, which has pretty kick-ass music, making Samus run and jump, and shoot her arm cannon at all the planet's indigenous creatures, many of which hadn't done anything to warrant being blasted to bits. But hey, that's the name of the game! As I continued exploring the halls and caverns collecting items, I did note that the game seemed to be glitching out more than usual, just graphically though, the sound was fine, and the game was running quite smoothly.
There was a notebook next to me on the sofa where I was sitting, and I decided that I would attempt to make notes as i played through the game. Still being half sedated, I wanted to make sure I didn't get too lost, or unknowingly retread my steps. I scribbled out some rudimentary maps as I played, making notes about items I had found. Soon I would also begin making notes of the on screen glitches that kept appearing, as I had never seen the game be quite this screwy before, and wasn't sure if I would again. It is from these sketches and notes that a friend of mine recreated the screen shots that accompany this text.
2. Kraid. Edit
After a bit of exploring and item gathering, I made the decision to go into the first mini-boss hideout, where Kraid lives. Something that I found sort of freaky was the room containing the elevator to Kraid's lair. The far wall has a menacing looking gargoyle statue, however, when I got to the room, its lower jaw was reversed, like, facing the wrong way. Also, I was pretty sure that the statue normally had color in its eyes, but it just had black, empty sockets. It was actually a bit unnerving, especially coupled with the music playing. It's the same tune that plays in the rooms containing Samus's upgrades, basically some dissonant bleeps and blips. Just... I don't know... creepy.
So I'm wandering through the hideout, trying to track down as many upgrades and power-ups as I can without accidentally going to fight Kraid before I'm ready to, as I don't exactly know my way around. I managed to get an energy tank after finding a tunnel in the wall of a room! I remember feeling stupidly proud of myself at this point, I must have been quite a sight, sitting in the dark in grungy grey sweatpants, afghan wrapped around my shoulders grinning stupidly at an increasingly glitched out NES game...
By this time the game was seriously screwing up, like in ways that I hadn't seen before. Some of the enemies were starting to like, stretch out and look almost... melted. At this point I found it more strange than creepy, I was honestly more concerned that the glitches were going to culminate in the game freezing before I got a password or anything. I was oddly playing fairly well for someone who not 2 hours prior had been dead to the world under anesthesia. I really didn't want the game, or the Nintendo to crap out while I was on a roll like this.
With bated breath I continued through the corridors grabbing some more missiles while trying to avoid falling into the acid beneath me. Blasting through red doors I began finding my way down toward the boss battle room. Eventually I found a spot to replenish my energy and missiles just before trying to battle Kraid.
Once I felt I was beefed up enough to take on the boss, I went in and started pumping missiles into that hapless turtle/alligator/dragon/... discount Bowser... thing. After I landed a few hits, and took a little damage, Kraid's sprite started to pixel and fuzz out, I was getting pissed thinking my game was going to freeze, but it kept going.
I nailed the boss a few more times, and his face kept looking more and more effed up, until he flashed a few times and then... his sprite turned... red. Hhmmm... Like it got stuck on some alternate color palette. This was something I had never seen, I mean, I've seen some of the enemies flash and turn different colors, but I've never heard of it happening to the Minibosses.
Regardless, I continued to bomb, and missile the crap out of my enemy. Suddenly, the sprite changed, the screen froze up, and the "weapon get" jingle played. I was again afraid that the game would stop working, but it continued. And things got weirder. The red Kraid didn't blow up like normal, instead, the sprite appeared to be stuck in place, crudely holding it's own head. It was at this point that I began to wonder if the after effects of of the anesthetics were causing me to hallucinate, or see things. I only got put under for surgery once before, when I got my wisdom teeth out, and I don't remember having any visual hallucinations after that.
3. Norfair. Edit
I paused the game and hobbled over to the bathroom to pee. Afterwards I splashed some cold water on my face to help me wake up and stay alert so I could keep playing the increasingly glitchy game.
Back to being a couch potato. I looked over some of the notes I took, and added a few about the Kraid battle, so I didn't forget about it. It was time to send my bounty huntress into the fires of Norfair. It was around this point in the game that I used to start having trouble as a kid. I would tend to get lost and wind up dying a bunch. But I was hoping that my maps and note taking would allow me to get further than i used to.
