Metroid: Other M Impressions

Metroid: Other M

It is with a heavy heart that I write this post, loyal readers. As a huge fan of the Metroid series, beginning with the very first game back during the NES days and continuing through all the sequels, even the Game Boy version, I was looking forward to Other M with no wariness whatsoever. After all, even though I didn’t care for Metroid Prime 2 and 3 all that much, I thought the return to a non-FPS point of view would give Samus the jolt she needed in order to revitalize the franchise. And with Team Ninja adding their power to Nintendo’s, what could go wrong?

Famous last words. The answer: quite a bit. I played two hours of it and since the game is about nine hours long, I felt that was enough to comment on it. The game starts off with an awesome cut-scene depicting the end of Super Metroid, with the Baby Metroid saving Samus from the evil Mother Brain. Honestly, it was epic and I was even more pumped to play the game after watching it. But then the cut-scene went on and on and my eyes glazed over for quite some time. Samus is voiced by Jennifer Hale, who is Lady Shepherd in Mass Effect and from what I understand, she is quite talented in that role. But here, in an attempt to portray Samus as emotionally distant and cold, her monotone delivery is just flat and boring.

The overall quality of the cut-scenes, in terms of enjoyment, is rather low. I’ve heard it described that it is as if Nintendo is where Sony was 15 years ago, with regards to the cinemas. I didn’t hear any “Master of Unlocking” type lines, but it left me feeling kind of blah. Most of the scenes recap action that you just witnessed, which is always annoying and the rest seem to focus on flashbacks that detail how Samus knows the other characters. Some of them weren’t that bad and I found myself being drawn in a little bit, but Samus’s flat tone (Bueller? Bueller?) kept me from connecting with her as a character.

Also, even though I defended this game with my typical, optimistic wait-and-see approach, the cinemas mainly serve to annoy you. Metroid is about exploring and isolation. Being on a space station with a squad of soldiers is not what I had in mind. At the start, after a tutorial that ran me through the controls, I started to walk around the training room, poking and prodding, like you do in a game that focuses on exploration. But Adam, the commander of the soldiers, kept telling me to go to my objective. Look, dude, this is Metroid. It’s all about finding hidden items and taking your sweet ass time. Speed runs come AFTER you beat it for the first time, so back off!

Metroid screenshotThe actual gameplay, sadly, isn’t as great as it could be either. The game is an odd mix of 3rd person, side-scrolling and 1st person. Picture a 3rd person game like Uncharted, but with a fixed camera. The world is fully 3-D, as you can point your Wii-remote at the screen and move into a stationary 1st person view. You can’t move, which sucks because this is the only way you can fire missiles. Adding the irritation is that you can’t fire missiles until you lock onto your target, which means you are going to standing still for quite a while. Unless, of course, you are struck by an enemy, which knocks you out of the FPS view. This happens a lot and words can’t illustrate how annoying it is.

When just using your regular beam, the game is super easy. Why? Because there is no aiming. You simply face Samus at the enemy and she auto-targets the closest one, whether it is on the ceiling, diagonal or below you. Just keep spamming the button and they all die, easy as can be. Basically, it feels like a twin-stick shooter, but with no sticks. Shooting things was never the main point of Metroid, but it still provided plenty of challenge. Now that has been taken away and the result left me bored, even during boss fights. Gameplay consists of running through hallways, pressing the fire button and simply turning Samus to face the general direction of your foes. Not exactly thrilling.

One thing they added is a dodge maneuver, which is easily activated by tap-tapping on the directional pad, in any direction. So if you know an enemy is going to strike, but have no idea when, just tap left repeatedly and it will automatically make Samus dodge when the attack comes. This makes the already mindless combat even more zombie-like.

I really wanted to love this game, but whenever I played it, something just felt off. I played about a half hour, then stopped to eat something. While eating, I saw a commercial for it. The commercial looked cool and made me think, “Wow, that looks awesome.” But you know what? I didn’t want to jump up and play it, having already seen the reality. Nintendo tried to reach out to hardcore gamers by bringing Team Ninja in and I think they they totally missed the point of what Metroid is all about. Metroid, along with Zelda, is one of Nintendo’s true “hardcore” franchises and it feels dumbed down here and streamlined to the point where I don’t even recognize it.

I don’t want to be too hard on the game, as there were moments of fun and perhaps it gets a lot better as you go on. Some newcomers to the series will likely end up loving it and I can see more than a few casual gamers enjoying it. But I just don’t want to play it anymore.

What about you guys? Have any of you gotten to play it yet? Agree or disagree?

Written by

Age: 34 PSN ID: Starkiller81. I've played games since before I can remember, starting with my dad's Atari and I haven't stopped yet. Keep them coming and I will keep playing them.

5 thoughts on “Metroid: Other M Impressions”

  1. I wasn’t planning on getting Metroid Other M even back when it was first announced. I just knew from the get-go that Team Ninja would misinterpret what Metroid was all about, from the story to the gameplay. I’m just not surprised and I knew that Other M would be a lackluster addition to the series. What I loved about the other Metroids was that you were all alone and you had to find your way around and solve puzzles in order to advance through the areas. Sure, most of these puzzles were simply understanding that you needed to use a certain power-up at this certain spot, but there was a sense of accomplishment, ingenuity, and exploration, whereas Other M seems to be just riding along on a mine cart. The shooting is also strange, since Metroid is all about finding the right angle to attack enemies, not just looking in their general direction. And the FPS controls seem very irritating, especially since you have to make yourself vulnerable for several precious seconds just to be able to damage certain enemies. That’s just a stupid feature decision.
    And of course, the story. Ugggh. Yes, everybody wants to know about Samus’ backstory – that’s the point. Keeping her enigmatic and refraining from cutscenes was what made Metroid seem…more intelligent and avant-garde. The story wasn’t thrown at you, it was given in small packets, like the scan logs in the Prime series. Metroid Fusion was closest to Other M in terms of revealing story, since Adam (an AI based on the man) talked before and after every mission and there were Samus’ soliloquies once in a while, but still weren’t as overt as Other M. And I mean it’s Team Ninja, so of course they’re going to add cutscenes, but it just is inappropriate for the isolation of Metroid.

    Metroid Other M…just couldn’t be great. It was destined to be mediocre, or above average at best. It’s a nice try, but the fast-paced action and streamlined nature of it all along with the melodramatic story make for a game that doesn’t fit well with what Metroid is really about. Frankly, I don’t think Nintendo knows why people love the Metroid series since they keep adding sidekick characters (the Hunters in Corruption, the Marines in Other M) when Metroid is supposed to be about being alone. I don’t think Team Ninja should have been called to make a Metroid game. Yes, they’re masters of animation (and teh_jigglz) but they’re not experienced with isolation games. It’s kinda like how Bungie didn’t realize what made a Halo game a Halo game until they did some soul-searching with Reach (and we’ll see how well Reach turns out) since Halo 2 didn’t have enough isolation or massive environments that Halo 1 had.

  2. In a review by Game Informer they said that in one of the flashbacks, it shows that Samus was famous in the Galactic Federation for giving the “thumbs down” sign every time she was given orders. I know character exposition is not Nintendo’s thing when all Mario ever says is “WAHOO” but I mean come on.

  3. Can’t say I’m surprised. Or worried. C’mon Nintendo, leave all of the Metroid games to Retro and it’ll be fine.

  4. Nintendo, you really shouldn’t give off one of your prized franchises to a third party company. Didn’t you learn anything from the CD-i?

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