Thursday, March 26, 2015

Retro Throwback Thursday Review - Metroid Prime

Hails and pixels gaming metalheads! Today is Thor's Day which means that we celebrate all things Thor and traveling back in time. I have an old review for defunct gaming site Gamer-Pit (nothing to do with metal or mosh pits) that I decided to share. This was written by a teenager just finishing up high school so the writing is definitely rough around the edges. I took the liberty of editing out some embarrassing spelling mistakes but other than that it is unaltered. Take a read and be gentle!

As bounty hunter Samus Aran, its your job to stop the Space Pirates from achieving galactic domination by harnessing the Metroid's energy absorbing powers.

It has been over 8 years since we've last seen Samus, which was back on the Super Nintendo. Fans have clamored for the return of Samus Aran to battle Metroids once more in the far reaches of the galaxy. Nintendo acquired Austin based developer Retro Studios to make the next Metroid game for the Gamecube. But this declaration made many fans shout out, "foul", since this was an American developer and the design team was mostly experienced in first person shooters. A wave of doubt was shrouded over the gaming community.

When the Gamecube was first unveiled, Metriod was there as well and the crowd went nuts upon seeing Samus running in full 3-D. Though those cheers turned to jeers as it was revealed that the new Metroid won't be a third person adventure game as many believed, but rather a first-person shooter. Many fans considered that it was blasphemous to the series and they considered Miyamoto to have finally lost his marbles.

Finally an official unveiling of Metroid Prime was done at E3 a couple years back. Many of the doubts journalists and fans alike were silenced then and there as the game moved flawlessly through. Even though there was still some skepticism among the gaming community, it wasn't as severe as before. Will this game finally live up to the outrageous hype its had since Super Metroid came out? Will this further establish the greatness of Metroid, or will it just break the formula that made it such a success and destroy the series forever? Read on to find out, though I'm sure many of you know the answer to these questions.


From the opening moments of the game to the closing, you are in for a delicious visual treat. As you drop in on the Space Pirate's low orbiting space station over Tallon IV, the detail is already immense. Even though the space station is great to look at, it only gets better as you get further into the game. Once you enter the Tallon IV atmosphere, you see the insane amount of detail these talented Retro artists have put into this game. Look up into the sky and rain drops onto your visor. Brush past a falling water fall, and mist forms on the edges of your visor. Equip the X-Ray visor and take a direct hit, Samus will bring up her left arm in defense, and you can see her bones. Charge up your power beam and let it go on an enemy to watch the charged beam distort the air around it as it zooms towards the unlucky foe. It's details like this that make you appreciate the beauty of the game. Although, it is without faults.

There are some areas in the game where the colors just don't blend the right way, and that's mostly visible from vapors emitted from various objects. There are also some noticable polygon edges in some of the environments and enemies. But these are all minor quibbles to the absolute wonder this game inspires. Each environment is different and distinct enough that you know where you are at. The Phendrana Drifts have a nice and soothing snow theme that transfers into a Space Pirate labortory. While, the Magmoor Caverns are in the deep under belly of Tallon IV, home to lava lakes and other firey creatures. As for textures, there is a wide variety of them that gives for a varied graphical look to the game.


Even though you see everything through Samus' eyes, Metroid Prime does not behave like your standard run and gun first-person shooter. First off, there is an emphasis on exploration which is mostly done by scanning objects. When you scan something, this is a feature built into Samus' helmet, you gain information about that object. If you scan an enemy you gain knowledge about it, including weaknesses and even where it stands on the food chain of the ecosystem of Tallon IV. Scanning is also used to find weaknesses in objects that would otherwise go unnoticed, and it's used to open up doors.

As you progress through the game, you'll need to collect artifacts left by the ancient and highly advanced race of alien type birds known as 'Chozos'. These artifacts will open up the meteor crater that has gouged a hole into Tallon IV. This further emphasizes the exploration aspect of the game, since while some are easily obtainable, many require searching and reading into the clues left behind. But the puzzles in the game are really not that difficult, as it's all really based on logic. Many of the puzzles depend on what's in your current inventory.

Anything you obtain in the game will be used at least, though many times it will become a huge part of what you need to do. Once you obtain the Thermal Visor, allowing you to see heat emitted from objects and enemies, many enemies that proved to be difficult before, will become a cakewalk now. Among the many things that Samus can upgrade are missile launchers, the Ice Beam, the Wave Beam, Morph Ball and its various attachments. Obtaining each of these items will turn Samus into the Metroid killing machine that we all know and love.

