metroid fusion

a review of Metroid Fusion
a videogame developed by nintendo r&d1
and published by nintendo
for the nintendo 3ds virtual console and the nintendo gameboy advance
text by Ario Barzan

3.5 stars

Bottom line: Metroid Fusion is “unnaturally natural.”

When a series establishes some sort of successful inner-continuity, it seems like a natural enough response to at first be, if not repelled by, cautious of an inversion or rearrangement of those principles. The game in question comes out: we play it, and we might like it as a momentary deviation. We might want it to be the way the series defines itself from then on. We might hate it, or be indifferent because we didn’t care in the first place, and this thing isn’t changing our minds. Somewhere along the line of reactions, the “It’s a good video game, but not a good (insert name of series) game” comment appears, and everyone takes a moment to hold their chin and ponder this clear, fair perspective. Seven years after Super Mario Sunshine was released on the Gamecube, it’s still criticized for giving Mario an “un-Mario” water-powered jetpack (meanwhile, jetpack-less Super Mario Galaxy comes out, and is praised for being the true successor of Super Mario 64 (which is about the strangest praise you can give)).


I think, ultimately, the context of a video game will tell whether or not “good game/bad X game” is an applicable statement – though, usually, it’s a clingy, weird situation, where the consumers are a father who is disheartened by the sons that choose alternate careers, happy only when a new boy is born who carries on the traditional craft. And – I might be backing myself into a corner, here – if a game is so beholden to its thing that any deviation or alternative molding spells certain doom, there might be a fundamental problem to begin with. “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it” isn’t really an applicable adage – a video game isn’t a thing of objective function. Expression implies creative boundaries, and, sooner or later, revision becomes a valid pursuit.

I’d first like to say that for all the good things Metroid: Zero Mission does, it is kind of dumb. I bring it up because when Metroid Fusion comes up, so, inevitably, does Zero Mission, as a “purer” counter-example. Zero Mission is kind of dumb because it’s a remake of the original Metroid, even though Super Metroid did that first – not literally, but practically. Zero Mission is a fine game, a good game: an explosive, little celebration of an old NES title, featuring bombastic music, gaudy graphics, and comic-book cutscenes, yet a little inexplicable, unnecessary, even with the compact stealth segment addition at the end. Fusion is a better (Metroid) game because it tries newer things, and succeeds at most of them.

An easy way to describe Fusion would be to call it “The Best Post-Symphony Castlevania” for the way it feels more direct, frontal, action-y, than Super Metroid (please note that I am also suggesting that the level design is not terrible). This isn’t to say that Super Metroid is at fault for being what it is, even a little: it is to say that Fusion is Nintendo trying to make a linear Metroid game. The masses scream in terror. “Linear”, even outside Metroid, has become synonymous with a nostril-enlarging, head-titling Ehhh: reviewers will place the word in a review and let it, alone, stand as a critique of said game. The thing about Fusion’s linearity isn’t that it’s for the sake of itself, though – it’s informed by the narrative, and the narrative, reciprocally, is informed by it. What you end up with is a nice two-way dynamic that drives the game along.

It doesn’t make me angry when people get all up in arms about Fusion’s attitude – just perplexed. Certainly, yes, “lonely game” and all that. But Fusion’s approach is a modern reinvestigation of what Metroid could’ve been like during its baby days. Samus Aran, video games’ equivalent of Alien’s Ripley, is put through the same anticipatory fear present in that movie series. With a game like the original Metroid, there is no cinematic, event-specific tension to speak of: the conflict arises out of labyrinthine, hyper-repetitive level design and indifferent enemies chipping away at your health. The same could be said of the Gameboy sequel, or Super Metroid (whose level design is more labyrinthine than hyper-repetitive). Metroid‘s initial brand of tension came from the ever-present isolation players experienced.

In Fusion, however, anything can happen (according to the game’s script, at least). The space station’s save rooms may shut down. Monsters can break free of their containment and wreak havoc on locales. All the while, a terror is lurking about, a parasitic doppelganger – modeling itself off of Samus – dubbed the SA-X. The Prime series would borrow this idea and use it to weak effect, turning Dark Samus into a goofy weed of an enemy that wore out its welcome. Fusion’s “dark Samus” has just enough screen-time, is put in just the right situations, to become a figure of terror. In a dead-end room, you might jump up into a ceiling shaft and then watch as the SA-X enters, halts, breathes, and exits. In another spot, it might crash through a wall and chase you down a hallway, devouring your health like a monster if you let it catch up to you. The tension in Fusion is one of man versus the grotesquery of the ultimate enemy: his (her) shadow.



