metroid prime

a review of Metroid Prime
a videogame developed by retro studios
and published by nintendo
for the nintendo gamecube and the nintendo wii
text by Ario Barzan

4 stars
#18

Bottom line: Metroid Prime is “so slick you might think it's vanilla.”

Analyzing Metroid Prime as a successful piece of entertainment is a strange business. The game itself is so damned together that it can, at face value, appear simply sufficient, as a “Well, of course” sort of deal. This deceptive effortlessness is at the heart of the execution. I have to wonder if its self-comprehension was so . . . “there,” that the people at Retro never had the subsequent thought of stepping back and moving around it to understand why the thing worked. No doubt, Retro recognized Prime as a success in the critics’ and players’ eyes. What they seemed to have glossed over, when developing future titles, was that it wasn’t exclusively Prime’s base structure that propelled it upward. And so along came Echoes and Corruption, both at once just like Prime, and sufferers of sequel-itis, where generalities and for-the-sake-of-newness contrivances reigned like greasy monarchs. But, I’ll not get into sequel bashing. Not yet.

Metroid Prime: here is the game representing the only 3D jump from a 2D series to exude such grace. People might be quick to point out the benefits of its console, but being smart has always outweighed technology – and, well, look at how frumpish Twilight Princess turned out to be. What about Ocarina of Time? Back in 1998, it made our eyes melt from their sockets when we got to Hyrule field and saw that the sun set, the moon rose, and skeletons burst from the ground at dark. Digested now, the field is more nakedly exposed than ever as dead space, miniaturized by the format’s expanding scale, though still big for no good reason, and still suffering from the aftermath of an atomic bomb – a stomach-growling, Kingdom Hearts-esque notion that exists through much of the game’s world. For how important, how exciting Link’s quest is made out to be, there’s barely anything worth rescuing or doing (see: Majora’s Mask on how to get this right). Those skeletons never did much, you know, hobbling like incompetents, taking a second to wind up a clumsy swipe, unable to step on dirt trails. What I am saying is that Ocarina doesn’t have that element of endurance to call me back today. In spite of this, people continue to hold it up on a throne; its exhaust fumes have put them into a dazed high from which they don’t want to snap out of. These could be the same individuals whose bottom lips quivered, “E . . . epic . . .” whenever a cutscene in Super Smash Bros. Brawl ended. Ocarina of Time is mentioned with a swelling of chests, as if it’s our honorary duty as Proud Video Gamers to get hot for Zelda in 3D because it’s Zelda in 3D. I feel pushed by a hidden, whinier force to say that Ocarina was an initial epiphany. I hummed the music when walking to school, and I bought a fly-fishing rod because of Lake Hylia’s fishing hole. It was also my first 3D game. Still, a decade after being released, it drifts in an abject barrenness that only the most determined and self-deceiving players can overlook.

Ghoulish hands intertwined with Ocarina’s, Super Mario 64, too, remains floating on a cloud so high, so unquestioned, that criticizing it is tantamount to directing a cyclone of diarrhea at Bernini’s Pieta. In truth, the game can be summarized with the Stretch Mario’s Fat Fucking Face meta-game, or the garden outside the castle where we climbed up trees, leapt off of them, and screamed “OH, MY GODDD.” That is, Mario 64 was the Z-axis’ chief launch, yet never much more than a cute tech demo. The sky was breached, the rocket’s occupants have been long dead, and the main thing fueling it now is blue-sky nostalgia. Scrapping the series’ defining momentum in place of wide adventure (all right), Mario 64 then gave us a bumbling action hero to guide, over and over, through hollow, unattractive levels in search of shiny things. And the kids sure like them shiny things. And, you know, the game isn’t bad; it’s just plain, carpet-flavored, though Bowser’s stages are nice. Super Mario Sunshine, at the very least, made its settings more purpose driven and contextured.

There are others, sure. Metal Gear Solid, whose cinematic aspirations are intruded upon by the creaky gameplay; Grand Theft Auto 3 smudging its big world by having it be an ugly world, as well as giving too much, and consequently too little, to do; Rygar: The Legendary Adventure and its combination of beautiful areas and horrid combat; Project Altered Beast, Street Fighter EX, Sonic Adventure – so on and so forth. No, Metroid Prime is the leap to outclass all other leaps. Dread was emerging on the Internet after the game’s unveiling. It wouldn’t be in 2D, or third-person 3D. It was going to be a first-person shooter. Everything would be shown from inside Samus’ visor, her upheld arm visible on the front right. Those three letters, “F.P.S.”, let loose a fearful undercurrent. After Mario and Link got the polygonal treatment and went on to sell millions of copies, Samus might burst onto the scene and fall flat on her face. The series’ fans were an abandoned lot, their last game had been Super Metroid in 1994, and the promise of a new title being too Halo-ish (or something) frightened them. Then, Metroid Prime came out, lean and mean, and everyone fell on their own faces.

Know this: the game’s control is wonderful. It is finely whipped. It results in the best handling first-person shooter for a console (no, I’m not going to get into the whole “first-person adventure vs. first-person shooter” debate). In each action allowed is an unrelenting cleanliness, not least of all because of how clear-minded the button mapping is. As dedicated as I am to Super Metroid – seriously, A to jump? B to run? X to attack? Then, pick up Metroid Prime. It’s like the system’s controller was made for the game. The plump, green A button fires shots from Samus’ arm; the smaller B button is for the spruce jumping; the curving X button puts Samus in her morph ball. Everything that should be next to something else is, and the schema gets absorbed in the most digestible way. Platforming has a delightful magnetism, in spite of Samus’ feet never being visible. When a leap isn’t a success, it’s because you messed up. If anyone still rolls their eyes and spits air out because of auto-lock aiming, there’s no bigger indicator they’ve not played Prime than outright saying they haven’t played it. Auto-locking is nothing more complicated, nothing less fresh, than the enemies having been designed with it in mind, which is all that’s required, you know. There’s a group of jetpack-toting space pirates. So you click a finger down on the L button and Samus’ arm swings to the very thing you’re thinking about shooting at. I don’t know how the game manages to read minds, but there you go. It’s so understanding that it keeps noiselessly flowing. And once you’re locked on, the game doesn’t turn dumb. It’s still just, well, Metroid Prime – brisk, mostly fair (more on this, later), fun. You can strafe to the sides as you dodge scores of gun shots and missiles, firing your own with as much immediacy. If you don’t keep on your toes when the game expects you to, you’ll be left hurting. And you’ll feel a nice sizzle when you’ve bypassed nimble enemies, heat wavering from the mouth of your gun.

Above all else, Metroid Prime is about atmosphere – and that’s kind of been the point from the start, with the first game’s creepy-crawly caverns and hidden rooms. On a larger scale, and more often than any other medium, video games are about atmosphere, how it feels to exist in their universes, a characteristic strengthened by putting you in those places and letting you feel the friction of Avatar against World. How do we dwell on games? It’s usually not going to be the way we remember a movie or novel, which often relates to characters, their relations, the overall narrative. Instead, it’s more like conjuring up spots we’ve existed in. The memory of walking above mounds of crimson woodchips in Maine on a steaming summer day is not too dissimilar from a memory of Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, or even Super Mario Bros.. In the end, it depends how conscious the game’s focuses on its ambiance is. Metroid Prime doesn’t assume you’ll go on because you like Metroid. It works its hardest to ensure that you, whoever you are, will enjoy being a part of its world, emotional baggage or not, and succeeds like few efforts out there.

