It’s finally here. I’ve been waiting for it since the E3 demo. Back then, I knew that Metroid Prime was going to be outstanding. Now that it’s finally out, I can safely and clearly say that it doesn’t disappoint in the slightest way. Prime doesn’t just live up to the storied Metroid legacy, it takes it to another level — and that’s saying a lot.
Games like this are always a major risk for the developers. Such old school games bring up a lot of memories, and their image — their legend — is always skewed by our own nostalgia. Metroid and Super Metroid have grown a certain mystique over the last decade, and to create a successor to something like that has almost always met with dismal failure — especially when the newer incarnations go into 3D, the scariest number/letter combination to a classic gamer. But when they do succeed, like Prime does, they are a treat to play.
The game is nearly flawless. About the only critique one might have is the control scheme, which is indeed different for this type of game and might throw people off. For the most part, though, it works perfectly. The only times where it does become a hindrance is during any intense battles, where the inability to aim vertically while moving (as well as the odd strafing) tends to make things slightly more difficult than they really are. Thankfully, these moments are fairly infrequent as you’ll spend the majority of time simply exploring Tallon IV, and, for this, the controls work well. In fact, Metroid Prime handles platforming — a mainstay of the series — better than Mario Sunshine, which can be regarded as a “true” platformer.
The visuals are stunning, the attention to detail is impeccable, the sound is great, the quirky synth-like soundtrack fits like a glove and really helps to set the mood, the atmosphere is engrossing, the design and art direction is consistently solid, and the whole overall experience can be described using a massive amount of complimentary adjectives.
All in all, Metroid Prime gets my stamp of approval.
The Mike Nowak Thumb of Greatness Award™ goes to: Metroid Prime.