Metroid Prime

Developer(s): Nintendo, Retro Studios

Platform(s): Gamecube, Wii (as part of Metroid Prime Trilogy)

Release Date(s): Mar 2003 (Gamecube), Nov 2009 (Wii)

Awwwww yeah, Metroid in 3D! This would undoubtedly have caused a lot of worry when released first. The Metroid games were pretty well-known for being 2D platformer cum shooter games. Translating that to 3D would be a pretty big task. Luckily, Retro Studios, the company that took the game on board, knew what they were doing and released this utter gem to the market.

The Set Up:
Metroid Prime begins with our now familiar hero, Samus, receiving a distress signal from the Space Pirate Frigate Orpheon. Investigating the ship, Samus learns that the crew has been slaughtered by their own genetic experiments. She encounters a Parasite Queen which she subsequently kills. While escaping the Frigate as it self destructs, she is hit with an electrical surge which rids her of all her suit upgrades. She also encounters her nemesis, Ridley, now labelled Meta Ridley, as he appears to be a cybernetic version of himself. She gives chase to Ridley onto Tallon IV, where she begins an isolated journey of discovery.

Sometimes, games have a lot to live up to. They have a ton of hype associated with it, due to good advertising or, as in this case, one or more stellar games preceding it. There’s also the fact that a sexy lady in a space suit was suddenly going to be privy to a helluva lot more polygons! Having only started playing the Metroid series recently, I can’t really comment on how big the hype for this game must have been. But I can imagine pretty easily. Visually, this game is such a departure from the other Metroid games, I was pretty worried. But after playing for only a few minutes, I was put completely at ease.

To make it clear, this is a different experience from the likes of Super Metroid. It handles differently, it is presented differently, it’s a game of a different colour. However, Retro Studios were smart enough not to mess with the most important factor when dealing with the Metroid series. The atmosphere. That chilly, creepy, moody as an adolescent emo atmosphere. After the epic opening sequence, which if I may be so bold to say, is more adrenaline pumping than that of Super Metroid, you are plonked on the desolate planet of Tallon IV. And it is as isolated and alienating a destination as a Amish rap concert.

Once again, enemies do not appear for quite some time as you begin to explore the game world. This makes the overworld an incredibly menacing place, as the corpses of alien races litter the grounds around you. The atmosphere is suitably creepy, never to a degree that it crosses into horror, but maintaining a constant tension throughout the experience. An enormous sigh of relief will undoubtedly be expelled when you finally get the chance to blow some stuff up.

The shooting is, in many ways, a huge improvement on the previous installment. Now in a first person view mode, aiming is a far more fluid affair. You are given a number of guns upgrades throughout the game. The Plasma Beam and Ice Beam make a welcome return, along with some new additions. However, in accordance to this simplification of controls and extra upgrades, the enemies are now considerably faster and tougher. Space pirates abound with alien swords and aggressive rage. It’s understandable. They’re an ugly bunch, and can’t be happy with their existence on a planet with no cinema or library.

While quite memorable, the boss enemies do not stick out quite as vividly as those from Super Metroid, of which I can remember every battle extremely clearly. They are still notably epic, breaking up the quiet exploration aspects of the game beautifully, instilling a bit of relief from the oppressive atmosphere. The fight against Meta Ridley in this game is one of the most fantastic battle sequences from the Gamecube era, and will probably be the bit which sticks out in your head long after you’ve watched the end credits. However there are one or two battles which, though still fantastic fun, are just a little unfulfilling.

As well as this, the switching to 3D was always going to take its toll on the platforming aspects of the game. Now this is something that was simply going to happen and luckily Retro Studios took it on board. The platforming is more difficult to handle than it would have been in 2D, and as such, there is notably less of it. Instead, the frantic jumping from platform to platform is replaced with a number of puzzles or, failing that, some pretty awesome firefights. It’s a smart move, the game would have suffered if it had had as much platforming as the previous games. However, it is still a departure from the formula, which is somewhat of a shame.

Overall:
The Metroid series undergoes a radical transformation with this installment. It manages to make huge alterations to the traditional gameplay, while maintaining the central aspects which makes all the previous games so great. Once again, the moody atmosphere and exploration aspects are integral to the game. This succeeds in making the player feel like a central part of the narrative that is being told through the game itself, rather than in cut scenes. There is far more focus on running and gunning than on platforming this time around, but the overall experience is still familiar. It may divide fans in some way as to which is better, this game or it’s predecessor. However, few fans of the Metroid series will be able to deny that Metroid Prime is an excellent addition to the Metroid saga.

Awful Rating: 9/10

The Chozo’s faith in Samus has been well rewarded. And now, a new star shines in the universe: the bounty hunter Samus Aran. What future and fate await her?” – Narrator

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • This was the game I was playing the day I finished my dissertation. The gloomy atmosphere synched up well with my mood while working on my project. Once I finished, I kind of messed up the whole point of the game by playing ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ on repeat while killing lizard alien pirates with an ice ray and eating like 4 kinder surprises in a row.
  • Continuing on with that last fact, my flat mate and I noticed that the first line of Good Golly was
    “Good Golly Miss Molly, sure likes to ball”. We concluded that Little Richard was well ahead of his time and referring to Samus in this game when he said that, as she sure did like to ball!
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Published in: on October 19, 2011 at 12:04 am  Leave a Comment  
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