On paper, the locales are the stuff of basic elemental listings. A green overworld, the underground caves of lava, blank snowscapes, the dust-covered ruins, techno-industrial bases. Thank god the game isn’t by-the-paper, though. Introducing itself as a raining, ever-storming lushness, the overworld is flanked by fresh waterfalls and grounded with moist ferns, mossy boulders, and ponds holding fish. There’s an afternoon glow on the ruins’ architecture, flora burst from cracks in the brickwork, and golden points of dust float in retro-futuristic corridors. The wintry drifts have temples sitting on top of blank hills, capped by constant snow. The game has a hell of a talent for visual language and giving itself a face. When you discover each zone, they’re so curiously and deliciously layered that you could almost eat or drink them, act as a sponge and soak up their ambiance. And the best way to do this is by going on. Here’s where things get really interesting, though before I do that, I’d like to bring up Symphony of the Night, again.

Like Metroid, the Castlevania series has grown to establish itself as an atmospherically self-aware family tree. That’s what the most revered entries are considered to uphold, anyway. Nowadays, outside of the GameFAQs crowd that would be content to eat stalks of celery and peanut butter every day, there’s a general clearing of throats, tapping of heads, and puffing of mouths when a new Castlevania is shown. We click on link to a preview, read something akin to, “Things don’t seem to have changed much – however, this promises to be one of the year’s best games!!!”, and spot ten references to Symphony of the Night along the way. Annoyed as I am with the title’s continued prominence, it’s not exactly like we can help it (well, some of us could shut up on a greater basis): it was the promise of things to come that never came, and the Castlevania games haven’t gotten over it, so . . . why should we? Since its release in 1997, there has been no Castlevania approaching Symphony’s sense of Place, and the games have increasingly turned into sardine tins to peel open and jab at and gobble, oil dripping from the crevices of one’s mouth. Pick up, peck at, put down. It’s an exercise free of savoring. Creatures are stocked, regardless of their nature, onto ledges and near the entrances of the rooms for Grinding Proficiency – not even because the designers can, but because they must, in the way that most enemies “must” drop an item or two. The games are improvising with a blindfold and handcuffs on, and it’s a frightfully strict mess. Compare, then, the castle in Symphony. Through and through a video game, it was also a cosmos. Because of loving positioning, the monsters became an inseparable extension of the castle’s character and ecosystem. Dracula’s servants didn’t just serve to show how big your numbers had gotten: they had a home. Frozen shades appeared in the coldest parts of the caves, hovering over iced pools. Crows and ravens had nests perched on the wooden structures of chapel towers. Ouija tables were nestled in the warm corners of the gallery, where you’d imagine some soul would go to read. Playstation turned off, it felt like that world could continue to exist beyond you.

This concentration is in Metroid Prime. The whole planet of Tallon IV isn’t “waiting” for Samus; it breathes and functions without her. There are animals that live here, and you’re intruding on their habitat. Large arthropods erupt out of sand, fire-breathing worms rear their heads from bodies of lava, pods of fungi shiver and expel gas near water, and shelled critters dink around on rocks, sporting spikes if you’re too near. The fauna take on the role of threats and atmospheric set pieces. Since Prime, the focus has turned towards making the games arena-based fragfests with an overabundance of the “doors will be locked until you kill all the bad guys” deal. Really, who are the space pirates, again? All of a sudden, they’ve become the universe’s central obstacle; this bleary-eyed over saturation has robbed them of presence. Why not let Metroid shine in its own uncommon way? When Prime feels the need to introduce non-inhabitants, it does so with a well paced richness. While one part has Samus using the thermal visor in a blacked-out shaft dotted with silent enemies, another sees you navigating corridors, cloaked pirates bursting from the ceiling and rushing you. It’s legitimately unnerving.

It doesn’t end with Prime’s fauna being themselves, or the excellent spacing of other life forms. Samus can use her visor as a scanning tool. Pressing right on the D-pad causes a small box, magnifying whatever is in its view, to appear. Scan-worthy objects have red and orange symbols on top. Target them, and a little download bar will appear. You can scan each creature in the world, and the game will tell you about it – or, you can skip the description and visit it later in the bestiary. Samus isn’t just a bounty hunter: she’s a documenter. Every animal has its quirks, and as you learn about each, look at the provided X-ray shots, understand why one may behave or look the way it does, the world starts to build itself up around you and increase its layers moreso. Shriekbats, Prime’s database says, have a high internal heat, and are super-territorial, ready to sacrifice themselves in a hive mind fashion. So it follows that, when you approach, they’ll descend from their perches and dive-bomb, exploding upon impact. One of my favorites is the stone toad, which will sit still for days on end, chowing down on anything that comes near its mouth with shocking speed. These basic instincts can be taken advantage of: roll into a ball, get swallowed by the animal, and plant a bomb. The stone toad explodes, and a passageway is revealed.

The story’s always there, even if you never actually “see” it. And the game is fine with that; it’s confident you will be, too. Literally speaking, the thing ain’t hot. Talking about it would be like talking about the frame of a painting. As in, no, I’m not going to even give a summary. Though, look at how Prime handles its story. Traditionally, in Metroid games, Samus’ actions were the plot. As such, the games didn’t have segments, so much as they had crosshatching branches. They were continuous, in the moment. Samus came to a planet, explored alien terrain, braved foreign enemies, and left. That is essentially the same with Metroid Prime. Whatever cutscenes emerge are voiceless and brief, often for the sake of introducing a boss or environment. The in-game progression is the narrative, and it’s all Prime requires. Still, the game has a nice trick: in each setting are things to scan and read – fragments of lore inscribed on walls, data stored in computers. Each record acquaints you with a historical fact or technical detail. When you read one, it’s a blip of context to add to your surroundings and, in return, your efforts and place in the world – a world “fixed” to fit the game’s mechanic evolution, but a world, nonetheless, endowed with a thick, pure architectural spine. These levels were not designed by accountants; they were built by people who might have loved climbing on rocks as kids. Areas are textural and weighty. Individual rooms have a sense of belonging. It’s hardly ever as utilitarian as straight-hallway-with-flat-floor. If it is, it’s done for the love of pacing.

In an isolated sense, all of the bosses are wholesome. View them from an angle of challenge-oriented growth – our first blemish (of little there are) – and Prime spikes at a less than gorgeous incline during the last three: the Omega Pirate, Meta-Ridley, and Metroid Prime. Well, the last’s life bar could’ve been shortened anyway, thanks. It feels like the developers were trying a little too hard to get across the idea that the game is nearing its end, and I won’t blame anyone for getting bugged enough to switch the console off in the interests of other pursuits until they’re in the Right Mood again. Prime suddenly makes the expectation that the player will be able to perform on a level that they’ve hardly brushed against prior. It bears confirming that each opponent is a heart-pounding affair, frightening and exciting in scope and ferociousness, satisfying, in the end, to overcome. These monstrosities are out to get you, and hell if they’re not going to get the belt out and bend you over their knee.

