Game Over: Metroid Prime Remastered
I missed out on playing the original Metroid Prime from 2002 on the GameCube because I was knee-deep in my PlayStation 2 while also having to navigate the troubles of being a kid with four older brothers and a busy life schedule. So years went by before I could try it on the Nintendo Switch after the remaster was shadow-dropped on the 8th of February following a Nintendo Direct. I was beyond excited to finally get my hands on this thing because, somehow, I could never secure a copy of the original game despite its various ports. After playing the title, it has earned a spot on my all-time favourite games list, and I can see why so many people loved it all those years ago. Everything about Metroid Prime Remastered is so good, whether it’s the atmosphere, the upgrades, the lore, or THAT music. It is a complete experience. My favourite tracks would have to be the Phendrana Drifts and Magmoor Caverns main themes, but I could’ve picked any song because it’s all amazing. It’s also cool how each area stands out from the rest because of their unique colour palettes, and if you were to show them all side-by-side to someone, that person would easily be able to tell them apart just by looking at their visuals. Now, that is some good game design.
Metroid Prime is a first-person shooter with Metroidvania elements that emphasises agile movement instead of precise aiming. The focus is on isolation and exploration more than anything. I don’t think there is any point in going into plot details because all you do is land on a spaceship, chase Ridley to Tallon IV, and then explore the planet while searching for upgrades. That’s fine, though, because there isn’t any point in cluttering the experience with unnecessary plot details. Plus, all that story stuff can be found in the various lore sections that can be read with Samus’ scan visor. The movement has also been vastly improved over the original release by adding dual-stick analogue controls. I’m not planning on experimenting with other control options because I’ve found dual-stick to be the most comfortable, and Retro Studios did a great job with them.
The upgrades and suit abilities still play and look great after all these years, but the visuals are even more remarkable. I don’t know how they did it, but somehow the developers were able to get this title running at 60 frames per second with graphics that resemble a PlayStation 4 game at times. It’s awe-inspiring for the perceived limits of the hardware and shows the developers still cared about the project that made them famous over two decades ago. Now, I’m a relative newcomer to the Metroid series as my introduction to the franchise was with Metroid Dread, and then I went on to play Metroid Fusion and now the remaster of Metroid Prime. It’s now become one of my favourite videogame series ever, so the amount of support it’s been getting in recent years just warms my heart. I wasn’t around for the franchise’s dark years, and I feel bad for anyone who had to experience that era, but at least we can enjoy this sudden reawakening of the Alien-inspired space epic. Of course, until Nintendo forgets about it for another decade.
One of my favourite parts about this game is how you’re never doing something separate from the core experience. I know that sounds a bit trivial, but in the age of expansive AAA releases, I’ve grown fond of titles that require the player to get good at doing one thing and then build around that thing with upgrades and the like rather than adding on a bunch of pointless gameplay mechanics to support a generic story. It just shows that focusing on what makes your game great in the first place instead of trying to come at it from the outside can pay off in spades. For example, you’re always playing as Samus whilst collecting upgrades throughout the entire experience. You never have to do something separate from that, such as flying a spaceship or driving a vehicle. There are other ways of executing this approach, but it’s something Nintendo and its various studios have always excelled at, and I love it.
If you haven’t played Metroid Prime by now, I genuinely can’t imagine a better way of doing so. The graphics have been updated, the controls are better, and the atmosphere is still top-notch. I believe you should be required to play it if you’re a fan of Metroidvanias or first-person shooters, and I’m incredibly grateful for getting the chance to play it myself. So Metroid Prime 2: Echoes and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption better get a similar treatment, or I’ll lose it! But at least the future of this series is looking brighter than ever, and I couldn’t be happier about that.