Sequence breaking is fun — it’s just that, were it present in Fusion, the urgency and dread of the adventure would be undermined (and, well, you can always go back to Super Metroid, anyway). Lack of that “freedom” notwithstanding, you can still go out of your way to explore for health and ammunition power-ups. What I don’t like is how the game puts a barrier between you and the exploration that is present, only allowing certain portions to be accessed post-completion. There doesn’t seem to have been much logic to this decision, besides a deliriously weird notion of “replay value.” Really, we’ll play the game again if we like it — just let us have what’s there. And, standing in as the implied Final Entry in the Metroid canon, Fusion has an absence of resolve or import in its ending. For what it is, it’s the most interesting story the series has to tell, but it’s a story that feels unfinished.

Samus carries a nice physical clarity to her movements, using a hand to clasp onto the edge of platforms with a satisfying tack, leaping through the air with a palpable weight. Also, since weapon upgrades override previous ones (and simply take possession of Samus’ normal beam, rather than being separate missiles), the mechanics avoid what could’ve been clutter. The graphics are bold — not as much as Zero Mission, but enough so that they vaguely resemble the thick sheen of Mega Man X3. I happen to like how it looks. The worst thing, here, is probably — and sadly — the music, whose effect on atmosphere is more negative, or absent, than positive. All I can remember is that the “tropical” environment has “tropical” drums. It’s also one of those Game Boy Advance soundtracks that, if turned down even a bit, makes the speakers crackle. Unless you enjoy feeling as if your handheld’s sound capability is, somehow, slowly dismembering itself, you’ll need to listen to Fusion with no sound, or at a heightened volume.

On another devious note: Metroid games, speaking in a traditional sense, haven’t been noted for their toughness, and Fusion, in its conversions, has bosses and placements of enemies that will have your fingers spreading a fine film of sweat on the D-pad and buttons. It’s good, on both an immediate and indirect sense — this is Samus’ last mission, and it is her most vicious. Next to titles like Mother 3 and Ninja Five-O, Metroid Fusion is one of the best things you can get on the Game Boy Advance. That it can manage and elicit the emotions it does through a small screen, that outweigh more recent Shit Your Pants in Space games, says something about the kind of know-how that went into its development.

–Ario Barzan


39 Responses to metroid fusion

  1. I never did manage to beat SA-X the final time, but I always thought Metroid Fusion was a fine game. You’re right about the terror aspect — When you see that damned doppelganger it means you PANIC.

  2. As a huge admirer of Super Metroid, I fully appreciate what Fusion is trying to do, and respect it, and even enjoy it. As far as the “narrative feeding the game” and vice versa, that’s true enough, but it’s still too wordy. One of the wonderful things about Super was that it implied an entire Fusion-esque story without saying much of anything about it directly. Fusion could have learned from its economy.

  3. Oh wow!
    ActionButton lives AND is writing about the game that practically made me realise my favorite style of game? Makes you want to register and write a comment! So hello everyone?

    But I’m suprised people screamed out against Fusion’s linearity.
    Super Metroid was linear too, and nobody had a problem with it.

    And the music is awsome btw, that urging tune when the reactor core is melting down is one of the best pieces of music in the series.

  4. Very nice review! I haven’t yet played Fusion, but I’m gonna get a DS pretty soon, so thanks for putting this on my radar!

    Hey, I figure here is as good a place as any to ask for some help. Like I said, I’ll be getting a DS pretty soon, and I haven’t owned a handheld system since the old brick Gameboy. I didn’t pay much attention to handheld games, so what are all of the best games for GBA and DS currently available? Also, which ones are cheap, rare, requiring-importation, etch?

    Pretty much the only games that I’ve emulated already are Mother 3, Pokemon Diamond, and… a few others, but I can’t recall so I’d play ’em again. Thanks in advance, people!

  5. You know what I hecking love about this website? Its consistency. It’s like I could predict the exact arguments for this being great no matter who wrote it.

    It’s great to see the site’s still alive.

  6. What a fabulous game. Perfect entry into the Metroid series. Prime games are nowhere near as slick as the 2D ones are, don’t have any of the perfect pacing and tight tight level design. And I’m very impressed how this game can actually be so atmospheric even though it’s a Gameboy game. SA-X totally freaked me out.

