How can I review Metroid Prime Remastered?
This is a series that shaped my adolescence, with the two GameCube titles completed 100% countless times over the years. I even went as far as to make a 100% hard mode guide for this very game many years ago over on YouTube. With a game so close to my heart, how can I give this a full review?
The answer is that I can not. Instead it will be given the QuickShot treatment as I go into the key things you need to know about the game and why it is universally considered a masterpiece.
The Metroid franchise was in a little bit of a quandry as the new millenium hit. Whilst the previous entries were critically well received upon release, the gaming world was embracing the third dimension and it wasn’t exactly clear how Samus was going to fit in. As such, we had an extended period of absence from the bounty hunter with rumoured projects never surfacing. That was until, out of the blue, Retro Studios announced Metroid Prime: a game that not only brought Samus into 3D but into first person too. Needless to say, the fanbase fucking hated it.
That was until they played it and realised that this game was perhaps the greatest game in the franchise yet.
CAN METROID CRAWL?
Set after the events of the original Metroid and before her genocidal rampage in Metroid II, Prime sees Samus intercept a distress call from the Space Pirate Frigate. The crew has been massacred by their own experiments, and Samus wants to find out why. After defeating the giant Parasite Queen within, she comes across her old foe Ridley, who has been modified with cybernetic enhancements after his previous defeat. Despite losing all her upgrades after being damaged by the exploding Frigate, she chases him down to Tallon IV – a planet containing an ancient Chozo settlement, but also has plenty more secrets buried within.
Despite taking place in the first person, the game is absolutely no more of a shooter than the original 2D games were. There are enemies and larger than life bosses, for sure, but this is all about exploring the giant open world as you gain more and more abilities that will help you delve further into the world and find the root of the mysterious phazon.
With the game’s new perspective and dimension being a huge risk, the developers saw fit to make sure that everything else remained somewhat safe as not to risk alienating the fanbase. There’s no tinges of horror here that permeated the classic titles, and the biomes you’ll explore are mostly traditional tropes. Forest, sand, fire, and ice are all here and function pretty much as you would expect. Her movement abilities and beam upgrades too remain familiar, although the addition of her visors adds a slightly new element that complements the first person perspective. The scan visor in particular is useful for activating electronic devices, and also obtaining more lore about the world and the creatures that inhabit it. The handy logbook with it all proves to be a great resource for battle tips as well as immersing yourself more into the world.
And what a world it is too. Sure, first person platforming tends not to have the best reputation, but things have been designed to complement that. Platforms are large and focus on alternative platforming challenges to make your way around. It could be tracks to cling on with your spider ball, pillars to destroy with your blaster, or just simple floating platforms. There’s loads here and it’s never really much of a hassle. There are loads of extra hidden objects and optional puzzles too for those that want to improve their health or weapon ammunition, with many upgrades giving off a slight hum to indicate that they’re nearby.
As is often the case with the genre, backtracking can be an issue and relies on you remembering where you saw that one thing that needed an upgrade. Some such elements can be found by looking at the map, such as doors that require a certain beam to open, but many rely on you remembering where stuff was if you want to avoid needless wandering. The game’s hint system will kick in after a short while without progress as it marks where you need to go next on the map, but it would have been nice to add your own markers at least.
Even though combat isn’t the focus of the game, there’s still a lot to be done and it couldn’t be simpler. Starting off with your regular beam, you’ll eventually gain access to a missile launcher, beam upgrades, explosive bombs for your morph ball, and even some further upgrades that make each one even more powerful. With this arsenal at your disposal, you’re ready to take on the masses.
Most foes that you’ll encounter don’t put up too much of a threat, with even the raging beetles and wasps at the start of the game requiring little more than a brief dodge and a blast to take care of them, some later enemies will necessitate the use of strategic thinking to take care of them. For the most part, shooting enemies until they die will suffice, but many will have certain weaknesses that can help make short work of them.
The fodder lying around each world though are only really training dummies to get you prepared for your fights with the game’s bosses, and there are some fab ones here. A particular favourite of mine, Flaahgra, gains its power from the sunlight bouncing from the mirrors in his arena. He hits hard and can’t be damaged by conventional fire. Instead, you have to cut off his sunlight to make him temporarily faint and gain access to his roots, where he can be dealt heavier damage. It’s a cool fight, but even that is only a taster of what is yet to come.
As for the remaster itself, it tries to remain as faithful as possible to the source material by taking the Wii edition of the game and retexturing the lot. They did a fantastic job, and it’s impressive to see details on things that you never even noticed before. On first glance, the game looks like what you remember it being, but when compared side by side it’s impressive to see just how much it has been upgraded. In addition to this, the game now runs at a smooth 60FPS with control options that harken back to the original, the Wii version, and even a modern control scheme (with gyro!) for those that want the best experience. Retro studios did a fantastic job overhauling it, and the only gripes I have are the removal of the Fusion Suit and the addition of some infuriating invisible walls that have been added to try and prevent sequence breaking. Considering how much sequence breaking is engrained into the whole Metroid franchise, this is especially disappointing. Speedrunners have found a way around most of these, but it makes it a lot more frustrating and likely impossible for casual players to even experiment with.
Metroid Prime Remastered is a near perfect remaster of a classic title. The game rightfully earns its place as one of the best in the franchise, and stands as one of the best games on the Switch. That is until they (hopefully) bring over the superior sequel, of course!