Metroid Prime Review – Definitive 50 GameCube Game #2

The series so far: The Definitive 50 GameCube Games.

Most of Nintendo’s best beloved franchises had already been brought into 3D during the N64 era, and so the general way that they were constructed was less of a surprise when sequels hit on the GameCube. But with Samus absent from the 64, no one really knew how a 3D Metroid game should work, or if it even would.

By the time Prime was first unveiled, fans had had a long time to build up what they thought a new Metroid entry should look like – and first person was not necessarily part of the dream. Many were looking forward to a Metroid that looked a little closer to Ocarina of Time than a shooter.

Ultimately though, the fledgling Retro Studios delivered. Despite all the doubts, the choice of first person perspective turned out to be a stroke of genius, giving the stoic Samus an ideal view of her dangerous, and labyrinthine surroundings while continuing and even enhancing Metroid‘s signature sense of loneliness. Even with an eight year gap from its console predecessor, and vast differences in play style, Prime feels like a Metroid game.

Rather than use the first person perspective to produce a quick-paced shooter, Retro built a fully realized world for Samus to explore, and Metroid Prime plays more like an adventure game than an FPS.

Sure, there are plenty of monstrous creatures and nefarious machines to blast, but Prime is fundamentally about exploration. It’s a game of feeling for the way forward in the pursuit of power-ups, and therefore yet more new routes.

Prime stands as one of the most haunting and atmospheric video games ever made. All the way from its menu screen to Samus’ hours of exploration on the beautiful and dangerous Tallon IV, Metroid Prime compels like almost no other thanks to its chilling music and rich environments.

Metroid Prime begins with Samus investigating a distress signal from a Space Pirate frigate. She takes down the genetic experiments which have laid waste to the facility, but ends up with much of her Power Suit’s abilities destroyed. Despite the setback, Samus chooses to follow her old nemeis Ridley, who has made an untimely reappearance, and follows the creature to the mysterious planet of Tallon IV.

From her initial landing point in a lush rainforest, Samus goes on to explore a plethora of environments, from the ancient Chozo Ruins to the chilling Phendrana Drifts, as she pursues Tallon IV’s secrets, and unravels the mystery of its tragic undoing.

Prime includes stacks of story to flesh out the events of Samus’ journey, but never lets exposition get in the way of exploration and action. Players are given what they need for events to make sense – while a wealth of back story is provided through the innovative invention of optical visor scanning.

Scans and optional upgrades serve as additional motivation for hungry players to plumb the depths of Metroid Prime‘s intricate world, and make the achievement of 100% completion all the more challenging.