    Zero Mission’s great too, on the surface it’s leaner than Fusion but you can sequence break that game so hard! And the crazy thing is that the developers want you to! Underneath the first shiny layer of that game is a complex but perfectly assembled puzzle of sequence breaking. You haven’t really experienced the game till you’ve done the sequence breaking, and you haven’t really experienced a Metroid game if you haven’t done the 100% speed run. And if you’re really into it you can do the get as little as possible run (it’s possible in Fusion, but it’s encouraged in ZM).

    Also I thought the sneaking part was an interesting change of pace for a Metroid game, and then getting your suit back and blasting through the Space Pirates you’ve been running away from has got to be one of the most satisfying experiences in gaming.

  7. Fusion is definitely my favorite Metroid game, and I’m pretty sure it’s the best, too.

    I didn’t think people derided Sunshine for FLUDD – rather I think it was crucified for having stuffty level design, which it is pretty much the poster child for.

  8. Oh by entry I meant entry point.

    Also maybe I was younger, but the wordiness in Fusion worked for me, no it wasn’t as subtle as Super Metroid, but it was subtle and unexpected the way the dialogue was used to build a sense in you of the “relationship” between Samus and the computer ordering you around, and Samus’ reflection about her former CO for the cute little plot twist at the end.

  9. Does anyone feel a link between Metroid and the Prince of Persia series, or am I just crazy?

  10. I like both of these games because prince of Persia 2 is at it’s best when the prince is being chased by the Dahaka and Metroid is at it’s best when Samus is being chased by SA-X

  11. I don’t remember the SA-X chase scenes doing much for me, especially since you can sit in one spot at certain points and it’ll just run back and forth aimlessly. If only it was more tenacious. I thought the SA-X was easy to beat if you spammed your ice missiles, but I do remember the Nightmare being difficult until I got its pattern down. It’s been a while since I played it, though; I might be full of stuff, if not already.

    This is probably my favorite GBA game that I own, besides Advance Wars.

  12. fusion was the first game i got when i purchased a GBA, and it’s the last one i’ve played where i had so much time invested in it. i enjoyed the linearity of it, and the feeling of dread and HOLY SHIT. it might also be my favorite metroid game…maybe. (i haven’t played super metroid in god knows how long.)

    so great review!

  13. hey, i liked this review. the first paragraph in particular. it reminds me of when radiohead released kid a. it underlines the interesting push and pull of public opinion about something many people care passionately about. paradoxically, as a band, radiohead’s inter-continuity would probably be change and the need to do something new; and reading a quote by sakamoto yoshio, fusion’s lead designer, he said he always wants to do something new, partly just to see people’s reactions. i like that a lot.

    yeah, i very much liked this game. now, i’ve beaten this game a few of times, and most of the time i was playing on a moving train, so i’d like to explain the game’s, uh, linearity…by the fact that this game was made for a PORTABLE* system, and that it’s sort of mission based, and i think that makes sense and needs to be pointed out, however, the fact that the save system shuts down at times makes me wonder if that’s right…at the very least it IS relevant.

    so, i don’t think the context of this metroid game is whatever the previous games established. i think the context of this game is that it was made for a portable system; and the fact that it’s not just a side story tells me that the people who made it undertook it’s creation sincerely, i.e. it’s not just a port. i didn’t think this felt like a ‘lonely’ game. i think super metroid felt that way, and i liked that. i think this game is as social a metroid game as there ever will be, and that was fitting as i was usually surrounded by people while i played it.

    *so called in japan; in the US people say ‘hand-held’. that’s a whole other can of semantic worms.

  14. I’m gonna go ahead and say it.
    I hated Metroid Fusion. Not as a Metroid, but as a game.

    It wasn’t the linearity, or the difficulty. It was that the game felt like it was mocking me.

    I didn’t mind it telling me where to go all the time, but locking all the doors Every. Single. Time. was uncalled for.
    And immensely frustrating to someone that just wants to go play around for a little while(probably after acquiring a new powerup).

    The “shine spark trick” and accompanying dialog sequence is the ultimate manifestation of that sense of mockery that pervades the game. You go out of your way to do EXACTLY what the game has told you you HAVE to do, and in return it tells you to quit goofing around.

    I think Metroid 2 was a far better game. It’s almost as linear as Fusion, but it doesn’t take the opportunity to insult the player. It shows you where you should be going, then gets out of the way.

    So I guess what I’m saying boils down to “locked doors ruined Fusion.”
    Ah well…

  15. “The “shine spark trick” and accompanying dialog sequence is the ultimate manifestation of that sense of mockery that pervades the game. You go out of your way to do EXACTLY what the game has told you you HAVE to do, and in return it tells you to quit goofing around.”

