Time Capsule 1994: Super Metroid

The memories of our favorite video games aren’t just about the incredible worlds that we explored or the characters that we got to know. Those memories are many times intertwined with the time and place in which we experienced them. Where were we? Who were we with? And what was the world like back then? Close your eyes and think back to the music that you heard playing on the radio as you sat on the couch with your friends. What were the clothing styles that they were all wearing? What was going on in the world that everyone was talking about while the next match loaded? Join us as we open a Time Capsule and look back in time to when your favorite games were brand new.


SUPER METROID (SNES) – RELEASED MARCH 19TH 1994

The third entry in Nintendo’s popular Metroid saga released for the Super Nintendo in March of 1994 to near universal acclaim. The story saw the hero Samus Aran returning to the Ceres space colony with the last of the Metroid to be studied, but an attack by Ridley and the Space Pirates left the colony destroyed and the Metroid missing. Samus then follows her enemy to the planet of Zebes in an attempt to get back the alien lifeform.

The game took the familiar 2D side-scrolling formula that fans had been accustomed to and added refinements such as the ability to shoot in any direction. As you explore the planet you gain access to previously inaccessible areas by acquiring abilities such as the Morphing Ball and Grapple Beam. This gameplay style would become known as “Metroidvania” as many games tried to emulate it’s success in the years to come.

While the game was a hit with critics, it underperformed in Japan due to a number of factors including the fact that it launched late in the Super Nintendo’s lifecycle, right before the release of the SEGA Saturn and Sony PlayStation consoles. The world was preparing to move on from the established 2D gameplay that everyone had grown up on, and welcome the 3D gaming revolution. Super Metroid fared better in North America though, and nearly thirty years later it is still regarded as one of the best games of it’s generation and is often seen on lists of the greatest video games of all time.

IN THE NEWS

  • Tonya Harding pleads guilty to ‘conspiracy to hinder prosecution’ for attempting to cover up the attack on fellow figure skater Nancy Kerrigan. As a result of the attack, Harding is banned for life from professional figure skating and is fined $100,00. Her post skating career has included an appearance in Penthouse magazine and various television programs including “truTV Presents: World’s Dumbest…”
  • US troops withdraw from Somalia after 15 months of a humanitarian effort known as “Operation Restore Hope”. Sent to the region by President George H.W. Bush, it was an attempt to bring food supplies to the war torn region which was also dealing with a historic drought, but after realizing that there was no plan to address the political strife and clan based fighting, President Clinton ordered the withdraw of all troops.
  • Mexican billionaire Alfredo Harp Helu is kidnapped. After being held for 106 days, his family would ultimately pay the kidnappers $30 million dollars for his release.
  • Actress and socialite Zsa Zsa Gabor files for bankruptcy after years of legal and financial difficulties.
  • Brett Hart wins the WWF championship at Wrestlemania X. Other matches included Randy Savage vs Crush, Earthquake vs Adam Bomb, and Razor Ramon vs Shawn Michaels.

THE MUSIC

Without a doubt, 1994 was an incredible year for music. It felt like a convergence of so many differing musical styles hitting on all cylinders and releasing some truly great albums. Fans of Pop music had Sheryl Crow’s “All I Wanna Do”, R.Kelly’s “Bump n’ Grind”, and Counting Crow’s “Mr. Jones”. Lovers of Hip Hop got the iconic “Gin and Juice” from Snoop Dogg and “Sabotage” from the Beastie Boys. The Grunge scene was buzzing with new albums from Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, and Nirvana’s unforgettable “MTV Unplugged”. We also got what are probably two of the greatest movie soundtracks of the decade with The Crow and Pulp Fiction.

There were also some amazing new artists making their big debuts in ’94. Names like Notorious B.I.G., Weezer, Outkast, Bush, Beck, Elliott Smith, Korn, the Dave Mathews Band, and Oasis. There was truly something for everybody, no matter your tastes. And the top songs during the week of March 19th according to the Billboard Hot 100 were from Canadian superstar Celine Dion with “The Power of Love” and perhaps the biggest group of the year, Ace of Base and their megahit “The Sign”.

ON TELEVISION

Remember when network television was the place to be in the evenings? Before cable channels like HBO and Showtime stole the limelight with their prestige dramas? Before streaming services like Netflix and Disney + became the go to binge watch entire seasons of your favorite shows in a single weekend? Back in the 90’s if you wanted to see great television then you tuned in to ABC, CBS, or NBC (occasionally FOX, but not too often). Our evenings were filled with great comedies like Frasier, Wings, and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. And if dramas were more your thing you could check out NYPD Blue, Murder, She Wrote, or one of my all time favorite television shows, the classic Homicide: Life on the Street.

Two shows reigned supreme in March of ’94 though, the first was ABC’s family friendly classic Home Improvement starring comedian Tim Allen. Based on Allen’s stand-up comedy routine, the show revolved around a typical American suburban dad who loves cars, tools, sports, and grunting. The sitcom was one of the most watched shows of decade and launched Allen’s acting career where he would go on to star in films such as The Santa Clause, Galaxy Quest, and Toy Story. It was also the show that introduced the world to Pamela Anderson, but the model/actress left after the first two seasons, so in 1994 the show was obviously already in decline.

The other show at the top of the charts was Seinfeld, a show that for many viewers, defined the 90’s. Created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld, the show told a fictionalized version of Jerry’s life as a New York stand-up comic along with his friends George, Elaine, and Kramer. Described by many as a “show about nothing”, it follow the groups ridiculous misadventures and featured some of the funniest episodes in sitcom history, including “The Parking Garage”, “The Soup Nazi”, and “The Contest”.

AT THE MOVIES

1994 was home to some truly incredible movie releases. Classics like Forrest Gump, True Lies, The Shawshank Redemption and The Lion King all debuted that year. But March isn’t typically know as a time for blockbuster action films or Oscar contenders, so the biggest movies of the week when Super Metroid dropped were a heart wrenching drama from the previous year and a Gen X romantic comedy.

Schindler’s List was Steven Spielberg’s classic black and white holocaust drama which told the tale of Oskar Schindler, a German looking to profit from World War II but ended up trying to protect the Jewish people working in his factory. The film would go on to win the Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director, and is still regarded today as one of most powerful and moving films of all time.

On the complete opposite end of the spectrum is Reality Bites, a romantic comedy that has become a cult classic in the years since it’s release and encompasses the style and feel of Gen Xers. It starred 90’s mainstays Ethan Hawke, Winona Ryder, Ben Stiller (who also directed the film), Steve Zahn, and Janeane Garofalo as a group of friends navigating life and love after graduating college.

THE STYLE

AT THE REGISTER

  • Gallon of Milk – $2.88
  • Movie Ticket – $4.18
  • Loaf of Bread – $1.59
  • Postage Stamp – $0.29
  • Dozen Eggs – $0.87
  • New Car (Light Vehicle) – $12,350
  • Median House Price – $130,000

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