The enemies in the game have some basic team formations, especially the Space Pirates. When you enter the Phendrana Drift laboratory, you will be pounced on by the hidden Space Pirates, and they love to dodge your power beams while taking a couple of swipes at you with their claws, or blasting you into oblivion. It is amazing how the developers added so much into the game. There is a part in the game where there are Metroids contained behind a force field, with Space Pirates patrolling the area. If you flip off a switch to disable the force field, the Metroids will come out and start draining the Space Pirates of their life, effectively killing them. It's so nice to see them play along with each other. Retro Studios also added comprehensive notes and journals about the Space Pirates' schemings for domination. This all adds to the atmosphere of the game and the detail that has been put into the game.


Many people scoffed at the lack of traditional first-person shooter controls that Metroid Prime lacks. Though for being an unorthodox first-person game, it needed unorthodox controls and the ones that Metroid Prime possesses fit well into the game.

Each button on the Gamecube controller is utilized to its fullest. The control stick is obviously used to move Samus around, while the C stick is used to select which weapon for her to use with the corresponding direction the weapon is in. The L button is used for locking onto enemies and to use the grapple beam, as well for scanning when you're in that mode. Though the lock-on isn't flawless, it works. The main problems arise when you face several enemies at once. It becomes difficult to switch between several enemies at once and the one you're locked on can move quickly, disabling your lock-on. So some frustrations may occur, but it works in the long run.

The R button is used to look around and aim as well as activate the spider ball while in ball form. But you cannot move while you're aiming, which would be good for some of the enemies, but the lock-on pretty much makes a movable look around nil. The awkward placed Z button is used to bring up the map. You fire your missiles and lay power bombs while in MorphBall form with the Y button. You use the X button to switch between Morph Ball and standard form. A cool view transition will occur and it's seamless. The gigantic A button is used to fire your weapon and to lay down bombs while in Morph Ball form. The smaller B button is used to jump in standard mode and it's used to activate the Boost Ball in Morph Ball form.


Metroid Prime has some amazing sound effects and music that will please your ears. Although some of the music is basically remixed classic Metroid tunes, it is still great to listen to. Besides, if it's not broke, why fix it, right? The music varies for each location with tribal beats and chanting for the Magmoor Caverns to peaceful, soothing music in the Phendrana Drifts. The battle music really gets your blood pumping as you dish out the damage to the Space Pirates. Although in some parts it seems as if the quality of music isn't as great as it should be, its still great to listen to regardless.

The sound effects add a lot to a game, and this game definitely adds quite a bit. As you traverse the lush locations of Tallon IV, you can hear the creatures communicate to each other! in their own way. Like animals, they each have a distinct sound. The Space Pirates have a shrill, growling voice that turns into an ear piercing sound as they are slaughtered by your hands. When you take Samus into a swamp or another watery region, you will hear her footsteps splash in the water. Of course if you have a fancy home theater set-up, you can enjoy the sound even more with the Dolby Surround Pro Logic II set-up.

Final Word by Travis Bolek
It has been eight long years since we've played a Metroid game, and this is definitely worth a buy. It takes the best from the previous incarnations and adds its own twist onto the Metroid series. Many doubted that Metroid could be brought to 3D. Many doubted that it would work in a first-person perspective. Well, Retro and Nintendo have done it again and brought us a fabulous new game that is more than worth the wait. I eagerly anticipate what Retro Studios has in store.

Very slick presentation, the best of Metroid in a nice 3D package. 9
Some of the best graphics yet for the Gamecube and possibly of the other consoles as well. Extrodinary attention to detail from Retro Studios. 10
Nice remixing of the classic Metroid tunes as well as great sound effects. It really brings the environments to life. 9
Lasting Appeal
This is a game for the ages, though after you get everything and unlock everything, there isn't much to do to go back to the game. But you may want to play it again just for the sake of it. 8
Fun Factor
Exploring, the back story, the action, the graphics everything has made this game very enjoyable and extremely fun. 9

Final Score for Metroid Prime 10

And there you have it! A review of Metroid Prime written by my teenage self. I agree with my own assessment of the game although I would change up the format of the review dramatically from its current structure. It sure was interesting traveling down that memory.

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