    Isn’t the “shine spark trick” just an exploitable glitch in Metroid games?
    It was certainly never something you had to do in Fusion.

    And let me ask again: How was Super Metroid non- linear?

  16. I suppose it didn’t tell you where to go and seal you off from every other area until you did it. I don’t think a game necessarily needs to allow you to do anything you want in absolutely any order to be non-linear.

  17. But even in Super Metroid, you couldn’t progress in the game and reach certain areas until you aquiered a specific power up. You couldn’t, for instance, fight that giant seahorse boss before the giant plant boss. (Except, I guess, with sequence breaking, but I doubt that was meant to be in Super Metroid.) And in my experience, the exploration elements in Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion are hardly any different. In fact, the only non- linear- ish thing about Super Metroid was that you didn’t necesseraly have to aquire ther ball jump to complete the game. Fusion simply makes it slightly easier to figure out where exactly you need to go via simple enviromental/visual clues.

    Grand Theft Auto IV, that’s non- linear.
    The new Prince of Persia, that’s non- linear.
    Deus Ex, that’s non- linear.

    But Metroid…
    Metroid was never non- linear.
    Otherwise it can’t be a “metroidvania”. (God I hate that phrase.)

  18. 1. Arguably, the Metroids aren’t “linear” in the sense that 1. each “key” ability opens more than one “lock” at a time, and 2. the game doesn’t feel linear by virtue of its openness and mystery. As to the first point, it means multiple areas open for exploration every time you gain a new exploratory ability, so even though there are a few “locks” that are actual bottlenecks (basically, the bosses, and especially the Tourian statue/gate), most of them aren’t, making the game generally nonlinear, in the sense of your available options on a moment-to-moment basis. (It’s not any more linear than GTA3 in this sense, since you need to complete mission X to gain access to island Y, by way of analogy.) As to the second point, a game’s “feel” may or may not be illusory when you sit down and extract the mechanics from the game’s aesthetic atmosphere, but it has a profound effect on the player either way. Whether or not the game “actually is” linear in some “objective” sense, if it doesn’t feel linear, then it functionally isn’t, since it’s the game’s job to make you feel things.

    2. Regarding Super Metroid specifically, it’s even more nonlinear than my previous paragraph implies, because of its genius is recognizing sequence breaking. Basically, aside from crazy glitches like the shinespark, most of the sequence breaking is done by bomb jumping and walljumping. Bomb jumping to any effect is really difficult, but walljumping is comparatively pretty easy. When you play through the “normal” way, the game introduces the walljump to you past the halfway point of the game. In effect, it exposes players with a certain minimum of experience to a primary sequence breaking tool, so that they can heck around on their second playthrough once they’ve seen the “proper” order of things the first time. That’s a masterstroke of design, especially in a series who contributed to the birth of the speedrun (in the first Metroid).

  19. As it happens, the very first time I played Super Metroid I accidentally sequence broke after getting lost for ages.

    Are you sure they designed sequence breaking, CubaLibre? It struck me as a few cracks in the design that they just couldn’t be bothered to seal up.

  20. I mean, I dunno, I can’t read Gumpei Yokoi’s dead mind. But the fact that they show you the walljump later in the game, at which point you realize you had it all along… they had to know people would go back and play from the beginning with that tool in their toolbox, so to speak. The game isn’t “designed around sequence breaking” in the sense that Zero Mission is (where it’s clearly put into the game and it’s questionable whether you could call it “sequence breaking” at all), but that’s why it’s so compelling. It’s not “here’s a shortcut if you’re smart enough to see it and skilled enough to use it”; it’s “here’s a tool. You might be able to make shortcuts out of it. Use at your own risk.” This makes the game far less linear, I’d argue.

    And more mysterious! And creepy! And fun!

  21. Re: The shine spark trick.

    In the context of Fusion, there’s a specific, difficult to execute chain of boost jumps in one area that will allow you to return to the area’s entrance without releasing a security seal the game has explicitly told you not to release.

    The area’s entrance/exit remains locked after this, since releasing the security seal is required to advance the plot.

    I believe this is the only place in the game where disobeying your computer taskmaster is not only allowed, but REQUIRED to advance.

