What is Super Metroid's Save or Kill the Animals incentive? - SGDQ 2021

If you're watching a Super Metroid speedrun, you'll often hear 'Save the animals' or 'Kill the animals.' Let's explain exactly what that means.


Summer Games Done Quick 2021 Online has an exciting Saturday lineup to complete its week-long marathon. Some of the most popular games of today and of all-time will be on display during this final push to raise money for Doctors Without Borders. Among them will be the traditional Super Metroid run, which for this year's SGDQ will feature a 100% race between Oatsngoats, Behemoth87, and ShinyZeni. Everyone's playthrough will end with the traditional Save vs. Kill the Animals incentive, but... what exactly is that? For the newer GDQ viewers, let's explain what it means to save or kill the animals in Super Metroid.

What does Save or Kill the Animals mean in a Super Metroid speedrun?

Super Metroid Save the Animals

After defeating Mother Brain in Super Metroid, the planet Zebes will begin to come apart. A countdown timer will appear on the screen, giving Samus a limited amount of time to return to her ship and escape the planet before it explodes. This will mean returning to the starting point of the game. However, along the way, there's a detour that players can take in Crateria. Before exiting the Crateria caves, players can go down a side path heading south, which will lead towards the door where Samus originally found the Bomb.

This door now contains the wildlife of Zebes, who are helplessly confined as the planet explodes around them. If the player accesses this area, they can blow out the wall on the other side of the room, which will allow the animals to escape to freedom. (Presumably stowing away on Samus' ship, of course.)

If enough people over the course of a Games Done Quick run donate money to "Save the animals," the runner will take this side path and blow open the wall so that the animals can save themselves. However, people can also donate to "kill the animals." If more money is donated to "kill the animals," then the player will skip this side path entirely and sprint straight to Samus' ship. Samus will escape the planet and the animals will be left to their doom.

Where did the Save or Kill the Animals incentive come from?

Communications Director/Event Manager Kasumi "Sumichu" Yogi has become one of the most recognizable faces of Games Done Quick, but she wasn't there when the Save/Kill the Animals incentive first started. However, she was happy to share her version of the origin story during our Shacknews E5 interview a few weeks ago.

Save and kill the animals has been around for a very long time. I talked to [GDQ owner] Mike Uyama about it a little bit and he told me, because these events pre-date me and I was just a viewer at that time. He said that he recalled that the save and kill incentive wasn't really around until like 2011 or 2012 and that was because somebody had actually donated to say like, "Save the animals," at that point and then it became like a really big thing, because people were donating to say "save" or "kill." A lot of people are really excited for that incentive, even to the point that the one event that we didn't have Super Metroid that got a lot of coverage, people were still donating and saying, "Save the animals."

So it's definitely something that we appreciate a lot and it's one of those memes that a lot of GDQ fans like to engage in every event, regardless of whether Super Metroid is there and save or kill the animals is in existence. They find a way to put it in there!

In fact, we've had some incentives that were kind of like that, where it was like save the Yoshi or let the Yoshi fall into a pit. Do you hug the character at the end of Undertale? Do you not? People really, really like the option of choice and Super Metroid is a fantastic way, because it's either you be faster or you save the animals.

For the sake of history, we've embedded a blast from the past above, as you can see the runners at Awesome Games Done Quick 2011 save the animals.

Summer Games Done Quick 2021 is happening right now and has already raised over $1.2 million. You can watch the final 24 hours of the marathon on Twitch. And, for more interviews like the one above, be sure to subscribe to Shacknews and GamerHubTV on YouTube.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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