I backtracked through Kraid's hideout without getting lost, and found my way to Norfair. For several minutes, the game seemed to be behaving, that is, the graphical glitches were gone, I felt a bit of relief about this. I spent some time gathering power-ups in Brinstar before heading down to the bubbly subterranean caverns. I managed to get the Varia suit in my travels, giving me some more confidence, knowing I'd need all the help I could get in Norfair.
Down the elevator I went. I noticed at this point that the graphics started going haywire again... I tried to make note of as many odd glitches as I could while attempting to not get my ass handed to me by space critters and lava sitting mohawk dragon thingies. If you've played the game you know what I'm talking about. It was getting harder to concentrate on the
screen though, there were some horizontal lines flashing on and off, as well as nondescript shapes flickering.
I kept falling into the lava, but I was able to keep my health up until I got the screw attack, which was a godsend. However, after I shot the orb containing the screw attack upgrade, the "S" sprite was flickering between the correct image, and what I'm sure was like, the upper half of Samus's torso, but it was the Justin Bailey cheat Samus, without the power suit. That, coupled again with the upgrade room music got me once more feeling a little unnerved. Playing Metroid alone without the lights on is creepy enough when it's running smoothly.
Behind the lined curtains, the lazy autumn sun had taken it's early leave, and I was playing in the dark. But I was too groggy to get up and turn a light on. Also, at this point I was worried that if I were to get up and jiggle the controller wire at all, the NES might freeze. So I played on collecting power-ups in Norfair on the way to Ridley's hideout. Things were seeming easier with the screw attack and the ice beam, but I was still wandering around a lot, trying to find the hidden passages I needed to navigate in order to locate all the upgrades I was going to require.
The game's graphical glitches were becoming more and more bizarre, lots of the bubble, and egg, or "ovum" tiles were becoming common where they shouldn't have been, and the color pallets were looking increasingly... "organic," resembling living tissue more than I remembered. It was a slow go through the rest of the lava filled landscape, and the droning music made my trek seem to take even longer than it was.
I finally made it to the elevator which descends to Ridley's lair. The elevator room was especially glitched up, with mismatched tiles and colors. What I didn't expect to see, and don't remember ever seeing before, was a large bubble tile containing what seemed to be a purple-ish tadpole type creature. The tile was also crudely animated, something else I didn't remember seeing ever before in this game. Also, when I pushed down over the elevator shaft, Samus appeared to crouch down for several seconds before the platform began to descend. I was later told that the crouching Samus sprite was actually used in the game, but not when operating an elevator.
4. Ridley. Edit
Down in the second miniboss hideout, the level of glitching escalated. I was actually quite proud of myself for playing as well as I was while coping with the disadvantages of being woozy, and playing a game with wildly compromised graphics. However, some of the glitches did allow me to see hidden passages I could morph-ball through.
At one point some of the enemy sprites began to get that melty look again, and would blow up with one or two hits, even though I was still using the ice beam. I was going though a room looking for power-ups, when I saw something especially unexpected. It was the Kraid sprite, the discolored one that appears in the first hideout before you get to the real Kraid. It has a weird brown and light blue color scheme. This sprite also seemed to have one of the tadpole, bubble things around it's midsection. It looked almost like it was holding it against its body. I armed my missiles, but the fake Kraid was just kind of frozen there, and it wasn't posing any threat. Also, I felt that for whatever reason, it didn't seem right to just kill it.
The colors in the hideout were more messed up than any of the other areas. I remember making note of a specific area where there were discolored tiles with the curved spikes hanging down, like in the boss battle rooms. The tiles had formed a little enclosed area, and within that space was a metroid! Even I knew that the metroids didn't start showing up until you went to the area right before Mother Brain. The metroid was flickering and jittering violently in it's little prison, but I could tell that there was something else odd about it. Like, the colors weren't exactly right, but there was something more than that. It looked like it had one of the tadpole things, or something similar, within it. It honestly disturbed me a bit.
