By Jade Entien
In 2002, Metroid Prime for the Gamecube took Nintendo fans by storm and sold thousands of copies, even becoming the 2002 Game of the Year Runner-Up at IGN. Twenty-one years later, Nintendo recently released the Metroid Prime Remastered with extremely high-quality graphics and soe new additions to the game. Long-time fans of the series will definitely enjoy what is the fourth entry into the franchise because it includes the beautiful animations make it feel new. In this classic, there is no rushing to get to the end, no droning cutscenes, and you meet familiar characters everyone loves. New players won’t miss out, either, since the story is pretty straightforward and the controls aren’t a struggle.
In the Metroid series, you play as Samus Aran, an intergalactic bounty hunter sporting a high-tech power suit with a variety of unique abilities and weapons. This suit can withstand extreme levels of heat, transform Samus into a morph ball to travel through tiny spaces, shoot super missiles, and swing from place to place with a grapple beam.
Because I never played the original Metroid Prime, I made sure to scan whatever Chozo hologram I could find to read further into the lore so as to better understand Metroid Prime Remastered. It wasn’t hard piecing together the story, and along the way, I felt a lot of sympathy for the raptor/humanoid Chozo, especially as they wrote of their coming extinction by the “Great Poison.” Metroid Prime has a massive world where Samus can explore multiple areas and rooms that might contain new creatures – perhaps friendly, perhaps dangerous – or house one of her lost power-ups. Games like Metroid Prime, which don’t take place on Earth or in an Earth-like environment, must have a fantastical and memorable location, with gripping history that’ll inspire years of player discussion at conventions and elsewhere. Metroid’s setting, Tallon IV, succeeds in this, and the remake adds the dreaded Space Pirates that try to inhibit Samus’s every move, and the corrosive, radioactive Phazon that wiped out the native residents, the Chozo.
Metroid isn’t a horror game, but the various inhabitants of Tallon IV are often as frightening as they are visually stunning. The Space Pirates reminded me of Hungers or Kwama Warriors from Bethesda’s Morrowind (except that they are clad in metal suits); these pirates have their backs hunched over, flash their gnarly sharp teeth and tech-ed out weaponry. Flaahgra, a combo of plant, insect and robotics located in the ruins, is both gorgeous and deadly and quickly became one of my favorites. Because of the high-def upgrade, this blossoming beast has more gradient colors, so you want to stop and stare for a moment before “morph ball bombing” it to bits. The graphics aren’t the only stunning aspect of the game; the music and sound effects are unreal. During the Thardus battle in the snowy Phendrana Drifts, the stone giant’s howls of pain as I blasted away at its body were almost too much to handle, and I had to lower my volume on multiple occasions.
Scanning is as important. If you don’t scan your surroundings. you’ll find yourself trapped in a draining, tiring battle or endlessly roaming the same level. Each scannable creature, plant, or device adds to the story by giving players information to rely on for future use or providing the location of a well-hidden weak spot to help defeat a difficult-to-kill boss. I had a hard time defeating a Sheegoth, kind of a rhino with exploding ice crystals on the bony back. I never fought a boss without scanning it again!
Metroid Prime Remastered seemed to me to be near without faults. It got me to bust out my Switch after weeks of inactivity and play something outside my comfort zone. However, I was a little lonely. Unlike the protagonists of other popular space action games, who often team up with allies or helpful NPCs, Samus Aran is a lone wolf and faces the dangers of the planet on her own. Like Samus, I was often alone with my thoughts. There were no NPCs nagging me every three seconds or side quests to distract me from the main story. After a while, I came to expect the same enemies whenever I would backtrack a level, and sometimes I just walked through the exploding swarm of Scarabs rather than shooting them. I would find upgrades in rooms that would be far from the rooms in which they would be most useful, and as a result, I couldn’t remember what I needed to do and where – because it felt like I was just looping. But at the end of the day, I found the Metroid Prime Remastered mostly wonderful, the sort of game that might feel like a lovely stroll across a distant planet, if it weren’t for the fact that you’re an actual bounty hunter and your nemesis is a bipedal robotic-looking dinosaur dragon named Ridley.
Jade Entien (They/Them), is a senior Circle intern, currently studying for their BFA at SUNY Cortland.