  22. SA-X has to be the most intimidating villain I’ve encountered. It is God of its dominion, what you once were, turned against you. The tension created by SA-X is hecking disheartening. While you slowly gain abilities and grow in power, the SA-X remains the same – you’re absolute prime. Ejecting that SA-X/DREAD into space when you aren’t even fully-functional, only to learn that there were dozens more roaming the facility, undermined all that progress you made over those 2 hours leading up to that moment. It’s like winning the gold in the Special Olympics, only to find out that there is an Olympics for normal people and you’ve barely managed to prove yourself the best among cripples. It amplified that sense of being the underdog that Metroid games have always given.

  23. This was a good review, AND a good Action Button Review.

    *Pause to digest*

    Metroid and Zelda are the two big series where I’ve played a few and I admire them, but I’ve never really gone nuts for them. Even my favorite of either, Phantom Hourglass, I finished it and said “Eh that was pretty good, I guess”. Maybe I’ll grab this and see if I can get into Metroid.

  24. “2. Regarding Super Metroid specifically, it’s even more nonlinear than my previous paragraph implies, because of its genius is recognizing sequence breaking. Basically, aside from crazy glitches like the shinespark, most of the sequence breaking is done by bomb jumping and walljumping. Bomb jumping to any effect is really difficult, but walljumping is comparatively pretty easy. When you play through the “normal” way, the game introduces the walljump to you past the halfway point of the game. In effect, it exposes players with a certain minimum of experience to a primary sequence breaking tool, so that they can heck around on their second playthrough once they’ve seen the “proper” order of things the first time. That’s a masterstroke of design, especially in a series who contributed to the birth of the speedrun (in the first Metroid).”

    “Re: The shine spark trick.

    In the context of Fusion, there’s a specific, difficult to execute chain of boost jumps in one area that will allow you to return to the area’s entrance without releasing a security seal the game has explicitly told you not to release.

    The area’s entrance/exit remains locked after this, since releasing the security seal is required to advance the plot.

    I believe this is the only place in the game where disobeying your computer taskmaster is not only allowed, but REQUIRED to advance.”

    …What the?….
    You guys are telling me I’ve never Played Metroid the right way until I sequence breaked? o_O

  25. Nah, don’t listen to ’em, dude. People who say “the REAL value of this game comes from glitches/cheating, etc.” are like literary critics who, when faced with the absence of bullstuff symbolism, make up their own. No sir, this book can’t be just a good story! Classic American novels are all allegories or satires and every single pointless detail is a symbol and once you learn THAT then the book is awesome!

    The games are designed to produce a set of experiences and emotional triggers in a certain sequence, and they all do that splendidly. Sequence breaking is cool… but if it wasn’t intentional then it’s not “the right way,” even if it is super cool. Though who knows? Gunpei was a pretty clever dude; maybe it was on purpose.

  26. Sequence breaking in Metroid is so intentional it’s not even funny guys, at least in the original, Super, and Zero Mission. You can never make the game impossible to finish by sequence breaking. The developers made sure to always include an alternate path if you screw up somewhere. If sequence breaking were not intentional you could eff yourself up by going to far into the game and getting stuck somewhere.

    The beauty of Metroid that not everyone gets is that it imposes a seemingly unbreakable set of rules on the player, ie makes the player believe the game is totally linear, and then once you’ve beaten the game and you’re going back trying to find all the powerups you realize that those rules were not so concrete after all, and that maybe you could even play the game completely out of the order you played it the first time.

    And shinespark is not a glitch. There’s a room in Super where an NPC shows you it can be done. If you wait a while at the title screen in Fusion, they show you a clip of how you use shinesparks to get a few items. I think that kind of clip is in Super too.

    That bit in Fusion’s a massive easter egg, there is almost absolutely NO WAY IN HELL you can do it without someone telling you you could, and then spending a few hours trying to do it. There is nothing wrong with disobeying the computer’s rules, I think at that point in the plot you’re starting to deviate from them anyways. Also it’s ironic to complain about doors being locked if you find the easter egg when you’re unlocking the last lock on all doors at that point in time if you play the game normally anyways.

    K while I’m on it what’s wrong with locking doors? Did you want to be able to go wherever you wanted to? Do people play Zelda and think “Man this game blows, why the hell are the doors locked in this dungeon?” The game gives you some rules, and you have to follow them to play the game. Jaybee says Metroid II is better but instead of opening locked doors you have magically disappearing acid. I would think the one that makes less sense is the game that is “making fun of me,” if at all.

  27. Well, I’ll just take your word for it, then! I’m far from a Metroid expert. Maybe I should go and replay Super… I still haven’t even played II.

