So, remember how a while back how I said Super Metroid was, imho, not the best entry in the franchise? Well, any guesses as to what my number one is? It’s Metroid Prime, duh!
Much like how our parents remember where they were when they heard Kennedy was shot? Well I clearly recall where I was when I heard Metroid was the GameCube was going FPS, along with the horror that felt like a punch to the stomach. Oh, and how it was going to be in the hands of filthy Americans, i.e. the nail in the coffin. Pretty much no one had any faith going in, myself included, yet the impossible happened: not only did it all miraculously work, but the end result is one of the best damn games period.
I think what made Prime work so well is how it went back to it’s roots and felt more like the first installment, despite having all the hand-holding bells and whistles introduced in Super Metroid. I’m specifically talking about the mapping system, which actually came in supremely handy given how overwhelming and disorienting at times Tallon IV could be. The game overall was not your typical FPS, which is the game’s overall strength; exploration (again, the key element throughout the series, at least up till that point) was emphasized over pure action.
Halo it most certainly was not, nor did Prime tried to be, and the tag that it was more of a FPA (first person adventure) was not hogwash. Another groundbreaking element was how story and information was conveyed; instead of a steady stream of lengthy cut scenes featuring talking heads, you scanned stuff, which tied into the exploration aspect brilliantly, plus set the tone for challenges equally as effective as well (mostly as it pertains to setting up the final big boss battle). As Nintendo often does, they basically redefined the genre, though it’s a shame that few others have taken such a lead. Even the big N themselves did not follow suit by part 3, which was far more action heavy.
Though for me, what I feared most was all the problems I had with FPSs up till that point; I’m one of the unlucky saps who get motion sickness from just a few minutes of Halo and all the rest. But due to the completely unique control structure, or for whatever other reason, not once did I have to stop because I thought I was going to vomit!
As for the sequel, it’s a damn fine game as well, though a bit too hard for my tastes, plus Dark Samus was not nearly as interesting as the doppelganger in Metroid Fusion (more on that in a bit as well). And part three, well, is more like a regular FPS, content-wise and control-wise as well. I know it’s good, but just not for me. Anyhow, here’s a taste of the final boss battle; while it might not be as dramatic as Super Metroid‘s, the one that thing that game has over Prime, the battle with Meta Ridley is still one of the most white-knuckles experiences ever.