Super Metroid was released in 1994 for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It built upon the foundation of the Metroidvania genre that its predecessors had established nearly a decade before with more in-depth systems and options for player expression. This helped the game become a critical and commercial success, which has extended to it still supporting a dedicated group of speedrunning fans today. So, if you’re a big Metroid fan and want to try and explore it in an entirely new way, this guide has everything you’ll need to know to get started.
Key Info Up Front
Super Metroid Overview
Super Metroid is a 2D side-scroller that follows Samus Aran as she returns to the planet of Zebes, the earth from the first game. There, she needs to hunt down the leader of the space pirates, Ridley, who is suspected of having a Metroid. Players can freely explore Zebes however they wish as they progress the story, gaining new abilities and tools to help them do so.
Before you start learning to speedrun Super Metroid, I highly recommend playing the game at least a few times so that you are familiar with the game’s map, movement techniques, and bosses. There are five bosses in total that you’ll have to learn how to defeat exceptionally quickly and thoroughly explore the world of Zebes to find the optimal routes to traverse it.
Exploration is a significant part of playing Super Metroid, so as you practice and hone your skills, you should experiment with different options and routes to find your approach. The openness of the levels can also help players accommodate the movement techniques with which they are the weakest or strongest. This allows you to find a path that works best for you personally that you can practice and perfect over time.
Before we get into the glitches and path that you’ll want to be used for an Any% Glitched run, there are some general techniques that you’ll want to familiarize yourself with regardless of which speedrun category you want to play in. These are at the very core of Super Metroid speed runs, so learning to perform them quickly and consistently is paramount to your success. There are some different options that different players prefer, but the ones below are the ones that I have found to be the most critical. However, you will only use X-Ray Climb for the Any% run.
Short Charging is a technique that allows you to get to Blue Suit much quicker than usual. This will enable you to shave a lot of time off your run by charging through sections of the map and reaching areas earlier than intended using Shinespark.
This technique manipulates how the game’s engine calculates the player reaching Blue Suit. Blue Suit is activated for the player once the game detects that they’ve been running in one direction every few frames of Samus’ movement four times in a row. Short Charging takes advantage of this by only inputting running on those frames to make the frame that checks to happen faster.
I recommend heading to a long hallway somewhere on the map to learn Short Charging. This will help you measure your progress of how fast you’re getting Blue Suit compared to expected. Then, you’ll need to start getting the rhythm of when to tap for the check frame. You can tell when these happen by Samus blinking as she runs. This is very helpful for letting you see when you should be inputting run and getting the rhythm of the presses down.
It is also important to note that after each input, Samus will start running faster, meaning that the interval between each press will get progressively smaller. Once you’ve practiced Short Charging enough, you should be able to do four presses to get Blue Suit drastically faster than usual.
Gravity Jumping is a slightly more straightforward technique that allows you to vastly increase the height of your jumps once you have the Gravity Suit. This is used more for the 14% speedrun category but it can still be helpful for an Any% run to reach high areas that you usually wouldn’t be able to.
To perform a Gravity Jump, you need to pause the game after jumping. Right before the screen turns black from being paused, you should be able to see Samus’ Jump already beginning. You’ll need to unequip the Gravity Suit from the menu and return to the game. This allows you to get the initial speed boost at the start of the Jump from the Gravity Suit while removing the suit’s deceleration, enabling the jump carry Samus further.
Mockball is another essential technique that is used throughout the speedrunning categories of Super Metroid. It allows players to collect Super Missles without having to stop to kill Spore Spawn, as well as being one of the fastest horizontal movement techniques in the game.
To Mockball, you first need to start running in the direction you need to go. Then, press and hold Jump. Release the direction you are heading and instead press down on the D-pad. You’ll then need to hit down again just before Samus lands on the ground, forcing her to go straight into her Morph Ball. Finally, hold the direction you want to go in to keep rolling that way. At this point, you can release Jump and only have to fit left or right, depending on how you are headed.
Once you’re ready to start shaving down your run times, you’ll want to start considering the processing in room transitions. Any Super Metroid player is more than familiar with the transition animation when players go through a door to another room. This happens because the game’s engine requires it to clear all queued-up sound effects.
Each sound effect can add up to 12 frames to the loading between rooms, which can add a lot of time over an entire playthrough. It is essential to understand how room transitions are processed because having multiple sound effects that add frames active at a time has a compounding effect that will make the entire process take even longer.
