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Overview

The first game in the critically acclaimed Metroid Prime series is the Metroid series' first foray into 3D, as well as an initially controversial shift from a third person to a first person perspective.

An enthroned Chozo.
An enthroned Chozo.

Developed by Retro Studios along with important members from Nintendo's EAD and R&D1 divisions, the game was proclaimed a "First Person Adventure" by Nintendo. Metroid Prime combines multiple gameplay elements, such as platforming, puzzles, exploration and shooting, while presenting a large, open-ended world.

Metroid Prime revolves around Phazon, a highly radioactive substance with mutagenic properties. The game takes place on Tallon IV, which has been corrupted by this substance. Throughout her journey, Samus learns more about the nature of Phazon, as well as how her enemies, the Space Pirates, intend to use it. She also learns of the Chozo's struggles, an ancient race that lived on Tallon IV when the infection first arrived.

As well as maintaining most of the traditional Metroid gameplay features, Metroid Prime introduces a number of innovations to the series. The first person perspective led to the introduction of lock-on targeting, which allowed for a more intuitive combat system, as well as the ability to strafe around enemies. A heads-up display was introduced, which showed Samus' health bar and ammunition, among other details. A multiple visor system was incorporated, which allowed for different kinds of displays. The most intriguing display was the scan visor, which allowed a multitude of objects and creatures to be surveyed in great detail, as well as activating lifts and revealing weak points. A hint system was built into the game to aid players.

Metroid Prime saw great success worldwide, particularly in America. This commercial success led to the development of a Metroid Prime trilogy, as well as other Metroid Prime spinoffs.

Gameplay

When Metroid Prime was revealed, the most controversial aspect of the game was its first-person perspective. With the game's release, however, reception eventually turned positive, with many generally accepting that the gameplay did not suffer at all from the new perspective.

Metroid Prime, like its predecessors, places a large emphasis on exploration. Tallon IV is an open world, ready for Samus to discover all its secrets, fitting with Metroid tradition. There are only a few instances in the game where the player is given a linear direction, albeit through subtle hints.

The Parasite Queen blasts Samus with a beam of energy.
The Parasite Queen blasts Samus with a beam of energy.

The player controls Samus using the analog control stick. Unlike other first-person games of the era, Metroid Prime is controlled primarily with a single analog stick, rather then the dual stick format. In order to look around, players must use the R button. The R button allows the players to use the analog stick to look around and observe the environment, as well as aim at opponents. Samus also has the ability to jump using the B button. Platforming is an important element of Metroid Prime, as in previous entries in the series. Metroid Prime has been praised for its excellence in platforming, something few thought executed well in the first-person perspective.

Combat in Metroid Prime is similar to that of most other first-person shooter games, utilizing a variety of weapons. Samus fires using the A button, and when in the morph ball, Samus uses the A button to drop bombs. To lock on to enemies, Samus uses the L button. By lightly pressing the L button while locked on, Samus can swap out targets. If the player does not wish to lock on, they can look freely using the R button, and aim at opponents through that method. While locked on, the player can press the B button to dash from side to side. Samus must use all of her beam weapons, as well as her missiles, activated with the Y button.

The C-stick is used to select the weapon which Samus will use. Samus's basic weapon is the power beam, which she begins with. Throughout the course of the game, Samus can obtain the plasma beam, the wave beam, and the ice beam. The plasma beam shoots short tang molten energy and can potentially ignite enemies, as well as melt ice. The wave beam fires three oscillating waves of electric energy, and has a limited homing effect. The ice beam is a cold blast of frozen water, and has a slow rate of fire. It can also potentially freeze an enemy in their tracks for a brief amount of time. Each weapon is strong against particular enemies, and all can be combo fires with Samus' missiles for greater effect. Once Samus obtains the charge beam, all weapons can be charged up as well, providing greater firepower.

In order to access many areas, Samus must use her weapons to destroy obstacles. Many doors are blocked by shields which require certain weapons to activate, and others have blast shields that must be destroyed with the missiles.

