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Doing Backflips And Kill Moves In Metroid: Other M

Yeah, fine, but is there a wave beam?

All I've really wanted out of Metroid since the Prime series ended is, well, another Metroid. Outside of this specific context, I'm talking about what a lot of people refer to as "Metroidvania," but since we're planted squarely in the franchise that started the whole thing, let's just call it a new Metroid game.
 

 Bet you've never seen Samus do this before.

I wouldn't really have cared if it were on the Wii or the DS (or heck, even DSiWare--Lord knows that service could use a top-tier franchise game). I just want to collect energy tanks and an ice beam and backtrack a lot, in 2D. Metroid: Other M is not exactly that (or not entirely that) sort of game. Before I got to play a more or less finished build earlier this week, I wasn't sure what kind of game it was, but now I've got a pretty good handle on what to expect from Nintendo's next big franchise title when it ships at the end of the month. 
 
While there are plenty of signature Metroid touches in here, I was surprised at how much Team Ninja's influence seems to be evident in the game's design, too. If you haven't seen much of it in action, Other M feels a bit like a character action game--think God of War or, yeah, Ninja Gaiden. You move Samus around in 3D spaces without any manual camera control--instead the camera angle is determined by where you are in the environment--fighting and avoiding enemies with a bunch of flashy action moves, only one of which is "shooting."  
 

 YEAH SAMUS GET YOU SOME

You mostly play Other M with the Wii remote sideways, like an NES controller, though I have to admit that moving Samus around in 3D with only the 8-way d-pad felt a little odd. An analog stick would probably have been more appropriate here, but then Other M also relies on enough aspects of the Wii remote that the classic controller wouldn't really cut it. When you're in third-person mode, Samus auto-aims at whichever enemy you're most directly facing, but you can go to a first-person mode by pointing the remote directly at the screen, which gives you more precise aim and lets you lock onto specific enemies with your missiles. You can't move in first-person, though, so you have to make sure you put some distance between you and any threats before you switch perspectives.

In fact, crowd control seems to be a major focus in Other M, since you'll frequently have half a dozen or more weaker monsters coming at you at once. Luckily Samus has a ton of ways to attack and evade all her foes. You can do an automated dodge move by tapping the correct d-pad direction right before an enemy connects with an attack, and you get a little flash of green energy around Samus as she backflips or rolls out of the way, to show that you pulled off the dodge. You've also got an array of fairly un-Metroid-like scripted kill moves. These seem to be enemy-specific--when I used one on a sidehopper, Samus jumped on its back and basically put her arm cannon right up against its head to blow it away. Harsh. These kind of nimble, acrobatic moves looked like they were straight out of Bayonetta or something, but then, it didn't feel inherently out of place for Samus to be doing them instead.
 
 
 In Other M, first-person is just for shootin', not for scannin'.

Speaking of sidehoppers, there were a lot of classic enemies in the demo I played, which kicked off about an hour into the game. Samus was investigating an installation that had issued a distress call, and immediately I started running into not just the hoppers but also the sorts of spine-covered wall crawlers and fly-like insectoid enemies that were all over the original NES Metroid. A more devoted fan than I would be able to tell you what all those things are actually called, but if you've played much of the old Metroid games, you'll know them immediately. Most of those enemies can be dealt with in third-person by simply mashing on the auto-aim arm cannon, but since your missiles do splash damage, you can sometimes take out a whole group by quickly dropping to the aiming mode and locking on.

At least in this early part of the game, the flow of Other M felt straightforward and pretty linear, since there was generally only one direction I could go at any given time. I'm hoping the game will open up and focus more on exploration deeper in, but even in this early area, there were at least some classic hidden Metroid items like missile tanks to find. Curiously, the game actually marks the presence of a hidden item on your map screen once you've cleared an area, but it's still up to you to figure out exactly where in the area it's located and how to get to it. Before the demo was over, I was definitely getting that familiar itch to hunt down every missile upgrade and energy tank I could find, and Nintendo reps assured me that there would be plenty of that familiar Metroid style of backtracking when you gain new items to gain better access to old areas. I just hope the game doesn't make it too easy to find all of those hidden items.

The morph ball plays a major role here, of course, since there are a lot of tight spaces you'll need to roll through to get to hidden places. Rolling through tunnels in ball form looks more or less like it did in the Prime games, though I was surprised to see that Samus can grab and hang from ledges in Other M, and then sort of hop up into small spaces by hoisting herself up and transforming into the morph ball as she does so. Of course, it wouldn't be Metroid if you couldn't drop a bomb underneath yourself to bounce upward, as well. The game seems to take most of its morph ball cues from Prime, since the camera will go to a side view for the larger mazes that you have to navigate through, like it did in Retro's games.
 