So, once you’re ready to start fine-tuning your runs, you’ll want to start building techniques and muscle memory to keep you from having these sound effects active when you start traveling to a new room. The sound effects that you need to avoid are:
- Exploding bombs
- Shooting a charged shot
- Shooting a weapon
- Picking an item
- Breaking out of spins
The X-Ray Climbing technique is essential for Any% Glitched runs because it allows players to climb out of bounds. To perform an X-Ray Climb, you first must collect the X-Ray Scope.
You’ll then need to get stuck in a door by walking partially back into it while it closes behind you. Once you’re stuck in the door, crouch and use the X-Ray Scope. Turn around and immediately stop using the X-Ray Scope. Once you get the timing down, this will force Samus to stand from crouching, pushing her up five pixels regardless of being stuck. You’ll then have to repeat these inputs to slowly climb up the door and get out of the level’s bounds.
When you start practicing this technique, I recommend turning off Morphing Ball, as accidentally using that ability while X-Ray Climbing will softlock you. You can tell that you’ve made it out of the bounds when your minimap goes solid black from trying to display a part of the map that players aren’t supposed to have access to.
If you use out-of-bounds movement, you’ll also want to use an external hitbox viewer program to detect hitboxes outside of the bounds. This will help you practice navigating the hitboxes to get through the area as quickly as possible until you get it down to muscle memory, allowing you to repeat the traversal without the hitbox viewer.
If your chosen category allows you to use glitches, there are a few that you should become well-practiced in to execute them consistently. The three that I have found most important are below.
The Murder Beam glitch allows players to mix every beam in the game so they can all be shot at once. This allows a single attack to deal much damage and freeze enemies. It is primarily used when fighting the last two phases of the Mother Brain and does cause some significant visual glitches when used, so be prepared for that.
To perform this glitch, you’ll need to equip the Spazer in your inventory. Then, navigate to the Boots section of the list. From there, move to the left and press “A” simultaneously. This will equip the Plasma Beam and the Spazer, allowing Samus to shoot both simultaneously.
While using this glitch, however, you’ll need to remember that you can only fire it to the left while fully charging it. This limits its usefulness in most situations throughout your playthrough, as shooting it any other way will cause the game to crash.
Permanent Blue Suit
This glitch allows players to keep the Blue Suit status activated for longer than players usually can. This is done by interrupting a Shinespark before it reaches a hard surface and concludes naturally. The most frequently used situation to activate this is killing Draygon while Samus is Shinesparking, returning her to the screen floor, and keeping her Blue Suit active.
Once this glitch is activated, there are a few ways to deactivate it that you should avoid doing until you no longer need it. These ways are:
- Samus getting buried in the sand
- You dash with forwarding movement
- Shinespark is used
- Pausing and unpausing without having Speed Booster equipped
Permanent Yellow Suit
Glitching Super Metroid to allow you to keep your Yellow Suit longer is a slightly more helpful version of the above Blue Suit glitch because it is not ended when the player dashes forward. However, it will be finished if you use Shinespark again, complete a Crystal Flash, or use the X-Ray Scope.
To activate the Permanent Yellow Suit glitch, you need Samus to get interrupted while doing a Crystal Flash. One situation is getting grabbed by Draygon in the middle of a Crystal Flash. Another is for Samus to get hit by a rainbow beam shot by Mother Brain while she is using Crystal Flash, or if she is grabbed by the Super Metroid while Crystal Flashing. However, the Super Metroid method doesn’t always work appropriately for unknown reasons.
For this speedrun path, I’ll guide you through how to do an Any% Glitch run. This is because it has little variety. After all, most of the time is spent navigating out of bounds in the level. For other categories, I recommend finding your path to acquire the required items and defeat the game’s bosses, but this category has no bosses and only a few things.
For the start of this run, you don’t have to do anything outside of beating the game’s opening as quickly as possible. The first technique is when fighting Ridley after he steals the Metroid. The self-destruct sequence at the end of the fight is triggered when Samus only has 30 health left, so you’ll want to get beaten as quickly as possible. The most common way of achieving this is standing directly behind him and letting him repeatedly hit you.
Once Ridley is defeated, flee the research base as quickly as possible to return to your ship. This will take Samus to Zebes, where the remainder of the game’s story begins. Once there, you’ll progress through the start of the game to get a pack of Missiles, Super Missiles, an Energy Tank, a Morphine Ball, and Power Bombs.
After getting those items, you’ll need to head to the X-Ray Hall to get the X-Ray Scope, where the run starts getting unique.
