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!
The 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?