And there are the Chozo ghosts, which I still don’t “get” like I don’t “get” why Twilight Princess told me how much each rupee was worth every time I started up a save file. To be fair, that may have been an accidental hiccup (a hell of a hiccup (more of a burp)), but Prime’s Chozo ghosts – aliens who were corrupted by an infectious material from a meteor’s impact – are a real wonder. The game has you fight a few, ala mini-bosses, in certain spots. Re-enter those rooms, however, and you need to do the whole shebang all over again. In a godless maneuver, these locations become eternal battlegrounds, darkening and locking their doors and letting loose ghosts if you ever return. A meaningless curse, and I’d be less annoyed if the battle music weren’t so reminiscent of metallic crows banging in a factory full of angry/horny robot-giants. It screams and crashes and wanks, and you will want to turn the volume down.

These are the problems, mainly. I know there are people who are bummed by the game’s handling of secrets, and, all right, I can sort of get on that – as before, a hole in the wall could lead you around and under an environment’s bowels towards a power-up, rather than providing an upgrade on a pedestal within a nook. This extensive tunneling gave the worlds of Super Metroid or Metroid 2 a peculiar network. Still, when the task at hand is as consuming as Metroid Prime‘s, it’s hard to count this loss as a real bump, and easier to see it as a part that didn’t exactly need to be carried over (. . . just yet?), like the wall jump. There’s also a hint system – horror of horrors – though it’s contextual and courteously translucent. A minor beep will sound if an item is nearby, and your suit will indicate if there’s been a “disturbance” in a sector. You can press Z to view the location on the map, or you can ignore it and let the message fade away. With the introduction of the Z-axis, and the largeness of Prime’s geography, each is a breezy feature the most reasonable human should be able to welcome.

 

design by reroreroI don’t even think that Retro really knew what they were going to end up with on their hands before Metroid Prime’s completion; at the least, it would be good, and engrossing, and right. I like to imagine that the game came into the world the same way a certain drawing or piece of writing might’ve – when you reach that certain point where everything is flowing, and it’s only when the thing is done (at seven in the morning) that you step back, and a product throbbing with knot after knot of miracles is in front of you. Prime, we believe, was born out of this white hot zone of rationality, yet its two sequels tried so hard, became so self-aware and prone to tripping over their shoelaces, one might’ve mistaken them for missing half their brains. While Echoes prods Samus into a dark world where you walk around and take damage, idle in a bubble for half a minute to regain health, move forward, etcetera, Corruption has a boss fall off a platform – never mind the absence of gravity – get hit by a space ship below, and explode. Metroid Prime doesn’t get stupid in the hopes of boom, nor does it sacrifice rhythm for molasses-drenched ornamentation. Outside of its own series, it’s a grand game with a presence and fine-spun veracity worthy of ten (if not more) gallons of drool per person. On that pleasant note regarding mass amounts of bodily fluids, I’ll let this go.

–Ario Barzan

Comments

50 Responses to metroid prime

  1. this was one of the last games i really recall being so completely immersed within. i started playing and i didn’t stop until a few days later. never got into the sequels.

    great write up.

  2. Regarding metal gear “whose cinematic aspirations are intruded upon by the creaky gameplay”

    eh, what? and for gods sake man dont use prime and “creaky gameplay” as an example.

    Prime is a boring game, its a bore on many levels;

    There is to much computer intervention in the aiming system, leaving it feeling automated to the point of not even having to look at the screen anymore let alone aim. Its too slick, its too clean, theres no open space!, It has open space the way Vagrant Story has open space, as a room.

    room after room, respawn after respawn, ice zone, fire zone, space zone, mine zone and all that cliche crap going on. I see no wilderness not like hyrule field in zelda or all of shadow of collossus, the Fisher Price energy blob weoponary…need i go on

    Metal gear is about the cold war and conspiracy, the rivalry of brotherhood and many interesting things what the hell is Prime about? What does prime have to say thats interesting?Fuck all!

    You wrote it in such a biased way and posed no argument, you described the game to be so much better than at actually is.

  3. A person’s opinion of Metroid Prime seems proportionate to their attention span, it seems.

    Quite odd that you don’t consider Metal Gear Solid to have that same lack of open space, it’s simple room after simple room buffered by cutscenes. At least In Metroid you’re thinking about rooms on the other side of the game.

  4. you know, i always had the nagging suspicion that action button dot net’s articles were biased.

    the Objective android overlords will not be pleased about this, i can tell you that. not one too bit.

    hey, look! another reference to robots.

  5. I remember playing Metroid Prime for the first time, being entranced, getting to the final boss, and never playing it again. I read this review and played Prime again on “Hard”, and I’d have to agree on nearly every assessment. I would like to say that the pluvian shrine where you battle Meta Ridley is visually, musically, and viscerally my favorite environment in the game.

    Two things though:
    I always thought Metal Gear Solid’s cinematic aspirations cushioned the gameplay, but I wouldn’t just describe the gameplay as creaky. Myopic, touchy, and illogical would also suffice. I love the game, though. LOVE it.

    I remember playing Ocarina of Time, that sacred cow destined for the slaughterhouse, in 1998.

  6. “Metal gear is about the cold war and conspiracy, the rivalry of brotherhood and many interesting things what the hell is Prime about? What does prime have to say thats interesting?Fuck all!”

    Games don’t have to “say” anything “interesting” to be good games : _ :

  7. “Games don’t have to “say” anything “interesting” to be good games : _ :”

    I’d appreciate it, still. Metroid Prime is the enchanting, and stylishly dressed girl at the cocktail party that dances like a hurricane, yet still deems it necessary to bore you to tears with unimaginative smalltalk, while she could just as well shut up and throw you mysterious glances during the silence in between songs, and, still, dance like a motherfucker. Dancing like a motherfucker is saying something interesting. Saying something uninteresting is not saying something interesting.

    Metroid Prime lost me at some point, because she moved around too damn much for no apparent reason, other than to toy with me. And the dance floor was fucking crowded, so…
    Metroid Prime doesn’t meet the criteria for “common-sensical level design” and “natural flows, where the in-game challenges get progressively more and more difficult due solely to the arrangement of obstacles and positioning of enemies, not because you’re under-leveled or ill-equipped”. It’s a nice game though. Good, even! It’s just that the game can never manage to top its own title screen. That’s really what the whole game is hanging on. You will love that title screen from the beginning, yet, it becomes even better after you play the game for a bit. Just playing random bits would suffice, really. And then you come back to the title screen and you’ll have all those images — of Samus, in oh-so fresh and so clean graphics, and of rain, and of statues, and beam guns — and they will all connect in your mind, because of that title screen. The music of the game will melt on top of your brain, like chocolate sauce, and you’ll feel the strangest feelings. Warm and breezy all the same. Lonely and alive and spiritual, like drawing your last breaths flat on your back in a forest; modern, like a corpse in a solid cement block, magically alive again. Come back to that title screen after several years, sitting down on your couch, bracing yourself; you will just fade away. Somewhere, right now, a Buddhist monk realized that he ran out of pot, and so he goes to start up Metroid Prime. Pressing the Gamecube’s power button, fully anticipating that little *doot* sound. That title screen… — it’s Metroid Prime’s catharsis. That’s the weirdest thing to say, I know. Yet, there’s the Buddhist monk, sitting, Wavebird in hand — because you need it in your hand, you need to sit down in front of the TV, circling the start button with your thumb, that start button that couldn’t be any smaller, couldn’t be any easier to press — and he’s not pressing any buttons.

