Browse Gamecube games by their Metacritic Score, and you’ll see Metroid Prime at the top of the list. It even made its way into Wikipedia’s “List of video games considered the best“.
Transition To 3D:
As this was the 1st game in the series to transition to 3D, some aspects of it don’t hold up quite as well. The most blatant one is the amount of backtracking that is involved, even if you know what you’re doing. Thankfully there is a hint system, which marks the map on where you need to go. Despite this, to a new player attempting to solve these puzzles for the 1st time, it can be incredibly frustrating. Here you march up and down the ever-expanding landscape, trying to find a slight clue on where you need to go and what you have to do.
This can result in these players giving up and writing the series off as ‘not for them. In fact, this could be the reason why Metroid never caught on with the general masses. Or maybe it was the release of Metroid: Other M, which Polygon described as “such a massive misfire and a flop with fans that it practically killed the series.” As it stands, the Metroid series still maintains a small dedicated fan base.
Another pet peeve I have is how spaced out the save points are. This results in the player having to put in a dedicated amount of playtime if they want to make any progress. So if you’re looking to play a quick session, this isn’t the game for that. Speaking of playtime – the bigger the map is, the easier it is to get lost. On the plus side, elevators and doors cleverly mask the loading times.
Metroid Prime also introduced the scan visor. Love it or hate it; you’re encouraged to use it as much as possible. This is because often, you need to scan certain things in a room to say, open a door or find a clue on how to progress. I can see the need to continuously scan getting on some people’s wick though. That’s because it slows the pace down, compared to the gameplay of the 2D classic titles.
For The Fans
Music 4 Games hosted an interview with Metroid Prime 3: Corruption‘s Sound Team at Retro Studios and Composer Kenji Yamamoto. When speaking about Metroid Prime 1, Yamamoto mentioned: “The soundtrack contained tracks from previous games in the series because he wanted “to satisfy old Metroid fans. It’s like a present for them”, he said.
Metroid Prime certainly feels made for the regular Metroid fan. Even with the hint system, new players will struggle to adapt to the problem-solving approach needed to beat the game. On the other side of the coin, 2D purists may scoff at their beloved franchise no longer producing 2D titles.
When this game was released back in 2002, it was a novel concept. Changing a series with elements of a platformer, shooter, and adventure game, from a 2D side-scroller to 3D and 1st person was a masterstroke. This came at a time when 1st person shooters were starting to become popular. But it wasn’t just that. You also had to explore a large map, solve puzzles, find power-ups, and study enemies and the differing environments. It felt like a natural transition of bringing Metroid into a more modern era and not at all like a blatant cash grab.
Does Metroid Prime deserve it’s No.1 spot on Metacritic? Do you prefer 2D or 3D Metroid games? What improvements would you like to see in Metroid Prime 4? Let us know in the comments.