 
   

The deeper into the base I got, the weirder things started to get. Samus entered some organic-looking outdoor areas with cliff faces, flowing streams, and bright blue skies--areas that turned back into the cold grey metal of the installation once she found control panels that switched off the holograms generating the outdoor illusion. I also got to fight a sort of mini-boss here, a two-legged creature with an obvious weak spot on its chest that charged at me periodically. The solution there, of course, was to dodge out of the way and then pop into first-person to lock onto the weak point before the beast could charge at me again. Later I encountered a much bigger, scripted boss monster while I was climbing up the inside of an elevator shaft. This time, I actually had to make use of some of the machinery inside the shaft to win, but I'll avoid spelling out exactly how I did it in the interest of letting you figure it out for yourself. It's not like the game is very far off at this point.

I'm not one hundred percent sold on Other M's mixture of gameplay styles--I think its ultimate success will depend on how exploration-heavy the later game is, and how demanding and satisfying the combat becomes. But despite this unexpected new direction for the series, it felt enough like Metroid that I'm really looking forward to digging deeper into it when it ships later this month. We'll definitely bring you more media and impressions from Other M as soon as we can. 
 

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Posted by Brad

All I've really wanted out of Metroid since the Prime series ended is, well, another Metroid. Outside of this specific context, I'm talking about what a lot of people refer to as "Metroidvania," but since we're planted squarely in the franchise that started the whole thing, let's just call it a new Metroid game.
 

 Bet you've never seen Samus do this before.

I wouldn't really have cared if it were on the Wii or the DS (or heck, even DSiWare--Lord knows that service could use a top-tier franchise game). I just want to collect energy tanks and an ice beam and backtrack a lot, in 2D. Metroid: Other M is not exactly that (or not entirely that) sort of game. Before I got to play a more or less finished build earlier this week, I wasn't sure what kind of game it was, but now I've got a pretty good handle on what to expect from Nintendo's next big franchise title when it ships at the end of the month. 
 
While there are plenty of signature Metroid touches in here, I was surprised at how much Team Ninja's influence seems to be evident in the game's design, too. If you haven't seen much of it in action, Other M feels a bit like a character action game--think God of War or, yeah, Ninja Gaiden. You move Samus around in 3D spaces without any manual camera control--instead the camera angle is determined by where you are in the environment--fighting and avoiding enemies with a bunch of flashy action moves, only one of which is "shooting."  
 

 YEAH SAMUS GET YOU SOME

You mostly play Other M with the Wii remote sideways, like an NES controller, though I have to admit that moving Samus around in 3D with only the 8-way d-pad felt a little odd. An analog stick would probably have been more appropriate here, but then Other M also relies on enough aspects of the Wii remote that the classic controller wouldn't really cut it. When you're in third-person mode, Samus auto-aims at whichever enemy you're most directly facing, but you can go to a first-person mode by pointing the remote directly at the screen, which gives you more precise aim and lets you lock onto specific enemies with your missiles. You can't move in first-person, though, so you have to make sure you put some distance between you and any threats before you switch perspectives.

In fact, crowd control seems to be a major focus in Other M, since you'll frequently have half a dozen or more weaker monsters coming at you at once. Luckily Samus has a ton of ways to attack and evade all her foes. You can do an automated dodge move by tapping the correct d-pad direction right before an enemy connects with an attack, and you get a little flash of green energy around Samus as she backflips or rolls out of the way, to show that you pulled off the dodge. You've also got an array of fairly un-Metroid-like scripted kill moves. These seem to be enemy-specific--when I used one on a sidehopper, Samus jumped on its back and basically put her arm cannon right up against its head to blow it away. Harsh. These kind of nimble, acrobatic moves looked like they were straight out of Bayonetta or something, but then, it didn't feel inherently out of place for Samus to be doing them instead.
 
 
 In Other M, first-person is just for shootin', not for scannin'.

Speaking of sidehoppers, there were a lot of classic enemies in the demo I played, which kicked off about an hour into the game. Samus was investigating an installation that had issued a distress call, and immediately I started running into not just the hoppers but also the sorts of spine-covered wall crawlers and fly-like insectoid enemies that were all over the original NES Metroid. A more devoted fan than I would be able to tell you what all those things are actually called, but if you've played much of the old Metroid games, you'll know them immediately. Most of those enemies can be dealt with in third-person by simply mashing on the auto-aim arm cannon, but since your missiles do splash damage, you can sometimes take out a whole group by quickly dropping to the aiming mode and locking on.

