(Nintendo/Retro Studios, November 19, 2002)

"Samus is back!"

Since Grand Theft Auto VC won last month's GOTM, I figure that we could not forget about some of the other bigger games of the 2002 holiday season, especially since this particle GC game is this good, eh? I waited 8 lonnggggg years for this but it's finally here! "Yes, it's back!" Here is Metroid Prime for the Nintendo Game Cube. Bounty Hunter, Samus Aran returns to fight the evil Space Pirates of the galaxy again but now this Metroid game is completely 3D and the view is almost always First Person Shooter now like in other games a Halo, Quake, Goldeneye. Weird but true. Metroid Prime is filled with spectacular graphics, familiar sounds, and the same good old gameplay that made the originals such great games, but is this really the best Game Cube out so far or is this game one big 3D disappointment?

After the last known Metroid was killed off in her previous adventure, Samus Aran was searching for the final batch of Space Pirates that escaped from the now destroyed planet of Zebes. We now know that Samus's reason for hunting these evil aliens is because she was orphaned as a child after an devastating raid by the Pirates on her home world. Samus uses her advance techniques and famous power suit originally from the peaceful Chozo race to protect anyone from the deadly menace of the Pirates. The few remaining Space Pirates fled to the planet of Tallon IV to rebuild their once fearsome empire and unfortunately for you, Tallon IV had more that enough natural resources to get Samus's enemies off their feet again.

First let's start off with what developer Retro Studios did with this new Metroid here. The new First Person view sure takes some getting use to especially if you are used the classic 2D gameplay of the original Metroids, thankfully these controls are fairly simple to learn. The basics to the newer controls is the Aiming (R button) of Samus's hand canon and the Lock on (L button) feature to focus on a object or enemy, once you learn those two buttons you'll be ready for action. I only wish that Nintendo gave me the option to change my control set up around, but you can't even edit the controller in the options menu so you're stuck with them. The reason I bring this up is because the 'Jump' button is used by 'B' red button to the left of the giant A button used to shot, some may notice that those buttons are actually in reverse from the NES Metroid. "I can't tell you how many times I hit the 'X' button (the Morphing ball) by mistake, just because I wanted to jump!" Moving on to the subject of 'Jumping', the only problem with the First Person view is the difficulty of judging your jumps and if miss an important jump could really frustrate you in a hurry. You can also forget about doing flips and Screw attacks in Metroid Prime, it's one of the major problems with this new view here. Another thing to get use to while in this view is fighting some trickier enemies from that attack from behind or something, it's really annoying when you get hit by a enemy that you can't even see. Still Metroid Prime is very easy to get into despite the 3D look and you won't have to mess around with a camera all the time either unlike in Super Mario Sunshine.

"This is only the first boss too!"

The view and controls are not the only things new here. Samus can now open a cool new Scan window to exam various things for clues and info or to activate devices. Most of the orange items that are scan able are pretty pointless so I recommend only scanning the red square for anything important. As you get deeper into the game there are upgrades for your Visor that can help you see attackers in the dark or find some hidden area too. Don't worry Metroid freaks, Metroid Prime also has a lot of classic game play that made the other three Metroid games such cult favourites. Samus starts off the game with many of the power ups from the past games like the Morphing ball (in Third Person view of course), the grabbling gun, varia suit, and more but don't too attached because she is going to lose it all after some trouble near the beginning. The fun thing about a good Metroid game is to find a new item or ability that helps unlock new areas and Metroid Prime has that here too.

I don't know if you hear yet, but there is a little glitch in some of the earlier copies of Metroid Prime. I experienced it too when Samus was riding one of the Chozo Ruins elevators, the game just froze up on me before she reached the top and I was forced to turn the system off. In fairness to Nintendo, it only happened to me once but it's better to be safe then sorry when or if you buy this game that it's not one of the defected copies. Ask the sales rep just to be sure.

Metroid Prime is also compatible with that kind of useless Gameboy Advance to GameCube link adapter too. With this little gizmo you can download some of your Metroid Fusion data to a Metroid Prime game to unlock some special features like new suits and if you finished Metroid Fusion you get to play the NES Metroid on your GameCube. The only problem with that is you have to spend a extra 20 bucks for a link cable that only works on a weak hand full of games, the thing is really just a dust collector but that's for another review.

The graphics in Metroid Prime are nothing short of stunning! The First Person view thing may seem a little strange at first but it sure makes this game look like a million bucks! I love the way the screen ripples when your Charge shot blasts away at a target, plus the Scan effects also alter your view to change things up a bit, it's looks very realistic. Other noteworthy things are the many things that get in the way of Samus's vision like alien slime, mist, and water, words can't describe how impressive it is to get something right in your face like that. Not only is the game super detailed with very diverse landscapes (although some of trees and snow banks look a little blocky) but the frame rate is really smooth too, I'm pretty sure this baby runs at 60 frames per second. The action only slows down when there are too many baddies on the screen at once but that's fairly rare.

Speaking of your enemies, the world of Tallon IV is filled with lots of them. Remember those spiky wall climbers, or those pesky suicidal bugs that explode on impact from the other Metroid games? They're back in this game and they are beautifully detailed in 3D (most of them are still ugly though of course). I also love the attention given all the animations, it was really freaky seeing those bugs that pop out of the ground and caw their way towards you. Metroid Prime also has some killer looking bosses like a giant plant bug with razor sharp claws powered by ancient sun mirrors. Although you don't see Samus a lot in the game, you can view her sometimes during intermissions and when Saving your game, her suit looks amazing with a nice amount of glare and detail. The action switches into a third person perspective when Samus transforms into her Morphing Ball mode (X button) and there is even some cool lighting trail effects created simply by moving around.

I was very surprised by the sounds in MP, not because it sounded cool and all but a lot music in here is from the past Metroid games. Fans should instantly recognize many of the remixed tracks from Metroid and Super Metroid (sadly no Metroid II music though). The sound effects were really impactful too with lots of cool loud shots from the various lasers, plus we can't forget about the tons screaming aliens on the other side. It also really helps if you actually hear a enemy making lots of noise especially if one of them decides to strike from behind like I pointed out earlier.

Metroid Prime is not like most First Person shooters you played before, this game involves a lot of searching, jumping, and even some puzzle solving besides the usual shooting. Although it's weird that Retro Studios didn't go all the way with the First Person craze and do the first ever Metroid multi-player (or even Metroid Online, eh?) but you can't win them all I guess? There better be a GameCube sequel though so people could really get excited by Metroid again and add the features I just mentioned, eh? "None of this wait a decade crap Nintendo."

If you hate First Person Shooters then I recommend renting this game before you invest your cash right away but chances are if you are a hardcore Metroid fan, you will love it anyways. New comer Retro Studios still did an absolutely fantastic job with their game here and if you don't fall in love with the liquid smooth graphics or heart pounding sounds, then maybe the addictive game play will lear you in. Like the past Metroids, I couldn't stop playing it until I did everything possible there is to try out and believe me it's gonna take awhile to beat this one. It's not really better or worse then the awesome Super Metroid but I'm glad there is finally another Metroid, it's not fair that we should have to wait 8 years to play one, especially when the games are this good. "Don't miss it!



overall rating: 93/100

Find Metroid Prime on eBay here!

For 1 player only
Rate (T) for Teen

graphics: 9/10
sound: 8/10
gameplay: 9/10
replay: 8/10

(Ryan Genno) 2002