Saturday, October 29, 2016

Back to the Beginning - Samus Aran's "Zero Mission"

Short post today. I've been updating this blog less and less, as I am wondering if it is worth continuing to do so. As such, I've been on an unofficial hiatus for quite some time. The future of this blog is up in the air - I'd love to continue with it, but time will tell if that is feasible or not.

I'm a huge fan of Metroid Prime, Metroid Fusion, and Super Metroid, and I rather enjoyed the second two Prime games as well, even if they fell a bit short of the greatness of those three. I'd never touched the original Metroid or its sequel, so I decided to fire up the Wii U VC and give the first game's remake, Zero Mission, a fair shot. I can safely say it ended up being just as good as what I consider to be the Metroid Trinity.

First: it has all the snappiness of Fusion with all of the exploration of Super. Super was always a very lumbering, very floaty game, while Fusion's animations and inputs were quick and concise. Zero Mission goes for the Fusion approach, which is much appreciated. Fusion was a wonderful game - I even liked its narrative focus - but it was a bit too linear for my tastes, so it was nice to see the franchise return (in more ways than one) to the open ended nature that it's known for. Zero Mission was a perfect Fusion (ha ha) of the two.

Second: it's beautiful! There's dazzling plasma animations for Samus' cannon and every area looks unique, is full of color, and pops out at you. What I love about this is how well it ties into Super, whether it was intentional or not - this is Zebes under Mother Brain's control, alive and full of energy. The return to Zebes has it almost in ruins, and it's much darker and more dismal. The upbeat soundtrack was also a plus for me. Did I miss the "grittiness" of Super Metroid? Yes, I did, but the game's brightness ended up being a positive for me regardless. It's not like Zebes was suddenly a happy place because it was bright, either; it still felt very alien and hostile.

Third: The Zero Suit segment at the end was exhilarating. It took the adrenaline from the SA-X segments in Fusion and upped it tenfold. Crawling through tiny spaces with Space Pirates right on your tail as you stop to shoot the blocks blocking your way had my blood pumping like no other Metroid game has managed to do. It went from stealth to INTENSE action at the drop of a hat. Getting the Power Suit at the end was a nice touch, and Mecha Ridley was appropriately creepy and menacing (if not a bit too easy).

I very much enjoyed my time with this game. It was a bit short, as was to be expected, but it was overall a great experience. I loved seeing where the Brinstar theme in Smash Bros. came from! I haven't spent much time with Another Metroid 2 Remake, yet, but it seems like a worthy successor to Zero Mission. It's a shame Nintendo pulled it down, but at the same time, it's good that it managed to get released.

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