Before you enter the X-Ray Hall, however, you should make sure to get to total health. This is very important as the fastest way to the X-Ray Scope requires you to take a decent amount of damage. The X-Ray Hall is a long horizontal bath filled with flying enemies called Wavers and has its floor lined with spikes.
Since you won’t have the gear required to navigate the room the way the developers intended, you’ll need to use the Wavers to damage boost you across the room, which should take around two-thirds of your health. This is done by jumping and landing on Wavers on their left side. This will hit Samus away from them and to the left and activate a brief invulnerability period. This allows you to land on the spikes unharmed and perform the move again to keep moving to the left.
Once you go through the red door to the left, you need to shoot immediately. Then, quickly jump and use Morph Ball to get into the tunnel at the top of the screen, which will take you to the X-Ray Scope. Once you have the Scope, you’ll need to cross the X-Ray Hall again.
The easiest way to accomplish this is to walk back through the door to the hall, which has its background pulse with light. Wait for the background to pulse five times and then jump to the right. You’ll then need to use boosting from the Worms and Wavers again to move to the right, and you should be able to do so with only losing around 30 Health.
Out of Bounds
After getting the X-Ray Scope head back up the red tower, collecting Super Bombs where possible and ignoring all other enemies. Then, head back to your ship and go straight left. There could you open the door and go through it? Go back through the door to get stuck in it and then use X-Ray Climb to get out of bounds and in the level’s background.
Once you’re outside the level’s bounds, I recommend using a Hitbox Viewer to practice this section. But you’ll need to head to the left for two seconds and then head right for one to fall. Once you hear Samus land, go to the right for a second and then hold to the left. Jump a couple of times, and you’ll see Samus briefly appear on the screen.
Then, hold to the right, and you’ll see Samus fall in the background a few more times. Once that happens, you’ll be able to see Samus when you input a jump, so jump to line her up with the door that you used to complete your X-Ray Climb. Make sure to turn your Morph Ball back on if you turned it off for the X-Ray Climb.
Go to the left to fall off a ledge. Once Samus lands, use Morph Ball and head to the right. Jump to see Samus and align with the door one more time. Then, hold to the left for two quick seconds and then to the right for one, allowing Samus to drop down through a massive section of the map safely.
Once she lands, head to the right briefly and then hold left. Jump to the left twice, then walk to the left before having right. You’ll be able to hear Samus land and walk off a platform, and once she does, you should stop holding right. onceyou hear her land go to the left quickly,y and then keep right. After she lands again, Morph Ball and head to the right to slip through a gap and keep right until you hear Samus run into a wall.
Now, this is where the trickier part of playing out of bounds starts. You’ll need to stay in the Morph Ball and head to the left. Make sure to listen for the sound of the Morph Ball bouncing off a platform and then stop holding left. This timing is exact, so it may take a few tries to get it. You’ll know it didn’t work if you go through the door to the left instead of staying out of bounds.
From there, stand up and then spin Jump. Count the sound cues for turning the spin jump and press up once you’ve heard three spins. Then, barely push to the left for a second to get to the end of the platform. You’ll want to jump straight up and use Morph Ball before heading to the left. Once you see Samus on your screen, stop holding left to stay on the platform you just reached.
Go just a little to the left until you see Samus drop to a lower platform, and then stand up. Use the X-Ray Scope for a few seconds until the screen becomes orange and red. Then, jump and go to the right to hit a door trigger. This will turn the screen red before showing Samus in a new room. Once in the room, head through the door directly to your left to finish the game.
Question: How do you Start Speedrunning in Super Metroid?
Answer: The best way to start speedrunning Super Metroid is to start playing the game. You can watch the routes of other speedrunners and try to learn their techniques. Then, emulate their approach until you get comfortable with the game’s controls and mechanics. Once you get that down, you can start defining the style and path that you have the most fun playing through.
Question: Can you Wall Jump in Super Metroid?
Answer: Yes, to wall jump, you must jump toward a wall, hold away from the wall, and then press the jump button to jump off the wall.
Question: What is the Average Completion Time for Super Metroid?
Answer: The average completion time for Super Metroid is around eight hours, although speedrunning in most categories can get this time down to a half hour or less.
Super Metroid is a great starting place for novice speedrunners because of the many options for categories and approaches. The game also has a great community that has plenty of guides and discussions to help new and experienced players improve their times and discuss the game. Especially if you enjoy Metroidvania games, you don’t have to look much further than one of the genre’s founders to find a great one to speedrun.