Metroid Prime Remastered Review – A timeless masterpiece at its finest

Metroid Prime Remastered Review – A timeless masterpiece at its finest

Every console has a game that most spring to mind when you mention the name. For the Nintendo consoles, there are usually big names like Mario or The Legend of Zelda. In the case of the Nintendo GameCube, however, things are a little different. While Mario and Link also featured on Nintendo's game cubes, many would consider Metroid Prime to be the standout title of the GameCube era. Samus Aran's first 3D adventure not only turned the franchise's established formula upside down, but is widely regarded as one of the most influential games of all time. The first game in the Prime trilogy has implemented the idea of ​​a three-dimensional Metroidvania in a way that is still unique today. This legendary classic is now available for the Nintendo Switch in the form of Metroid Prime Remastered. With some quality-of-life improvements and an overhaul of the visuals, Metroid Prime plays better than ever and, more than 20 years after it was originally released, continues to show why this game is so groundbreaking is.

Ruins of an ancient people and inhospitable flora and fauna: Tallon IV is the setting of Metroid Prime.

© Nintendo

In Metroid Prime, you once again take control of the intergalactic bounty hunter Samus Aran, who sets out to respond to a distress signal sent out from orbiting the planet TallonIV. Arriving at the location of the signal, Samus is forced to make an emergency landing on the planet and must find out what the distress signal is all about. On the planet's surface, she also finds ruins of the Chozo people, with whom she has a personal connection. Even if the story told in Metroid Prime Remastered is now more than two decades old, the further events around the planet Tallon IV should not be discussed here. Because the step-by-step breakdown of the mystery of the game world is a central motivation that will accompany you on your journey.

Unlike other parts of the Metroid series, Metroid Prime is not a 2D Action sidescroller, but a full 3D adventure as you control Samus Aran from the first person perspective. At first glance, the game resembles a conventional first-person shooter, but this impression is deceptive. There is a lot of shooting in Metroid Prime, but the focus is on the game world itself, which is the real star of the title. This is particularly evident in the fact that, in typical Metroidvania fashion, all game progress is tied to unlocking abilities that allow Samus to explore new areas. Metroid Dread illustrates this game principle in the first minutes of the game. Before the emergency landing on Tallon IV, you control a Samus Aran that is already in full control of all its later powers and loses them in an explosion at the end of the segment. There you can become familiar with abilities like the morph ball, which you only regain later in the game. The gradual addition of new (or better: old) talents seems natural throughout, even if the overall repertoire later goes beyond the initial arsenal of skills.

Opens up with new skills gradually the game world. Samus can only master this passage with her Morph Ball form.

© Nintendo

Once you arrive at Tallon IV, you are basically free to go anywhere you want. But the emphasis is on “in principle”, because you will quickly notice that your progress is repeatedly slowed down by the environment. Sometimes you stand in front of a gap that you are too big for, sometimes a door doesn't want to open even after being shot at by your weapon. All of this could quickly become frustrating, but it is MetroidPrime's great achievement to never let frustration arise through intelligent world design. Each dead end provides you with important information about the abilities that you will find elsewhere in the game world. The resulting gameplay loop is immensely motivating, not least because of the design of the world itself. Tallon IV offers you - despite an overall compact size by today's standards - a very large variety. From lush green forests to lava paths to snow-covered ruins, many landscapes are presented that invite you to discover them. Due to the great variation, the desire to look down the next corridor or to explore the next room is awakened again and again. After all, a new life form or an upgrade could be waiting for you there.

In addition, there are many secrets to be discovered in each area, which both advance the main story as well as helpful bonuses such as an additional energy bar for Samus. You often have to solve certain environmental puzzles by analyzing objects and deriving from their properties what role they can play in overcoming the next obstacle. In addition, you have to master platformer passages and skill challenges again and again in order to reach your goal. It's the constant alternation of exploration and action gameplay that keeps you motivated.

The different enemy types require a strategic approach. This resident of Tallon IV, for example, is only ever vulnerable shortly after his own attack. Using her weapon arm, Samus can target enemies and unleash blaster shots and rockets. Since the Nintendo GameCube only had a full analog stick, the shooter gameplay of the Metroid Prime series is quite unique and doesn't compare to the genre standard. Instead of zooming in on opponents, you can automatically aim at them with a lock-on mechanism, which is also known from the Zelda games. This may sound like a simplification at first glance, but the opponents are tough in the second half of the game and need a certain tactical approach. For example, some enemy types are immune to beam attacks, while others can only be wounded in a specific location. The varied opponent design is one of the great strengths of the game. Even well-known enemy types are varied often enough to offer new experiences.

New controller options give Samus Aran better control than ever in 3D. You have a total of four configurations to choose from to find a control that suits your play style. The default control configuration is modern, which means you can move Samus with the left analog stick and aim with the right stick. This works wonderfully and should be the preferred type of control for most gamers. There is also a classic mode in which movement and camera controls are placed on the left stick, just like the Nintendo GameCube original. If you're used to the Metroid Prime Trilogy's motion controls on the Nintendo Wii, you can recreate them with the pointer controls. This worked well in the test and without any major problems. The fourth and final option is hybrid controls, which add gyro assist when aiming to the standard controls.

The Nintendo GameCube classic shines in new splendor

Custom Controls is a good opportunity to talk about the remaster's tech in general. The remake of Metroid Prime is advertised as a remaster, meaning the game is still based on the 2002 original. Visually, even more has been done on the surface. New high-resolution textures and customized character models give the game a modern shine. Of particular note are the modernized environments and architectural details that add significantly more depth to the game world. Fortunately, the optical modernization does not come at the expense of performance. Just like the original, Metroid Prime Remastered offers you a consistently stable frame rate of 60 frames per second. This goal can also be maintained in action-packed scenes, so that there is nothing to complain about from a technical point of view. The presentation is rounded off by the still fantastic soundtrack, which combines the most diverse influences from science fiction.

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