Ten Things I Hate About Metroid Prime (Trilogy)
It’s about time for another high profile release, possibly the biggest one this entire year. Last year’s E3 unveiling of Metroid: Other M was undoubtedly the biggest surprise of the show, with Nintendo fans all over the globe celebrating the big N experimenting with one of their most major franchises, giving it a gritter and more cinematic approach.
Now, with the game nearly upon us, many Internet folks are voicing their anger toward Nintendo for giving Metroid….a gritter and more cinematic approach. Guess you can’t please everyone.
But personally speaking, Other M is too unique an idea to ignore, so I’m all set to buy it first thing. The reviews have been very favorable, and the story seems to be a case of take it or leave it. People will love it, people will hate it, and some will do both at once.
Which brings me to my latest 10 Things article, where I discuss my biggest beef with the last three Metroid Games.
Ten Things I Hate About Metroid Prime (Trilogy)
The first Metroid Prime is often considered the greatest Gamecube game ever made. The two sequels are mostly met with similar optimism. And while I too share (mostly) fond memories with Retro’s trilogy, the jump to 3D still brought out some complaints with me, which I’ll be sharing below. Again, this is all personal opinion; Nintendo is a big boy now, they can take the criticism.
10. The 3D Map
Zoom in. No, left, not right! No, not 180 degrees!
The jump from 2D to 3D is always a risky endeavor, and one of the things that Retro Studios has been praised for succeeding with the Prime series. The new 3D maps, however, aren’t quite as smooth. The average players has a hard enough time memorizing a set path with a simple top-down map, but when you’ve got a fully rotatable diagram with multiple layers as well as more buttons than there are stars in the sky, you’ll potentially end up wasting a good ten minutes running in the wrong direction.
9. HUD Clutter
Well at least she can see her vitals. Isaac from Dead Space has it strpaped to his back. Good luck reading that, buddy.
Everyone loves an extra attention to detail, but some things just become obtrusive. Such is the case with the Prime HUD, which tries to go for that authentic “bounty hunter behind a futuristic visor” look. It certainly gets the job done (particularly moments where Samus’ face is reflected due to a particularly bright effect), but the helmet borders are really irksome. Now granted, the HUD is fully customizable, allowing you to remove the borders and other information entirely, but even after several minutes of tinkering with the settings, it still feels too cluttered to me.
Now, let me make this perfectly clear: I find the music in Prime to be overall fantastic. I love the music found in the Phendrana Drifts or during the battle with Rundas as much as the next guy, but there’s no mistaking that the Prime soundtracks are also filled with its own share of filler, something that hardly plagued the original games’ compositions. For some of the “lazier” tracks, the dull-sounding synthesizers began to sound irritating. Heck, oftentimes they prove utterly nauseating when you’re desperately trying to locate that one hidden passageway you missed.
7. Working with Soldiers
Apparently it's bright red orange or deep blue grays when it comes to Metroid uniforms.
Team Ninja aren’t the only ones who tried to turn Metroid into a (good) James Cameron film; the final game in the trilogy introduced voice acting to the series, as well as an in-depth look into the Galactic Federation, who often relies on Samus for help battling the pirates.
The problem with that, though, is that we’ve been told several times that Samus is a Bounty Hunter. For someone who usually only offers her services for money, our heavily armored Barbara Fett seems all too eager to follow orders from a chain of command she really has no obligation to obey. It doesn’t help that the Federation depends on her for everything, even for the simple task of opening malfunctioning doors. The real problem isn’t so much that Samus is a helpful soldier, however, but the fact that seeing her team up with all these grunts and gearheads takes away the “isolation” feel found in the past Metroid games; silently wandering around corridors, fending off several aliens all on her lonesome, and unceremoniously saving the galaxy from an unseen threat has always been the major theme of the series, in my opinion. Fighting alongside a team of soldiers makes it feel more like….Halo.
6. No Kraid
They could have gone with the miniature version, but there's no way that will ever be as intimidating again.
Even though we are given no explanation how Ridley receives a cybernetic exoskeleton that is eventually lost (the Prime games take place before Super Metroid, after all), no one really questioned the continuity of his periodic resurrections since all the battles against this classic foe were quite rad. Which immediately begged the question: What about Kraid?