    It’s like that picture that you have, of that girl, at that party. You look at that picture and, oh, the possibilities. And that’s all there is to it. That’s all there ever was to her, anyway. Somehow I appreciate that.

    In a way I feel like Metroid Prime doesn’t deserve to be included in this list (Just saying. I’m not one to put a frozen hot dog in the toaster, so we cool.) and I still can’t bring myself to tell anybody not to try this game. “(…)in most of these games, the game is over when you are not good enough(…)” Maybe I wasn’t good enough. Maybe you will be the one to go home with that girl… it’s possible, certainly! In the end though, the question remains if you’ll feel any better about her than I do. Man. Metroid Prime. I’m glad to have met her — but I’ll be damned if there weren’t at least 25 others out there, that I’d rather have met instead.

  8. mr mathis: appreciate the date correction. you are correct.

    sn: are you interested in writing for us?!

  9. sn: you said that very nicely, i felt the same pain.

    Thats what Prime does to you, for you she danced for me she sang.

    I have to admit i have never seen a more interesting title screen, that premice of biology, the premice of profoundity never to be realized.
    It was all an act, she left me endlessly wondering and eternaly hounded. Her song led me somwhere i didnt want to be..a siren.

    And thats precisely why Metal Gear Solid is superiour by several orders of magnitude, his stone cold glare at the title portrays a troubled, sincere man, and this you shall experience.

  10. I’ve tried playing through Prime many times. But each time, I just couldn’t. I can’t. I appreciate the brilliance of its controls and its success at capturing the essence of the Metroid atmosphere, but it just doesn’t speak my language. Forget Resident Evil. The Metroid games were the first in the survival horror genre. The original for its crippling difficulty, the way you started with the most pathetic of weapons and didn’t have a clue as to what you were supposed to do. The second for its perhaps unintentionally bleak setting – wandering through the dreary, monotonous caves, thinking, “I’ve got to get the hell out of here” and realizing that turning off the game would be the coward’s way out. And the third for being so perfect and complete in concept and execution as to inspire a humbling, trembling fear of mankind’s artistic power. Seriously though, the fear was the same that one gets from watching Ridley Scott’s “Alien”, the movie that no doubt inspired the games – “In space, no one can hear you scream”. In other words, “I could die here, alone, in this horrible cavern on this miserable awful planet and no one will know. No one will know!” The horror came from projecting yourself onto the avatar you were controlling. After all, if you didn’t feel that you WERE Samus, you couldn’t be emotionally involved with her fate. And that’s where Prime loses me. I grew up with pixels and sprites. I could be Mario or Link, because the simplicity of their design turned them into symbols, stand ins for the player, rather than a character and personality separate from me. But when I play Prime, and a flash of light causes me to see Samus’ eyes reflected back at me (as brilliant an effect as that is), I realize that those are not my eyes. The Samus I’m controlling is as alien to me as the world she inhabits. And then I stop playing.

  11. sn’s response was so good, i’m officially, on the record, changing my opinion about everything….in my life.

  12. My kneejerk reaction at the first post claimed prime was boring, i think its becoming clear to me this is not accurate, indeed many have shared the same crushing feeling with Prime…of futility.

    I can think of others, Turok 2 had the same “i just cant face this anymore” feeling. As did many of the Tomb Raider series of games.

    Videogames in my opinion should never be futile, there should be a clear human reson for being there, for interacting in the virtual world. To learn what can break a man, To cry at the loss of a companion in final fantasy 7, To overcome the simulation with human triamph. Persuit without true reason is the act of a madman.

    Prime could have done this, it could have shown us.

  13. final fantasy 7′s aeris death scene was/is more wooden than a thousand acre forest. i’ve yet to be convinced that whatever juicy tears it invoked in anyone wasn’t mostly due to those players being in an emotionally unstable state. to be sure, we were all experiencing the angst of our teen years, though hell if i even felt a bit of heat well up behind my eyes.

    prime’s motivation is pretty clear. samus has come to a space frigate after a distress signal. there are space pirates inside, broken test tubes, and, ultimately, meta-ridley. meta-ridley escapes, and meta-ridley is a bad dude, so samus follows him so he doesn’t cause more trouble. this is all the game needs, in the same way that super mario bros. only needs to show you that there is a princess somewhere who needs rescuing, which it doesn’t even show right away. you could say that the joyful physics of super mario bros., the simple act of just moving forward and leaping from platform to platform, is reason enough. in this same way, even though prime has an instigating narrative factor – and then builds on that, cluing you in on a “great poison” and “worm” – the atmosphere, flow, and structure of tallon iv is, for me, also reason enough to keep walking and poking and climbing.

    also: saying that one quit because they saw the reflection of samus’ eyes screams of being impossibly touchy.

  14. I’ve played a few hours of Metroid Prime. It was my first and only Metroid game. One of the main reasons I never finished it was it is the only game that has ever given me motion sickness.

  15. It’s interesting that Metroid Prime is pitted against Metal Gear Solid here. They form a kind of yin-yang sign when I put them together in my mind — one balancing out the other.

    I remember seeing Metroid Prime 3: Corruption at a friend’s house. He had just rented it and I watched him play — from the start — for about three hours, or a little more. I was impressed. The game seemed pretty fluid, all in all. There was some well-lubed action going on. I’d wager that Corruption tries to satisfy the player in a much bolder way than Prime. “Corruption has a boss fall off a platform – never mind the absence of gravity – get hit by a space ship below, and explode.” That’s kinda reminiscent of MGS’s shenanigans. Flying motorcycles and all. It’s a crowd pleaser. I’d have no objections to a Metroid game that wants to please its player. Prime, although it surely wants to please, is a “look, don’t touch” kind of deal. Prime wants to look classy at all times. It’s so self-concious. It has to learn that — when the time is right — it’s alright to get stupid, it’s alright to get dirty. MGS games go all out for the climax, and they don’t care if anybody thinks that they look stupid doing it. MGS games get downright ridiculous at the end, and they are doing it just for you! I love that a lot. Think of how abstract they get. MGS4 with the transforming “graves” near the end. MGS3 with the transforming flower petals. Think of how MGS4 still manages to crack a joke even when “shit got real”. I am thinking about the catapult scene here. And the briefing preceding it. That’s all to surprise you, tickle you, please you. And, my god, MGS does not ever stop trying to please you. Those games don’t stop climaxing. They don’t want you to stop climaxing.

