Metroid: Other M
I've been a Metroid fan since the beginning and this franchise holds some of my greatest gaming memories of all time. I can still remember how utterly amazed I was with the original Metroid on the NES. I was the perfect age, 9 or so I think, when it came out and I remember being fascinated with the huge unexplored world, and trying to remember where I saw that super missile door after I finally got the super missiles.And I came to love the finesse of the controls and back-tracking gameplay that the Metroid series is now known for, I loved it then and I still love it now. That's how you do revisitation, son! In fact I can probably largely blame Metroid for my love of searching out every last hidden item in a game, and I still do that to this day. It was chock full of risk/reward game play too, I love that. You don't have to go back and find every energy tank and missile tank in all of Zebes if you don't want to and it's often dangerous and time-consuming to do so, but when you get to the Mother Brain's room you might be glad you did. Thinking back, I also remember how truly hardcore that game really was; no map, no saving your game and no youtube to look stuff up on. My friends and I brute force memorized our way through that game and loved every minute of it.
And the same holds true for Super Metroid which, to me, seemed like Metroid perfected. I was utterly amazed once again, it had all the wonderful mystery and isolation and gameplay of the first one, but they added a map and save rooms to go along with the gigantic worlds and it looked fantastic. I also played Metroid Prime, but to me it felt like it lost something in the transition to 3D and I didn't play the other Prime games.
So I've literally been waiting like 27 years for another awesome Metroid game and I feel that Other M is that game....mostly. I was 9 years old again when I put Other M in for the first time and watched that cut scene. I was so excited and stunned that it literally picked up right where Super Metroid left off that I can barely put it to words, rarely do games do that for me and Team Ninja pulled it off perfectly, good work!
Samus looks great in Other M, as does the rest of the game and the music was spot-on too, it pulled me right back into Samus' world in a very perfect way. I love how crazily fast-paced the combat is in Other M. To an onlooker I'm sure it seems frantic and out of control, but if you're paying attention and timing your dodges, it's actually a wonderfully controlled chaos that just happens to be rewarding and fun as hell.
There are a few things about Other M that bothered me, but the thing that bothered me the most is the fact that the smaller enemies that fill the levels don't drop health or missiles. I'm confused by this decision. You can recharge your own missiles at any time and there is some slight risk/reward with that, it takes a couple seconds to do it, so they get a pass on the missiles. But the fact that the smaller enemies don't drop either of these things immediately takes away any incentive to stop and fight them. The result is not what I would call awesome, it adds nothing to the game. Two things happen when you stop to fight the little critters; first and most importantly you'll probably lose some health, and second it just takes longer and, other than seeing some of Samus' snazzy moves in action, you literally get nothing for doing it. There is no motivation to fight them and your best bet is to just run past them. So to me they're kinda like the zombies in Dead Rising, there's really no incentive to stop and fight them, you're probably going to take damage if you do, and they're really just there to slow you down.
I also didn't particularly care for any of the forced first-person perspective situations, except for one, where a creature pounces on you and tries to stab you in the face with its tail, that was actually one of the most memorable moments in Other M in my opinion and it was a really fun moment. Other than that though, I pretty much hated every single one of the scenarios that forced you into the first-person perspective. Not quite rage-quit material, but these situations tend to bring the action to a screeching halt and you're left with nothing to do but scour every surface in a large environment searching for some miniscule thing with no real guidance on where or what that (itsy-bitsy, tiny) little thing might be. I realize that in one or two of these situations it was completely necessary to do that, since being in first-person is the only way to highlight certain things that require missiles or the grappling hook to get through, for example. And don't get me wrong, I like being able to go into first-person on my own time and have a look around, I thought that feature was an excellent and creative solution that allowed the rest of the game to really feel and play like it's 2D predecessors while still allowing you to explore every nook and cranny in a 3D environment.
Ok, done with the ranting, now on to the awesome.
The game is played with a Wiimote turned on it's side like an NES controller, no nunchuck required and in the end I think the controls were just fine, but moreso when Samus is doing her side-scroller thing. It does auto-aim for you somewhat, but it doesn't get in your way and actually allows you to tear through the little guys in a blazing hurry, I can appreciate that. The action and combat stands up with any game out there. Team Ninja also managed to give the power-ups real, meaningful impact on your game. Each and every power-up made me feel empowered in a way that most games fail to do and by the end I felt like I was a complete master of Samus' brand of badassery. You can totally see Team Ninja's action game history showing through in full glory during most of the combat situations. I am gonna have to agree with Brad though and say that the first-person moments were a bit clunky and the auto-aim tended to aim at whatever it felt like locking onto sometimes. The first-person stuff is perfect if you just want to have a look around, and it was functional but not ideal for most combat situations, and it wasn't a game-breaker for me at all.
Being a fan from the start, I really enjoyed seeing (and fighting) many of the familiar enemies from past Metroid games, fan service galore and I appreciate that. I was literally ecstatic when I realized I was finally being attacked by actual Metroids haha, loved it, I was grinning ear to ear even while they were sucking my life energy out through my head. But,
I'm still gonna go back and find the last bits I couldn't get before and probably play it on hard mode. I also found myself wishing the doors were made of blue and red bubble things that would open when I shot them, but whatever, no biggie =)
All in all I really liked Other M, the shortcomings are forgivable and I thought it totally delivered on most fronts. They did so much right with this game it's tough to knock them about the few things that bothered me. It's no easy task to do justice to a game that has achieved such impossible expectations in our collective minds, bravo Team Ninja! It is a Metroid game to the core and if you've ever been a fan, you should check it out. Can't wait for a sequel.