Turns out Retro had planned to include Mother Brain’s number two in the sequel, but ran out of time due to the number of polygons it would take to render him in his gigantic Super Metroid form. That’s all well and good, but what was their excuse for leaving him out of Metroid Prime 3? Instead we get Ridley 2: Electric Boogaloo and a boss battle with Not-Mother Brain.
5. 99% Completion
Previously, in order to get the best ending (involving Samus showing the most skin as allowed by Nintendo), players would have to speedrun their way through the Metroid games. Prime eliminates this requirement, which is good for players like myself who prefer to take time to stop and smell the Phazon, instead requiring 100% of all items and documents scanned.
Sounds reasonable, right? At least until it turned out there was one scanned document you could easily miss in the first area. That’s right, the space station that blew up? Oh, you didn’t know about that until 20 hours spend collecting everything else? Oh well.
4. Dark World
She doesn't even turn into a pink bunny.
The first Prime got a lot of praise for its detailed environments, adding lots of fauna and other “lived in” details to create one of the most realistic first-person environments ever seen during the last generation. Prime 2 eliminates most of that, sadly, with their inclusion of the Dark World. The homage to Link to the Past is appreciated, but the number of tar-covered locations eliminates most of the haunting beauty found in the first game. Adding in frustrating moments like having to stay near a light source to recharge energy, as well as the worlds having their own set of items to collect, and you’ve got the (literal) black sheep of the trilogy. Still good, but also the worst.
3. Boost Guardian
I'm in your gamez, ruining your fun tiems.
Anybody who fought this asshat will echo (ha!) my frustrations; what was supposed to be a mid-boss that held one of Samus’ powerups ends up a bigger threat than Ridley, Kraid, and Mother Brain combined. Taking forever to damage, while in turn sapping heavy amounts of health with each attack, the Boost Guardian brought back memories of hardcore Nintendo difficulty; angry, controller-smashing memories.
2. Motion Controls
Dial "Poop Icon" for Miyamoto (no, really).
Corruption was the third (and final) Prime game, and the first to be featured on the Nintendo Wii. This, of course, meant the inclusion of motion controls, which allowed for a whole new and comforting way to experience Metroid Prime….in theory. While the controls were adequate for a first generation Wii title, the over-sensitivity of your motions meant far too many instances where swinging left or right would register the pointer as being off-screen. Being forced to tighten your motions to be as brief and precise as possible in order to stay within the arbitrary borders meant lots of cramped wrists. Good thing MotionPlus is out now, which means Nintendo can apply firmware patches to their older games in order to take advantage of the improved controls.
Nintendo: “Patches? What are those? Is that some sort of newfangled Internet term? We don’t like no Internets in our consoles.”
1. Scanning Documents
Maybe Konami can tackle this one once the Wii3D comes out.
And now we get into the nitty gritty of things with my number one beef. While I usually commend games for going the extra mile in explaining the workings of their fictional worlds, Retro takes it to an obnoxious extreme with the hundreds (if not thousands) of scanning objects and creatures in the Prime games. The first Prime was the worst offender, as players were forced to keep their fingers pressed on the Gamecube’s left trigger while reading the lengthy space articles.
While the other sequels rectified this problem, they didn’t cut down on the amount of information each document contained. Simply put, most of it was boring: very, very boring. Learning a little tidbit or two about a funky creature, or reading the ill-conceived strategies the Space Pirates have been working on in order to take down Samus is interesting enough, but when every nook and cranny has a history or explanation behind it, it simply becomes a chore.
But wait, you say, most of the scanning is optional. Sure, tell me that when I was first playing the darn thing, not knowing which scans counted toward filling up the 100% completion rate. Even if all of it was optional, the completionist in me wouldn’t resist being able to scan everything regardless. It’s like the massive dialog trees in the first Mass Effect; you know you’re never going to get around to it unless you select the option right there on the spot.
Between coming into a complete stop while in the middle of a firefight in order to read some old fogey of an alien describe the various forms of flora in his boring world, or watching an expertly rendered cutscene that’s high on both action and melodrama, I would gladly choose the option to set down my controller and let the game do the exposition for me.