Posted by: seanmalstrom | July 22, 2010

Email: Metroid Other M. Why?

I recently came across your website after being linked to it on a message board. Having read some of your articles and most of your recent blog posts, much of what you say seems to be wholly accurate. This is especially true about the new Metroid game.

I also recently played Metroid Prime: Corruption. Now, I’m not what you refer to as an Old-School Gamer – my first experience with Samus Aran was with Metroid Prime on the Gamecube. But having played all three games, it is easy to recognise what makes the games fun and what doesn’t make them fun. What makes the games fun is the combat, the new environments, the range of weapons available.

One thing that stuck out at me when I played Corruption was the lack of alternative weapons. In Prime, you have four Beams, Missiles, Super Missile variants for each Beam, Bombs, and Power Bombs. In Echoes, you get the same thing, but with an unpleasant ammo constraint that often forces you to limit use of other Beams. But in Corruption, you do not get to switch between different Beams (additional Beams are simply ‘keys’ to solve new puzzles or open new doors, and no more powerful than the regular Power Beam), and Super Missiles and Power Bombs no longer exist. I ended up with over two hundred leftover Missiles at the end of the game. There is Hypermode, but later enemies are so tough to defeat normally, Hypermode is almost forced upon you, until the game finally bites the bullet and has the entire last level played out through Hypermode. The only saving grace was the superior control scheme to the Gamecube controller.

Corruption was also fairly cutscene heavy. Metroid Prime had no story scenes whatsoever, and it was better off for it. I didn’t like having to run around performing errands for the Federation in Corruption, or having to endure the other bounty hunters showing off when I could have been kicking ass. There would have been a far easier way to show them off – while you run through a corridor or have your own fight, the bounty hunters get to fight in the background. They should not be taking center stage. The action should be center stage, at all times. The presence alone of other characters is fairly jarring. Part of what made Metroid Prime appealing was the sense of being alone, of being in a hostile environment, of not sharing the stage with Space Marine copies or bounty hunters or Luminoth.

I think that Nintendo do not understand Metroid’s success. They see a lot of games with Samus Aran selling well. So they think that Samus Aran is the key to success, and by focussing the game on Samus, people will enjoy it. But people do not play Metroid games because the main character is an attractive female blonde (with maternal instincts). The Castlevania games, with similiar gameplay, have been popular despite the lack of Samus. We do not even see Samus’ true face for most of Metroid games, and she never has dialogue, yet they have been popular nevertheless. They play it for the gameplay and the content. Sadly, I have heard that Other M is going to be set on a large Federation spaceship with a lava environment and a cold environment and a rainforest environment. But we have already seen Federation spaceships in the Metroid Prime trilogy. We have seen hot lava environments in MP1 and MP3. We have seen cold environments in those same games. The best bits in Metroid Prime 2 and 3 were exploring environments that had no counterpart in 1. The Sanctuary was something wholly unique. So was SkyTown, and the Leviathans (Phaaze was boring, though. Who would have thought that the planet where Phazon came from would be blue and covered in Phazon?). I am not really excited to explore an environment that sounds identical to the environment in Fusion. What I would like to see is a Metroid game that has more open and epic environments to explore instead of another poky spaceship. The environments in Prime were nice, but generally you end up crawling around tunnels and holes and corridors.

Other M will sell well. And while I have often bought games when I should have known better, and they ended up being disappointing (such as Spirit Tracks), I do not think I will buy it.

Incidentally, even though by completing MP3 I have unlocked an additional difficulty mode, I do not really care to play it again. I’m probably going to re-play Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (a series with very good replay value) instead.

Emailer, I could try to come up with something interesting to say. But I cannot. I have no explanation as to why Nintendo thinks Metroid is about ‘maternal instincts’. The more I think about it, the more of a headache I get.



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