(Nintendo, November 19, 2002)

"2002 was the year of the Metroid!" Not only do we get Metroid Prime for the Nintendo GameCube but we also get this brand new 2D Metroid adventure exclusively for the Gameboy Advance. Just to get idea a how long it's been seen a new Metroid game arrived on the Gameboy, it's been over a decade since Metroid II: the Return of Samus came out for the old Black and White portable unit. Metroid Fusion is actually the real Metroid 4 and this game has updated graphics, sound, play mechanics but does this game live up to the holiday hype or is it just another substandard action platformer for the Gameboy?

Metroid Fusion focuses on a new mission for our armour plated heroine. Samus has a unknown parasite to investigate on the former Metroid home world of SR388. Unfortunately for Samus, she gets infected by the mysterious Creature-X parasite and nearly dies because of it. The only cure for her deadly infection is to fight the parasite off with some of the Metroid DNA collected from her previous missions. Although her life was saved again by a Metroid (play Super Metroid to know what I mean), Samus is a weakened state and here power suit had been altered meaning you have to recollect all your lost powers, what's worse is that the Creature-X is spreading rapidly throughout the research station so there is no time to rest. You must do whatever it takes to stop this dangerous Creature-X parasite before it wipes out everything and everyone in the station but just who is the person or thing in your old power suit helping the parasites?

Since Samus now has the power of the Metroid in her possession (which is why she is wearing a new blue suit), she can use her new techniques to collect the parasites and even regain some loss health if they are in their basic form. The Creature-X cells are very tricky parasites too, they fly all over the station to find new alien hosts and if you can't catch them before the cells escape then they'll transform into something else to give you more problems. Metroid Fusion introduces more new things to the fold besides the menacing parasites, Samus can now grab onto ledges to lift herself up plus she can use the new ladders straitened throughout the station to climb to new areas. A nice little bonus.

There are some other changes to this Metroid that hardcore fans should know about. Some of the GBA controls do take some getting use to, for example; you have to hold down the 'R button' to shoot a Missile now (I'm just so use to using the Select button for missiles) and firing a shot from a 45 degree angle can be difficult with that small Dpad Nintendo gives you (it was much easier to fire on a angle with the Snes Controller). Fortunately you just use the 'L button' to fire from a angle if you want. Metroid Fusion also works that Gameboy Advance to GameCube adapter. Finish Metroid Fusion and then download the data to a Metroid Prime file and then you can play the NES Metroid on the GameCube. 'Awesome!'

Metroid Fusion looks great, even in it's old fashion 2D state. The animation of Samus is as slick as ever and she even has a small glare effect if you let her stand still for a bit. Most of the characters are large enough to see on the small screen plus the bright colours really stand out well. The backgrounds are a little disappointing though because you're always in a space station environment, there just isn't too much here many haven't seen before. Sure, these graphics can't compare to Metroid Prime's 3D world but if you loved the look of Super Metroid on the Snes then you'll love the graphics here too.

The sound in this game is pretty good too. Fans will instantly remember that classic Metroid theme at the game's title screen and a lot of the background music fits the areas of the game perfectly. One good example of the game's music placement was when I was fighting the Sirren, a huge sea snake, in a intense battle with a quick, tension filled soundtrack to get you in the right mood. The rest of the music is pretty silent compared to the loud sound effects but it gets the job done.

Metroid Fusion is a great addition to your Gameboy collection especially if you liked those awesome CastleVania Advance games. The game is more story driven than ever before (even more so then Metroid Prime) and there is always a lot of action to find here. One thing I didn't like here in MF was the limited excess after each assignment, you can't really backtrack as much as you want anymore unlike in the original Metroids. A minor complaint to a very addictive video game that will not only test your brain but also your gaming reflexes. Like in the past games, you'll earn different endings based on your performance, for example; you get the so called good ending if manage to find everything and complete the game in under 2 hour, needless to say that's no easy task but it sure helps with the game's replay value. OK, maybe some will find the game a bit short but thankfully there is a reason to go back. If you're a hardcore 2D Metroid nut and you are still a little unsure about Metroid's 3D venture then fear not, Metroid Fusion continues the game's legacy and it's one of the best Gameboy Advance titles currently available. Hopefully I won't be waiting another decade to play another one?

Metroid Fusion
overall rating: 83/100

Find this game on eBay here!

For 1 player only
Rated (E) for Everyone
graphics: 8/10
sound: 8/10
gameplay: 9/10
replay: 7/10

Ryan Genno) 2005

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