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Metroid Prime Gamecube

/ Nov 19th, 2001 No Comments

So here comes Metroid, the game that the vast majority say ‘who?’ to. Nintendo’s lesser known heroine, Samus, has had games on all the old school Nintendo systems, Super Metroid being one of Nintendos finest games, and now she is back and has gone all 3D on us.

Initially I was quite worried at the thought of playing Metroid from a first person perspective, I can’t play the things on a joypad properly and Metroid was never all about blasting action anyway. The brilliance of Metroid came from the classic Nintendo framework – it provided you with a huge, level-less, all-in-one world that slowly unfolded as your main character developed. Thankfully I can confirm that this is not a new Quake, if you see this as a straight forward shooter then think again, Metroid Prime is a bizarre mix of genres that somehow works when it really shouldn’t. If you are a fellow Metroid fan of days gone by I can assure you that within 10 minutes of playing you will instantly be at home.

The first thing that hit me about Metroid Prime is the wonderful graphics, running at a constant 60fps it’s one of the prettiest Gamecube games there is, although not quite bettering Starfox Adventures in this category. The Samus model, which you see in cut-sequences, is absolutely amazing, moving realistically in her mechanical suit with sharp edges and detailed reflective surfaces, it’s a shame you don’t see it more often than you do.

The first section of the game is set aboard a Pirate ship (not the arrrrrr! variety) where a distress beacon has been set-off…you soon find out why as numerous biological experiments have gone wrong and you have the classic monsters turned on their masters scenario. This is essentially a little tutorial as you get various tips on-screen guiding you through each obstacle, telling you how to use your abilities. You see some spectacular sights too, the monsters in question are great big hulking things, the size factor really impressing in their fluid movement, but this is all a taster for things to come… Eventually the ship starts to break up and in one explosion Samus’ suit is damaged and you lose all your abilities other than your cannon.

Without giving too much away, from here you end up on the surface of Talon IV and the game-proper begins. The surface of Talon IV is a humid, rain-swept jungle dotted with beautiful waterfalls and rivers, if you look closely and explore you will see a huge number of apparent pathways. Now, your lost abilities are the problem here…abilities such as Samus’ Morph Ball which let you pass through small gaps or the Grapple to swing across spaces…without them you cannot progress and deal with the Pirates experimentation.

Metroid plays a little like a big treasure hunt, you work your way through the indigenous planet-life and slowly gain back one element of your kit…explore a bit and you can use this to gain access to another part of the planet, and so on and so on. You have to be very alert as many of the items to find are carefully concealed and you may need to remember items out of reach so you can return when you have the necessary abilities.

All this may make the game sound very linear, and to an extent it is, you are restricted in your destination to the abilities you have, but the game world is just so, so huge it is not a problem. Initially you have one path and have to stick to it, but the more abilities you gain the more your options branch out. To keep track of things you are given a brilliantly easy to understand 3D map, something the game uses you to keep you up to date of what you should be doing…but obviously you may be off on your own little mission to liberate a cache of missiles from that cave you saw a while ago.

I must have a quick gripe about one of the games systems though…the Scanning. Now in order to activate switches, read monitors, find out information on objects or enemies (information which is all stored in a huge encyclopedia as you progress) you have to scan them. The problem is you do this so often it is a bit of a chore to have to go through so many button presses. To scan you have to change your view method by pressing a key on the D-pad, then you hold R to move your view to the item you want to scan with the stick, then you hold L to carry out the scan. Now I’m sorry, but doing that for the 50th time just to read a bit of info is seriously annoying. But still, it is a minor inconvenience and doesn’t detract too much from what is overall a very simple control system. The perennial problem of aiming with a joypad is solved by having a ‘Zelda lock-on system’, while the purists may say this is cheating I remind you that Metroid isn’t meant to be a twitch based FPS game, I welcome it.

Playing Metroid Prime really is a joy, you are given secrets to find, a gorgeous, every changing and every expanding world to explore and more things to blow up than you could ever want. There is the added bonus of GBA connectivity where you can unlock new items and even play the original NES version of Metroid on the Gamecube…with the re-release of Ocarina of Time, is this going to be a new thing? As long as they remain free-bonuses then I’m all for it! Also worthy of note is that I am playing the European version, while I cannot confirm the exact nature of this, this version is tougher than the original release and has a few minor fixes in too.

Metroid Prime is the kinda game that reminds you why Nintendo really does make them the best.

FINAL SCORE: 94%

Jamie Wharton

Jamie Wharton

Jamie Wharton was based out of Europe before disappearing off the face of the Earth. His contributions in the early days of Gaming Illustrated's history, however, shall never be forgotten.
Jamie Wharton

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