My first console growing up was the GameCube. I would play Smash Bros., Pokémon XD, and many other great games. It wasn’t until late middle school that I learned about a game called Metroid Prime, a first-person shooter on the GameCube. I loved the Metroid games, and I loved the GameCube, so it was a must have for me. After playing it for the first time, I fell in love with the game, and Metroid Prime has become one of my Favorite games. It has a simple story, amazing Gameplay, and great presentation for the GameCube, and while it may have its problems, Metroid Prime still stands as a great game.
Even though Metroid Prime’s focus isn’t really on story, there is still a pretty good one. In this game, you play as Samus Aran, a bounty hunter. The game opens with Samus responding to a distress signal coming from the Research Frigate Orpheon. as you explore this part of the game, which is essentially a tutorial level, you come across Space Pirates and massive monsters, and learn about the experiments the Space Pirates have been conducting on a substance known as Phazon. As you blast your way through the ship, fighting enemies and uncovering secrets, you come across a giant boss, which you must defeat. After defeating the boss, a countdown timer initiates and you must escape the research ship. Along the route to your escape, you come across Ridley, a giant purple pterodactyl dragon that Samus had some beef with in the past. He escapes and now Samus had to try to get out of the facility to hunt him down. On your way out, an explosion hits you and you lose all your nifty gadgets that you used at the start, leaving only your beam cannon suit. Once you escape the ship, you see Ridley flying away, and Samus then pursues him to the planet below, Tallon IV.
Once you get to the surface, the game becomes more open ended, and the story takes a back seat as you explore and constantly try to get power-ups and make yourself stronger. Along the way, you will scan pieces of lore and come across the substance known as Phazon. You learn that Phazon is a corruptive and Corrosive substance that has poisoned the planet, and the Space Pirates are using it for diabolical and evil experiments. It becomes your task to confront the Space Pirates and put an end to the source of the Phazon, the Impact Crater.
Metroid Prime feels like a Metroid game in the First-Person. This may seem like a redundant thing to say, but it was a major sticking point for fans when the game was first announced. When it was revealed that the next Metroid game would be first-person, fans started complaining that Metroid was turning into halo. However, instead of being a “First-Person Shooter” per se, Metroid Prime was more of a “First Person Exploration” game. The original 2D Metroid titles were less about combat and more about exploring a large map, getting rewarded with power-ups as you explored, which made it easier to traverse old areas, and allowed you to find secrets in the areas that you passed. Metroid Prime retains that kind of exploration gameplay and but puts it in a 3D world.
As you traverse through the ruins of Tallon IV, you will acquire many upgrades which will make your exploration more fun. You get suit upgrades that will expand your health, let you double jump, withstand extreme heat, and travel through water as easily as you do on land. You will get weapon upgrades like new elemental beams and missile expansions. An interesting addition to your arsenal are Visors. Visors change how you view the world, allowing you to interact with your environment in new ways, usually through figuring out puzzles. You start the game off with two visors, the “combat visor”, which is used through normal gameplay, and the Scan Visor, which allows you to scan things.When you switch to the scan visor, anything “scan-able” in your view will have an orange or red box in front of it. When you scan that, information pertaining to the object you scan will show up in a text box on your screen. This information will then be saved into a data log accessible through the pause screen. Some things only appear once in the game, so you have to scan them on your first go to get 100%. The other 2 visors you get are the thermal visor, which is used in dark areas, and the x-ray visor, which will allow you to see through hollow structures and allow you to see invisible platforms and enemies.
Metroid Prime foregoes the old side-scrolling of the previous Metroid titles and instead opted for a First-person control scheme. Metroid Prime doesn’t play like a normal console first person shooter, however. Instead of using dual analog sticks for moving, the game uses tank controls. It might feel awkward using tank controls in a FPS would feel unnatural since you cannot look up or down, but to compensate for this, the shoulder buttons turn on free aim mode and lock on. Using this control scheme feels very natural. When locking-on to an enemy, you then can circle strafe around them. The level design is usually large areas of flat ground whenever you are expected to fight enemies, so you circle strafing is easy to do.
Because Metroid Prime is not really a combat-oriented game, most of the bosses of the game are more about puzzle solving than actual combat. the boss Flaahgra is a good example.
Flaahgra is a giant plant monster that resides in a circular chamber that is open to the sun at the top of the Chozo ruins. To defeat her (I think it’s a “her”), you have to weaken her by redirecting the mirrors that give her sunlight away from her, so she will fall down and let you attack her root system. Many bosses are a lot more than just “fire are the spot until they die” kind of bosses, which is why when a boss like that does show up, it’s annoying and more frustrating than fun. Certain bosses, like the Sheegoth and the Hive Mecha, are good examples of this, as these bosses don’t employ puzzle solving elements or anything like that. You just have to avoid the bosses’ attacks, and attack when they stop.