    I’d hire Hideo Kojima anytime as a performer if I were to direct porn. He would be good value for my money.

    I mean, take a look at him. That man’s been working out. Been pumping up. Now, why is that? I’ll tell you right here, right now. It’s because it enables you to fuck really hard, come without ejaculating, keep on fucking, ejaculate, keep fucking without any kind of downtime, ejaculate again after as soon as 10 minutes, keep on fucking without downtime, and ejaculate a third time, as soon as 12 minutes later. Personally, I’m not standing at the foot of a hill once a week, climbing it by doing uphill lunge squats, because I enjoy being ridiculed by people in a public space. I do it because I want legs as big as that of a world class 100m sprinter. I want strong-as-fuck legs because I like to ejaculate a lot (strong-as-fuck, also).

    Metroid Prime is restrained in terms of controls. Elegantly restrained. It doesn’t want you to make a fool out of yourself. Sadly, that also means that you’ll never feel like a hero. (Except if you are capable of feeling like a hero because you’re circle strafing really well.) In MGS it’s possible to spray as poorly as the bad guys in Hollywood blockbusters, thus making a fool out of yourself. Personally, I not only knock ‘em out, I pick the vertebrae. Thus I am a champion. MGS lets you go deep-down-and-dirty by giving you deep-down-and-dirty controls; it gives you a full sack of buttons and nipples to pressure-sensitively press, wiggle, and whatnot, until the dualshock controller jumps from your clutch like a greasy salmon. I lets you knock yourself the fuck out. It’s kinky; you’re given more control over Snake than a slave gives his dominatrix. MGS also gives you another sack filled with items to play with. Only the most playful of players will use them because there’s no “reason” to use them, other than to be playful.

    Metroid Prime isn’t at all like playfully making love, rather it’s like going to school on a rainy day. And yes, you’ve got to go, Billy! There’s so much exciting shit out there in the world, and you’ve got to go to school to learn about it! It’s like a school excursion where you are forced to follow in your teacher’s steps at all times, act like you’re interested in whatever he’s pointing at, flip open your textbook, read what someone else — who was actually exploring the world! — wrote about the mystery object, and move on. Don’t lose sight of your teacher though! He’s rather absentminded…
    Still, I’m bigging up Retro Studios for trying! For trying to create a world worth exploring and for inventing the scanner to explore it with. Metroid Prime could be amazing educational software. If it only had “something interesting to say”! If Metroid Prime (rather than a school’s website) taught me that I’ve got much in common with birds (and dinosaurs!) because of how our bones are arranged, that would have been something! Exploding bats and stone frogs are nice too. Rather creative. I’ve got nothing against making up things, as long as it’s creative. MGS games are much more concerned about passing on real world knowledge to the player. That’s not surprising, seeing how MGS is based in a more realistic setting.

    The MGS and MP games tackle some of the same issues and handle them in very different ways. The distribution of information being the most important. One game shouts at you, with overboarding emotion, because the fate of mankind is hanging on it and– time is of the essence!! — move your ass! The other game hands you a pie graph, trusts that you realize that it’s of your own best interest to find out more, and leaves you alone.

    @First Iranian National Hero: Do I want to write for ABDN? If you mean, did I ever intent to, then, no. If you mean, would I consider it if I were given the chance… I feel honored and humbled just thinking about it. I found it great that someone (you?) corrected my mistake with the italics. That’s very noble! I’m rather disgusted with myself now for not putting his emoticon in a new line, when I was quoting harveyjames.

    Thanks iwontusemyname! Thanks panther! Thanks Stephen Mathis! Somehow, reading positive responses makes me jump for joy.

  16. ario: to clarify my admittedly over dramatic statement about Samus’ reflection and address your comparison to Mario Bros – The term “role playing game” has come to mean a specific genre of game usually involving number crunching, experience points, etc. But if I can appropriate the term for a moment and instead define an rpg simply as a game in which you take on a role or persona, then Metroid Prime, I believe, is the first in the series to be a true role playing game. Thus the significance of Samus’ reflection – a reminder that I am not experiencing a virtual world through a controllable avatar, but rather I am experiencing what it’s like to be a character separate from myself in a virtual world. As character models and environments become increasing more realistic, this sense of taking on a role becomes more and more potent. This can be quite entertaining, but it brings with it new challenges – for me at least, I need a “why”. Why do I want to be this character? Why should I care if he/she lives or dies? Before Mario became a believable 3D cartoon character, I didn’t care about who he was. And I didn’t have to. His name was Mario, but really, he was just a thing called Jumpman, a tool I used to play an increasingly challenging game based on timing and momentum. Then he started talking and emoting and suddenly people started making smarmy comments about how the Princess was getting kidnapped AGAIN. In other words, the more like a person he became, the more obvious were the shortcomings in his games’ narrative. But at least he was a well-designed lovable mascot, and that carried him for at least half of the time. My point is, when a character becomes believable flesh and blood instead of just a dot on a screen that says “you are here”, I need something to endear me to him/her. Prime gives me no reason.

  17. I find it odd that you’re comparing the action gameplay of MGS (which calls itself an action game in it’s own subtitle) to the action gameplay of Metroid Prime and calling it a day. Anyone who’s played Prime for an hour or two can see that the majority of the gameplay is supposed to test your memory, attention to detail and pattern recognition. It’s quite literally like comparing the swordplay of a 3D Zelda to the swordplay of Soul Calibur, determining that Soul Calibur is better at it and therefore Zelda falls short.

    Let’s flip this around. Metroid has you sticking mental post-it notes onto strange objects that may or may not do something, it’s atmosphere actually serves the functional purpose of making you pay attention to the world and making said objects stick in your mind. It’s a treasure hunt, literally: think of somewhere where treasure might be and exercise your navigation skills by figuring out how to get there, then maybe solve a cute little riddle once you arrive before claiming it. The most MGS has you thinking about besides how to clear the current room are those blank-stare inducing, look-how-fucking-clever-we-are 4th wall puzzles. Where you are supposed to go 99% of the time is handed to you on a silver platter either in the form of explicit directions or through a lack of choice.

    Is it fair to say that MGS is the lesser game because this extremely minor aspect doesn’t compare to how it’s represented in Metroid, which just so happens to specialise in that kind of play? Of course not.

    If I didn’t disagree with you so much I too would think you were ideally suited to write for the site, even if you have bizarre sexual fantasies about Mr Kojima and have terrible misconceptions about ejaculation. I had no idea what I thought about the title screen could be put into words so exactly.

  18. I’ve always thought this game deserved to be high on a list simply because it so divides our sentiments and I still don’t know quite why. *** DISCLAIMER This comment is biased. I really liked Prime 1. *** This game literally screams, “ADORE ME, I’M PERFECT!”, from the already mentioned hauntingly mind numbing title screen and throughout the ridiculously well paced first hour. Letting us flex suit upgrades and then taking them away, you were so cruel, Retro. Sometime shortly after Samus touches down on Talon IV people have already made up their minds. I think most people can agree that the production value is through the roof, but other factors in the gameplay seem to polarize people. Maybe I’ll come to understand this better as more thoroughly thought-out comments are posted.

