Gamecube / Wii Review – Metroid Prime

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Super Metroid was always one of my favourite games, but I couldn’t really see how they could possibly bring that amazing formula of action, adventure, and exploration into the 3D world without messing it up. The day finally came and I picked Metroid Prime up in high school as soon as it was released – and proceeded to power through it in a week! Turns out they COULD make an awesome 3D Metroid game! Over the past 6 months, I have been picking away at the re-released version of the game on Wii and have come to the conclusion that this is one of those timeless games that everyone needs to play once in their life.

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In terms of chronology, the game takes place in between Metroid I and Metroid II. The story starts with Samus is driving around in her spaceship, when she intercepts a distress call from a Space Pirate Frigate. She investigates and discovers that the whole ship has been killed by the space pirates’ own genetic creations! She battles Ridley (a nemesis of hers) and then escapes the Frigate before it blows up, chasing Ridley down to a nearby planet Talon IV. This planet is where the game takes place.

While there are a few cinema scenes throughout the game (usually before big battles), the majority of the game’s story is exposed through interacting with the environment and reading information off screens with visors (to be discussed later). I liked this because it never forced the story down your throat but rather allowed you to discover as much or as little as you wanted as you played. While there are a couple cools story bits, the games’ gameplay and mechanics are where this game really shines.

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The design of this game is genius and carries on a lot of what made the original games so good. Samus starts on Talon IV with the most basic of amor and weapons, and she must explore her immediate surroundings to find further upgrades, which then allow her to explore more of her environment, figure out puzzles, and ultimately destroy enemies and big bosses! Over and above the game design though is the gameplay and controls. While the game controlled reasonably well on Gamecube, on the Wii it feels just like an FPS with the wiimote acting as your ability to look around an aim. Jumping feels create (especially with the jump boots) and shifting from 1st to 3rd person perspective is seamless and natural.

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In terms of exploration specifically, the game has many different environments ranging from heavy vegetation areas (like where you originally start), to hot underground lava pits, snowy caves, and even underwater wrecked space ships. Exploration is made fun as players often need to employ their upgrades to uncover the most of what the game has too offer. I highly enjoyed turning into ball form finding all the different piped systems that connect to many hidden rooms, and employing the grapple beam to swing across large gaps. The environments and their secrets constantly surprised me, and made exploration an absolute blast to play.

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The puzzles were also awesome – although not as prevalent as I would have liked. What I loved was how they incorporated the power-ups directly into the puzzles. For instance (see above), at one point Seamus gains the ability to stick to specific tracks while in ball form. She finds herself in a tall room with a rotating tower with different sections. Too climb to the top, Samus must alight the towers in different configurations based on connected colour paths. While simple, the puzzle was very engaging. Overall, the puzzles really helped break up the game from pure exploration and battling enemies.

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Combat in Metroid Prime is also done exceptionally well. Somewhat reminiscent of Zelda 64 with its lock-on system, Samus can also easily able to lock-on to enemies and circle around them with ease (including easy dodges)! With a push of a button, Samus can fire one of her many lasers including a charge shot, plasma, and even the classic ice beam! Mainstay weapons are also back like missiles, super missiles, and bombs!

Combat feels good, but what makes it awesome is the awesome and engaging enemies that require strategy to defeat! For instance, some enemies require you to only attack them from behind, while others require specific types of weapons to defeat. On a larger scale, the bosses really push strategy to the limit where Samus must rely on multiple abilities at a time to defeat. These bosses at time pushed my patients but once I finally figured out how to beat them, the satisfaction of ending them was so sweet! Few games have bosses this satisfying.

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While I have mentioned upgrades throughout this review, its worth reiterating – upgrades are central to this game! As upgrades are discovered, more of the world opens up for exploration! With this cool upgrades – like jump boots, powerful amour, and the grapple beam, Samus can also find more weapon upgrades like missile capsules and energy tanks. All of this is extremely rewarding, which continues to drive the player to explore the game world.

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In terms of graphics, this game still looks fantastic. The caves look hot and dangerous, the ice environments looks cool and frozen, and each of the environments are covered with awesome-looking enemies and bosses. Particle effects (including weapons effects and the different visors which alter how the game world is viewed) all look fantastic. The music is just as good and further develops the strong, mysterious, alien-like atmosphere of the game. Sound effects are also excellent which makes blowing up enemies pure joy.

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In summary, this one of my favourite Gamecube/Wii games. It’s an amazing action-adventure game that draws players in with amazing game mechanics, smart game design, and exceptional visuals and music. This game is highly recommended and one of the top 10 games I have ever played. I am hard pressed to find anything to criticize – it’s as close to perfect as you can get. Overall I give this game a 10/10 and also give it my Top Pick and All-Time Top 10 designations.

Final Score: 10/10

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