At least in this early part of the game, the flow of Other M felt straightforward and pretty linear, since there was generally only one direction I could go at any given time. I'm hoping the game will open up and focus more on exploration deeper in, but even in this early area, there were at least some classic hidden Metroid items like missile tanks to find. Curiously, the game actually marks the presence of a hidden item on your map screen once you've cleared an area, but it's still up to you to figure out exactly where in the area it's located and how to get to it. Before the demo was over, I was definitely getting that familiar itch to hunt down every missile upgrade and energy tank I could find, and Nintendo reps assured me that there would be plenty of that familiar Metroid style of backtracking when you gain new items to gain better access to old areas. I just hope the game doesn't make it too easy to find all of those hidden items.

The morph ball plays a major role here, of course, since there are a lot of tight spaces you'll need to roll through to get to hidden places. Rolling through tunnels in ball form looks more or less like it did in the Prime games, though I was surprised to see that Samus can grab and hang from ledges in Other M, and then sort of hop up into small spaces by hoisting herself up and transforming into the morph ball as she does so. Of course, it wouldn't be Metroid if you couldn't drop a bomb underneath yourself to bounce upward, as well. The game seems to take most of its morph ball cues from Prime, since the camera will go to a side view for the larger mazes that you have to navigate through, like it did in Retro's games.
 
 
   

The deeper into the base I got, the weirder things started to get. Samus entered some organic-looking outdoor areas with cliff faces, flowing streams, and bright blue skies--areas that turned back into the cold grey metal of the installation once she found control panels that switched off the holograms generating the outdoor illusion. I also got to fight a sort of mini-boss here, a two-legged creature with an obvious weak spot on its chest that charged at me periodically. The solution there, of course, was to dodge out of the way and then pop into first-person to lock onto the weak point before the beast could charge at me again. Later I encountered a much bigger, scripted boss monster while I was climbing up the inside of an elevator shaft. This time, I actually had to make use of some of the machinery inside the shaft to win, but I'll avoid spelling out exactly how I did it in the interest of letting you figure it out for yourself. It's not like the game is very far off at this point.

I'm not one hundred percent sold on Other M's mixture of gameplay styles--I think its ultimate success will depend on how exploration-heavy the later game is, and how demanding and satisfying the combat becomes. But despite this unexpected new direction for the series, it felt enough like Metroid that I'm really looking forward to digging deeper into it when it ships later this month. We'll definitely bring you more media and impressions from Other M as soon as we can. 
 

Staff
Posted by SkullcrusherMountain

This game looks kind of terrible :|

Posted by TheChaos

I dunno about this yet.

Posted by Kyreo

I just wanna know what the fuck this game is.

Posted by HandsomeDead

The controls for this sound terrible.

Posted by FlamingHobo
@Kyreo said:
" I just wanna know what the fuck this game is. "
Posted by Raymayne

Sounds awful. Just release another 2D Metroidvania game already :/

Posted by kevinski

I was kinda hoping that this would be more of a return to the classic Metroid style. I've never really been a huge Metroid fan, but I was hoping that this would be similar to Shadow Complex (since that game definitely reminded me of Metroid in terms of style - I really enjoyed it for some reason) in terms of overall game play style. I have a feeling that the price might make this one hard pill to swallow.

Posted by SweetJ

a breakthrough?

Posted by Milkman

I'm not that this sounds very good.

Online
Posted by strikeAG

Man, fuck the haters, I am so fucking psyched for this game.
Posted by nickux

I'm excited for the change. I don't know, the Metroid series has seen its share of revisions over the years and I remember a lot of people were skeptical when Prime wanted to take it into first-person. That turned out well. A new take on the series can be a good thing and I think Nintendo is smart enough to not let a bad game sour one of its main franchises. 

Posted by Claude

I wasn't that good with the Prime series. I really sucked with the 2D Metroid games, so count me out.

Posted by Nintaiyo

Playing with just the Wiimote is one of those things that sounds good until you play it. They should've just added nunchuck support. That way you can have full analog 3D control and you won't have to turn the controller towards the screen when aiming. I don't get why Nintendo's being so stubborn about it.

Posted by nickux
@strikeAG: you and me both, dude. A game that mixes elements from Super Metroid, Metroid Prime, Ninja Gaiden, with fucking awesome graphics-- I just don't get the skepticism. But bear in mind, many people doubted Retro's take on the series way back when. 
Posted by decko5

this is one of those games that i have to play just to see if i like it or not

Posted by VicRattlehead
@nickux:  any nintendo game that gets previewed on this website gets hated on ..... just the way the internet goes
Posted by AceOfMasta

Sideways Wiimote for this game? Ehh, I am a bit skeptical now.

Posted by IronStarkTonyMan

I am soooo looking foreward to this game!!! I have been a fan of the metroid series since i was 5 and it has been a big part of my gaming life.