    I still stand by what I said, though; I wasn’t just talking about Metroid games. Actually, I formed that opinion to begin with in response to elitist Mega Man speedrunners… talk about some unintentional glitches! And the “hardcore pro gamers” who, prior to Halo 3’s release, said it would suck no matter what because it wouldn’t have Halo 2’s glitches and exploits.

  28. There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding here, if you’re throwing Zelda at me…

    I wasn’t bothered by the fact that doors were locked. The rainbow doors introduced in Super Metroid are the exact same in that regard. It was the fact that the computer RElocked them every time ANYTHING happened.

    There is exactly ONE point in Metroid 2 where older areas are locked back out, and that’s your first Omega Metroid encounter. It’s a unique occurence, and done for a calculated reason.

    The Fusion version of this is probably the metroid molt in the SR-388 area.
    Sadly, the last 3 molts all show up in the last 5 minutes of the game. It would’ve been awesome if they’d been scattered about the map and new ones appeared slowly as the game progressed, like the metroid was actually wandering the station and growing larger.

    Metroid 2 trusts that you genuinely want to progress, and if you occasionally wander off to roll across cavern roofs in the spider ball, that’s all right too.

    Fusion looks at you and says “Why would you want to take your shiny new screw attack powerup to the area with screw attack bricks? That’s just crazy talk. Look, I’m gonna lock all the doors so you don’t get any funny ideas, okay?”

    That’s the difference between the magic acid and the Fusion doors.

    Re: sequence-breaking…
    Metroid 1 made very little effort to constrain your motions. Once you have the ball, the bombs, the jump boots, and a missile tank, you can go anywhere on the map except Tourian. If you’re good with the bombs, you can skip the boots.
    It’s not only easy to encounter them out of order, but Ridley is the easier of the two bosses.
    It’s not so much ABOUT sequence breaking as there ISN’T a proper sequence. It’s a game of exploration.

    Metroid 2 is (almost) impossible to sequence-break without glitches. The magic acid will kill you. In THAT respect, it’s very like Fusion.

    Super Metroid is somewhere in-between. The rainbow doors and superheated rooms and water restrict your motions to a degree for most of the game, but there’s a good bit of exploring involved as well. And the wall-jump has no purpose other than sequence-breaking as far as I can tell(which is a good thing for me, since I can’t walljump reliably in Super Metroid).
    Whether the game was explicitly designed to be sequence-broken or if it was thrown in there just to see what happens is anyone’s guess.

  29. Someone hated Fusion because they felt like it was mocking them? That is amusing the hell out of me.

  30. “Someone hated Fusion because they felt like it was mocking them? That is amusing the hell out of me.”

    To me, it was rather par for the course, considering this site.

  31. I played this game and wished i had an opinion on it. The restrictions were just annoying, basically. As a game it wasn’t bad but there’s no desire to revisit it. Everybody talking about Prime and Super Metroid makes me want to go back, try some of that sequence breaking or find more bombs or just heck around and get lost. I didn’t get that in Fusion

  32. I like the conversation going on here. I read the review with a bit of surprise, since this had been my least favorite Metroid game. Now, don’t get me wrong, it was fun, but more like 2* fun for me.

    I completely agree with the “forced linearity” complaint. I don’t have a problem with linearity, but I have a problem when I can’t backtrack when I want, and mess around with my new powers. I mean, one of the most basic ideas in video game design is that you show players a ‘lock’ before you show them the ‘key’. Then when they get the ‘key’, they can go back the the lock and feel rewarded. So, (like Jaybee mentioned) when I see a missile tank behind screw attack blocks, and then I get the screw attack, I want to go back and get the missile tank. Don’t tell me I’m ‘not allowed to’ yet.

    And, besides that, even if the other Metroid games are linear, you’re at least exploring that linearity yourself. You learn not to go deep into Norfair early because the heat hurts you (that’s the lock). Then, when you get the Varia suit, you say to yourself, “Hey, I should go back to that hot area now that my suit can handle it!” Congratulations, you used your key and were rewarded. I don’t care if the design document is leading me around like a puppy chasing a beggin strip, I feel good when I get my beggin strip. At least, I feel a lot better than when the game puts a leash on me and makes me go a certain direction. It’s not that I prefer carrots to sticks, necessarily. I prefer not to have to be told what to do. It’s just like all the games that Tim complained about, where they are holding your hand the whole time. I turn off the advice in Metroid Prime, but I can’t turn it off here. Even if it’s not telling me “press A to swim”, it’s telling me, “Go to Area 4 to continue.” Maybe I’d rather go back to Area 2, get a missile tank, and then hit a dead end in Area 5 before I go back to Area 4. That makes me feel like the progress is my own, rather than feel like I’m just going through the motions.

