Metroid: Other M Review
Going into Metroid: Other M, most gamers know what to expect. With Team Ninja taking the helm, most gamers thought Other M was going to a clone of past Team Ninja games, Ninja Gaiden being the most popular. In certain preview events, this notion was squashed. Team Ninja with this a pseudo-2-D, 3-D game and managed to bring their flare to one of Nintendo's flagship series.
In a stark turn from the last Metroid game on the Wii, Metroid: Prime, this game ditches the first person view point and adapts the old school third persona view point. As for Samus's bag of tricks, they all remain in tact. Wall jumps, morph balls, bombs, charge beams, rockets, are all here... somewhat. While you have all of Samus' tools at her disposal, she is still limited, in what could be this game's biggest downfall, the story.
Players take control of Intergalactic Bounty Hunter, Samus Aran, fresh off the events of Super Metroid, which originally appeared on the Super Nintendo (SNES). After the baby Metroid sacrifices itself for the sake of Samus, the game takes place shortly thereafter. Waking up in the Galactic Federation medical building. After she gets patched up, she is sent on her way... but she receives a message and we pretty know what happens from here.
Explore ship, kill things.
But before the player is let off the leash, Samus runs into Adam Malkovich, who fans remember as Samus' former commanding officer. And it's around this point the story seems to fall apart.
The main story arch of the game is Samus and her past, in what Team Ninja hopes to help fill out Samus as a character, the problem being... Samus was already a good character to begin with. Even though Metroid games have always had a feeling a lonesome and solitude, it hasn't stopped fans from making Samus one of Nintendo's more popular characters. And when Team Ninja attempt to drive life into her, it just comes out flat, they try to portray Samus as disconnected and somewhat traumatized by the end events of Super Metroid... but she comes off more bored than anything. And it hurts a little bit of her character in this game, as Samus goes from a tough character, to... kinda of weak. While she still holds her own in battle and still can do all her tricks, it feels like Team Ninja went too far in establishing that Samus as a woman, and women have feelings. And it's almost a culture shock. Delving into back story and history never outlined in any of the Nintendo games (Ridley killed Samus' parents?). Storylines created in the Metroid anime, which wasn't printed in English, and only something that devoted Metroid fans will take the time to seek out.
But, while the story is lackluster, the gameplay is where Other M shines. While most people would expect this game to take advantage of the Nunchuck and Wii Remote combination, the game is played solely with the Wii Remote. While it can take a moment to get used to eight-way movement with a four-way directional pad (D-Pad), the game is very smartly designed. Running down curved corridors is easy, as Samus sticks to a track, preventing getting stuck on walls. Samus also has an auto-aim function that is also well designed. Point her in the direction of an enemy and hit the fire button.
One of the biggest changes is that by pointing the Wii Remote at the screen, the game will switch to first-person mode, and in this mode, players can scan objects and fire rockets, again, tricky once first introduced but can be easily mastered after awhile. While the new control type is easy to get a hang of, that doesn't mean that there aren't points in the game where this can be a problem, mostly in boss battles. In which you have to dodge enemy projectiles, and still have to find a safe corner to shoot a rocket at the enemy's weak point. And running into situations like this can lead to extreme frustrations, but not enough to quit playing.
Now for where the story starts to get in the way, while you start with all you main powers unlocked (charge shot, beam, Morph ball, Bombs, Rockets, Power bombs) they are passed out to you as the story progresses. Because Adam is leading this mission, he has to give you clearance to use your new toys, and it just seems odd. At this point of Samus' story Metroid Prime 1-3, Metroid, and Super Metroid have all happened, Samus has done this a few times... so why is she taking orders now? I know they play off her respect for her CO, but there is never a real reason for them to be handling this with any kind of kid gloves, once this gets hairy, you'd expect to go weapons free. Now this would be fine, if the weapons were unlocked quickly, but near the final part of the game, Samus was finally given clearance to use Power Bombs, maybe it was mistake, and I missed something, so no real complaints, but it just felt weird. And every aspect of this game that isn't that actual gameplay, is just weird.
But, for all Metroid fans this is a game worth picking up, there is a lot of references to older games, the game begins with a beautiful CG recreation of the ending of Super Metroid, you battle Ridley, and there are secret paths to be found and missile tanks to be collected. Also once players finish the game, it unlocks a New game Plus mode, allowing players to pay through the game again, with all abilities unlocked, which will help in finding all the secret areas.
When I first picked up Metroid: Other M, I didn't know what to expect, and as I warmed up to it, I found that addictive play that sucked me in, since the NES, and while the story is a big miss, the gameplay, once you get used to the new control scheme, is extremely satisfying and it goes to prove that Team Ninja did more than enough to provide a refreshing breath of life into this classic series.