The Metroid Prime Trilogy

18 09 2010

by NiceDino

 

My first encounter with the Metroid series dates back till 1994. That year Super Metroid, which was the third Metroid title, was released for the Super Nintendo. With it´s 24-Megabit-Cartridge it was the biggest game for the Super Nintendo at the time. With it´s dense atmosphere, action and darkness, Super Metroid was a very intense action-adventure and did generate an outstanding deep space flair.

 

To my regret there was never a Metroid game for the Nintendo 64. It was not until the Game Cube that the series did continue. For this console Metroid Prime was released in 2003, followed by Metroid Prime Echoes (2004), until the series reached the Wii with Metroid Prime Corruption in 2007.

 

Although I played the original games, on the Game Cube as well as the Wii, this is about the Metroid Prime Trilogy. This Trilogy was published in 2009 for the Wii and includes all three Metroid games of the Metroid Prime series.

 

While some small changes have been made to part 1 and 2, they are virtually the same games like they were on the Game Cube. The most significant change is the implementation of the same kind of controls which were used for Corruption. This means you use the Wiimote to aim, similar to a light gun.

 

In contrast to it´s NES, Game Boy and Super NES predecessors the Prime series uses a first-person-perspective. Which is most likely the reason why so many people refer to the Prime games as first-person-shooters. This however is where I have to point out that none of the Metroid games is a first-person-shooter. The official Nintendo classification, at the release of Metroid Prime, was: First-person-adventure. Just like it´s two-dimensional predecessor the Prime games are action-adventures – not shooters.

 

Even though combat situations within the Prime games are handled just like in first-person-shooters, the focal point of Metroid is set on exploring and researching of the area as well as the solving of puzzles. In this way the Metroid games are just like the Zelda games. The only differences are, that the Metroid games take place in a futuristic setting and are noticeable darker and more serious. There are no friendly villagers to help you out. You have to manage on your own. This is why you have to collect any piece of information yourself by scanning creatures, enemies, logbooks and artifacts. In the Metroid Prime games it is mandatory to scan objects. It´s your only way to retrieve information. This leads to a great amount of text, which needs to be studied. You have to analyze the collected data and process it in order to advance in the game. This is all the more reason why you should not lump the Metroid Prime games together with First-person-shooters. Pure violence doesn´t get you anywhere. Thankfully, all scans you make are stored in an internal database, which allows you to access them any time you want in order to check if you have overlooked something.

 

Another characteristic of the Metroid Prime games, which distinguishes them from other games around, is the use of alternate perception. This means that, during the game, you get access to Suit-updates which allow you to see in other areas than the visible spectrum of light. This can be used to discover hidden items, passageways and to track invisible enemies and hints. This idea is established best in the first Prime game. Aside from the Combat-Visor and the Scan-Visor, you have a Thermal- and a X-Ray-Visor at your disposal. But this principle is a very important aspect of the other two Prime games as well.

 

Now I would like to be a little more specific about the diffrent parts of the Trilogy.

 

 

Metroid Prime

 

The first part is, at the same time, my favorite one. Here the Phazon is introduced, the radioactive, very potent mutagenic material, which is the essential theme of the entire trilogy.

 

The plot goes like this:

Samus Aran, interstellar Bounty Hunter and Nintendo-Heroin of old, receives a distress call from a space station in orbit around Tallon IV. When she investigates she discovers that the space station is a Space Pirates research facility. The Space Pirates are trying to use a strong radioactive substance called Phazon to conduct experiments on various forms of life.

The specimen in question however managed to escape and killed the crew. After the reactor of the station got damaged it explodes and Samus pursues the remaining Space Pirates to the surface of the planet. Shortly after her arrival she realizes that a colony of the Chozo existed there once.

The Chozo however are extinct, since the impact of a giant meteorite caused an environmental disaster on a global scale. The very same meteorite brought the Phazon to Tallon IV, which is now about to contaminate the entire planet. The mission of Samus is to stop the Space Pirates from doing any Phazon research and to eradicate the source of it.

 

About the game itself I can say this:

The levels are colorful and diversified. The four different types of Beam-weapons (Power-/Wave-/Ice- and Plasma-Beam) you acquire throughout the game, are balanced perfectly and supplement one another just great. Furthermore they make the game more tactical and thus more interesting.