  33. I already feel like I’ve said all I need to but no one else is defending the game >__>

    First off, I’m sensing some unfamiliarity with Fusion from some of the comments here, maybe because you were turned off by the computer telling you where to go so you didn’t play it much. For first timers and especially new gamers, this game is the perfect introduction to the series. They won’t mind being told where to go. Most of the time you have to find some indirect route to your destination too. Sure the computer tells you where to go but getting there is not simply go from point A to point B. I will make no attempt to hide that Fusion was the first Metroid game I really got into, and when I finished it thoroughly, all the old ones suddenly made sense to me (except the original, god that game is impossible without a guide!).

    But yeah when you get the Screw Attack in Fusion, you can go ANYWHERE you want to. So I should be hearing no complaints there. No one do an under 2 hours 100% run here?

    Another thing is that even if the computer did not relock the doors to the area after you complete an objective, it doesn’t matter because you can’t do anything in old places anyways other than grab some expansions because the game can’t be sequence broken. You inevitably revisit an old place when you have the right powerups. You can also choose not to leave a sector after you’ve killed the boss until you’ve explored every nook and cranny to your liking and noted stuff you can come back later for. That should be akin to the aimless wandering that seems to be greatly loved here.

    I buy that many don’t like Fusion as much as the others, but can you appreciate what it tries to do by trading a lack of blatant direction for greater narrative ability? And that it had the balls to change the series’ direction? Super Metroid needs no Super Metroid 1.5.

    And Jaybee you contradicted yourself by saying that in Super “wall-jump has no purpose other than sequence-breaking as far as [you] can tell” and then stating that you can’t tell if sequence breaking was intentional. Why intentionally include an action that is only good for sequence breaking (it is only good for sequence breaking) if sequence breaking were unintentional? Once again I’ll point out that if sequence breaking was not intentional, the game could easily break itself (and it never does).

    Fusion’s linearity comes with the exchange of greater narrative potential. It’s not the impressive and subtle fill-in-the-blanks-yourself narrative of Super or games prior, but it’s generally a stronger one, and yes one perfect for first timers to Metroid that will get them interested in the older ones.

    As it looks now, the future looks grim for the Metroid series… hope I’ll get another proper “See you next mission” one day.

  34. I did actually beat the game and collect most everything, but I stand by my comments. Even if I was wrong on the detail of the screw attack, there were times where I gained a new power up, but couldn’t use it in an area I had seen before because of a locked door.

    You are correct that the game isn’t disgustingly linear… there are necessary explorations and times where you must find your path. Overall, though, there were too many times I wasn’t allowed to find where to use the key myself; they gave me a new key and said “The lock is right here, is your objective clear?” Now, the structure does allow for increased narrative, and I kind of liked that, but I happen to personally prefer the feeling of isolation and exploration. I wonder, though, if the structure was necessary to the narrative. Many times, yes, but could they have allowed more freedom, and still had the story? I think also yes.

  35. I played all the way through Fusion as well.
    It was a while back, but I’m pretty sure the doors are locked for a little while after you get the screw attack.

    And the comment about the wall-jump was acknowledging what CubaLibre said about it earlier:
    “It’s not “here’s a shortcut if you’re smart enough to see it and skilled enough to use it”; it’s “here’s a tool. You might be able to make shortcuts out of it. Use at your own risk.” ”

    I can’t point to any place in the game where it’s obvious that the game INTENDED you to come back with the walljump and sequence-break.
    If it had required something more specific than a vertical wall, it would be more obvious. As-is… it’s hard to point to any specific vertical wall and claim it was intended to be used in a sequence-break.
    I can’t even point to something that provides good evidence the walljump is supposed to be USABLE on a single wall.
    (You aren’t supposed to be able to scale single walls in the first NES Ninja Gaiden, and it’s possible to fall through the top of some walls and die that way, so it wouldn’t be without precedent)

    Same situation with the classic bomb-jump. It can be used just about anywhere, and you can go any direction except down with it. It’s so versatile, it’s hard to say if most of what you can do with it was INTENDED.

    What IS obvious is that later games actively attempted to prevent this from happening. The bomb timing is tuned to ensure you can’t chain bomb-jumps(even in Prime, which let you just run around like an idiot if you so desired), and the wall-jump is adjusted so it can’t be used to gain height outside of specific circumstances.

