Bam, told you I’d get this out this week! Following through like a pro. So yeah, here are my thoughts on Metroid Prime. Then next entry in this series will be… I don’t know. I’ll just post the final old one next or whatever… It was on Shadow of the Colossus! Fun. Now get to reading!
My Thoughts on Metroid Prime:
Running, Gunning, and Stopping to Scan
Yeah, Metroid Prime! Samus’ first step into… THE THIRD DIMENTION!! Bringing all those usual Metroid nuances into a 3D spaaace! Like running and gunning and collecting a bunch of stuff to turn yourself into a weapon of mass destruction and backtracking… All that fun stuff. And it was all pretty fun. I absolutely enjoyed Metroid Prime! I just wanna get that out of the way. I adored the game all the way through. Well… most of the way through. There were a few things that kind of annoyed me. Things that just made the game feel, uh… I can’t think of the word. They were just things that broke the pace of the game. But first! I’m gonna talk about the good things of Metroid Prime for the Cube of Gaming! Being played in the Trilogy collection for the Wii. Downloaded from the Wii U Virtual Console. Yay modern gaming!
So per the norm, the atmosphere was superb. Everything that filled the world fit together perfectly. The environments, the creatures, the music; it was all great. It truly felt like a desolate alien planet. The game just looked great in general. Well most of it looked great… Goddamn Samus’ face when she took off her helmet at the end… But hey, it was a 2002 game! I’ll let her ugly face slide…. That was really the only bad thing in the graphics department that stood out to me though. The rest of it was great! And there were a couple neat little touches in the game that made it all that much better. Like occasionally seeing Samus’ reflection in her helmet, or seeing the bones in her arm when x-ray vision was on, or just the simple effects of water or steam on Samus’ visor. The aesthetics of Prime were top notch. They were just as good as the gameplay.
The traditional Metroid gameplay mechanics worked pretty well in the 3D spaaace. And since I was playing the Wii U VC Wii version of the game, I was aiming and shooting through the use of physically aiming with the Wiimote. As opposed to z-targeting with the GameCube controller, something that I can’t really imagine being that effective. Compared to using the motion controls that is. Which worked rather well surprisingly… Aiming with the Wiimote was almost seamless and all the other controls were fairly solid as well. Shooting, moving, jumping, balling… Er, rolling… All of that was great. Missile-ing….. Missiling? Firing missiles. Yeah, that wasn’t as good.
I pretty much played with the tip of my thumb gently pressing on the bottom half of the A button. It was just the most comfortable for me. But it made firing missiles a bit of an annoyance… Having to move my thumb ALLLLL THE WAY up the controller to down button of the D-pad was pain in my ass! Okay, it wasn’t that bad… But I honestly think the Morph Ball button and the missile button should have been flip-flopped. Having the Morph Ball button be a bit of a pain to get to wouldn’t really be a pain. You never really had to ball on the fly. You only balled when you needed to access a small hole or bomb a bombable thing or scale one of those stupid spider ball tracks. If you could use the Morph Ball as sort of a dodge roll, a dodge ball if you will, then sure, assign it to an easily accessible button! Balling just wasn’t as useful as missiling so giving the Morph Ball a more accessible button seemed a bit silly. But did any that disrupt my enjoyment of that game? Not really. The missile button being slightly out of the way was just a minor annoyance that occasionally broke the pace of the gameplay. Sound familiar?
Now onto the third thing that makes a game… a game. Story! Something Metroid games usually don’t beat you over the head with. I say usually. I don’t have to mention the game BUT YOU KNOW WHAT I”M TALKING ABOUT!!! Anyways, Metroid games usually don’t beat you over the head with their story. In fact it’s kinda the opposite. You gotta beat the games over the head to get the story out. And that’s a good thing! Figuring out the story through the game itself is great. And just what was the story of Metroid Prime? Well… A meteor filled with Phazon (some kind of radioactive mutagen thing) hit Tallon IV, a planet inhabited by The Chozo. The Phazon then began to fuck the planet up so The Chozo got the hell out of Dodge. And then after, like… many years or so… the infamous Spaaace Pirates detected large amounts of radiation coming from Tallon and decided to investigate. Once they found out the radiation was the Phazon, they began to do experiments on some of the local creatures and even on their own forces. Then comes Samus to fuck things up and save the day! That’s the gist of the story at least.