I continued to try to make my way to Ridley, less concerned now with finding all the power-ups I could. I kind of just wanted to get out of the boss hideout, and Norfair. So I rushed through the remaining caverns until I got to the room containing Ridley. Surprisingly, This room wasn't very glitchy at first. I distinctly remember that the lava was replaced with the hanging bubble things from Norfair though, inverted so they were pointing up.
As I pumped missiles into Ridley, predictably, the graphics began to flicker and glitch. It made it more difficult to battle the dragon-esque monster, who I remember my brother beating relatively easily. Just like Kraid before him, the more I damaged the miniboss, the more strange his sprite became. His neck kind of stretched out from his body, and his wings were detaching and mirroring very quickly. He kept jumping up and down as his head glitched out, until it stabilized, upside down from it's normal positioning.
His erratic hopping continued as I fought him, but after several shots with my missiles, he stopped hurling fireballs. He was no longer attacking. I kept shooting him, but I felt almost badly about it, like I did with the fake Kraid. It sounds stupid, but it felt almost like he had, I don't know, "given up."
I eventually did defeat him, and his sprite exploded like normal. Except, usually when you kill something in the game, the sprite divides, and blows up into little bits that disappear. But the chunks into which Ridley exploded didn't disappear, or fall off the screen. They just landed on the platform and stayed there. Not violently or anything, but it was just strange to actually see the bits of carcass left behind. It made the death seem more real, or at least, less inconsequential.
I obtained my missiles from winning the fight, and proceeded to find my way back out of the hideout. I got through the level fairly easily with the help of my crudely drawn maps and I felt relieved at the thought of being out of there when I found the elevator back up. But when I began to ascend, the game surprised me once more.
It froze midway up the elevator, and the screen flickered in such a way that I couldn't adjust my eyes correctly. but I know that I once again saw the Justin Bailey Samus where it shouldn't have been. The sprite was many times it's normal size, appeared to be wider, or fatter than usual and to top that off, didn't seem to be wearing any clothes... I'm pretty sure I don't remember that when I used to watch my brother play. It only flashed on the screen for a few split seconds, so I'm only telling what I thought I saw.
5. Mother Brain. Edit
After the elevator incident, I was really wondering if I was seeing things. Maybe the doctors gave me some anesthesia I never had before. That would at least explain the weird shit that I kept seeing while playing the game. I was feeling pretty tired, but I really wanted to see if I could beat Metroid for the first time, and I was really close.
I Followed my maps back up to Brinstar, regaining health and missiles where I could. I hadn't stopped at the "statue room" after beating Kraid, which is optional I guess, so I didn't see if it was screwed up back then, or if it was newly glitched up. But oh boy was it something to see. Firstly, there were Metroids stuck in the walls and lava tiles, and they appeared to be in pain, or seizing. When I shot the Kraid and Ridley statues, the path across the lava seemed to be made of random tiles. And most upsetting of all, the statues themselves were flashing and misshapen. The Ridley statue especially appeared really screwed up, it looked as though it's mouth was agape, and it's eye was red. I morph balled through in great haste.
The area before Mother Brain, called Tourain in Super Metroid, was a pretty big mess of bad tiles, and messed up colors. I was doing my best to just freeze the Metroids that appeared, so as to save my missiles for the boss room. I remember seeing one of the elevator room gargoyle faces upside down in the floor at one point, along with some of the tube graphics from the mother brain hall. Also, the Metroids seemed to contain those little lifeforms like before. They were more like a human flesh color than the ones in the bubble tiles from earlier.
I ran as fast as I could through the increasingly buggy corridors, and escaped without getting killed by Metroids. I was finally at the final boss stage before outrunning the bomb to escape.
The game seemed to be getting more and more effed up the further I progressed, and I was glad it would be over soon. The music in Mother Brain's room is really nerve racking. It's not spooky or creepy like some of the other music in the game, but It's really dissonant and intense. Probably on purpose to make you nervous, and screw up.
I tried my best to freeze the flame rings that come from all directions, and avoid damage from the turrets. It's just a cluster of enemy fire, and dealing with the wayward pixels, and flickering images was making it rather difficult to keep from taking damage.