Posted by Daneian

The item indicators on the map have been in the 2D games since since Super Metroid.  The ledge grab to morph ball since fusion.

Posted by Danterion

"I want to backtrack a lot." 
 
Are you high, Brad?

Posted by kickinthehead

I'm excited for this because I love all Metroid games, but I have a feeling that it'll play like Metroid fan service that will take priority over traditional Metroid elements. Also I think I'll be dying for an analog stick, but still cautiously optimistic!

Posted by SonicFire

Brad sounds skepitcal, as does every report from the games' press I've heard so far. Usually I'd be the first to complain regarding Nintendo re-releasing the same game over again. But in this case, I think that a return to pure 2d, up rezzed like Shadow Complex, would be the way to go here. Then again, I've lost interest in character action games, so maybe that's where my reaction comes from.
Posted by Demoskinos

Can't wait to play this.  Get Hyped!   I have faith in Team Ninja.

Edited by wecantgetaway

Getting this. From what I read on 1up, I was basically sold.

Posted by Jeknod

lolmetroid

Posted by afahy

Just the wrong direction for this game to go in

Posted by JackSukeru

I'm a pretty big fan of the Metroid series and I have to say that, after reading these impressions and watching that trailer again I'm pretty positive that it'll be good. 
 
I'm not expecting it to be exceptional, but that it will at least serve for some good fun while it lasts. It would be nice to see greater things out of this series but for now, a solid game is good enough for me.

Posted by Noodles

Looks awesome.

Posted by autobzooty

 I was surprised at how much Team Ninja's influence seems to be evident in the game's design, too.       

:X
Posted by S0ndor

Curious that you should mention the items on the map being curious, since Corruption displayed the EXACT location of all hidden items on your 3D map.

Posted by IBurningStar

I'm still not sure how I feel about this one. I can't say that I'm diggin it, but I also can't say that I am flat out hating it.

Posted by Kowalski

I'm very excited. I've loved every Metroid game I have ever played. My one gripe is that they are focusing more on cutscenes and story now. 

Posted by Yzzerdd

I like how they boosted about having 2 hours of cutscenes which in my eyes is a massive downside. I wonder if even NOA's talented localization staff can save this us from the awkwardness showcased in trailers.

Posted by drummerboykhari

Well. I must only say this..*sigh*
 
 
 
IT LOOKS FA KING SU PAH!

Posted by gelu88

Hey, another hardcore game on the Wii is good news for everyone.

Posted by Bahamutduo

Looks sick, almost makes me wish I hadn't traded in my Wii...almost.

Posted by Mysterysheep

Sounds like some Metroid-ass Metroid to me! I'm in!

Posted by Cornman89

I'm fine with a gameplay shift from Metroid Prime (the only Metroids I've played). What I'm curious about is the scripted narrative elements, as Team Ninja's past body of work hasn't exactly shown them to be master storytellers...

Posted by MrPilkington

Onomonopea....there my quest is completel sur!
Edited by ribeye
@IronStarkTonyMan said:

" I am soooo looking foreward to this game!!! I have been a fan of the metroid series since i was 5 and it has been a big part of my gaming life. "

me 
 
too 
 
can't wait  =)
Posted by Apkinesis

I've already preordered Other M (being a huge Metroid fan), but I've always been (and still am) skeptical about the gameplay elements. At the very least, hopefully they do a good job with the story.

Posted by fireball21k

This is an amazing game and it will come out soon!

Posted by Drebin_893

Good preview, it helped a lot in my mental dilemma. Thanks :)

Posted by koopi

Can't wait to play it! I love these action + backtracking + exploration games. :)

Edited by Crushed

Regarding the cutscenes and story:
 
1) Nintendo apparently did the outline for the story, and a separate company called D-Rockets is doing the cinematics and actual writing. Team Ninja is not in charge of the story.
 
2) Nintendo Europe said that there were "one hour" of cutscenes, and in a later interview Sakamoto and Hayashi said that there would be an unlockable theater mode including sample gameplay footage that would be "almost 2 hours long." Somehow this got confused by a bunch of people into meaning "2 hours of cutscenes," even though it sounds like the gameplay footage is a good chunk of those 2 hours.

Posted by Bummey

Eh... I'm not even sure I'd rent this.

Posted by MormonWarrior

The fact that the map marks where hidden items are isn't new. Haven't Metroid games done that since Super? They put a dot on the map and tell you there's something there, but don't tell you what or where exactly.
 
I'm fairly skeptical about how this will turn out. I feel like it would probably work better with the nunchuk as well, but I guess we'll see.

Posted by jos1ah
@HandsomeDead said:
"The controls for this sound terrible. "
Posted by danpat177

Might get a wii now .....
 
there goes that pc i was saving up for

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