Retrospective: Metroid Prime • Page 2

Bossing us about.

Every one of these abilities and add-ons changes which areas of the game can be accessed. It's mindblowing that it's all held in balance, and that it's balanced so extraordinarily well. Just to have the guts to include so very many augmentations in one game, all of which are gained by the player as they progress, is a feat itself. And it never feels overwhelming or muddled. It's the reason why Metroid Prime, as loved as it is, is still not loved nearly enough.

And then come the boss fights. Just why? What are they for?

Of course you may be someone who lives for boss fights. You may think they're the greatest thing to have ever happened in gaming. And I'm both jealous and pleased for you. But for some, including those as handsome as me, they're a monolith of idiocy in the middle of so much fun.

I love playing Metroid Prime. I adore gathering abilities, re-exploring previous areas to reach all those greyed out areas on the map, scanning absolutely everything in existence even though I don't care about the scan percentage score. So oddly enough I don't want that inhibited by sudden difficulty spikes so tall they're poking the Sun. They're not in keeping with the experience, not relevant to the game I was playing. And worst, so much the worst, they can stop you from carrying on with the fun you were having. It's not like everything the other side of the latest boss is going to be equally as difficult - it's going to drop back down to the casually challenging combat and puzzles that you were being entertained by before.

Bosses, like in real life, are rubbish in games.

This isn't made easier by the GameCube's controls. That you're holding a controller that offers a stick for each thumb but can't assign the camera to the right stick is like having a hand tied behind your back and dipped in acid. Holding down the right trigger to 'look', meaning you can no longer move back and forward, is - in hindsight - so very aggravating. And never more so than when trying to battle some massively over-powered boss that's killing you before you can even turn to look at it.

I just want a "skip boss" button. Yes, boss lovers find this disgusting. But oddly enough, when I've paid for a game, I want to be able to play that game. I've yet to buy a film that won't let me watch it until the end unless I complete some algebra, nor read a book that midway through refuses to let me turn the pages until I've memorised all the capital cities in Asia. So why am I not allowed to see the rest of a game just because the developers decided to put in a massive obstacle?

This is the reason I've never seen the end of Metroid Prime. You may think me a pathetic weakling, and that's fine, but I absolutely cannot defeat Meta Ridley. That's the penultimate boss! I've no idea how I'd stand against the Metroid Prime itself. So despite having invested so many hours into this, I don't know how it ends. Sure, I could look at YouTube now, but I certainly couldn't in 2002 when I first played it.

Poor Samus - no one has their skills stolen so frequently.

(This gets far, far worse for Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, which I've only seen the first half of thanks to a boss fight I can't even complete the first of four stages for. Give me a mouse and keyboard and I'd be fine - but not with a cack-handed GC controller.)

This isn't helped by Metroid Prime's ghastly lack of checkpoints. Relying entirely on visiting save stations, any boss that isn't located near one (see: most of them) means retracing such enormous stretches of the game to find them again. How is that fun for anyone? It's not! Stop it!

See! It's so sad that my retrospective of such a magnificent game has become so bitter, and it's all because of stupid bosses. So we're putting them on hold until we can find some sort of compromise.

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John Walker

John Walker



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