I was able to blast through the test tube looking things that protect the last boss, Zebetites I think they are called, and eventually get to the final screen containing Mother Brain.
Having never fought her before, I had no strategy, and just tried to hurl as many missiles into her as I could. I took a fair amount of damage, but didn't die at any point, which kind of surprised me. Like the other boss fights, the screen seemed to degrade into shapes, lines, colors and pixels as I inflicted damage on the giant red organ. I was just about out of missiles when Mother Brain took her last hit! The screen began to flash, and the Mother Brain sprite broke away in blocks.
I was excited, but I knew that I still had to escape the level before the whole place exploded. However, when the text popped up to tell me that the bomb was set, and I had to get out before the timer reached 000, it was completely butchered. The music did not change, and the time did not count down. Instead, there appeared an airlock in the wall. Not sure what to do, I shot it and passed through.
6. Mother? Edit
I had never seen this part of the game before. I ran through a corridor surrounded by blackness like earlier in the game. There was no discernible music, just the sounds of the airlocks, and Samus's footsteps. I ran through, and opened the next airlock.
Another corridor followed, this one in graphically worse shape than the previous one, There were floating enemies in the blackness, and some random lava tiles in this room and the next. The following corridor had a broken area in the ceiling, but there must have been an invisible wall, since I couldn't jump through it.
Yet another floating hallway. I was wondering what exactly was going on with the game, as I could tell this was obviously not supposed to be happening. This hall was walled by the bubble tiles, and there were dark pink, I guess they were rock tiles floating, but they kind of reminded me of ground meat.
The next corridor was more of the same, except, some of the floor and ceiling tiles were colored pink, or light lavender making me think of intestines, or veins or something like that. The airlock was also a fleshy pink hue.
The following corridor would be the last in this line. Where the blackness had been in the other hallways, this screen was entirely full of the dark, "meat" tiles. I would later joke with myself about this being "Meat-roid" but at that moment, I was too creeped out to think of humor. I shot the next pink airlock and went through.
The door opened directly into a deep chasm, lined with the red tiles, and gargoyle faces. The pit was also filled with missile power-ups, some of which were flashing, or glitching. I was able to pick up quite a few.
There were sporadic platforms, and ledges that I was able to land on, But I wasn't able to jump back up the pitfall from any of them. So I just continued my descent into the darkness. I eventually fell to a floor made up of the "inner" looking tiles, with a fleshy airlock door in the ground.
I bombed the door, and dropped through the airlock. I came out on the other side in what appeared to be a copy of the Mother Brain room. However, there were no flame rings, or fireball turrets assailing me, and the intense music was replaced with the upgrade/elevator room music which almost gave me goosebumps.
The Zebetites were different, lighter in color, and more notably, they seemed to contain one of what I had thought of as tadpole creatures, but being a different color, and in a space where I could get a longer look at them, they appeared to look distinctively more like unborn babies... human fetuses.
I was feeling cold, and my skin was clammy, like how you feel when you have a bad fever. Not knowing what exactly to do, I fired a missile at the pinkish test tube. The tube shattered, and the fetal creature fell out and disappeared through the floor. Doing this made my heart skip a beat. I jumped through the gap, and saw another Zebetite. I really didn't want to, but I fired at it. First with my ice beam, but that did nothing. I tried to jump through, or around it, thinking that the game glitches might allow me to pass this part, but had no luck. eventually I shot a missile at it, It blew apart like the other one.
Feeling strangely guilty and dirty, I fired at the last incubating creature, and saw that there was another Mother Brain at the end of this room. As I said, there were no enemies or projectiles in this area, and I just stood across from this Other Brain. Its color scheme was different, not the orange bright red of the first mother brain, this one had more of a grey in, pink tone to it. As it pulsed, I fired a couple missiles, hoping this would end the game quickly. Each shot made the screen flash, and the glitches worsen. And as I shot the large Brain, it pulsed violently, and began to degenerate.
After two Missile hits the screen was a mess of mismatched colors and tiles. And this Other Brain appeared to ooze blood and fluid from wounds I was inflicting. It also seemed to have liquid... tears flowing from its eyes. I felt awfully for this creature, but still wanted to get the game over with as soon as I could. I fired one more missile, and the large Brain faded away in blocks like the original mother brain, revealing another flesh airlock behind it.
