Let’s think back to earlier years of life and the games of that time. As a rule, the further one turns the clock to the left, the more strongly the feelings and circumstances associated with the games come to the fore. And the harder it is to separate when we’re talking about that fuzzy feeling called “nostalgia.”
Just like with Metroid Prime, with which I connect many vivid impressions. The misted visor and Samus’ reflection in it, of course. The desperate fight against Meta-Ridley and the fear of never being able to win him. The spherical piece “Inside the Crashed Space Pirate Frigate”. The buzzing in the corridors as if they were living organisms. I even remember the small round power button on my 30cm TV, and that it eventually wore out and required repeated pressing to turn.
If Metroid Prime Remastered is your first foray into planet Tallon IV, lucky you! This arouses all the more the desire to be able to repeat formative experiences in the first intensity. In retrospect, part of this has to be attributed to the Gamecube, whose controller was cute like the body with the handle on it, but not made for shooters. Metroid Prime will not be as ruthless as it once was. The (fabulous) remaster – see Metroid Prime Remastered review here – comes out with clear sensibilities in terms of usability and playability that even by Nintendo standards would have been stubborn to ignore.
I mean, running and aiming at the same time! How could you play that back then, before the Wii version?
You had to fight your way through and did it gladly, the trip across the planet was so new and the flora and fauna on it so fascinating. That’s how clever you felt opening the first rocket door in the Grand Plaza of the Chozo Ruins, long after you’d started mentally creating a checklist. Thanks to Retro Studios’ strong design of visualizing interaction points in three-dimensional space as prominent dead ends. If I had to describe Metroid Prime in one picture, it would be this:
The cuddly little bugs from the very first Metroid’s manual (another one of those memories that will never fade, as does the drawing of the galactic alliance representatives who looked really cute in the lovely illustrated booklet).
There’s a lot of nostalgia attached to Metroid Prime, the remaster of which has been on the market since last week as a cartridge and hopefully sets a new record for the series buzzing way under the Mario and Zelda radar.
But one thing struck me as bullshit at the time, and I don’t know anyone with an attraction to drowsy artifact hunting. Unfortunately, it was preserved in the worst possible (read: true to the original) way by Nintendo and the responsible porting studios. If you still want to play the remaster without knowing it, click somewhere else and don’t let it spoil your mood. The game will do that in due time.
We’re talking about a stretching section just before the finale, a door slamming at the finish line that would make even Zelda: Wind Waker’s Tingle Card Punch shrug our shoulders wearily. Good for the Chozo elders that they secured their temple so well to save the universe from the evil imprisoned within. Awkward for anyone who, after hours of fine exploration, finally wants to unravel its secret.
During those two hours or so, I kept asking myself why “Cutting Miyamoto” didn’t cut them down like the first ones Boss fight blueprints for Luigi’s Mansion 2 or Intelligent Systems’ original Paper Mario for the 3DS.
The search for twelve MacGuffins before the finale sounds like the usual video game botch and wouldn’t be a problem if Samus didn’t have to do it all the time. Again. Through. the same. old. acquaintances. areas. Run. She’s had to do that often enough up until now. To Phendrana Wasteland, get the boost, back to the overworld, use boost, get double jump, back to Wasteland, use double jump, back and forth and back. In the “power-up phase” alone, you go to Phendrana at least four times.
The fact that it is the only area that can only be accessed via the Magmoor Caverns does not make things any better, especially since you first have to locate the artifact rooms using the clues. Sure, backtracking is part of Metroid’s strong mechanical DNA, but not in such a clumsy way. The section is no longer about power-ups to unlock new interaction possibilities and paths. Samus’ arsenal is long complete.
Did the devs have a little too much fun showing how easily she sweeps through caves and hallways fully equipped? You have to give them, and Metroid in general, that: the contrast between the opening and closing stages is stunning in every part. The huntress flies energetically with the grapple beam over lava pools that had required adventurous detours hours before. This is especially true for the underdeveloped Magmoor caves, which serve as a passage area a few times too often and are the only area that has to do without a boss.
The sheer fun of the movement wouldn’t have required an artifact hunt, which culminated in the destruction of an expensive chair last week (that last part is a complete lie). One might argue that it can be really cool to do one last lap of honor through the world and its most remote corners, and in any order at that. Well, it can also be really cool to go bowling dressed as a zebra using a pumpkin.
Very few artefacts can be collected along the way, the majority require the items from the last game phase. The fact that Prime and its beautiful remaster only suffer marginally says a lot about the almost timeless quality and that of its taciturn protagonist.
In general: how she now and then supports her weapon arm with her free hand. Or how cutscenes are not subordinate to storytelling, but to the memory of her appearance, her yellow and red combat suit with cannonball shoulders, so bulky and yet full of elegance. Unlike in the 2D main series, we don’t accompany Samus on her mission. We are samus
Despite all the artefacts (oh, and the Temple of Heaven key in Prime 2…), I’m still grateful to Retro for this achievement and the bluntly video-game world, whose gadgets are only tailored to Samus’ radius of action and would not move a meter without them. As long as they don’t get any stupid ideas in part four.