The music in this game is just amazing. Each piece of music really captures the feel of the game and the area it takes place in, like an overarching motif. the main theme has a series of 18 notes that gets repeated throughout the game in various places. The games use of technological noises and choirs fits the sci-fi theme very well, as if you are playing something very advanced, while also experiencing something very sacred. The music that plays throughout the various areas of Tallon IV fit the mood of these areas very well. the Tallon Overworld theme has a wave of synthesized notes that sound like distant insect wildlife, while also using the choir to impose an air of mystery there, as if you are discovering this place for the first time. The Magmoor Caverns uses the choir along with rhythmic percussion to make you feel like you are in hell, which is appropriate, since the Magmoor Caverns is the lava area of the game. the Phendrana Drifts uses dainty little notes that give off an air of fragility, like a fragile snowflake, with little synthesized notes that sound like drops of water falling into a puddle.
The visual design for the game is great and really help immerse you into the world. There are little details that really make you feel like you are Samus like heatwaves coming off the arm cannon after rapid firing it, electrical attacks causing static to appear on screen, and rain drops falling on the screen when you look up in rainy areas. The textures look pretty good for a GameCube game, and the textures and models still hold up to this day.
You might think that through my constant praise of this game, that this game is flawless. That’s not exactly the case, as there are some problems that I and many other people have with Metroid Prime. One of the biggest points of criticism for this game is Chozo Artifacts. To complete the game, you have to access the Impact Crater. The only way to get there is to collect 12 Artifacts hidden throughout the game. the problem with these artifacts is that you are given very little information of where they are. One of these artifacts is located on the top of the Phendrana Drifts.
In this location, there is tower outside of the normal play area, and just look like a background decoration. However, you are supposed to shoot down this tower from a certain location, causing it to crash into the normal play area, opening up a small location that contains the Chozo Artifact. The big problem with this situation is that nothing tells you that the tower can be shot down.
Back when I was talking about the bosses, I mentioned a boss called Sheegoth. I think this is the worst boss of the game.In the Phendrana Drifts, the snowy section of the game, you will encounter one of the worst enemies of the game, baby Sheegoths. They do a ridiculous amount of damage, they can attack you with a long-range attack, leaving you open to more attacks, and the only way to damage them is to fire at them from the back with a missile, shattering their protective cover, and only then can you damage them. They also come in packs, which really adds onto my frustration. As you venture through the Phendrana Drifts, you will come across a room where you can pick up the wave beam, your first beam upgrade. Once you enter the room that contains it, the door is locked, the wave beam disappears, and you are attacked by 4 baby Sheegoths at once! Once you are done with those annoying enemies, out comes Momma Sheegoth, and she’s pissed!
After facing her little babies, you would think that you need to shoot her in the back to weaken her too, right? Wrong! To fight her you have to wait for her to stop breathing her stupid ice beam, then you shoot missiles at her stupid face. this is one of the worst bosses in the entire game. and it gets worse. Once you progress far enough in the game, the normal babies are replaced with big Sheegoth. These enemy Sheegoths are harder than their babies and if you try to give them the slip, they stomp on the ground, causing the ground to shake and making you bounce around. The worst part is that these things appear in rooms that require platforming to progress, making their cry baby stomping detrimental to your progress. I really hate these things
Another enemy in the game that isn’t very fun is the Chozo Ghosts. The Chozo Ghosts are enemies that change from being visible and invisible, and they can only be damaged once visible. They are fast and appear visible only for short amounts of time.
These enemies start appearing once you progress far enough into the game, right around when you get the ice beam. they usually appear in big areas that you travel through a lot, and they lock the doors once you enter the room. The only way to leave the room is to defeat them. The most effective way to defeat them is with the default beam, which has the lowest damage output, the highest rate of fire. All of this adds up into an enemy that is only one thing, time consuming. These enemies make traveling a chore, and if a game is based on exploration, anything that discourages travelling will end up hurting the game.
Speaking of travelling, a common complaint of Metroid Prime, and Metroid games in general, is the use of backtracking as a way of progress. Backtracking is a term used to describe the need for someone in a game to go back to where they were before to progress through the game. I, however, do not have problem with this. The main thing I like about backtracking is the way game developers use imagery and items to tease you. A good example of this is the missile blast shield.
Early in the game, you will come across a door that has a shield on it. To get through doors in this game, you have to shoot them with you beams. If the player tries to shoot this door, the shield reflects the blast, so the door wont open. This little event sticks in the player’s mind. Once the player gets their first missile expansion, text pops up saying you can open missile doors. The player uses his head and makes the connection that the missile can open the shields on the door. This connection is helped along by the use of color. The color of the missile expansion and the color of the lines of the door shield are both the same color, red. the game uses this for may doors. colored doors can only be opened with a specific weapon. To help with this correlation, the weapon is the same color as the door.
Despite these complaints, Metroid Prime is still an amazing game that is well worth your time. I’m so happy I picked it up all those years ago. I am still enjoying it to this day. I wholeheartedly recommend Metroid Prime. Its gameplay is still fun, its presentation beautiful, and you won’t be sorry you played it.