NS Review: MP Trilogy – Metroid Prime
Despite considering myself a lover of the Metroid series and a huge admirer of its lead character Samus Aran, I have never finished a Metroid game; it was only last year that I began playing the series. I almost made it through Super Metroid – my first played game of the series – and have yet to finish it. Having purchased and played some Metroid (NES) and Metroid Fusion, Metroid Prime for the GameCube was offered to me about two months ago, which I was able to play two hours of. What I really wanted to get my hands on was the Metroid Prime Trilogy for the Wii, a game that nobody seemed to be able to pick up without dishing out a sizeable amount of cash. Imagine my excitement then, when the trilogy was announced to be available on Wii U’s eShop. While you’re at it, empathise with those people that were still trying to flog their copy for over £100.
Be prepared with a spare hard drive, as the trilogy takes up almost 8GB. It is a game that’s very well worth the space; straight away, the presentation is marvellous; an eerie opening title sequence greets the player, complete with wonderfully cinematic music composed by Kenji Yamamoto. The games are all conveniently packaged into one menu selection screen, although this does sacrifice each individual game’s own menu screen and its incredible accompanying music.
Writing an impression of a game that was theoretically released over ten years ago seems somewhat redundant, even if I am a newcomer to Metroid Prime. However, the series is likely to gain a new audience with this extremely-generously priced eShop release, and speculation of a new Metroid is rife. Besides all that, some reflection never hurts! So far I have only been able to play the prologue of Metroid Prime in the recent release so I will focus on this section, and how the player is introduced to the series through an intense scene that starts subtle and ends with an explosive action spectacle.
The introductive cutscene’s narrator is not declaring an understatement when he expresses that the light of Samus Aran ‘burns brighter than all others’. It’s a wonderfully crafted sequence, as the camera first shows simply the vastness of space and its stars. As the camera moves to focus on the planet Tallon IV before showing the derelict spacecraft, the jet thrusters of Samus’ famous gunship hover overhead, surveying the scene before landing. A hatch opens and Samus Aran rises out of the gunship, the armour of her Varia suit glistening against the planet’s light. Somersaulting high into the air, she leaps from her gunship onto the platform and stands still for a few, silent seconds. Once the trademark theme has played, the player enters the helmet of the Bounty Hunter and takes control.
It’s actually quite a contrasting feeling once the player has taken control of Samus. You don’t see her tough, shining exterior from the first-person perspective – only the small cannon on her arm. You stare at a derelict ship that stands tall above you, as only the low droning hum of machinery breaks the silence. The triumphant music that accompanied your introduction has disappeared. About to venture into dangerous territory, you are alone.
Exploring a location that has been the site of a very recent horrific incident is a favoured trope of mine, even if it is a common one to see in media. It’s also one that isn’t new to Nintendo’s alien-adventure series; Super Metroid has Samus explore a ship that has just been ravaged by Ridley, with the corpses of the scientists sprawled on the floor in the main lab. Here, much of the derelict’s devastation can be explored and analysed through Samus’ Scan Visor; scanning various objects of interest will reveal information to the player. Alien life forms that are discovered early on – and are most likely dead – can be researched, and the information given is usually quite terrifying; for example, the dead parasite queen seen early on is discovered to have large sacs of acid stored in its mouth, and a tail with an orifice that is used for birthing offspring. That created quite an unpleasant image in my imagination.
Many of the ship’s computer panels can be interpreted via the scanner too, revealing more behind the sinister experiments that the Space Pirates had been conducting. The various computer messages also give a heavy sense of foreboding too; we learn that there were two parasite queens running rampant on the derelict ship, and only a single dead specimen is found.
Save for the few moments in which machinery needs to be activated, the Scan Visor is a mechanic that is entirely optional, which benefits players that wish to play their own pace whether it be slow or fast. I would recommend taking the time to scan the surroundings in the prologue if you are looking for a fully immersive experience; one of the computers records a journal logged by a Space Pirate. It refers to Samus as “the hunter clad in metal,” which must be a nice little ego-boost to the heroine learning that she is feared among the antagonist species.
The Morph Ball is another trademark mechanic that is smoothly implemented in Metroid Prime. When activated, the camera zooms out to third-person perspective as Samus rolls around in her hamster ball. In fact, maybe that’s how it really works; Samus gets shrunk to a small enough size that she can stand upright and then roll the ball in her desired direction. The Morph Ball can be used not only to fit through tight spots, but also to traverse down descending walkways faster; this becomes important during the prologue’s escape sequence. Once finished with the Morph Ball, Samus leaps back into her humanoid form and the camera quickly zooms into first-person mode again. It’s an extremely smooth transition that doesn’t break the flow of gameplay.
By the end of the prologue, Samus’ Varia suit is destroyed and most of her powers are vanquished. The player is reduced to a simple arm canon without its Charge Beam. Chasing a familiar foe down to the surface of Tallon IV, contact with her target is lost and Samus must explore the planet on foot in order to achieve her goal. The prologue is a perfect teaser for the rest of the game, offering an immersive and gripping experience as you investigate (and fight) experiments gone awry; you are offered a taste of Samus’ many abilities before having them stripped away to be rediscovered throughout the game. With an array of weapons and upgrades to find, terrifying boss beasts to battle, and Kenji Yamamoto’s soundtrack subtly complementing the sci-fi horror exactly as it should, exploring Tallon IV couldn’t be more exciting.
The Metroid Prime trilogy is now available on the Nintendo Wii U eShop for £17.99. Happy hunting!