METROID: THE OTHER M IMPRESSIONS
By Mike Baggley (08.16.10)
I’m going to come right out and say that playing the Nintendo Wii is usually fairly low on my list of things to do. The problem with it is that I’ve never really been a fan of motion controls. I simply prefer to have a regular controller in my hands. The virtual console is probably my favourite thing about Nintendo’s console and it’s what draws me back every once and a while. I think there are a lot of hardcore gamers out there like me who were big Nintendo fan boys right up until the Wii came out. The games that were released for the NES, SNES, and N64 are some of my favourite games of all time. Nintendo seems to be picking up on this. This fall they are revamping a bunch of game franchises I spent tons of time playing while I was growing up. The Donkey Kong, Kirby, and Metroid series are all seeing new installments being released this fall.
The Extreme Gamer crew had a chance to check out the new Metroid game at a Nintendo Event in Toronto. Super Metroid for the SNES is pretty much my favourite game of all time so I when I heard this new game was going to played in 2.5D (for the most part), I was skeptically hopeful that this game would be a return to the type of Metroid game I know and love. As we rode the elevator up to the floor the event was on I actually started to sweat a little bit. I was excited and extremely worried at the same time. “They better not screw this up..” is what I kept chanting over and over again in my head.
Once we reached the top floor we had to walk through a black tunnel with little lights all over the place, which I suppose was meant to simulate outer space. At the end of the tunnel there was a friendly Nintendo rep and a big screen TV waiting for us. She briefly introduced herself and then queued up the opening cutscene from the game. The cutscene started with an incredible blast from the past. I once again got to see Samus take down the Mother Brain, with the help of her Metroid pal. Seeing it rendered in 3D on a big HDTV got me really excited for what was next. It’s a perfect way to start the game since Metroid: The Other M takes place in-between the events of Super Metroid and Metroid Fusion. This is a story that every Metroid fan has been dying to play through.
After the cutscene we moved over to the gaming area, where there were a ton of stations to try the game out at. The section of the game we got to play was a quick mashup of a few areas that allowed us to try out a lot of different abilities in a short period of time. Most of the experience took place in a botanical area, with all kinds of nasty flora and fauna.
In order to control Samus you need to hold the Wii Remote horizontally, like an NES controller. You use the D-Pad to move and the 1 and 2 buttons to fire and jump. Right off the bat I could feel the Team Ninja influence in this game. Although Samus was always acrobatic, she feels especially nimble and quick here. As I made my way down the first hall I arrived at a dead end. There was a hallway going up, but nothing going any further to the right, so I immediately started morph bombing everywhere trying to figure out if there was a hidden passage. A few seconds later I figured maybe I could just go upwards, and sure enough, I walked straight upwards and then took a right. Although there are lots of moments where you have to move from left to right, the game really takes place in full 3D space. It’s a lot like 'Shadow Complex' except that instead of just shooting bad guys who are in front of and behind you, you can actually move there yourself. Your standard arm cannon will lock on to targets automatically so you can just spam the FIRE button over and over again to get rid of them. I found this to be sort of disappointing as I’ve always preferred the old-school method of jumping, shooting and aiming myself, but when you have multiple enemies moving in 3D space around you I guess auto-aim is the only option.
Shortly after gunning down some random enemy fodder I walked into a circular room and all of the doors locked. Oh boy... its mini-boss time. A green dragon-like creature jumped out and snarled in my face. Once again, I could simply spam the FIRE button to damage him (or her... or it). Then all of a sudden he disappeared, but he still seemed to be firing projectiles at me. I tried shooting where the projectiles where originating from but I didn’t seem to be doing any damage. In order to get the boss out of hiding I had to fire a missile. To do that I had to point the Wii-Mote at the screen to go into first person mode and scan around the room. Once I located and locked on to him, I pressed the A button to blast him with a missile.
When you’re in first person mode you essentially turn into a turret. You can’t move, but you can rotate around on an axis. Whenever you need to fire some big ordinance or you need to scan the room for secrets, you need to pop into this mode. In the demo I played it wasn’t needed very often, which is how I hope the rest of the game plays out. It’s cool to scan around with it, but having to switch back and forth on a consistent basis would be extremely annoying. Samus has also learned a few melee moves. Enemies that came too close would be grabbed by Samus and placed directly on top of her arm cannon and blasted into high-heaven. I also DDT’d the mini-boss at one point and shot him right in the face. Samus seems to be at her most vicious in this game.
When it was all over, I honestly had a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. I was really hoping for a game that played a lot like Super Metroid that featured some Prime elements in it (eg. going to first person mode and scanning around), but what I played seemed like more of a mashup of Ninja Gaiden and Metroid Prime. That may excite some of you, but for me it kind of felt like a let down. Although there are lots of places to explore and power ups to be found and you can still morph bomb jump to get to places you couldn’t otherwise, it just didn’t feel like the Metroid I know and love. Switching to first person mode actually worked really well, and the transition was seamless, but I still left feeling like it was a motion control throw-in that could have been left out. It’s not a bad game by any means, in fact it looked great graphics-wise, and the controls were extremely tight. I simply didn’t feel like I was playing a Metroid game.
I had a chance to speak with a Matt Ryan - Nintendo of Canada rep, and in classic Nintendo style, he wasn’t willing to divulge any information beyond what we already know about the game. The only thing I could get him to confirm was that Samus is definitely not a hermaphrodite. So there you go folks - you heard it here first - Samus is all woman, and Metroid: The Other M is shaping up to be a pretty good experience, but maybe not the “Metroid” experience we’ve all been hoping for.
Metroid: Other M is scheduled for release on August 24th, 2010 - Visit Metroid.com for more information.