By: Jacob Hora
The 1994 Super Metroid has undeniably become a part of gaming culture. It is often considered both one of, if not the best titles in the Metroid series, and is one of the most popular game released on the Super Nintendo Entertainment System. Super Metroid has also become a staple in speed running culture, where gamers compete to see how quickly they can complete a game. According to date from speedrun.com the current record for the game is just under 28 minutes. Super Metroid speed runs also raise a great amount of money for charity at the speed running event, Games Done Quick.
One technique that is vital both to Metroid speed running and to gameplay in general is the wall jump. Taught to protagonist Samus Aran by a group of small alien monkeys called Etecoons at the bottom of a chasm, the wall jump is used in a few locations to scale up walls that otherwise cannot be bypassed until much later in the game, when Samus will have obtained the ability to jump endlessly. The wall jump, along with another secret technique known as the Shinespark (where Samus uses another power to leap extremely far in one direction) are two moves that are not explicitly taught to the player, and once mastered allow access to access to new powerups, and opens up routes to the player that can be used to complete the game faster than they would be otherwise able to.
Executing the wall jump can be difficult, especially if the player is not using the Super Nintendo controller. This was especially the case for players who chose to play the game on the Nintendo Wii’s Virtual Console, which supported the game using the Wii Classic Controller or the Gamecube Controller, both of which offered a joystick which was more comfortable to use than a D-pad. This made executing on the wall jump much harder. For players using the original SNES system or the miniature replica that was released in 2017, the controller’s use of a d-pad for inputs made executing the technique more manageable. Still, it does require very precise inputs to execute successfully, and often requires the player do so several times in quick succession.
Here is how to successfully execute on a wall jump.
- Jump towards a wall. It is important to note that Samus has two different animations for jumping, and only one will allow her to wall jump. The animation where Samus spins is executed when she has a substantial amount of horizontal momentum is the one that the player wants.
- Tap the d-pad in the direction away from the wall while samus’ model is touching the wall. If executed successfully, Samus should turn to face away from the wall, but will still be in contact with it. NOTE: Samus will not stick to the wall, so it is important your inputs be executed quickly
- Press Jump and hold the D-pad in the desired direction. If executed properly, Samus will kick off the wall and spring upward.
Move towards the opposite wall and repeat.
- If the player can continually execute on this technique successfully, they will continually propel themselves upwards until they reach the top of the shaft.
Note that only narrower shafts can be used for wall jumps. The wider the gap, the longer it will take to wall jump upwards, as the player will reach the top of their jump’s arc and lose some height before they are able to wall jump again. Players are also able to continually wall jump up the same wall to quickly scale a cliffside, but this requires more precise timing.
With the technique detailed, it is important to note that an enterprising player can do MUCH more with a wall jump than simply navigating a vertical shaft. Super Metroid is famous for the ability to sequence break, which is the ability to complete the game in a way outside the intended order of events, and wall jumps are a critical factor in this. Well-executed wall jumps can allow a player to get crucial abilities earlier than intended, which allows players to complete a game that normally takes about 3-4 hours to finish (assuming you are not spending much time wandering lost) in a fraction of that time.
The Metroid Wiki provides more resources about how wall jumps and other techniques can be used to speedrun the game and can be found here.