When it was said that Team Ninja was taking over the reigns on a Metroid title, I had some horrid flashbacks of DOA Xtreme Beach Volleyball mixed with the joys that the Ninja Gaiden revival brought. Hearing it was making a move to a pseudo-two dimensional viewpoint, with some first person segments for scanning and missile launching brought both interest and trepidation at how the approach would work. Combined with the changes to the development house, it came to light that the events here were immediately following Super Metroid in the ever evolving time line of the series excitement levels were heightened in a hope that the 2D exploration would return the series to form (Not saying the Prime series were bad, because they were anything but.)
From the onset, it was clear there was something different when playing Other M. First off, Samus was given a voice – and sadly it was the voice of a female who didn’t come off as strong as I thought she should be, and then the story started playing out in the first of countless minutes of cutscenes in the game. Samus’ back story with the Galactic Federation is highlighted and the reasoning for her splintering into lone bounty hunter is demonstrated. After more story sequences, Samus hears a Baby Cry (SOS) from a Galactic Federation Bottle Ship, and she makes her way there – only to encounter a troop of Federation soldiers coincidentally lead by her old commanding officer. Throughout the story, Samus interacts with various members of the troop all while being under the guidance of Adam, the CO – who puts a stop to Samus using any of her specialized weapons unless he gives the all clear. A new, yet contrived method of the typical strip away powers cliché, yet still promoting the trademarked exploration that the series is revered for.
The controls have been simplified to help emulate the ease that the first few (and portable) Metroid titles have. No need for the nunchuck attachment here, the Wii Remote is all you’ll need to play. For the majority of the game, you’ll be holding the controller sideways like an old fashioned controller using the buttons as you would the A/B on the NES. The controls in this mode are quite easy to use, the only confusion comes from the three dimensional plane that Samus runs on. Rather than make it purely 2D, there is some depth when running down corridors and through the large rooms of the Bottle Ship. When you need to shoot missiles or scan an object in the room the game switches to the Metroid Prime like first person view point, and this is obtained by pointing the remote at your screen causing it to control as you’d expect in a FPS mode. The caveat here is that you can’t move, so when trying to get a lock on a fast moving enemy or boss character to fire off a volley of missiles or a charged Super Missile, you really open yourself up to taking damage. This becomes quite trying when you need to move from the ball form to trying to fire a missile, it’s an exercise in frustration at points.
So, being trapped in a ship for the entire game sounds like it could be a boring time right, full of hallways and elevators right? Well, partially right – the ship has some towers that can transform the bland industrial room into lush landscapes with the flip of a switch, and somehow the ship has the ability to have all the standard levels we all want and expect; fire, ice, desert and lush landscapes are all here. Naturally, being a Metroid title you’ll find yourself going through each of these multiple times in order to take down the ultimate boss.
Once you do finally take down the big baddie at the end of the game, you can still continue to play and go back through each zone to collect the items that you either missed, or were unable to get to on your first pass through the game. If you choose this, an optional boss awaits you and one that might look familiar to fans of the series out there.
While the game looks pretty good, and the gameplay is both familiar and frustrating at times the Metroid formula makes yet another solid title in the series. Some (myself included) may be a little turned off by Samus getting her own voice and a back story that makes her out to be a little more submissive than we would have hoped – but that’s just a minor misstep in the overall scheme of things.
- Score: 8
- While featuring the expected exploration that all Metroid titles has, this story and cut scene heavy title breaks up the action very often. Team Ninja kept the feel and theme of Metroid alive and kicking.
Platform reviewed: Nintendo Wii
— Jeff Paramchuk