    Personally, one of my main gripes was that the game didn’t doll out that overwhelming feeling dread which was so integral to Metroid, Metroid II, portions of Super Metroid and especially Metroid Fusion. I agree with the review that none of the 3D transitions were as slick a total package as the first Prime, but other 3D iterations of Metroid have done a better job at expressing the true feel of the series. More than difficulty there was a sense of science fiction creepiness and player isolation that was not as palpable in Prime 1. For me the Metroid series was about capturing the experience of encountering the truly alien while feeling very vulnerable and alone. Along with music that tells you to be fearful in constant wonder this has always given the series a slight horror feel. In my gut I have always connected the Metroid experience of wandering through increasingly dangerous and spine tingling atmosphere to Doom I/II and Life Force.

  19. >>Know this: the game’s control is wonderful. It is finely whipped. It results in the best handling first-person shooter for a console

  20. The mere act of aiming upwards is a chore. It’s a first person shooter and aiming upwards is a chore. You were kidding when you said this right?

  21. No. This is the only FPS on console (other than, I suppose, Goldeneye) that realizes that an analog stick is not the same thing as a mouse.

  22. gotta go, so i’ll address one thing at this point in time.
    sn: corruption doesn’t try to satisfy the player in a bolder way, so much as a louder way. scream enough and people will notice. let me clarify that i do not mean that subtler means are magically, inherently bound to end up with a better result than, uh, blatant means. metal gear solid 3 is a great, rumbling game – one where you can shoot people with a shot gun and have them pile up on the ground. but context is everything, as is application. and corruption is awkward. with all of the bombastic vibes it’s trying to deal out, it ends up coming across as a product desperately trying to compete with halo 3, rather than being a game that’s honest with itself and others. you should play corruption. you will realize that it is silly, yet dead-serious in the face of this silliness. the level design hasn’t been streamlined – it’s been dulled. there is no need to understand how the environments fit together. it’s another corridor shooter. there are bounty hunters whose character designs look like a marriage of bionicle and super hero failures. there are ugly cutscenes where things bumble and fumble around. the aesthetic is overcompensated. it is a boring, embarrassing game, and those are not the adjectives you need to associate with a crowd pleaser.

  23. Which doesn’t excuse the fact that in order to look up in a 3D world I have to stop and press a button. As oppossed to “just” looking up. Nostalgia for Goldeneye, which drifts in the same abject barrenness as Ocarina Of Time is no excuse. If that game was ever released on the virtual console you would be crushed by a stampede of people rushing to change the controls.

  24. The only time you ever wanted to look straight up was when you wanted to STOP and LOOK around. I don’t see how this is a problem.

  25. For me the feeling Metroid Prime evokes -and I had time to think about this as I try to go back yo it trough the years- is of remotely controlling a little probe, you know, the kind NASA sends to explore Mars,like the spirit or the phoenix or whatever, you approach an object and scan it, and the game uploads the data to you, and then you send further commands to the human robot trough your controller, it just, to me, it lacks the organic feeling, the feeling of really being there, exploring. And that is injuring because it seems is exactly what the game tries to do, and is me who cant get it, is me who is failing, and not the artificiality of the game’s HUD. That the game reflects Samus’ eyes on the visor is no coincidence, the game needs to constantly remind the player that he is controlling a human being, or empathy wont happen (There may a perfectly logic reason why Megaman blinks on the original game),and that the game’s control its finely whipped may only aid to this feeling of mine. I recall how in Turok 2, the first time you encounter a dinosaur, and the only weapon you have is the talon, neither you approach the dinosaur, or the dinosaur approaches you, and you squeeze the Z-button, randomly moving the controller stick as your game avatar screams of terror, pressing the c buttons as your game avatar screams of pain, you hope, yes hope, that you’ll get him before it gets you, its pure adrenaline, flowing to your brain, the emergency of the situation, flowing trough your brain, the combat in MP is… too logical, too rational, too much about numbers, in a sense.

    And I still appreciate how the developers went trough the problem of devising these alien environments for your leisure, I mean, I can still appreciate that, but my problem is that on one side you have that and on the other you have the bosses, being, so you know, videogamey stuff, they feel like ripped out of Ocarina Of Time, in every sense; with all of its pattern learning, with all the gimmicks of having to use precisely the latest gadgets (In the case of MP, visors and beams) you just got exploring these dungeon planets, no, I mean, sorry I don’t buy that, I am very sorry, and on top there are the space pirates, respawning every time you go trough the same place, I mean, the annoying little bastards, little annoying videogamey bastards, I can kill them, go back trough the same door from where I entered the room, re-enter, and there they are again, in a game that is supposed to be about exploration, not combat. Yeah. Maybe, and I’ll end with this, the elements you say you dislike about the sequels are already in the first game, tough not so in the foreground as with the others. I mean maybe!, I think I may be into something with that.

  26. it is interesting how you, tikkun, and bludhead are pointing out a similar thing – the avatar and the player’s connection – but arriving at different points. bludhead senses a disjointedness, citing the “reflecting eyes” as a general model for his take, while you are bothered by what bludhead would have preferred: controlling a tool. or maybe i’m not reading either of your comments well enough (lord knows i’m still unsure of how to approach sn’s last comment ;__;).
    i have to confess that i never dwelled much on this point, which probably demonstrates that i’ve always viewed samus as a tool who clicks on new parts here and there, who treks and shoots and discovers. she’s an extension for my drive to explore. if she dies, i don’t continue because i’m empathetic, but because i’m interested in the world, and would like more, please.

    yes! pirates will reappear if you leave an entire area and return. if you pay attention, you will perform better the next time around. the game works so that fear turns to anticipation to slight confidence before turning into tedium. it is not Realistic, though i think that sensibility should always be above “realism” in a game. if the space pirates stayed dead forever, then so should the enemies that pop up in the same haunts. that would severely deaden prime.
    i’m not going to argue that a few of the seeds for prime’s follow-ups were not, from time to time, present in itself. though that’s all i see them as: seeds. as such, i’m not bothered. echoes or corruption are the phazon mines/phendrana bases, ad infinitum – minus tension.

  27. Tikkun Olam:

    Is there something inherently wrong with learning the dance of a video game boss? It’s not something exclusive to Zelda (which, I agree, has the worst video game bosses of all time). It’s also in games like Megaman, which have fantastically difficult bosses that definitely get your adrenaline pumping. If you cannot dodge enemy attacks on a consistant basis and aren’t skilled enough to hit the boss when you have the oppertunity then you will die, purely because the boss kills you much faster than you kill him. Where’s the lack of common sense?

    I do agree with your comment about the gimmicky suit upgrade requirements for boss fights, though. That’s pretty much exactly all Zelda bosses are made up of, which is why they’re so mundane. But even then there’s the odd upgrade that actually involves learning another skill, like the timing of a super missile launch.

  28. Pressing a button to look up isn’t really that terrible. Especially since the game never forces you to look up quickly.

  29. I always liked how the beam icons are little stylized hands with the fingers spread or together or two outstretched or whatever.