Samus has a variety of visors which will come in handy throughout the game, as well. The standard visor is the combat visor, which is used through regular gameplay. One of the most important visors, which Samus has at the beginning of the game, is the scan visor. The scan visor is used to scan nearly everything in the environment. Scanning proves useful for gathering details about enemies, and discovering the most efficient way of taking them out. Scanning is also one of the main ways that Metroid Prime implements world-building, providing information on the lifeforms in proximity to Samus, as well as translating diary entries and other logs. Another useful visor is the thermal visor, which helps Samus track objects in the environment based on their heat signature. This visor is quite helpful in dark areas, enabling samus to see lifeforms clearly. Finally, the X-ray vison allows Samus to look through walls to find secret passages, and track enemies who use optical camouflage.

A deceased Parasite specimen in Orpheon.
A deceased Parasite specimen in Orpheon.

Like all previous Metroid games, Samus can transform into the morph ball. The morph ball is activated using the X button. Combat is limited, however, in morph ball mode, and Samus can only use the bombs, dropped using the A or Y buttons. The bombs prove most useful for morph ball jumping. A morph ball jump is performed by laying a bomb, then lingering over the bomb, which will shoot Samus into the air. Multiple bombs can be laid to reach higher areas.

One of the most useful tools in the game is the map. The map is accessed using the Z button, and is a detailed three dimensional depiction of Tallon IV. As exploration is so important in Metroid Prime, consulting the map becomes regular throughout the course of the game.

As in all Metroid games, items are scattered across the planet. Samus begins with a number of suit upgrades. After an accident on the Frigate, however, Samus begins on Tallon IV with merely her power beam and power suit. As she explores more and more, she can regain her arsenal. Most weapons and visors are hidden throughout the game, and in order to obtain them and move further on in the game, Samus must find out how to reach them. Not all items are essential to the player's progress; however, some will prove very useful. Energy tanks and missile tanks are not required, but are still of great assistance. Some of the more notable items Samus can find are the Varia Suit and Gravity Suit, as well as the space jump boots, which allow Samus to double jump. Metroid Prime also marked the return of the Grapple Beam from Super Metroid, which allowed Samus to grapple onto specific points and swing over great distances.

Wii Release

On October 2, 2008, Nintendo revealed plans to bring various Gamecube games over to the Wii with new controls, including Metroid Prime. The official name of the Wii release is called "New Play Control! Metroid Prime". In this rerelease, players control Samus with the Wiimote and Nunchuck, matching the controls of Metroid Prime 3. Movement is controlled by the analog stick on the Nunchuck. The biggest change to the controls is the aiming, which is now controlled by the Wii's IR pointer. Lock-on is still available and is done via the Z button. Shooting is mapped to the A button (missiles and other weapons on the directional pad) while jumping is controlled by the B button. As in Metroid Prime 3, changing visors is done by pressing the minus button and choosing the visor wanted by pointing on screen. Despite these changes, the Wii rerelease is the same Metroid Prime that was played on the GameCube. The Wii release also has 16:9 Widescreen and 480p support.

Regions

Frigate Orpheon

A Space Pirate frigate, this vessel was used by the Space Pirate Science Team for experiments, some more bizarre than others. This is where the Parasite Queen resides, as well as the place that gave birth to a reborn Ridley. In the beginning of the game, it is still partly functional. Samus eventually returns to the ruins of the Frigate.

Tallon Overworld

A cavern in the Tallon Overworld.
A cavern in the Tallon Overworld.

The place where Samus first lands, the Overworld is a green place, always raining. It serves as a central hub, linking to most major areas on the planet including the Impact Crater, along with being the place where the frigate crashed.

Chozo Ruins

The dusty, abandoned ruins of a Chozo city, filled with stone buildings. Flaahgra, the first boss of the game, is in this area, and rooms are often crawling with Chozo ghosts waiting to ambush Samus.

Magmoor Caverns

An underground area filled with lava and rock. Long and narrow, the caverns are a dangerous place.

Phendrana Drifts

Samus engaged in battle in Phendrana Drifts.
Samus engaged in battle in Phendrana Drifts.

A snowy area filled with icy creatures. The Space Pirates have a base here. It is also home to sheegoths and the gigantic Thardus.

Phazon Mines

The central point for all Space Pirate activity on Tallon IV, the mines house many labs, much Phazon, and some sinister creatures in the depths.

Impact Crater

An area sealed off by the Chozo, the Impact Crater is the source of the Phazon infiltration on Tallon IV. This is where the final battle takes place between Samus Aran and the Metroid Prime.

Weapons

By the end of the adventure, Samus collects four different beam weapons.

Power Beam

Charging the Power Beam.
Charging the Power Beam.

