Some franchises have had a lot of difficulty moving from 2d game play to 3d game play. A 3D Metroid game was in the works for the Nintendo 64 but never got released during its life cycle. This meant that Samus Aran’s only appearance during that generation was in Smash Brothers. However the game wasn’t entirely cancelled the dream of a 3d Metroid game continued into the GameCube with retro studios at the helm and in 2003 (2002 for America) Metroid Prime was released.
Metroid Prime‘s task was bringing the metroidvania style game play into 3D. Exploring a large world finding upgrades that allow you to explore areas you couldn’t before. This does have a notable sacrifice as it’s more linear than Super Metroid in the sense it’s a lot harder to sequence break (using tricks and some ability to get some power ups earlier than intended) not that people haven’t found out how to do some of that. But compensated by an increase to the story both in the standard way but also one more inventive to the game play.
The game takes the form of a first person adventure. You see the world through Samus’s power armour’s visor with her arm cannon working as if it was a first person shooters gun. The game is set between Metroid 1 and 2, so after Samus returned to Zebes to take down the space pirate base there but before she goes to Planet SR388 to wipe out the Metroids. At the start Samus boards a damaged space station which turns out to be owned by space pirates. This is the tutorial area of the game, to progress you will learn Samus’s base set of moves such as aiming your gun arm, firing missiles and making use of your visor.
Seeing through Samus’s visor isn’t just some first person perspective but an important tool of your arsenal, being able to scan enemies or objects to find out information or even activate objects such as lifts. You eventually make your way to the first boss before the space station in standard Metroid fashion begins to explode. On the way out you discover to your horror that the space pirates have rebuilt and cybernetically enhanced your nemesis Ridley. Finally as you’re about to escape an energy surge damages your suit removing all but the most basic of features as you escape to your ship and fly to the planet below after your nemesis.
Now the full game begins. You have only basic abilities of scanning objects the non charge version of the power beam and a basic jump as you explore this alien world. But you soon find this world was home to the Chozo, the race of bird like aliens that adopted Samus and made her power suit, so you will soon be able to repower up and improve your armoury. Such as with new visor upgrades and ew beams for your canon, all the while discovering what the space pirates are doing here and what befell the Chozo.
The majority of the history of what happened can be found thanks to your scanner. As well as activating things, you can scan enemies to find out information about them and scan computers or other objects to uncover lore about the world. Here you will find out the space pirates are after something called Phazon, and that a large meteor filled with the stuff collided with Tallon IV slowly poisoning and corrupting it.
Metroid Prime does an amazing job bringing the metroidvania exploration to a 3d setting combined with some very memorable boss fights (Ridley is always a high point in the franchise). In fact they did it so well that Metroid Prime is often up there with some of the best games ever made, something even its 2 sequels cannot claim (not that they are bad though). Not only is beating the final boss a rewarding feeling but you are encouraged to get every scan and find every item (it’s a Metroid game, there are plenty of hidden power ups) with the reward of art gallery. If you get 100 percent items an additional post credits scene leaving hints of where the trilogy would be going (players of the current Smash Bros game know who it teases)
But it’s not just the game itself that will reward players, This was back when they were showing off the Game Boy Advance connection. Metroid Prime was made with bonuses if you connected the game to Metroid Fusion (which was released the same day in America as Prime was released) games. It will unlock the original NES Metroid and the ability to play through Metroid Prime in the Fusion suit (something I did for this review)
Metroid Prime is definitely something to hunt down if you have a GameCube or Wii (Wii was backwards compatible) as it’s well worth its place in the franchise’s history. I cannot recommend this enough as it is one of the best games on the GameCube and the GameCube had some very good games, many of which I’m looking forward to start reviewing for you.