 

The same can be said about the different Visor-Modes. There is a Combat-, Scan-, Thermal- and a X-Ray-Visor, which serve different functions. The Combat-Visor is used for combat (who would have thought that?). Targets are automatically marked by the targeting computer and can be locked on to immediately.

The Scan-Visor, of course, allows you to scan the environment, animals, enemies as well as logbook records. This is how you retrieve information throughout the game. The variety of the information you acquire reaches from interesting to vital data. All data however is stored in the data base of the suit, which makes them access able at any given time.

The Thermal-Visor provides the ability to see thermal radiation. This allows you to find hidden passageways, track enemies equipped with cloaking technology, see trough walls and to navigate in a surrounding which is pitch black.

The X-Ray-Visor works the same way. But it can be used to reveal secrets, which did manage to stay hidden even from the Thermal-Visor. But it´s Range is much more limited, which makes a lot of sense, since it is an active scan which requires a lot of energy to maintain. One little thing I have to tell you about right now: If Samus gets hit by an enemy, she sometimes raises her hand by reflex. If she does this while using the X-Ray-Visor you can see the bones of her arm. Awesome!

 

The soundtrack is very electronic, which is only fitting for a SF-setting, and contains lots catchy tunes. Furthermore it enhances the „deep-space-flair“ I like so much about the series, even more.

 

 

The only flaws of this game, if I compare it to the other two, is in it´s design. It is quit good, but the Space Pirate design of part two and three is simply better.

The visual indication of the suit-updates isn´t as good as in it´s successors as well. Sometimes they are displayed only by a change of color, sometimes not at all. But since you play this game in the first person perspective most of the time anyway, this isn´t that important.

 

 

Metroid Prime Echoes

 

The second part of the series is my last favorite of the three. It is no bad game. It is just that I like the two others more. Despite that fact Echoes has it´s own unique highlights, which are absent in the other titles. Thus it is, for one, the most grim game of the trilogy.

 

Plot:

Samus gets hired to investigate the disappearance of a Group of Galactic Federation Marines, who went missing during the pursuit of a Space Pirate Vessel. This investigation leads Samus to the planet Aether from which the last transmission of the Marines was received. During the landing process Samus ship is hit and damaged by lightning, what grounds her on the unknown planet.

Immediately after her arrival she discovers evidence, that there is an interplanetary war going on around her.

The planet Aether was hit by a Phazon-Meteorite which divided the planet in two parallel worlds called Light and Dark Aether. Since that time the inhabitants of Dark Aether, a cruel, merciless race called the Ing, are trying to conquer Light Aether and to eradicate it´s inhabitants, the friendly and wise Luminoth.

Samus mission is to stop the Ing and, at the same time, the Space Pirates, which are also still active on the planet. As if this wasn´t demanding enough a mysterious Doppelganger of Samus is also present on Aether, which´s intentions are totally unknown.

 

The Ing as well as the Luminoth have both been especially designed for this part of the series and the designers did a great job. First and foremost the Ing are the perfect choice for the bad guys. They are so sinister.

 

The story demands to travel back and forth between Light and Dark Aether in order to solve the different puzzles of the game. Therefore these are pretty though. The structure of the levels is more complex than it was in the other parts of the trilogy, which makes Metroid Prime Echoes the most difficult of the three games.

The structure of the game reminds you of Zelda – A Link to the Past, where it was also necessary to travel between the world of light and the world of darkness. This is no coincidence since one of the developers, who worked on this Zelda game, was involved in the production of Echoes.

The most interesting aspect however, is probably the introduction of Dark Samus, the evil twin of the main character, which adds even more of a challenge to a game, which isn´t all to easy to begin with.

 

What I don´t like about Echoes is that they didn´t manage to get the quad-weapons-system and the four Visor-Modes done quit that well like in the first game. Instead of the Wave-, Ice- and Plasma-Beam, there are the Dark-, Light- and Annihilator-Beam. This weapons, unlike the ones before, require ammunition. Specific ammunition for the Light- and Dark-Beam. This is unique throughout the Metroid series. Maybe they tried to make the game more tactical, but it is just annoying. The game is demanding enough as it is. The atmosphere of Dark Aether is toxic for example, which is really a problem at the beginning of the game, until you get some protective equipment. The constant need to collect ammunition however slows the game down. The Annihilator-Beam even uses both types of ammunition at the same time, which just makes you stop using it altogether.

