Metroid has always been a mesh of different DNA: a little of Zelda's exploration mixed in with the acrobatics of Mario and then tied together with some good old fashioned plasma ballistics. Even taking into account that heritage, there was nothing quite like Metroid Prime when it launched in 2002. Coming up to 13 years later, and despite a couple of high quality sequels and almost a decade of increasingly fevered begging from fans, there's been nothing like it ever since.
The nights are so long these days (sorry, nights) that you could dress them up in angry forum posts and call them the delay between major Wii releases. Of the 12 Games of Christmas features we've done so far, this line-up saw by far the most chins stroked and calls placed in search of suitable candidates.
After what feels like a wait of ninety million years, this week finally sees Metroid Prime 3: Corruption reach our Euroshelves. To mark this epoch-making event, and to give me an excuse to dust off some really ace old games, here's a potted history of the critically acclaimed franchise so far. If you've always wondered what the fuss was about, hopefully this will entice you to sample some classics. If you're already in love with Nintendo's resourceful lady bounty hunter and her spherical gifts, maybe this will tickle some happy memories up from the sludgy bottom of your mind.
Never mind Super Mario Galaxy - the one forthcoming Wii first party title that has me frothing with giddy expectation is the latest in the Metroid Prime series. After the majestic beast that was 2004's Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, Retro Studios latest offering was always going to get the red carpet treatment from us - appropriate, given that Nintendo's swanky new offices are literally next door to the Queen's modest abode in Windsor.
Of all Nintendo's various achievements, surely its most consistent is in simultaneously pissing off and delighting its faithful European customers. For twenty-five years the company has wowed us with innovative technology and wonderfully robust and inventive games, filling reservoirs of consumer goodwill in a way few other multinationals manage. In tension with this, interminable localisation delays, sloppy, bordered conversions and,- most heart-breakingly - an ever-slim line-up of releases has made it clear that Europe is literally the least of the Japanese company's global concerns.
This is the game, apparently, that Nintendo just didn't want me to preview. You see, Retro were kind enough to give the E3 punters a demo which was, roughly, twenty-five minutes long. A serious investment of time. Nintendo, or at least the floor monkeys, didn't seem to know that, so the first day the lines were so long, and so static, that it was a waste of time. Day 2, of course, they've got a plan in mind. They'll limit everyone to about 10 minutes. Which means that by the middle of the demo, roughly, you're kicked off. So, therefore, I need to wait in line about 6 times, ensuring I time it right half the time so I can play it from the middle onwards (continuing someone else's game) to ensure I get all the way through it.