In 2002, I was 15 years old and obsessed with Super Metroid.
I had recently discovered emulators and ROMs, and had fallen in love with playing Super Nintendo games on my computer. I played everything from Zelda to Chrono Trigger, Super Mario World to Star Fox, Donkey Kong Country to Final Fantasy VI. But Super Metroid was my favorite.
One feature of Super Metroid that really interested me is something called a “speed run.” A speed run is seeing how quickly a player can beat the game while getting 100% of the items. I loved the idea and wanted to try my own.
But before I attempted my speed run, I wanted to map out the path I would take, to ensure I was completing the game most efficiently. At the time there were a few maps available online, but most were very high-level, just showing the in-game mini-map. These were helpful, but didn’t tell me enough.
If I was going to do a speed run, I needed to know more. Where were the locked doors? Where were the powerups? What order should I do things in, and where were the possible shortcuts I could take? I realized I had to make my own map.
To do this I decided I would take screenshots from the game and then tile them together to create the full Metroid world in a single image. Although laborious, this would give me all the info I (and other players) would need to design the most efficient speed run.
So I began. I loaded up the game, took a screenshot of where I was, walked half a screen-length to one side, took another screenshot, and repeated the process countless times. After taking several hundred images from one part of the game I fired up Photoshop, loaded in all the individual screenshots I had taken…
… and slowly combined them into a single image…
… representing a continuous view of the world.
I have no idea how many hours/days/weeks of my life went into this project, but I was never able to fully map out the entire world. I probably got through 40% of the game before losing steam.
Here’s the map I made, complete with all the bad guys, secret passages, and hidden items. The full resolution version is available here, but be warned, it’s absolutely massive – 19 MB and 16,000 pixels by 10,000 pixels. (If your browser can’t handle it, right click on the link above and select “Save Link As.”)
As a side note, hats off to the level designers of Super Metroid – the game world is a great maze of perfectly interconnected rooms.
For those who are not satisfied with my half-assed attempt at mapping the game, someone else did have the patience and drive to complete the entire world. Rick N. Bruns at SNESMaps.com has put together the whole enchilada, a whopping 242 million pixel map.
Even though 2002 is long gone, I still have a special place in my heart for Super Metroid. And while I’m sad I never did get around to doing that speed run, I’m glad I grew up to have a life full of things to do other than meticulously line up tens of thousands of screenshots.
Title screen art from modusprodukt on deviantART.