 

The Visor-system has been changed too. Instead of the Thermal- and X-Ray-Visor, in Echoes there are the Dark- and the Echo-Visor. While the Dark-Visor allows you to see inter dimensional objects and enemies, the Echo-Visor enables you to see sound waves.

Both Visor-modes work, but the graphical display is a little bit unfortunate. A friend of mine said: „The Dark-Visor looks like you were playing Metroid on the Virtual Boy.“ He´s right and the Echo-Visor looks like you were playing Metroid blindfolded. Unfortunately there is next to nothing to see.

 

 

Metroid Prime Corruption

 

Now to the final game of the trilogy. Here the mystery about the origin of the Phazon is solved. Dark Samus, which was introduced just a game before, plays a major part in this one.

 

Plot:

The Space Pirates launch a massive offensive against the Galactic Federation. Three worlds are attacked simultaneously. Norion, Bryyo and Elysia. The Space Pirates try to infect these planets with Leviathans, giant Phazon producing, space dwelling lifeforms.

At the beginning of the game Samus manages it to prevent Norion from being infected, but meanwhile Bryyo and Elysia get hit by the Leviathans and the contamination is starting to spread.

Samus mission is to journey to the infected worlds, stop the infection and to locate the original source of the Phazon to destroy it once and for all.

Three more bounty hunters help Samus with her task. All four of them, including Samus, are attacked by Dark Samus and infected with Phazon-seeds at the beginning of the game. This grants them unusual abilities, but also corrupts them if they use their abilities. The more and the longer they use them the more they get corrupted.

 

In the game this „ability“ is portrayed by the so-called Hypermode. The Hypermode can be initiated at any given time. It makes you invulnerable and increases the strength of Samus arm-weapon a great deal. The problem is that the Hypermode is fueled by Samus life force. Furthermore there is the risk to be corrupted by the Phazon, which flows trough Samus veins while using Hypermode. Both instances can result in an unexpected Game Over – if you are not careful enough.


In this part the levels are very diversified too. Every planet has it´s own theme, which distinguishes them from another. The home planet of the Space Pirate is a special highlight. With it´s black steel, red energy and acid rain, it is a really excellent High-Tech-Mordor. As far as the place of origin of the Phazon is concerned – it looks just awesome. The three new bounty hunters are very cool as well. Their design as well as voice acting is quite good and they definitely add something to the Metroid universe.

 

Corruption is much more action packed than the previous two games. This however fits the theme since the confrontation between the Space Pirates and the Galactic Federation escalates into an open war.

But I have to admit that I miss the different weapons. There are much less in this part than in it´s predecessors and although you can´t win against any of the bosses without the right tactics, Metroid Prime Corruption definitely relies on pure unfiltered violence in the first place.

Samus arm-canon only gets updated. You do get new weapons, but they do replace the old one at once. This means you don´t have to consider which weapon you have to use for a special kind of enemy in order to get the best possible result. You just blast them to bits.

 

The different Visor-Modes are around this time too. Besides the usual Combat- and Scan-Visor there is also a Command-Visor and, like in the first game, a X-Ray-Visor again. Even if the last mentioned looks somewhat different from it´s predecessor. While the X-Ray-Visor does essentially the same like in the first game (it enables you to see trough walls or track enemies who are invisible), the Command-Visor is an entire different story.

It enables you to control your ship, give it special orders and to move it to various landing sites. Since the ship serves as save point and ammunition depot as well, this is very useful. My sole problem with the Command-Visor is that this function could have been embedded into the Scan-Visor as well. This way there would have been an additional option to use.

 

 

Conclusion:

 

The Metroid Prime Trilogy is something I recommend very strongly. Every single game alone is worth it´s money, but all three of them in a single Box are a really good deal. Despite the different ages of the games, the graphics are very similar for the most part. This means you won´t be shocked if you play the first game after you have played the third one. Everyone who likes the Metroid series should get this trilogy. Everyone who likes the gameplay of the Zelda games and science fiction and can at least life with the first person view should give it a try.

 

 

Thanks for reading

 

NiceDino ^^

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