By Stewie Sutherland
There’s no arguing that one of the greatest titles on the classic Gamecube is and always will be Metroid Prime. An incredible first person shooter with lush 3D environments whilst still being true to its 2D exploring ancestors, it’s no wonder it became one of the highest selling games for Nintendo and its developers, Retro Studios. It’s no surprise either that they naturally made a sequel. Not as enjoyed as the original, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes took character Samus Aran to a world that was half untouched and pristine, and half so dark and poisonous that the very air was toxic. You couldn’t deny it was gripping and fun.
Years later, Retro made the finale to the Prime series, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption for the Wii. Updated and expanded, the game had a smoother look and more story than most Metroid games usually had. It also introduced a new set of controls for use with the Wii: using the motion sensing in conjunction with standard 3D platforming movement, Metroid Prime 3 was a fairly good game on a new system. Those controls just took a fair bit of practise to get used to.
But Retro feels so strongly about them due to their innovative use of accuracy and reflex that they’ve reproduced all three games on the same disk, using the same movements and controlling method. Three good games, one disc, a movement set that takes some getting used to, and a Collector’s Edition to boot. This is Metroid Prime Trilogy.
Metroid Prime Trilogy is essentially all 3 games on a single Wii Optical Disc. For the lead up to the release, I almost expected all 3 games to be joined, welded, smoothed, or however you’d like to word it, into a single epic game. Wishful thinking: I know full well my fickleness would turn around and argue against the idea itself once I’d experienced it. “Wait… so now I’ve played through a third of this disc, I can no longer revisit the first area and she’s lost her equipment again? Tsk, who knew space suit girls were so reckless?” While the thought of what a gloriously long game all 3-in-1 would be, it’s really not worth cutting and editing the ends and beginnings together, I can see that now.
There are very large, noticeable spaces between all three Metroid Prime games. The instruction booklet (a real gem, with art and… instructions throughout it) draws attention to this too. If you can’t remember or haven’t played the first game, you’ve got more reason to purchase this disc… I also want so say “for shame!” but that’d be mean of me. In case you’re the former and cannot remember, Samus Aran destroys a meteorite from the inside out by supposedly killing the titular enemy, Metroid Prime, a ghastly thing capable of producing a thick blue mutagen called “Phazon”.
So we’re led to believe anyhow. In typical Metroid tradition, finishing a game with a certain percentage completion (items, scans etc) rewards players with a bonus ending. Usually this would be of our metal-clad bounty hunter removing her helmet and showing us the pretty blonde within, but at the end of Metroid Prime we were also shown the wrecked inside of the crater after our heroine had left the scene, with a very much alive Prime changing its shape thanks to ripping off pieces of Samus’ Power suit in its death throes.
Metroid Prime 2: Echoes opens up some time later. Set on a different world with a light and dark side mirroring one another, Samus tackles enemies that have once again found deposits of Phazon: radioactive and capable of mutating life forms into terrifying creatures. It soon becomes clear that the cause of the infection is the same Metroid Prime as before, only this time it’s taken the shape of a dark, twisted Power suit. This zombie-like enemy is soon dubbed Dark Samus, and yet again meet’s its end at the core of the dark world. When it detonates, all that’s left is the light side of the planet.
But not really.
I promise I’m not spoiling anything that, for fans of the Metroid games, hasn’t been known for a long time now. For newcomers to the series, a flick through the instruction manual will give you the same rough information. Six months after the events of MP2: E, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption takes place. Again, players are pitted against Dark Samus, but in a major twist, also against fellow bounty hunters.
In the short six months, Phazon has been studied and harnessed. Samus now uses this as a valuable tool. However, it’s very much a double edged sword. Depending too much on the system can cause a corruption and the game will end if extreme measures are not taken. This is made difficult because fellow ally Bounty Hunters have also been fitted with the system and have become corrupted themselves. Players soon learnt that taking on enhanced foes without tapping into that same power would be a very uphill battle.
The version on this disc is essentially the exact same game that is already available on the Nintendo Wii right now, and has been for years. The game features a more updated look than the last two: the blast doors are sleeker, the ships are more advanced, the story is more plot driven and characters (something lacking in the previous games) are featured for the first major time in the franchise.
Also the first game to feature voice acting (though Samus still has only talked in the cross over game Super Smash Bros. Brawl) as well as the ability to travel between different planets, Corruption was Nintendo’s and Retro Studio’s chance to show off what the Wii can do for a good old fashioned video game. The game supports full use of the motion sensing abilities while maintaining a faithful representation of the first two game’s play.
Players control Samus using the Nunchuk’s control stick; however her Beam Cannon is now dependent on the Wiimote. Aiming at the screen and moving the remote, I was surprised to first see just how accurately the on-screen model would react, following the remote’s movement and progress. By tilting the cursor / crosshair to the edges of the screen, Samus would turn her head and body, allowing for full 360 degree movement and aiming. The downside? It was slow. Oh Lord, was it slow.
Pressing and holding a trigger would allow for a lock on to the nearest target, but the cannon was still very much dependent on the Wiimote: kind of embarrassing to have an enemy in the full centre view only to miss because the cursor was aimed to the side. My first full night of play I got a headache from having to teach myself to move the remote, stick and buttons in conjunction with one another.
Corruption had large, open areas and environments however. Playing through the original game with these new controls had a faint headache start to resurface: the first two games were rather enclosed and cramped by comparison, and not being able to strafe and aim as fast at the enemies behind you was a bit of a downside.
