Metroid has never been one of Nintendo's big money-makers, but that
hasn't stopped the franchise from garnering some very devoted fans. It's
not uncommon to see Super Metroid or Metroid Prime sitting atop the
list of favorites from hardcore gamers, and for good reason. Super
Metroid provided a sprawling, interlacing realm of disquieting alien
dangers and secrets, and Metroid Prime translated that experience into
3D with incredible audio-visual design and some interesting
world-building mechanics built right into the gameplay.
Though there's certainly a base blueprint from these two trailblazers, no two Metroid games feel exactly alike. Even so, I've found something to love in each and every one of them (except for the antiquated debut NES game, which admittedly I just played for the first time days before Other M's release). The tension of being hunted in Fusion, the sudden shifts in power at Zero Mission's final hour, the thousands of text logs scattered through the Prime series...as far as I'm concerned, it's all great stuff.
It's only natural that the formula would see some alterations and evolutions over a quarter of a century, and Metroid: Other M is the latest and most radical experiment to come out of Nintendo's R&D labs in quite some time. Featuring third-person 3D action gameplay and a heavy emphasis on cinematic storytelling, the curiously-subtitled Other M certainly feels very different from its predecessors. It seems to take after Metroid Fusion the most, with a bit of Metroid Prime in there as well, but Other M's additions and adaptations certainly make it feel distinct, for better or worse.
I was first introduced to Samus Aran through her appearance in the Super Smash Bros. fighting game in 1999. As Smash is a melee-centric brawl, I always imagined Samus as an agile and powerful close-combat fighter who happened to have an arm cannon as well. In 2002, I eventually played Super Metroid and Metroid Prime, and discovered that Samus, both in 2D and 3D, fought primarily with her many energy-based weapons. I certainly enjoyed each of the games, but still yearned to see the hulking heroine kick some ass in a more literal sense.
To everyone's surprise, Nintendo ended their E3 2009 presentation with a trailer of the next Metroid game. Created through a collaborative effort between Nintendo's internal studios and Team Ninja of Ninja Gaiden fame, this Metroid: Other M featured Samus Aran's return to third-person adventuring after many years spent behind the visor. Jaws were dropped, however, when the bounty-hunting babe began tossing her foes around like rag dolls, grabbing them in choke-holds, and firing charged beam shots right into their faces. Could this be the Metroid Gaiden I had been waiting for?
The months that led to Other M's release at the end of August tempered my expectations somewhat as new details were revealed, but I was still fairly excited when the game was shipped to my door earlier this week. Did my first romp with Other M leave me disappointed or eager to see more?
I'd like to apologize for being so wordy this week at the First Hour, but the writers here love to write! I recently asked Ian to tell me about his gaming history, thinking I'd get a couple line reponse about how his parents bought him a Game Boy or something, but along comes a serious epic that will probably seem very familiar to many of us reading along.
If you've got your own story you'd like to tell, reply in the comments or send me an email, I'd love to host it here!
You know the scenes I'm talking about. These are the kind of scenes that you have a save file just moments before so you can replay them over and over. These are the scenes you invite your friends over to see so you can show off your system in all its technical glory; the scenes that surpass mere nostalgia and still to this day retain legendary status in the gaming community. These are some of my favorite impacting scenes in gaming history. What are yours?