And just how did I beat the game over the head to uncover this story? But simply scanning and reading bunch of things! You had to figure out the story primarily by reading…. That isn’t great. Scanning shit to find out what happened in the story isn’t fun! It’s not that I had a problem with the whole scanning mechanic. I mean enjoyed scanning the world to find out basic information. Like information about creatures and enemies and items and even scanning for secrets. That’s a fine use for scanning. But not having to figure out what the frick is going on! You shouldn’t have to scan for that reason! Okay, this is probably just a personal problem though… Cause I am a total and complete lazy ass. It’s not that I don’t like reading; I just don’t care for reading while I’m playing a video game! Reading a bunch of crap to understand the plot of the game is almost as bad as reading a bunch of crap to understand how to even play the game!
Not all the plot/story related scans were annoying in Prime though. I generally liked the scans that gave information about the Spaaace Pirates’ Phazon experiments, and the details of Ridley’s cybernetic transformation, and the Pirate reports on Samus’ arrival on Tallon IV. I enjoyed reading all that useless information because I could just read it, give it little thought, and move on! I didn’t have to find someway to connect it to the overall story of the game. Reading small blurbs about stuff that had no direct impact on the plot of the game was fine. But reading larger chunks of the game’s lore while I’m in the middle of playing ruins the flow, man! It just hinders the pace. Not a huge deal, but an annoyance nonetheless.
The biggest pace breaking thing, for me, was at the tail end of the game. When you had to scour the whole damn ocean for all those damn triforce shards. I mean… Having to search for the 12 Chozo Artifacts. That was when I got killed on backtracking… I was able to get a good amount of them by just playing the game. Those were the easy to get ones; the ones that were in places you could notice but just couldn’t access without a certain power-up. The rest of them were a pain in the ass to get. Scanning the monuments in the Artifact Temple to find out where the relics were hiding, going alllll the way back to somewhere you’ve already been, scanning the room the relic is in and finding squat, figuring out that you had to blast a pillar with a missile that you couldn’t even scan to see if it was blastable, then going alllll the way back to the temple to scan another monument and repeat the process!! Yeah… Doing that was a pain. I would scan several monuments at a time in an attempt to try and save some time; but after I’d find one of the artifacts, I’d forget where the other ones were supposed to be. And some of the artifacts weren’t in places that made sense or you couldn’t find out where they were by scanning. All of that crap was just annoying. Just bogged down the pace of the game…
The whole stopping to scan thing (and the annoying endgame fetch quest) were my only major complaints about the game though. Samus’ ugly face and the missile button not being in the best place were minor complaints. Facial rendering wasn’t as good back then and the Wiimote button layout is stupid, but those things can be forgiven. I do have one more teeny tiny other problem however… Samus has no emotion.
Ridley and Sammy have a long history, right? Ridley pretty much caused the death of both of Samus’ parents. And then, several years later, Ridley and Samus fought. Then they fought again. Then they fought another time. And when Ridley surely died, he comes back as Meta-Ridley! That flying purple people eater just won’t die! Samus has to continuously fight and defeat Ridley. In the older games, I can blame Samus not really reacting to the giant beast that orphaned her due to limitations of the time. Can’t really make an expressive cutscene with up to 16 bits… But on the GameCube! You could easily do that. Yet as usual, Samus has seemingly no reaction to fighting and defeating the now cybernetic spaaace dragon! The only game to give Samus any kind of reaction to Ridley was Other M. She had defeated Ridley, like… four or five times before Other M? Why does Sammy suddenly react to that damn purple dragon after all those previous encounters!? Samus is a strong independent bounty hunter that needs no man! I know, I know, but… She’s a human. Not a robot. She deserves to show at least a tiny bit of emotion… Not just in regards to Ridley. She had no reaction to seeing the destroyed world of The Chozo, the very chicken people that raised her. That gave her the Power Suit. That made her into who she is. She just goes on to kills the ghosts of The Chozo! No second thought!
And I’m done with the rant… Samus’ whole no emotion shtick is more so a problem with the Metroid Series as a whole, not Prime. Metroid Prime was great! A wondrous first person action/adventure shooter! And a good step for Metroid into the 3D world of gaming! After Prime has left my system, I’ll get to playing Prime 2. I just hope the storytelling is better…