    So Super Metroid encouraged sequence-breaking, but was not designed around it, Fusion is designed around preventing it(though it shouldn’t be possible anyways since the bosses won’t be present until the game “arms” the scripts).
    And I guess Zero Mission was designed around sequence-breaking to such a degree that it’s no longer really even sequence-breaking.

    Which is all secondary to the fact that I hate Fusion because it makes fun of me.
    It’s not because it’s linear, it’s because it’s clumsy and ham-handed about it.

    From a storyline perspective, since it keeps coming back to “they had to relock the doors to tell a story”(a story that would not have been changed at all had the unlocked doors been left unlocked)…
    Why is the professional bounty hunter with years of experience being led around like a dog on a leash?

    Samus “is the greatest of all the space hunters and has successfully completed numerous missions that everybody thought were absolutely impossible” according to the original NES manual(which is STILL the most detailed look at the Metroid universe, amazingly).
    She’s built a career out of doing the impossible. She’s not a dumb grunt you have to micromanage.

    Advising, I understand. Knowledge is power, as they say, and her computer has an overview of the station that she doesn’t have. But ORDERING her doesn’t make sense.

    If they wanted a dumb grunt that didn’t take independent action so no one would figure out that the Federation was breeding metroids, they should’ve hired a dumb grunt.

    And I’m going to climb on my soapbox and just plain RANT now…

    Metroids have never been vulnerable to cold. In fact, all but the initial “jellyfish” form are COMPLETELY IMMUNE to all forms of beam, ice beam included. And the classic metroids can’t be HURT by cold, just stopped for a little bit.
    They ONLY take damage from explosives.

    Now suddenly, metroids are immune to explosives, but INCREDIBLY vulnerable to cold? To the degree that Samus can’t use an ice beam at all, and takes more damage from a walk-in freezer than a puddle of lava, because she has a tiny bit of metroid in her?

    If you want to tell a more intricate story, that’s great. But if you’re using an established world and character, it helps a lot to stay true to that world and character.

    Putting the soap box away again…

    I’m still not entirely sure how a metroid is going to undergo three metamorphoses in five minutes either. I’ve already complained about that, but it was a missed opportunity to heighten the tension beyond that provided by the SA-X.

    I started worrying when I saw that first metroid molt.
    Apparently I’m one of only 5 people in the world that played Return of Samus, but I knew what the skin laying there meant, and the developers were counting on it being recognized.

    I spent the rest of my time in the area looking over my shoulder waiting for a zeta/omega metroid to drop on me. A few Super Metroid-style sand statue enemies scattered around would’ve made things even more tense.

    Finally meeting the metroid in-person was…. underwhelming, if you can believe it. I was expecting something faster, more nimble, and with a ranged attack. Not a screen-filling behemoth that didn’t have room to do more than wave it’s hand around.

    The SA-X was great, but… seeing two or three of those dozens of SA-Xes in one place trying to gang up on Samus would be pretty awesome. It’s one thing to hear about it from a computer you don’t really trust anyways, another to actually see it with your own eyes.

    Fusion is a game of poor decisions and missed opportunities.

  36. I have played almost every Metroid game (Prime II and Hunters being the exceptions) and enjoyed them all, but I can say without reservation that this is my favorite.

  37. If you think about it, locking the doors behind you was sort of necessary to this kind of story. Samus finds out later that Adam was only manipulating her so that she would never be able to harm the SA-X, because they wanted it for themselves. In a sense, the linearity is vital to the “They’re leading you around like a rat in a maze” kind of story.
    Now, I’m not saying the linearity is good, it’s my biggest problem with Fusion. However, would the sense of being manipulated by Adam be as strong if the doors weren’t locked? Not to mention, unlike other games, the rooms occasionally warp and x-parasites also, at times, pose a threat to the station, it’s not like Samus could just IGNORE something like that.
    In conclusion, the game being forced linear may seem harsh to Veteran Metroid fans but this isn’t a typical Metroid game, the linearity helps convey the sense of being lead through the maze by the manipulative Adam in addition to conveying the sense that the x-parasites are a real threat and should be dealed with whenever they make a move.

  38. Metroid Fusion is by far my favorite Metroid game thus far.

    Granted, that doesn’t seem like much when you know that Zero Mission is the only other Metroid game I’ve played to completion.

    Still, it means something to *me.*

    I find myself more motivated to finish difficult portable games than console games. I guess because there’s more to distract me at home… That might explain why I got through Fusion, but could never hack it through Super Metroid.

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