Kyle Atwood is a published author of fiction who plays too many video games and watches too many movies to be of sound mind.
Over 30 years ago, Nintendo created a sci-fi adventure that pushed the design of games to a new boundary. Metroid was born, aptly named after the energy-sucking creatures we have run into over the years. Since then, there have been many fantastic 2D games in the franchise, but none so bold to essentially start all over again in the form of a 3D FPS.
There were many doubts surrounding this game when it was first announced. Not only was it being put into the first-person perspective, but it was also being handled by an American team. It seemed to be complete madness at the time.
As a child, I didn't care. I knew Samus was my favorite character on Super Smash Bros. and I hadn't played any of the old games at this point. However, now that I'm in my 20s and have played every game in the 2D series, I've decided to revisit this game again. This is my review of Metroid Prime.
Metroid Prime is an action-packed adventure that takes place just after the events of the original Metroid. Players take control of the bounty hunter Samus Aran as she goes on a galaxy-wide hunt for the evil Space Pirates. Their intention is to use a mutagen called Phazon to create a super army to take over the galaxy.
While previous installments' plots were left primarily to speculation, Metroid Prime breaks the original formula to create deep, read-worthy lore. I say read because players are given a scanner equipped to Samus's visor, which is used to, well, scan things. Each of these scanned items contain a bit of information and backstory regarding the subject. You can scan an alien creature and figure out their weak points and their ecological purpose, or you can scan ancient ruins to discover the expansive lore of the universe.
It's refreshing to see a Metroid game with a story, as the original titles just kind of threw players in without much knowledge to go off of.
The gameplay style is polished and forgiving, yet contains many callbacks to the gameplay style of Super Metroid. In fact, many of the prominent staples of the Metroid series are apparent here, such as exploring massive planets.
As Samus, you begin your journey fully equipped, to give you a taste of the awesome abilities of Samus's power suit, until it is stripped away from you shortly after. Features such as turning into a morph ball or even jumping higher are gone and you're nothing more than a human with a cool blaster cannon. As you continue to explore, the game teases you further with glimpses of areas, ledges, and doors that are unobtainable until these powers are retrieved. Once you do obtain these powers, you are greeted with a real sense of accomplishment and wonder as you get the chance to see this new, exciting area.
There are also complex puzzles that are cleverly implemented into the game. In fact, I can even go as far as to say that the entire game is a puzzle, considering players are usually expected to figure out some obscure way to progress to the next area. Sometimes the puzzles are simple, but, more often than not, they are brain teasers. Going back to the abilities, players are usually expected to use the morph ball ability to reach certain areas, attempting to get greater velocity at just the right moment to reach a secret spot.
Oh, and, as a bonus, players can link their GBA copy of Metroid Fusion to this game to unlock exclusive goodies.
Combat is perhaps the biggest change to the Metroid franchise, however, as it needed to be translated to a 3D environment. Considering shooting is a massive part of the experience, you can imagine that it needs to be impeccable.
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The combat system relies heavily on a lock-on style, unlike many FPS games of the time. It is not dual analog and this, in my opinion, has not aged well. Much like Goldeneye, Samus's shots automatically find their way to enemies, unless players use a special aim button to make selective shots. While not nearly as aged as Goldeneye, this game had me getting confused quite often. The game is forgiving enough for you to correct yourself, however.
Metroid Prime's focus is on its exploration and world-building, enemies are usually put there as just a means to add a bit more excitement to the player. Even bosses are programmed well enough to compensate for the clunky shooting system.
Speaking of bosses, I think they are some of Nintendo's best work. Each one towering dramatically over Samus and having more and more complex weaknesses to exploit as the game gets closer to its conclusion.
Still, even with dated controls, I can certainly tell that this game was made with sky-high value and care and have heard all too often that it was revolutionary of its time and I can certainly agree.
Metroid Prime's graphics have aged phenomenally and are still breathtaking to this day. My favorite moments are when Samus's visor fogs up, depending on the surroundings, or if her eyes flash onto the visor when something bright happens in front of the player.
Outside of that, models are detailed and vibrant, one-of-a-kind and just beautiful. Plain and simple.
Out of all of the games on the Gamecube's library, Metroid Prime has my absolute favorite sound design. This is going against games like Resident Evil or Super Mario Sunshine and I think it stands above all deservingly.
Original songs from the series make a return in a new, breathtaking, epic ambiance. My particular favorite is the newer version of the Magmoor Caverns soundtrack.
Metroid Prime is perhaps my most fondly remembered game on the Gamecube. After having played all of the original, epic games, I hadn't anticipated that I'd have the same feeling of triumph with Metroid Prime, which I most certainly did. On top of this, I also had a blast playing this game and uncovering all of the tiny details laid throughout. Even to this day, it is one of my most favorite games on the system and a truly stunning, epic tale.
© 2019 Kyle Atwood