  30. What’s better, Samus moves her hand into that position in order to select the appropriate beam, which you can see with the X-Ray Visor.

  31. First time commenting on the AB/IC/SB ‘net and Im a bit nervous. I loved Metroid Prime, though I never ‘finished’ it – i got to the last save point, fought Metroid Prime once, tried to fight her two or three more times and basically gave up. I’d spent a long time exploring the game world and felt no desire for ‘completion’.
    I agree about the perfection of the title screen
    I think the ‘gamey’ bosses were neccesary. There was a sequence late in the game – i think it involved space pirates – where I kept dying. But each time I died I saw what I did wrong and I got a little bit better and by the end I felt a feeling of accomplishment. It was pretty textbook but for somebody raised on Zelda and FF7 the enjoyment of the challenge is a revelation
    So the challenge – the bosses – help make the exploration meaningful. Its the same formula Castlevania follows. Explore, fight boss, die, die, die, explore for more power-ups, fight boss, win.
    The use of visors as upgrades is interesting. There’s probably some metaphorical point to be made about the game ‘increasing your vision’ instead of ‘increasing your killing power’. The X-Ray and thermal vision were amazing
    The sense of dread people mentioned? I felt it in the crashed spaceship. The dread, the claustophobia and the general water-fear. Even at the end of the game I still spent the least time exploring that section. There was also the sense of aloneness – there’s you and there’s your spaceship. No AI, no sidekick, nothing. Pure isolation
    Irony: I first started playing Metroid Prime when i touched down in Australia. Exploring the game instead of exploring the real world.
    Any comments on the music? I love it and its basically the only electronic music i have on my iPod… but i don’t know about these things

  32. re: “sense of aloneness”, the absolute worst part of metroid prime 2 was the NPC that talks to you and stuff. and then i played one of those game store demo kiosks of metroid prime 3, and there was a whole spaceship full of NPCs and you could press A to talk or something, which is why i will never buy that game, not even in a decade or two for 2 New World Credits in the futuristic online equivalent of a bargain bin.

  33. see, i think it’s cool that the dudes at retro were trying to branch out from that “aloneness” in corruption. at least, i appreciate the notion as an alternative angle. maybe not the motive behind it (again, there’s the whole “product to compete with halo” buzz the package has (inclusion of a space captain with a gruff southern accent, etc.)). and not the end result, which is brimming with blush-worthy flops.

    example: being able to shoot friendly guards. why satisfy an illusion breaking curiosity? know what’s good for the game, for god’s sake. yet the developers went ahead and even made the guards’ bodies bounce when they’re hit. a monstrous Why? is left hanging in the air (elsewhere, in the world, a youtube user types, “i liked being able to shoot the guards it reminded me of gta’s freedom, corruption ftw!!”). why not take a hint from gears of war’s rest sections where everyone lowers their gun? isn’t that common sense?
    inside, if you fire at the technicians, a sentry gun will lower from the ceiling and assault you while said technicians continue typing, plastered to their seats, eyes unwavering. no one does anything as samus wages her little war against this sentry gun that increasingly gets stronger. it’s hilarious and terrible and awkward as all gets out.

    retro did a masterful job of fucking up human based establishments when they designed corruption. some of the ideas are fine, but their limits extend to the rough draft stage. they exist as goofy-clown-horn alarms within the overall picture; they have no home. something in me wants to say that the first prime was a fluke, though things like echoes’ sanctuary fortress make me realize that retro still has it, that they always had it. they just can’t get to back to whatever that “it” is.

  34. I was very young when I played Super Mario 64, Ocarina of Time, and Metroid Prime, Nintendo’s golden trio. Of the three, I only enjoyed Mario 64 and Prime on the whole. Prime essentially for the atmosphere that I could get lost in and enjoy when I played alone, and Mario 64 because of the sense of discovery I would feel when discovering those harder to reach areas and the secret rewards (hats, stars, yoshi, a pointless special triple jump instead of luigi) by myself and/or with others. You wouldn’t really be able to have the same diffusion of secrets of a game in Prime as Mario 64 allowed. If you needed a hint in Mario 64, you asked someone “hey how the hell do i get the 5th red coin in the final bowser stage?” and they’d answer, and you’d bond (whether willingly or begrudgingly is up to the specific person). With Prime it is the total opposite. If you want a hint, the game makes sure you don’t take yourself out of the atmosphere it worked so hard to create with a hint system disguised in your suit. All to keep the focus on you and the experience an individual one. I won’t go so far as to suggest Mario 64 was the exact opposite of Prime and it wanted you to go out and make friends in the manner previously described in to experience and discover with, but it didn’t want the player to experience it a specific way like Prime did.

    Thats not giving Mario 64 credit as if it is unique or pioneered this “freedom” to discover and experience the game however the player feels. Most games do this mainly because the atmosphere fitting the game isn’t required to be solitary, or because the creators simply don’t care enough to create a world capable of actually keeping the player intrigued and inside, and possibly infiltrating their dreams. Dreams, beautiful wonderful dreams, not nightmares. Nightmares are much easier to directly influence.

    Just curious- but how would a dream with the player on Tallon IV even play out? I don’t think we’d be exploring in awe in jeans and a t-shirt. Maybe inside Samus’ suit, and when we let loose a charge shot, we sneak a peek at our own eyes. I rarely think about the girl inside the suit when I think of Samus and the Metroid series. Maybe my lack of perverted thoughts alienates me from the greater gaming population.

  35. The original Metroid Prime has always had a sort of beauty to me, but it’s due to a mystique and idealization that comes from not having played it. My only direct experience with it is from a single occasion of watching some friends playing. They marveled at its beauty, not so much the “graphics,” but the artistic design (top notch, they say; it probably helps they are all friends with the lone concept artist behind Prime, though that’s not intended to diminish how great the design (supposedly) is).

    From that hazy and now-distant memory of watching others play, I started to form my own impression of what Metroid Prime is like; and let me tell you, it is goddamn beautiful. A song I discovered shortly after on ocremix.org called “One Girl In All The World” became the anthem of this impression—it gave me the exact same feeling I got from watching the game that evening. It’s an icon of an imagined beauty.

    That’s how much I enjoy this make-believe.

    So, with that background, maybe you all can help. sn’s analogy of the attractive girl at the party is pretty apt here: I saw the girl at the party and she was mysterious and hot like fire, but we never spoke. Oh, the possibilities. Ebay has given me her number and AB.N has said she’s just super all around, but between fearing the ruin of that perfect image and some other people who know her saying she’s a bit crazy, I’m reluctant to give her a call. So, am I robbing myself every minute I choose not to play this game?

  36. Having actually spoken to That Girl I can tell you that Metroid Prime is following her around bits of the city you haven’t actually noticed and running in odd directions and trying to steal kisses on concrete benches and you know there’s something immense and scary and wonderful but you’re not sure what it is and eventually you get tired of trying to, er, ‘beat the final boss’ and move on to something else

  37. tlon: i didn’t mention the music (outside of the dire, locked-in-the-room SHUT UP SHUT UP track) because i couldn’t think up much to say. that might imply something horribly wrong, though the stuff isn’t terrible or amazing. it’s metroid prime’s soundtrack. it’s bound to the game as synthy, complimentary bubbles and beeps and washes.
    not to sound like an asshole: if it’s the only electronic music you have on your ipod, you probably haven’t heard too much electronic music! which . . . might be exactly what you said in the end.

