Metroid: FDS vs NES

I haven’t played through Metroid yet, and I’ve been thinking about booting it up soon.

Generally when starting up an old text-light Japanese-developed action game I just hop to the Japanese version, but FDS vs NES releases can get pretty give-and-take from what I’ve seen. Skimming Metroid in particular it looks like the FDS version has less slowdown and a more… comprehensive set of enemy behavior (which sounds better on paper to me). The password system/save system and restart point differences don’t really sway me either way, as I can’t imagine I’d play more than a small handful of sessions.

The FDS version is bound to have better music on proper hardware, but I’d probably be playing it on NES via Everdrive. In that case, is the NES music better (as in, modified to better fit the lack of FM) or would it sound the same? :thinking:

Any input?

Can’t answer your question but felt like posting this neat interview about (among other things) the process of making Metroid for the FDS.

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FDS doesn’t have better regular music, item fanfares and sound effects are what is upgraded (well, were downgraded on NES), item fanfares match Super Metroid, what you heard on the NES version is only the backing harmony!

FDS channels are too loud on an AV Famicom though, it needs to be played on an original Fami. But yeah, FDS is the best version if playing all original.

Forget FDS on Everdrive altogether though, all FDS sound is borked on it.


I believe the intro and credits songs use the extra channel as well. My understanding is the FDS’s extra sound channel can only be used when there’s no gameplay going on, which explains why most music doesn’t use it. But I don’t know much about it.

Yep the intro and ending use the FDS channels, but they were re-arranged for the NES to be similar just with changed instruments. They have a bit of extra punch and flourish on FDS but are pretty similar on NES.

But no, FDS sound channels (two extra, more sophisticated wavetable channels) can be used at any time, many games have expanded audio during gameplay.

Some early FDS games like Metroid likely started development on base Famicom hardware, so the extra channels were used as bonuses, or not at all in some cases (eg Mario 2). But after a year or so games started to fully use the extra channels, most of the Konami library does.

cool, good to know!

Agreed on almost all counts: Yes, you should play the FDS version, and yes FDS sound is borked on the Everdrive. However, I’ve read a lot of stuff about FDS channels and Expansion Audio being too loud/too quiet on the AV Famicom, but I’ve never noticed a difference on my AV Fami. I’ve compared my output to audio captures done on an original Famicom, and perhaps the differences are too miniscule for me to notice, but nothing’s ever jumped out at me as sounding “wrong”.

Also, a great way to experience FDS games on real hardware is the FDSstick. I have one, and I love it to pieces.

If you want a killer FDS soundtrack, play Ai Senshi Nicol by Konami on the FDS. The music is so good, and definitely uses the extra FDS sound channels.

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Having just recently played through Metroid, if you do go with the NES version I recommend the Metroid + Saving hack. Not just for bringing saves over from FDS, but also adding the map and progress tracking goes a long way, without altering too much of the original experience (compared to Metroid mOTHER, for example). I played through without it to get the authentic experience, then afterwards played a few hours with it, and I personally don’t feel the experience gains very much by not having the map.

Although, taking a look again I just noticed this line, which I did not get far enough along playing through to notice.

“and the ability to combine wave and ice beams.” (Weapon spoilers, I guess)

Which is a fairly big departure from the way the original game works, imo. It is one of those nice QoL improvement things people go on about, but the game explicitly has hidden bits for dealing with this specific problem so I don’t know. Makes it more difficult to outright recommend this, will need to give it more thought.

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This is great to know. It would never be enough for me to get an original FC since I’ve already invested in an RGB modded AV that I’m really happy with, but this puts some of those voices in the back of mind to rest. And yeah, the stick is awesome.

I never knew about the differences between the NES and the FDS, this is interesting. I’m not certain these small changes would be all the noticeable as a whole though.

I agree, this is the way to play the original Metroid for the first time. I know it sounds counter intuitive, but it makes for a better experience.

ah, sorry if I wasn’t clear. Saving is really the only thing brought over from the FDS. Everything else are just hacks brought in by the hack author. FDS did not have a map. What I like in particular about this hack is it is fairly minimal when compared to other stuff out there. People tend to go heavy handed when it comes to this stuff, which can be interesting in its own way.

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The map alone in that romhack is amazing.

The volume difference is pretty dramatic though? There are a couple of late games I actually prefer on an AV Famicom, but it is definitely a lot louder.

Here’s a vid comparing AV and Twin on Akumajou Densetsu - And the Twin itself is a tiny bit louder than original Fami!

You can hear the bass notes dominating all over the melody. Much more balanced on the Twin.

I’m considering modding my AV to have an audio level switch.

That’s quite the comparison. Akumajou Densetsu on my AV Fami sounds a lot like the Twin in that video. That said, I am also running it with the expansion audio simulated on FPGA on the Everdrive N8, so that might have something to do with it.

But FDS running on my AV Famicom using a real FDS RAM cart and FDSstick sounds perfect to my ears.

An issue is that emulators have used the AV Fami as the basis for years, so in the west we thought of that as the correct sound. Densetsu is SUPER punchy with that fat bass, but it’s not what the designers intended. So your FDStick sound is not correct. It’s fine to prefer it of course, I think I like it louder for Arumana no Kiseki. But over time I’ve realised many are unbalanced, I just got used to the unbalanced sound.

Re Densetsu, yes the Everdrive has a setting specifically for the issue, where you can drop or boost the volume for AV Fami, and it is lower by default, check the settings. Tim’s original Fami RGB board has a volume setting switch too for the same reason.

A really good test of the sound channel difference is Nazo no Murasamejou. It sounds way better on the OG famicom than the AV.

If I recall correctly, it’s also a good one to hear how much the Everdrive sucks for FDS sound. The entire thing is an atonal mess due to it being out of tune with itself.

Haha yep I actually wrote the copy on that game in HG101’s Konami Classics book :wink:
(Always funny to see my name as an author in Amazon lol)

That’s cool. Congrats on that.