The quickest to fire, and also quickest moving bullet but has the lowest damage per shot, good to use on fast moving enemies. The charged version is simply more powerful, and is the quickest to charge of all the beams.

Super Missiles

A big explosion dealing high amounts of damage, the Super Missile is good for taking out enemies quickly. It can destroy Cordite objects. Using a Super Missile depletes five missiles.

Wave Beam

A mouthful of Wave Beam.
A mouthful of Wave Beam.

An electrical beam with a partial lock on, the Wave Beam is useful against machinery. The charged version can stun some enemies, and has homing capabilities, serving best against quick enemies. This beam can also be used to return power to depleted electrical systems by firing at a conduit.

Wave Buster

This fires a continuous stream of energy that automatically homes in on targets. Although it is expensive to use, it is particularly useful against invisible enemies or when Samus's target systems are interfered with. The Wave Buster depletes ten missiles, as well as an additional five per second.

Ice Beam

A demonstration of the Ice Beam.
A demonstration of the Ice Beam.

The Ice Beam has the lowest rate of fire, and the shots themselves move slowly as well, making it hard to hit moving enemies. It can also freeze them, allowing Samus to dispatch them with a single missile. Difficult targets require the charge shot in order to freeze them.

Ice Spreader

Sends out sheet of ice when it hits, freezing those it hits. Quite useful in confusing situations with an overwhelming number of enemies. The Spreader uses ten missiles.

Plasma Beam

The Plasma Beam, while fast, has a short range. It can set some enemies on fire due to the extreme heat. The charged version of this beam can melt thick ice with cracks.

Flamethrower

The flamethrower is a short range weapon that leaves behind fire on whatever it makes contact with, damaging things that touch it. It uses up ten Missiles over two seconds.

Suit and Ability Upgrades

Samus obtains various upgrades throughout the course of her adventure. These take many forms, and harken back to the original Metroid games.

Varia Suit

The Varia Suit is the first suit upgrade Samus receives, and the one she is most often associated with. This upgrade also provides a reduction in damage, as well as the ability to visit environments with extreme temperatures without being hurt. It is obtained by defeating Flaahgra in the Chozo Ruins.

Gravity Suit

Samus in her Gravity Suit.
Samus in her Gravity Suit.

This suit upgrade allows Samus to move fluidly underwater, as well as increasing underwater visibility and providing additional damage reduction. It also recolours her suit with an indigo accent in place of the orange palette most associated with her. It is acquired in the Gravity Chamber in Phendrana Drifts.

Phazon Suit

The result of an overload of pure Phazon, the Phazon Suit is shades of black, silver, and crimson. It protects Samus from the effects of blue phazon (though not orange phazon), and provides the most damage reduction of any suit. It also allows her to use the powerful Phazon beam, only available during her final battle. This upgrade is obtained after the battle with the Omega Pirate, in the Phazon Mines.

Visors

Samus' visor has many different capabilities. The standard types are the combat and scan visors. There are also two others:

An example of the Thermal Visor in action.
An example of the Thermal Visor in action.

Thermal Visor - This visor allows Samus to see the heat signatures of everything around her. It is used to find Shadow Pirates in camoflauge and disabled energy conduits.

X-Ray Visor - This visor is used to see beyond the visible light spectrum. It allows her to see enemies that are invisible to even thermal imaging, and to see through flesh, most notably seen through Samus' arm cannon, instead only showing her bones.

Missile Launcher

The missile launcher allows Samus to fire missiles. At first, only five missiles are available to be stored onhand, but this is upgradeable by finding one of many missile expansions throughout the world. They are more powerful than a standard beam shot, and can hone in on targets, as well as opening doors and destroying certain materials.

Morph Ball

The Spider Ball in use.
The Spider Ball in use.

In morph ball mode, Samus becomes a ball of pure energy, encased in her power suit, and can roll around, allowing access to areas previously out of reach. It is gotten once the Plated Beetle in the Chozo Ruins has been defeated. It has various upgrades:

Bombs - Getting this upgrade allows Samus to drop small bombs while in Morph Ball form. These can destroy certain materials, are effective against many enemies, and can even serve a purpose in some boss fights. They can also be dropped into bomb slots to activate certain things. It is gotten once the Incinerator Drone in the Chozo Ruins has been beaten.