  38. I am so lost in this goddamn game I even know where to go but FUCK THOSE GHOSTS! :(

    It’s those ghost arena battles that make me wish HARD that this game had a mouselook option specifically for that section.

  39. “not to sound like an asshole: if it’s the only electronic music you have on your ipod, you probably haven’t heard too much electronic music! which . . . might be exactly what you said in the end.”

    that is exactly what I said. I don’t know anything about electronic music or videogame music but I thought it was something people on this site were into so i though ‘hmm… if I, a Rockist of the first order, enjoys this music it probably has some good qualities’
    Or perhaps it dosen’t. Again, i’m out of my depth here

  40. yeah. i mean, i just can’t listen to it outside of the game. and as i am playing, i’m not paying it much notice. when hearing most vg music, i digest it from the context of “this is the music from that game,” and the process of listening isn’t so much an experience as it is a reminder. when i listen to final fantasy tatics’ or way of the samurai’s music on a stereo, it gains a context separate from tracks’ correlation to in-game specifics. it’s just really, really good music that has the consciousness to function wherever. i think that that is the best and strongest kind. i know a lot of people would jump on this philosophy, though.

  41. “I am so lost in this goddamn game I even know where to go but FUCK THOSE GHOSTS! :(

    It’s those ghost arena battles that make me wish HARD that this game had a mouselook option specifically for that section.”

    Thats what she does to you man, prime, shes a bitch like that

  42. About those ghosts.
    Your review has addressed most of the features that make Metroid Prime so grand, but you omitted detailing the lovely, lovely progressive empowerment of Samus thoughout this and other adventures. So those ghosts might be difficult to the point of frustration the first few times around, but after a point your character will likely be upgraded to a point where they are but a mild hindrance. But not so simple as to become tedious, as it is with blasting baddies with an infinite launcher in Resident Evil 4 for example. It is an important part of what makes Metroid so satisfying and Samus an iconic character.
    In defense of the comment Metal Gear Solid suffers from a mismatch of smooth cinematics and creaky gameplay, witness the fight with Grey Fox. In cutscenes, Snake grapples, dodges, sweeps, elbows, etc. But in the interactive portion, he punches and he roundhouses. That’s all. Metal Gear Solid is frankly awful in almost every regard. The level of immersion between it and Metroid Prime can not be compared. A stealth game where you have a half hour conversation with HQ standing right next to a guard? How is that in any way reasonable? Metroid Prime would have to have a coda in which Tallon IV is revealed to be the Earth in the year 2500 or some shit to be equally groanworthy.

  43. Re: MGS: I daresay you have completely missed the point. Though you are right that directly comparing MGS and MP is pretty silly from any point of view.

  44. [Reads review. Goes to GameStop.]

    Mr. GameStop: Hello. Would you like to buy Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II for 59.99?

    Me: No thank you, Mister GameStop, I would like to buy Metroid Prime. What will this cost?

    Mr. GameStop: 3.99.

    Me: …

  45. RE: Listening to video game music

    I will listen to some if it’s good, and I want to relive experiences (as ario said, looking back on our time with a videogame is like looking back on a memory) and I just don’t have the time to.

    Although, fear that replaying will diminish my view of the game might also play a factor, sometimes.

  46. people started prime and didn’t finish it? then you missed my favorite part of the game, that final boss battle with the titular Metroid Prime. Its a grueling battle, and the thing retreats further underground several times forcing you to pursue. I just really got the sensation I was hunting down and battling a monster…something you do a shit load in video games but in this one I was completely immersed at that point. Yeah I guess this is ABDN so what I’m trying to say is that fight has a slow, deliberate crunchiness that just rules.

    As for the sequels its simple: Echoes has a tiny story that never pays off but the spider ball puzzles are superb (seriously.)

    Corruption had too many load times, ditched weapon changing and therefore any fun or strategy to the combat, was dry as hell, etc, etc…

    P.S. if you want to see Metal Gear Solid style story and Metroid put together, play Metroid: Other M. I swear they were using MGS as the model for putting a narrative in a game. And also Adam does the whole “Samus, respond!” thing whenever you die.

  47. Pingback: Happy Decennial, Metroid Prime « The Lure

  48. I came back to this review after reading Tim Roger’s old Metroid Prime review and editorial on game endings on InsertCredit.com, from years long past.

    One thing leapt out to me in particular. One thing Mr. Rogers emphasizes not once but twice, in both essays, is his love for Metroid Prime’s ending, for attributes he ascribes to it that are, in fact, quite opposite to what Ario Barzan does here. Mr. Rogers says, long ago:

    I have come to appreciate curves in games. I am at joy when I feel a game winding down the way I feel Metroid Prime wind down. That the game ends without the escape sequence that has become the series’ trademark alarmed more than one gamer; I myself find it a genius, risky way of turning the convention on its head. … The ending of Super Metroid is far from sit-back-and-relaxing. In fact, one might say you work your ass off in those closing minutes, your only reward of the “relaxing” variety being a potentially bikini-clad heroine. I stand here, now, and defend the ending of Metroid Prime. Though lacking in an escape sequence, and though concluding very abruptly, I contend that the game winds down in a state of perfection. From the moment Samus returns the last artifact to the temple, when the giant flying predator Ridley swoops down into view, beginning the second-to-last boss, the game is very gently letting us down by throwing us against very giant, angry creatures. The end of the game is a quick, fierce clash of challenges that can amaze onlookers and players equally. I urge the gamers of today who hunger for an ending to consider the entire closing phases of Metroid Prime, as many points of gameplay come together, in and of itself an ending.

    In contrast, Mr. Barzan:

    View them from an angle of challenge-oriented growth – our first blemish (of little there are) – and Prime spikes at a less than gorgeous incline during the last three: the Omega Pirate, Meta-Ridley, and Metroid Prime. Well, the last’s life bar could’ve been shortened anyway, thanks. It feels like the developers were trying a little too hard to get across the idea that the game is nearing its end, and I won’t blame anyone for getting bugged enough to switch the console off in the interests of other pursuits until they’re in the Right Mood again. Prime suddenly makes the expectation that the player will be able to perform on a level that they’ve hardly brushed against prior. It bears confirming that each opponent is a heart-pounding affair, frightening and exciting in scope and ferociousness, satisfying, in the end, to overcome. These monstrosities are out to get you, and hell if they’re not going to get the belt out and bend you over their knee.

    Of course, it is not a wonder that two people may disagree on something—but I do find it, if only from a perspective of game criticism, interesting that two critics who (inadvertently?) ended up saying such otherwise similar things would make such opposite claims, and not notice each other (or did they?). Not a judgement, but merely an annotation.

    In any case, this comment is on a long-dormant article anyway. Let it be lost to the noise of time.

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