The airlock led into an upgrade room with a color palette that I didn't recognize from the rest of the game, they were normally grey or blue... this was crimson and bluish grey. Strangely, this area seemed as though it had no graphical glitching at all.
The statue on the ledge was not holding an orb in its claws, but instead one of the bubble "egg" tiles from Norfair. I jumped up, and shot the ovum, revealing what I can only describe as follows... It seemed to be a child... a newborn baby surrounded by a flashing aura. The baby was dripping with pinkish fluid, I could only venture to guess it was placenta, or amniotic fluid. The little one flashed for several seconds, and then the screen went black.
When the TV lighted up again, It showed a deranged version of what I remembered to be the screen displayed when you beat the game. It had the normal space background, but the planet surface was the color and texture of living tissue, or ground meat. There was a floating metroid with what looked like the newborn from the previous screen inside it. There was a large sideways head depicting Samus without her helmet with black oozing from her eye sockets.
In the center of the screen, where one normally sees Samus waving to the player in her power suit, or bikini was an image of, what I assume was Samus, with her arm grotesquely stretched and her leg displaced. The Image of Samus was also fully nude, and tenderly holding her hand to her belly, appearing to be... pregnant. The text that players get explaining that they have saved the galaxy was also glitched, and read "YOU WILL BE THEIR MOTHER ?"
I gazed at this for several moments as the opening title theme played before the game froze, and the sound glitched. The screen went black, and the NES seemed to reset itself. The normal title screen was replaced by a strange and bastardized version of itself. The mountainous landscape was replaced with the innard looking tiles, there was a large fetus sprite in the upper half of the screen, and the text that normally read METROID, now read "MOTHER?"After several moments, the MOTHER text flashed, and strobed colors, freezing on a screen in which the letters instead read "WHY?" before restarting, and repeating this disturbing imagery.
I slowly heaved myself to my feet, shuffled over, and shut off the system, extinguishing the last of the light in the room. Feeling freaked out, and generally unhappy about what I just experienced, I laid on the couch and let the sleep I had been so fervently battling take me away.
My boyfriend came home around 11 and kissed me, asking if I wanted to come to bed, I said no, that I would just spend the rest of the night on the sofa. I didn't tell him what I had been through, or thought I had been through, but he said when he woke me up, it looked like I had been crying.
I still don't know if what I saw actually happened or not, I'd like to think it was just some sort of hallucination. I put the Nintendo and the games away, and like I said, mostly play emulators now, haven't really wanted to play Metroid since then if you can imagine that.
One other thing is... The reason I was groggy that day, had been under anesthesia, been to the clinic... About two months prior to this event, I, I noticed that my period was late. Not just a day or two. More like a week, and when it did come, I was just spotting. I've been late before, but this time I was becoming concerned.
I bought a home pregnancy kit, and tested positive. Twice. Following that, I went to my doctor and was tested properly. It turned out that I was with child. Only in the very early stages of pregnancy, i wasn't sick, or showing at all.
After a day or so, I told my boyfriend. I could tell he was shocked, or at least unnerved. I had been on birth control, and although we were exclusive with one another, he often used condoms. We were always careful, I guess not careful enough. We had been together long enough that the topics of marriage, and children had come up a few times. We had both decided that neither of us was mature enough, nor financially stable enough to support any children at our current point in life.
After a long discussion we decided that neither of us were at a point in our lives where we thought we could give enough of our attention to raising a newborn child. We were barely bringing in enough money to support ourselves on our own. Maybe we could have struggled through with a child, but neither of us had savings, nor were our jobs actual "careers" by any means. We weighed our options, and after some long discussions, made our decision.
We called the closest branch of Planned Parenthood, talked over everything, and made an appointment to come in. All the events I described before, the strange occurrences, or hallucinations I experienced while playing my copy of Metroid; It all took place on the day of my appointment. That day, I was there... at the clinic getting an... having the pregnancy... terminated.
Written By: Urkelbot666