To talk more on Corruption as a whole however, I have to say it was a good game, once all is said and done and the movement was learnt. Unlike previous games, unlockables and extras like galleries were not rewarded by progressing through scans and item pickups, but bought with tokens. Defeating bosses, collecting major items and progressing through the story would reward a player with different coloured credits. The extras (such as art, dioramas, music and the like) would each have a “price” of different numbers of tokens.
The game also took advantage of the Wii’s online feature, Connect24. Green vouchers called “Friend Vouchers” would be rewarded with different feats. Usually, unlike the story driven tokens, these would be rewarded for defeating certain numbers of enemies or shots fired. Running along a falling bridge to the end and letting the chasing enemies drop to their doom would also unlock a voucher. Their use? You could send them to a person who also had Metroid Prime 3, and they would be converted to Green tokens (needed for the better extras). It was on good faith that they would send you the same number of vouchers back.
This system had a few bugs. Firstly, like all of the Wii’s online gaming modes, you had to have a person on your Wii’s contact list and them to have you on theirs. I can’t complain about this: it’s a very nice privacy and security measure, though it does make things inconvenient. Secondly, both players had to have a Metroid Prime 3 save file. Thirdly, more than that, they had to have the same country’s game. DVD’s are split into different regions, and games are generally in 2 different formats (PAL and NTSC), but for this to work, I needed to know someone in Australia with the game. I had to search a few forums to get a match: I just didn’t know people with both a Wii and a Wi-Fi setup nearby. (And something I might have to do again for the sake of completing this disc.)
The last problem with this was that simply the coolest features used a number of green credits. Things like a screenshot tool that took photos and saved them to your Wii’s message board needed to be unlocked with trading friend vouchers, as well as having Bumper stickers of other Nintendo games (from the save files on your machine) on Samus’ ship, or a Bobble head of the Mii character you’d associate your save file to. The entire third game has been reproduced on the Trilogy disc, with the same tokens and vouchers set. They’ve also spread this feature to the first two games: orange and silver credits are unlocked through play of the original Prime, while Echoes uses purple and silver credits.
The games on whole are very simple transfers. The Title screen is new and improved, with all three titles available in Single Player mode, as well as MP2’s Multiplayer mode. Selecting a game in use has very little fanfare. Loading up the Metroid Prime save file I’ve started, I don’t see the same blood-under-a-microscope look I’ve come to expect from the original: rather the game’s logo (a red Morph Ball with the words Metroid Prime) appears with “Loading” underneath. A few seconds later, game play begins immediately from the last spot saved.
Metroid Prime and Metroid Prime 2: Echoes are identical to their Gamecube counterparts. I found that the originals of these games on a small TV were some of the sharpest games I had ever played, but to follow progress, all three games are presented in 16:9 widescreen. The only single thing worth mentioning aside from this is the Grapple beam: in Corruption, players would use the beam (on Samus’ left hand) by throwing their Nunchuk outwards. This would have the on-screen suit cast the grapple outwards to a hook or some enemies (in the latter case, pulling the Nunchuk back sharply would result in ripping back on the beam, usually pulling a magnetic shield off of a foe).
There are no such enemies in the first two games; just the tried and true hooks that players can grapple and swing with to cross gaps. Whether it’s because of the lacking enemy interaction I’m not sure, but now in the first two games, grappling has been reduced to simply holding the trigger (also the lock on) to focus on a grapple point and use it automatically. I couldn’t help but feel a tad disappointed.
At the end of it all, I’m still just a bit unsure of what to think. These games were collected on a single optical disc because Retro Studios found their new movement system controls to be incredible. To be honest, I found them adequate. They served a purpose, but that’s what controls are for, right? The claim that they are “accurate” is only as true as the player, and I’m sure more people have quicker thumbs on sticks than wrists with remotes.
For anyone who settled in nicely to the controls of Corruption, they will surely agree with Retro, but I’m finding myself having to relearn them all over again. As I mentioned before, I’m fickle, so I might change my mind when I do get back into the “swing” of it all, but it will take a good deal of practise gaming first. The first two titles were made to be played a certain way. You can play them with a Wii’s controls, but it can feel very different if you’ve played them a dozen times on a Gamecube.
Still, while I moan about the controls now, I say again, in time, they can be mastered. Metroid Prime Trilogy is just like it says on the cover: three games in a franchise that defined the Gamecube for first-person shooting as well as re-wrote the way they could be played on the Wii. The disc is also surprisingly low priced compared to most games today.
If you’ve played the originals and enjoyed them, you might just enjoy this rendition of them, or at least like to have a go at playing them a different way. The unchanged Corruption game takes away just a little, but I can see why they added it for the sake of completion. As a title, the entire trilogy-in-one alone warrants a good rating.
The game is also a Collector’s Edition, as I mentioned at the start. This special version of the disc includes a sharp looking cardboard sleeve while the Wii case has a silver-inked portrait of Samus in her power suit on the back. A booklet of the trilogy’s history and art is also included, as well as an invitation to Club Nintendo. This makes the game a little bit more interesting to the fans.
If you’ve never played any of these games, I cannot help but recommend it. If you’ve played and enjoyed them and have a little extra cash to burn through, you might just enjoy playing them all with the comfort of sitting back and not having to change any discs. Just be warned that not much has changed apart from this!
8 OUT OF 10