it’s actually been a bit longer than i thought since i’d finished a metroid game, although i’ve been playing bits of some games off and on for a while. i sat down and finished metroid: zero mission a couple of weeks ago, which as you probably already know is the remake of the original NES metroid for the GBA.
the general response to the game was overwhelmingly positive when it came out, with critics praising the rehauled parts of the game as well as the new content, which introduced us to our heroine samus’s now-famous zero suit form. overall zero got slightly lower scores than the previous GBA metroid game, metroid fusion, although personally i preferred zero mission. i know i’m not alone in that, although it’s not immediately obvious why i would prefer it since zero mission is definitely the easier game. but i think i felt the same way as i felt when i played super metroid a while back: what it boils down to is noticeably superior map and room design. the elements of all three games are incredibly similar in terms of gameplay, but zero mission is definitely a case where the cumulative attention to detail makes the experience as a whole more compelling.
one of the things that struck me when i played super metroid was how much slower the pace was than fusion, which led to a more atmospheric and memorable game overall. zero is in many ways an even faster game than fusion: samus is more sprightly and easier to control than ever. although oftentimes you can zip through room after room in zero, the pacing is better than fusion overall in that there are plenty of places where you have to stop and get your bearings, plan your route, or puzzle your way through what seems to be a dead end. the new zero suit samus content has a different feel than the rest of the metroid series, but for the most part that section meshes fairly well with the game and points to some possible new directions for the 2D metroid games to go in (although it’s been more than 5 years now since zero was released with no new 2D metroid game in sight, alas). with zero i was amazed yet again at how in spite of so much similarity each individual game in the series is a lot of fun. i’m almost surprised at how much i enjoyed this game, although i think the next iteration will have to include even more novelty to keep the series from feeling stale.
the original NES version of the game (included in zero mission as an unlockable after you beat the game) forms a stark contrast to all the other games, as samus moves much more slowly and routes take much longer to uncover. i played through it when i was a kid and again years ago, but it’ll be interesting to play through it again at some point to compare it to zero. and i’m definiitely psyched to see how the original NES’s sequel, metroid 2 for the game boy, compares to the other games both in terms of gameplay and pacing. since it’s the only 2D metroid game i haven’t played at all, i’m probably going to tackle it sooner than later. definitely looking forward to it.
zeroing in on samus’s zero mission links:
– guide from IGN, including info on 15% completion, a mode that i’m not particularly interested in but which gives different endings.
– screenshots of all the game’s endings at vgmuseum.com
– game page at classicgaming.gamespy.com, including maps
– entry at wikipedia
– 1up posted a history of the metroid series a few years ago that also looked at the backstories presented in official sources. IGN also posted a history of the series last year.