Here’s a review I wrote for the Game Gavel Forums back in 2010 about a month after the launch of the latest Metroid game: Other M. It has a very different “feel” to most Metroid games, as it actually has drama in it this time, and to some fans of the franchise, and to some over-paid reviewers, they don’t like the game so much. Me personally, I didn’t mind it too much, though it’s not the best in the franchise, but if you hunt on the inter-webs you’ll find overly passionate (paid) individuals that hate on the game a little too much. So here’s a reasonable review of Metroid Other M…
One Nintendo franchise I really enjoy is the Metroid series, it’s dark secluded caves, the claustrophobic environments, and more importantly, video game’s first real heroine, Samus Aran. Truth to be told, with the Metroid series being 24 years old, there’s not much we know about Samus. We closest we ever got to was the mention of Adam Malkovich in Metroid Fusion, and even then, Adam Malkovich was an AI in Metroid Fusion. Metroid Other M takes that part of the story of explains it in bigger detail, for the first time in 24 years we begin to understand who Samus is as a person rather than a bounty hunter in cybernetic suit. As Metroid Fusion took it’s first baby step into a story line for the franchise, Metroid Other M does a full-on running jump!
First thing first to expect from this game, cut scenes, something that the series rarely sees, there were some in Fusion and a few in Prime 3 Corruption, but cut scenes in this game are plentiful. However this not a bad thing, if we’re going to compare this with something like Metal Gear Solid 4 for example, yes MGS4 is still boring with it’s long and derivative cut scenes that can ruin the experience, whilst Metroid Other M uses cut scenes properly and neatly, only putting them in parts of the game where it needs to be, in parts where it makes sense, and more importantly, to make a story. There are plenty of cut scenes in this game, however it’s done right and doesn’t ruin the tension of gameplay or make you get bored, they snappy, short, and to the point, never allowing itself to go off course and wander off into some silly tangent, or in MGS4’s case, a guilty case of product placement (Sony Bluray and Apple iPod). Speaking of story, you’ll notice that in this game Samus appears to be a bit more submissive compared to her “lone wolf”, hyper independent personalty of old. This is mainly because of her rendezvous with Adam Malkovich, her old Commander in the Galactic Federation; he was a like a Father to her, so it’s clear to see that her personalty would suddenly change, however the many joys of the internet show many girl gamers get upset that Samus is taken orders from a man, Heavens Above! But despite the plentiful cases of internet whining, this is to show how much Samus respects Adam, as a Father figure and a superior, there’s a part of the story that tells how Samus felt guilty because she left the Galactic Federation to become a Bounty Hunter, as if she left her job as being a soldier to do her own thing, something that she feels now was a selfish thing to do. Regardless of what people say on the Internet, I personally feel that the story fits the game quite well, and puts a perceptive on Samus that we haven’t seen before.
Gameplay wise, this is where it might go a bit off course, especially if you’re expecting something. A noticeable thing I saw on the internet are people complaining about the game because it wasn’t “Metroid” enough. In my honest opinion this is case of that they were thinking that is game was going to be another Super Metroid or something more on the lines of Xbox Live Arcade’s Shadow Complex. No, Metroid Other M is nothing like these, and it’s whiny people on the net that should be guilty of “assuming” that a game they see in video and picture on the internet should be anything like another game until they play it. Before you mention it, no, Metroid Other M is not a game were it plays on rails and more Samus left or right on a two dimensional plain. Rather, it’s still a three dimensional game where by you can move Samus in all directions, and yes you’re doing this with a dpad rather then an analogue stick, just like the early Crash Bandicoot games. As you may have seen, the game is played using the Wii remote like an NES controller, the “1” button shoots, the “2” button jumps, and the “A” button puts Samus into her morph ball. To add to that, Samus does have a first person view by pointing the Wii remote to the TV and pointing at enemies to shoot at, shooting missiles at breaking walls (if you’re wondering, missiles in this game can only be used in first person, something I didn’t like too much), and scanning objects. Another form of control is the new recharge system the game has, you do this by point the Wii remote up towards the ceiling, twisting it 90 degrees and pressing the “A” button, this recharges your health and missiles, now you’re thinking, “hold on a minute, you can recharge health?”, Yes and No, firstly enemies in this game do not drop any items, the only ever item drop I’ve seen in the game in an optional beam you can get in the game that isn’t necessary to beat the game with; but no, there are no health items or spare missiles to collect from enemies in this game, you use the recharge to get more missiles when you’re low, and you recharge health when you’re getting very low, you can’t do this until you only have 30 HP left, if you’re over 30 HP you can’t refill health until you reach a save point. Combat in this game is both similar and different at the same time, and this is where you can feel where Team Ninja got involved in this game. Another new feature to this game is something called Sense-Move, really it’s just a fancy name to call “dodging”, but it works by tapping the dpad in a direction just before being hit by a melee attack or a laser. It can be tricky at first, but you’ll start to notice that different enemies react to the Sense-Move differently, almost in the same way to something like Punch-Out, once you work out their weaknesses and timing, you’ll be an invincible force, though in my experience of the game, I already got the plasma beam before I got used the majority of each enemies timing and weaknesses. Whilst shooting your gun, Samus now auto targets, it may sound like a bad idea, however when you’re playing a third person shooter that doesn’t have it’s camera behind the shoulder, you need auto targeting, especially when you’re jumping around and have enemies in every direction. That’s not to say that it always work out to be the easiest way, sometimes it doesn’t work, however I’m great-full to have this feature, because I can imagine that it’ll be a lot worse without the auto targeting.
In certain parts of the game, in most cases these happen right after a cut scene, you go into first person and you have to scan for something, difference being you can’t get out of the first person mode until you find it. This to me in the most disappointing part of the game, mainly because what you’re looking for it something that appears on your TV very very small and/or so dark you won’t notice it. A great example of this is a part where Samus finds herself inside a large hive, and you have to play this “spot something” game, the problem was I had to look up on GameFAQs to find out what the hell I was meant to look at, but there are these larvae that you have to scan, that are pretty far away, and in a really dark spot! If you’re going to play this game, make sure you have a TV with a really good contrast ratio and brightness because you’ll need it!
Something in the game I did like though is this new feature where by once you clear a room of it’s enemies, you get a hint on your map where the closest missile or health upgrade is kept, what’s even better is that when you beat the game the first time round, you can return back to the game and the hints stay there, allowing you to track down more upgrades you couldn’t get before. One thing I will say though, for you complete-ists out there, it’s impossible to beat the game first time with 100%, you need to at least beat the final boss first before you can do it, there are parts at the very beginning of the game that get blocked off that have upgrades inside that you can’t get with ordinary weapons, it only opens up once you beat the final boss.
In conclusion, the game is pretty good, and can be classed as one of the better Wii games this year, however as a part of the Metroid series, it isn’t quite up there with the likes of Super Metroid and Metroid Prime; however it’s defiantly not as hollow and mediocre such as Metroid 2 and Metroid Prime Hunters. The controls are a little debatable, however it’s a case of getting use to, and it’s not quite an easy learning curve. Metroid fans should defiantly pick this game up and play it, however there’s one thing to make clear about this game, don’t play it with ANY EXPECTATIONS, no it isn’t like Super Metroid, and no it’s not like Shadow Complex, because with that in mind there’s bound to be something small and worthless that you’ll dislike that will ruin the experience for you. Just take the game as an understanding behind Samus’ history, and an example of what to expect in future Metroid titles.
…So, be it if you like it or not, I liked it, not because I’m a Metroid fan, but because it’s a good game, sure it’s not the perfect game, but it’s worthy of anyone’s Wii game shelf!