climax and afterglow with samus

long-delayed TRIUMPH

I convinced a friend of mine to pick up a GameCube a while ago, and then to pick up M’. He did so, and sped through it. Pretty soon, he said he’d made it to Metroid Prime.

This got my goat. I’d picked up M’ the day it came out, played the hell out of it, and then stopped after my first or second attempt at Metroid Prime. Now, because I have this habit of stopping play right at the final boss, I was going to get lapped by Johnny Come Lately. This would not stand!

I broke out Metroid last night and fought Metroid Prime. This was a harsh re-introduction to the gameplay. I even found myself trying to use the C-stick for camera adjustment. Er. I was trounced relatively quickly – mostly, in fact, when trying to just /get to/ the final battle. That penultimate room is a killer, I tell you what!

Tonight, I made a second attempt. After thinking, “You know, I never scanned that last thing – I almost hope I don’t beat Prime this time!” my fate was sealed. I beat it to a phazony pulp with an energy tank or two to spare. The final boss battle had stages and waves, and was really long. Having won it, I enjoyed it. The times that I failed were not so enjoyable. I think it’s just a bit too long a battle. The closing FMV briefly terrified me with the suggestion that I might need to get through another final ordeal before saving, but I was comforted.

I played with the Fusion Suit tie-in from M4, but I haven’t finished M4 yet, either, so I didn’t get to play any classic Metroid. through further harrowing,

basking in the awesome

Gamesite came online just the littlest bit too late for me to chronicle my initial play; I was surprised to see I hadn’t talked about the intense awesomeness of M’. It took everything good about the classic Metroid games, successfully made them into a 3-D game, /somehow/, and then gave it a really fresh, suitable control scheme.

The level of immersiveness that Retro created with the subtle lighting effects and the special touches like visor condensation and reflection was awesome. It would be silly to say that I felt like I was Samus, but the game created the best illusion a game can, I think. I felt like Samus’ world had been realistically modelled.

The control scheme was great because it didn’t feel like they started with FPS controls and adapted. If anything, they started with platformer controls, and that made the game’s interface a lot simpler than it might’ve been if we’d been forced to handle a dual-analog aim-and-look Samus. While the idea of running forward and looking over my shoulder to shoot enemies behind me is very cool and very Samus, it would’ve made the control scheme a nightmare. The C and D controls for the visor and beam were pretty inspired, and their integration into the HUD was slick. I realize it probably didn’t take months to come up with a simple little idea like that, but it paid off in spades.

I’m really looking forward to the sequel. With some different upgrades and a different setting, Retro should be able to pull off Metroid’s great tradition of classic gameplay in fresh environments. (My mind swims, wondering whether they’ll go for Metroid Zero or Metroid Five or… who knows!)

The most important thing I can say is that Metroid Prime has the Metroid nature. I was among the many who spat when told that GCN’s Metriod would be an FPS. I sneered when I saw that I had all my gear in the first scene. After an hour with the game, I was sold. I remain sold. Once I catch up on my /other/ unfinished games, I’ll try to play M’ through again on Hard Mode and work up to a look back.

Written on March 12, 2003
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