Power Bombs - Able to destroy Bendezium objects and stronger enemies, the Power Bomb is one of Samus' strongest weapons. The number available can be expanded. This upgrade is obtained by defeating the Beta Drone and passing through the maze in the Phazon Mines.

Boost Ball - This upgrade affords Samus a short burst of speed while in Morph Ball mode. Useful for traversing half-pipes and defeating smaller enemies. Acquired in Phendrana Canyon in Phendrana Drifts.

Spider Ball - This upgrade allows Samus to stick to and roll along the magnetic tracks that wind around Tallon IV. Bombs provide a small jump off the track. This is gotten by defeating Thardus in Phendrana Drifts.

Space Jump Boots

These boots give Samus the ability to double jump. They are equipped with boosters to give Samus that extra jump she needs. They are found in the Alcove in Tallon Overworld. They are unique to the Prime series.

Grapple Beam

Samus using the Grapple Beam to swing across a gap.
Samus using the Grapple Beam to swing across a gap.

Different from other beams in that it can't be used to attack, the Grapple Beam is used to attach to grapple points and cross large distances. It is found in the Storage Depot in Phazon Mines.

Bonuses and Secrets

Unlocking the fusion suit

This can be unlocked by connecting Metroid Fusion to the GameCube after completion of Metroid Prime. The fusion suit will then be selectable from the start menu of Prime. It is solely cosmetic, however. In the Metroid Prime Trilogy version for Wii, it is unlocked by beating the game once and purchasing it from the Extras store.

Play the original Metroid (NES)

Upon completion of Metroid Fusion, connecting the completed game to a copy of Metroid Prime will unlock a playable version of the first Metroid game.

Unlocking Hard Mode

Completing the game once unlocks hard mode.

Unlocking the art galleries

  • Image Gallery 1: Compile 50% of the Log Book scans.
  • Image Gallery 2: Compile 100% of the Log Book scans.
  • Image Gallery 3: Complete Hard Mode.
  • Image Gallery 4: Complete Hard Mode with 100% of the Items collected.

Music

The music found in the game was composed primarily by Kenji Yamamoto, along with Kouichi Kyuma. A CD release came in June 16, 2003 in Japan and contained both Metroid Prime and Metroid Fusion soundtrack, named "Metroid Prime & Fusion Original Soundtracks", The track listing for the Metroid Prime part is the following:

  1. Title
  2. Menu Select
  3. Prologue
  4. Frigate Orpheon
  5. VS. Parasite Queen
  6. Escape from Frigate Orpheon
  7. Planet Tallon IV
  8. Ancient Chozo Ruins
  9. VS. Hive Totem
  10. VS. Giant Beetle
  11. Chozo Ruins
  12. Energy core
  13. VS. Flaahgra
  14. Lava Caverns (Burning Trail)
  15. Lava Caverns
  16. Ice Valley
  17. Ice Chapel
  18. Space Pirates (Laboratory Gate)
  19. VS. Space Pirates
  20. VS. Thardus
  21. Tallon Overworld
  22. Chozo Chapel of the Elders
  23. VS. Chozo Ghosts
  24. Ice Valley (Phendrana Deep Lake Area)
  25. The Downed Frigate Orpheon
  26. Phazon Mines
  27. Phazon Area
  28. VS. Omega Pirates
  29. Artifact Shrine
  30. VS. Meta Ridley
  31. Artifact Shrine (Chozo no Huin Kaijyo)
  32. Impact Crater
  33. VS. Metroid Prime (Spider)
  34. VS. Metroid Prime (Head)
  35. Shrine Collapsing Epilogue
  36. Ending Staff Roll
  37. End Jingle
  38. Record of Samus
  39. Samus Aran Appears
  40. Get Item Jingle
  41. Get Artifact Jingle

Reception

At first, many fans of the Metroid series were furious that Metroid Prime, the first Metroid game in a generation, was going to be in first person. This led Nintendo to clarify that the game is a "First Person Adventure" and not a first-person shooter. Once the game was released, however, many critics and former detractors praised the game's level design and incredible graphics. It was stated as being a great reinvention of the Metroid franchise into 3D. Many stated that the gameplay was well done and that the lock-on feature was a welcome addition as it allowed easy strafing. Still, some stated that the controls were difficult and that a traditional first-person control scheme, where the left analog stick controls movement and the right controls direction, should have been included.

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