Metroid Prime Trilogy Review
A game landing within a day of the spotlight-hoarding Batman: Arkham Asylum might as well be as invisible as the shadow-creeping Dark Knight himself. But Nintendo's under-the-radar release of Metroid Prime Trilogy not only deserves your attention, but even warrants tearing yourself away from those mega-hyped holiday titles that'll no doubt be dominating your time in the months to come. While technically not containing a new game, Trilogy packs enough quality classic content and new play-changing tweaks to make it one of the Wii's best offerings to date, not to a mention a deal the likes of which we haven't seen since The Orange Box dropped back in 2007.
All three Prime games are included on a single disc, packing in more intergalactic bounty hunting than you can shake an arm cannon at. The most recent of the Space Pirate-slaying adventures, the two-year old Metroid Prime: Corruption still holds up as one of the Wii's very best shooters. Of course, referring to one of Samus Aran's puzzle-packed platforming adventures as merely a “shooter” cuts it way short. As with any game in this revered series, using your brain is just as important as scoring head-shots on out-of-this-world beasties. Additionally, simply allowing the audio and visual presentation to wash over you in this thoughtfully envisioned world is an integral part of appreciating what the designers have so lovingly crafted.
Corruption separated itself a bit from the previous two GameCube entries by giving Samus' ship much more screen—and play—time, and by introducing more story elements and characters into the series' usually solitary setting. Best of all, though, this one proved FPS controls could be successfully mapped to the Wii's motion-sensing tech without saddling the player with headaches and hand cramps. In fact, for my money, Corruption nails the controls even better than The Conduit, a title conceived from the very idea the Wii needed solid shooter controls, once and for all. It's actually always struck me a bit bizarre how Corruption's successful set-up was all but forgotten during all the ”The Conduit is finally gonna fix FPS controls on the Wii” brouhaha. Maybe someone should tell the guys at High Voltage that Retro beat them to the punch.
Working backwards from the Wii's Metroid debut, we come to Echoes, the sequel to the GameCube's Prime, and a title that became the black sheep of the series. Sure enough, revisiting it yields the sense it is indeed the weakest of the trilogy. However, a “weak” Prime is still leaps and bounds better than most of the third-party pap that's appeared on Nintendo's two most recent consoles. It plays much like the popular title that preceded it, but attempts something new by introducing co-existing light and dark worlds, the latter of which hosted a devious Samus doppleganger. The sometimes too familiar gameplay and design, coupled with the often tedious parallel world concept, make this one a bit like the Majora's Mask of the franchise--some will love it, others will hate it, most will just ignore it in favor of the two superior titles in this package.
Which brings me to the groundbreaking effort that started it all, Metroid Prime. Few , especially those who hold the series' 2D roots so near and dear to their hearts, expected a 3D Metroid, developed in Texas no less, to do anything but suck. But Retro Studios surprised even their most jaded critics and delivered, big time. By combining unbelievably thoughtful level design, gorgeous visuals, and some of the most immersive audio my ears have ever been bathed in, they unquestionably nailed the all-important Metroid vibe. Unsurprisingly, their game-changing entry into this beloved world still holds up today. And seeing Samus' reflection flash across her visor is still one of the hands-down coolest visual tricks the medium has ever pressed to disc.
What makes Prime--and Echoes--even better in this release is the addition of 16x9 wide-screen support and retro-fitted WiiMote controls. Together, these upgrades gracefully bring the two GameCube titles into the current generation, allowing new fans to discover them for the first time, while giving Samus' most ardent supporters the opportunity to get lost all over again in these deeply engaging experiences. The latter group will also appreciate the collector's edition-like treatment this package has received; a pull-out art book, metal case, and in-game unlockables push the fan service down a path not treaded enough by Nintendo's marketing team. Admittedly, these extras don't add much to the overall experience, but given that such “bonuses” usually boost a title's price by at least $10, I'm not complaining about their lack of substance. The real deal here, though, is the trio of top-notch games. Whether you're looking to fill the Metroid void until Other M arrives, or you're just wondering what all the futuristic female bounty-hunting fuss is about, this content rich offering is not to be missed.