Metroid: Other M Reader Review
Here's my entry for the nintendo 3DS competition. I occasionally write mini reviews on my personal blog for some games which I have purchased and played through so I thought I would be lazy-(ish) and paste my most recent Wii mini-review, which was for Metroid: Other M. I'm sure that there will be a tonne of reviews for the likes of Super mario Galaxy 2 and I tend to prefer the road less travelled. So let's give this a shot!
Metroid: Other M is nintendos attempt at catering to the ďcore gamer.Ē You know? That group which kept them alive through their N64 and Gamecube days which they ditched like a bad habit once they got their cashcow known as the wii on the market? In any case, this latest installment of Metroid was co-developed by team ninja, they who work for tecmo and gave us Dead or alive, DoA:XBV and Ninja gaiden (the new ones). Their contribution to the game certainly made some interesting changes to the mechanics and Other M tries to capture the old 2D feel of the early games by making itself function in a 2D plane but with 3D areas. So none of that First person stuff from Metroid Prime.
Now, Iím a big fan of the early Metroid games. While I still think super Metroid is the be all to end all of the series, Metroid fusion was still pretty good in itís own right and Metroid prime was amazing! Nintendo havenít been afraid to experiment with this series, like when they shifted the series into first person and handed it over to retro studios. The main problem is that Nintendo seem to have forgotten what makes the series what it is!! Warning signs started to appear with Metroid Fusion (although it was still an excellent game) and the addition of troopers and dialogue to push things forward in the later prime games continued with the decline. And now we have Other MÖ
So how did it fare?
* Faster paced combat Ė Lets face it, Combat has never been the strongest part of metroid games. but with Team Ninja helping out, Samus suddenly has access to rapid dodge moves and is much more capable in close quarter combat! Fighting enemies isnít just about making distance between the 2 of you and firing away (though thereís plenty of that too)
* Old school! Ė When it works, the game really feels like the better parts of the old 2D metroid games! ÖBut when it doesnít, lets just say trying to navigate through a 3D area using a d-pad isnít much funÖ Luckily, those parts are in the minority.
* Boss fights Ė I have to admit it was pretty cool fighting past bosses from previous Metroid games, even Phantoom who was the True final boss of the game! Nightmare was still annoying tho.
* Linear to a fault Ė One of the key things about metroid (and something retro studios ďgotĒ with the first prime game) is the element of exploring. The maps are cunningly designed with short cuts and secret areas which lead to other sections and items which are initially just out of reach! When you get a new powerup, instead of going straight to where youíre meant to go, your first impulse is to explore the other areas with your new toy to see where else you can go. But the plot and design of other M pretty much forces you to go by a preset route. It allows for some deviation but not much. Besides, the areas are all isolated from eachother so there are no shortcuts to speak of. Each powerup mearely allows you access to a small area with a single powerup. after that, thereís nothing left to do. Metroid fusion was rather linear when it came to the plot but at least it allowed you to travel wherever you wanted and there was some meaning to exploring!
* First person View mode - A lot of hype has been given to the control method for other M. You play with the wiimote in controller orientation but to use missiles and the grapple beam, you need to point it at the screen whereby it goes into first person mode to allow you to aim and look around but not move. Bottom line is, it doesnít work!!! Any time the game requires you to use the FPS mode in a combat or scanning situation, the game becomes an exercise in frustration. The scanning mode in particular is exceptionally annoying because it doesnít give you any hints as to what to scan for! So you just end up checking every corner of the screen in the hope that you get lucky!
* Overblast attacks Ė If you watch gameplay videos of Other M, youíll probably see scenes where Samus runs up to an enemy, does some acrobatic move and then dispatches it in a fairly brutal (for a nintendo game) style. Those are Overblast attacks and they are done by charging up your beam and running at the enemies when they are stunned. Those are fine. The problems occur when you are required to jump onto the enemies to trigger the overblast attack. Since thereís no lock on feature to speak of, itís very easy to miss your target and land just next to the enemy. The issue is even worse when theyíre all bunched together!
* Cutscenes Ė Sometimes, there is a reason why itís better to have a silent protagonist! I think someone who has been lobotomised sounds more emotional than whoever voiced Samus for this outing. Every line was delivered in monotone!! The writing was pretty damn poor too!
* The Plot - Ignoring the bit about the fact that you are now part of a team instead of going solo like all the previous good metroid games, not only was the dialogue pretty pants but the overall story was as well! It might have been able to stand up on its own if it wasnít hampered by some really stupid details. There was a murder mystery side plot where you are told that there is a traitor in your team who is picking everyone off one by one. The only problems is that it relies on you falling on an old anime cliche that someone in their 20s has already managed to build up sufficient results and reputation to not only work on a top secret and possibly illegal experiment for the government types but administer and run the whole damn site as well. Sorry, but when I heard that I called BS! Then there was the point where Samus meets a boss which she has already defeated twice in the series and the first thing she does is start to stain her underwear!! To make things even better (or worse, depending on you you view it), after she gets some help to get herself out of the funk, she continues to fight as if the last few minutes where she was embarrassing herself never happened!! Consistency much?
* Prime what? - If it isnít clear yet, Nintendo donít consider the Metroid prime series to be canon. In fact, they retconned the whole series out of existence with Other M!
* Retarded map system Ė Other M has 2 map systems at work. You have a small minimap which appears while you play and is similar to the old maps on the 2D games. Then, when you pause the game, you get a larger map which shows the areas which you have access to. The problem is that the areas shown on the large map donít necessarily coincide with the the minimap. Think about it this way: you enter a large room with walkways to get around it. The large map shows the room but not the walkways while the minimap shows visa versa. It can be a minor annoyance when trying to hunt for items but itís just a major step back after the amazing 3D maps seen in the prime series!
* The pointlessness of powerups Ė Long time players of Metroid will know that the level keeps hidden powerups in hard to reach places and for regulars, one of the challenges is to find every one of them before completing the game and achieve the 100% item ending. Well, thereís only 1 ending for Metroid: Other M but thatís not the point. For some inexplicable reason, at the end of the game, after you have defeated the secret boss, the developers decided to hide the last 2 items in the path towards your prize AFTER you have defeated every enemy, making them absolutely useless! That has to be one of the most retarded ideas I have seen for a long time. You canít go back and have some fun with them nor are there any enemies you can use them on after youíve picked them up. They are simplyÖ there! Basically, there is no point to collect 100% of all items other than to unlock hard mode and some artwork. Thereís also the much maligned excuse for providing upgrades to your suit throughout the game. At the beginning, Samus decides (in one of those monotone monologues) that she wonít use her upgrades until her superior officer approves of their use. This is grudgingly acceptable for her weapons, but when you are forced to play through the vast bulk of a stage with environmental hazards chipping away at your life because he hasnít yet approved of you using the upgrade to negate said hazard, thatís just retarded!! This also goes back to the idiotic plot devices.
Ultimately, I canít say that Other M is a particularly great game, and certainly not a good metroid game, unlike many other publications. It has is moments and it is fun for the majority of the playtime but I canít bring myself to say itís good. But fun is what we all want in the end and itís much better than a vast load of wii titles out there so I guess itís worth checking out! Just be prepared for some awful voice acting, stupid plotholes and a small number of massively frustrating gameplay sections involving the 1st person view. Unless youíre a diehard metroid fan, in which case you probably wonít like this game much anyway.