Metroid: Other M Reader Review
It’s almost unsurprising that a team with the balls (or is that breasts?) of Team Ninja would be asked to work on the re-ignition of Metroid – a true critical darling, and one of Nintendo’s sleekest weapons in decades of console wars.
Often developers working on properties not of their own creation face a thankless task. Franchise stalwarts cry havoc at innovation, newcomers question the validity of decades-old gameplay, and media attention is at its fiercest.
Trust Team Ninja then to produce, unerringly, the franchise’s most divisive chapter.
The now infamously laconic delivery and story telling of this ‘coming of age’ tale is perhaps less of a shock having seen many of the cut scenes on the web, but it certainly won’t be the first or last time a Japanese narrative has been somewhat lost in ham-fisted translation.
Fortunately, your first impressions are so very nearly your longest. That incredible opening with Mother Brain re-imagined; a lightning simple two-button-and-dodge attack scheme and an utterly convincing remix of Samus as a twisting close-combat mistress.
Fiercely straightforward in terms of goals, feels perhaps closest to Fusion in both pacing and narrative – a constant stream of instructions guiding you through the strangely un-sinister Bottle Ship, where virtual reality provides the usual variety of exotic terrains (before that is, your puzzling hits the lights and the room reverts to a dull grey).
Enemy design is still rather back-of-the-cereal-packet Scifi rather than inventive, and most are still recycled from Metroids past, bar some excellent boss creatures.
So it’s in their that the creatures really come alive – brilliant finishers and bright particle effects giving Samus a real punch – particularly as the usual upgrade path is relatively quick (complete with faultlessly arbitrary reason why she didn’t have them from the start).
But while your thumbs play beautiful muscle memory to the addictive combat rhythm, it’s all too easy for your mind not to wander onto some ominously gaping questions.
The first of which is the non-analogue control scheme and all it necessitates.
Funnily enough, for all the pre-release anxiety drummed up by the point-to-look feature, it’s actually one of the great strengths of – oily smooth, and a major combat advantage, well balanced by the significant vulnerability it offers.
No, the problem is when you the Wiimote to its sideways orientation and the awkward re-shuffle of your brain this creates as you control your athletic Samus in a 3D world with an 8 point d-pad.
The impressive camera does its manful best to effectively hide your lack of analogue movement as you sweep from 3D to 2D and back, but it can’t help you with awkward ledge climbing or aid your sense of position when moving in for a crucial finisher. Missed jumps such as these will cause you infrequent headaches, - especially in Metroid’s famous chase sequences – but it is still by no means a game changer.
One wonders if Nintendo told Team Ninja to utilise ‘NES-style’ to appeal to its wider casual user base, and toe the line with stalemates , and .
But to do so for a fanbase so clearly built from within the hardcore audience, the decision is bafflingly contrived – especially when the series’ 3D first person controls are so faultless.
Another glaring issue is the attempt to open up the play area of Metroid with larger arenas.
When facing some of the more gargantuan foes – and in particular a roving diplodocus-style boss early on in the game – the advantage is clear; an increased playground with which to cause plasma havoc and super bomb to you heart’s sweet content.
But for most of the time, the game engine’s lack of power limits the extent to which these arenas are interestingly populated. For the most part you make be-sodden runs through near-empty marshes, discouraged from exploration by the lack of a real scan visor.
Worse still, the conceit of the ‘virtual reality’ of these locations only heightens your awareness of the hugely invasive invisible walls (often appearing as stark black gulfs at certain camera angles) that surround them – something ironically, the more linear Prime series never did.
Perhaps the worst criticism then, is a fear of placing in front of Metroid newcomers and your part-time Call of Duty buds.
The lack of analogue, the appalling script, numbing voice acting, and the unashamedly last-gen graphics; all make a mockery of Nintendo’s aim to bring Metroid to the new generation.
And while an assuring (but inaccurate) FPS cloak introduced the majesty of to the Halo generation, and the classic games reignited 2D adventure, stands out as an anachronism – a brave gamble masquerading as a contemporary block buster.
For fans of the series, and the action-starved, is of course, a solidly recommended purchase built almost solely upon a fresh, fluid and surprisingly convincing take on Samus’ abilities.
The simple difference, then, between and the rest of the franchise, is its legacy. It’ll be a particularly icy day in hell when you see my copies of and gracing Ebay.