On the Nintendo 64, many of our favorite series were brought to life in 3D for the first time. Super Mario 64 wowed us with fully explorable three-dimensional levels, complete with multiple challenges in each. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time stole our hearts as one of the grandest, and most cherished stories of all time. Pokemon brought our addictive and collecting tendencies onto the big screen. But where was Metroid? You see, Nintendo wanted to make a 3D Metroid game badly. Even Yoshio Sakamoto, the series co-founder was very itnerested, but Sakamoto couldn't figure out how the player would control Samus with the N64 controller. Eventually, Shigeru Miyamoto visited with a new development team in Texas called Retro Studios. Sure, they're made a few very good Nintendo games as of today, but this was back in 1998, when they were literally unheard of. As it turned out, Retro was on board.. Nintendo decided that wanted it to be for their next system to come, the Gamecube however. At that time it didn't even have the code name "Dolphin"! So, they got to work, and eventually had a game that played somewhat similar to Other M, but Miyamoto intervened, scrapped all their work and changed it to a "First Person Adventure". Furthermore, 4 different Gamecube games were canceled entirely in order to focus on Metroid Prime. Was it worth it?
The Metroid Prime trilogy takes place between Metroid (or Zero Mission) and Metroid II: Return of Samus. Samus reveives a distress signal from a frigate called Orpheon, which also happens to be a space pirate ship. She arrives to discover that the crew has been slaughtered by their own genetically modified parasites. After destroying the parasite queen, a self destruct sequence initiates. On her way back to her own ship, a large electrical surge destroys most of her suit's capabilities (naturally). It is immediately after this, that she encounters Ridley, the space pirate leader she thought she had killed on Zebes. Ridley head towards a planet called Tallon VI, and so Samus gives chase. Upon landing, she finds that Orpheon has also crash landed on this planet. after a bit of exploration, she discovers that Chozo once inhabited this planet, but a meteorite crashed, contaminating the planet with a corrosive substance called Phazon and killing them off. Samus then sets off to take down the space pirates once more, but can she survive the Phazon herself?
Samus overlooks the Talon overworld from atop her ship.
Metroid Prime has great graphics, and effects for its time, but they have not aged well. Rough textures, low detail on certain enemies and pixelation are pretty common when you look at things up close. Despite this, the game is extremely atmospheric, mostly thanks to the music and the effects. As the game is in first person, you are actually looking out of Samus' visor, and it serves as the HUD. When you walk through steam, the visor fogs up. When an enemies explodes near you, blood may splatter onto your visor (it's all blue, or green). My personal favorite effect is when there is an explosion underwater, and the flash allows you to see Samus' reflection in the visor. Even the gun effects are great. For example, if you fire an ice shot, frost develops on the outside of the gun. The music is very atmospheric, low key, and fitting.
Beta screen shot in which the ice blast freezes the whole arm canon.
Samus is moved using only the control stick, and the C-stick is used for changing weapons. The D-pad is sued to change visors. You may be wondering how you can aim this way, but it is relatively simple. The R trigger locks onto enemies, and the A button is fire. Alternatively, you can hold down L to free aim, but you cannot move while doing this. If you feel this will be an issue for you, you should play this game on the Wii via New Play Control if you live in Asia, or via Metroid Prime Trilogy if you live elsewhere.
Samus free aiming.
Despite involving a gun, and being in first person perspective, Metroid Prime is not a first person shooter. Rather, it is what Nintendo describes as a first person adventure. Combat is not at the forefront of this title, but rather puzzle solving and exploration are the main gameplay elements. Exploration is especially important, and something you will be doing a lot of. Just be sure to check your map as often as possible, or you will quickly become lost on Talon IV.
A simple map of Talon VI.
Metroid Prime is a great game, and a successful translation of a 2D series into 3D. Retro did an amazing job on their first game, and went on to create 2 sequels to Metroid Prime, 2 spin offs of it, Donkey Kong Country Returns, and Mario KArt 7. They are currently working on a Wii U title that is as yet un-named, but they have called it "A project everyone wants us to do."
Metroid Prime is a game that sucks you in, and doesn't let you go until you hit the power button. Over the last 9 years, I have created a total of 5 different game files on Metroid Prime. I only finished one of them, which was my most recent. You see, even though I continually gave up, got stuck, or became frustrated and quit, I always came back eventually until I finally completed this grand adventure. Is the game perfect? Not nearly, but is still a Gamecube icon. Did I mention that you can get this game at most used game stores for about $3? Yeah, I said $3.