finished metroid fusion a week ago. i know these recaps tend to get long, but for once i don’t have too much to say about this one, although once again i disagree with popular opinion. i haven’t played the much-revered super metroid yet so i don’t have any comparisons there, but compared to the original NES game i found this one to be an experience that was designed to be rushed and not savored. the game element that most people seem to complain about is the fact that there’s a computer character who at every point directs you to the next task, although the great metroid prime featured a similar, although slightly more subtle, setup. i wouldn’t have had a problem with that here so much if the areas hadn’t felt so straightforward. the original had a slower and much more atmospheric pace, with a much larger emphasis on exploring, whereas in this game i felt i could sprint through every area. there were some moments near the end where the pace felt slower which were much more enjoyable, and which made the rest of the game pale that much more in comparison. overall a fairly solid game with an interesting story line, but rather too easy and not much opportunity to linger over any of it. i’m definitely interested in where the story goes after this chapter, though, which is more than you can usually say about nintendo franchises.
not a whole lot else to say. if you’re reading this and you haven’t finished the game, be aware that after you get the last powerup you shouldn’t go into a navigation room b/c then all the doors to all the areas become locked, forcing you to finish the game. post-win the doors unlock and you can explore any areas you missed, but it would be much more fun to explore them before you beat the last boss (which incidentally is much harder than the rest of the game).
one other thing that i wish the game had was the ability to see all of the places on the map that have hidden items. i think i got all the open circles on the maps but i was still at only 67% or so completed, so either there are a lot more rooms w/ multiple hidden items (in which case that would also have been nice to know) or not all of them are showing up on the map. since i hate using walkthroughs i’m not really motivated to search through every room to find the rest, but maybe one of these days if i’m really bored and i’ve finished the other games in the series i’ll give it another shot.
here be links!
– best game site, at mdb.classicgaming.gamespy.com w/ maps, guide, and more
– pretty good walkthrough at ign
– vgmuseum.com has screenshots of the american version endings as well as the japanese version endings.
– coupla wallpapers at the official site
– tricks and sequence breaking at metroid2002.com
– list of games nintendo’s R&D1 has developed at wikipedia.org
second in an ongoing series of soundtrack reviews is a soundtrack that’s actually on CD (through import anyway): pikmin worlds, featuring music from the now-classic pikmin.
in my video game music listening it’s become apparent that a great in-game soundtrack does not necessarily make the best out-of-game listening. the soundtrack to pikmin, by hajime wakai, is worthwhile listening both in and out of the game, though. wakai, who has also worked on star fox 64, f-zero x, and the wind waker, was mistaken for koji kondo (super mario bros. 1-3, pretty much all the zelda games) in two places i saw online, and it’s not surprising because his sound has a very similar feel. like kondo he’s clearly masterful at setting moods, and the music has a whimsical, cartoony, old-school feel that fits perfectly with nintendo’s biggest classics in general and this game in particular. since the vast majority of the music of the game is packed into the tracks for the five areas of the game (which on average are each more than 5 minutes long), a lot of the rest of the tracks are short, although perfectly serviceable riffs.
although some have complained that the music of the five areas gets repetitive, i didn’t get tired of them. each has its own mood and all are quite nicely done: there’s a backyard exploration feel to “the impact site”; a dreaminess to “the forest of hope”; a pensiveness to “the distant spring”; and an impending feeling of both doom and triumph to “the final trial”. and worth a separate mention is “the forest navel” which brilliantly matches that barren and fiery environment with sparse slide guitar and exotic tablas. lovely. the orchestrations in particular are very nicely done all around. in general the score favors the vibraphone and the piano, giving the score a nice breezy feel. electronic sounds are nicely woven in throughout, fitting for a spaceman exploring a lush “alien” world.
all in all, this is a fine soundtrack with a very classic nintendo feel and an easy favorite. as a bonus the soundtrack includes japanese and french versions of a song that was featured in overseas commercials and which according to wikipedia apparently became a big hit in japan. this site has a translation of the full song’s lyrics. and now i have the soundtrack of pikmin 2 to look forward to. 😉
i finished pikmin last week, with a few days to spare (i was on day 27 out of 30 i think) which was fun. my thoughts about how i prefer pikmin to pikmin 2 still hold (so far, that is, since i haven’t finished pikmin 2 yet), so i don’t really have much to add to my original post about it. even though a lot of what pikmin boils down to is the fairly rote “pick up key, put in lock” kind of mechanics that i’ve come to hate (e.g. eternal darkness), its actual gameplay is so fun that you (practically) never notice. it’ll be interesting to see how pikmin 2 develops, although what i’ve played through so far has seemed to be even more of the rote mechanics than the first game. i am looking forward to more boss fights w/ pikmin 2 though. and as far as i’ve been able to tell, there hasn’t been any official word about a pikmin 3 for the wii, but it’s prob. a fairly likely thing.
a coupla links:
– ign has a nice guide as usual.
– a guide to the monsters of pikmin 1 as well as a guide to beating the game w/ no deaths in the smallest amount of time possible (9 days!) … w/ all the games out there i really doubt i’ll ever be so obsessed with one that i attempt anything as crazy, but it’s interesting to read about.
i finished metroid prime last thursday. last time i wrote i was fending off space pirates in what in retrospect was one of the hardest parts of the games. the rest of the game was pretty straightforward, although still enjoyable. i finished at 83% and didn’t bother trying to finish at 100%. next time i play (and there def. will be a next time) i plan on finishing it at 100% and maybe in hard mode as well, although i don’t know how much it would increase enjoyment of the game w/out also increasing possible frustration. i thought about using a guide to locate the rest of the missiles (i was up to 180 which means i was about 14 missile expansions short), but i think i’m going to save that for next time through. i did find all the extra charge boosters (ice, plasma, and wave beam) and found the 4 power bomb expansions. i’m curious about how much harder hard mode is; i’d found a page that went through some of the specifics but i misplaced the link. in any case, i can def. say this is prob. the best gamecube game i’ve played so far, and prob. one of the best i’ve played ever. the controls have a bit of a learning curve, but feel great once you get used to them. more importantly, as i mentioned, the design is just top notch. i’m looking forward to playing the others in the series, although i’m prob. going to skip over metroid prime 2 for now; i previewed the demo and it does look like IGN is right when they say that although enjoyable it doesn’t really add much beyond the first game. i have the GBA games, so i’ll prob. go w/ metroid fusion next (eventually). and now i’m newly inspired to play w/ samus in super smash bros. melee. 😉
some metroid-related links:
– two pretty good wallpapers at gamecubicle.com, along w/ a pretty good pikmin wallpaper
– ign’s guide
– and if you want less info about how to get missile expansions, etc., this page just lists the room name (unlike the ign guide)
because i have no attention span, i took a break from the still pretty awesome metroid prime and went back to pikmin, another game that i’d started months ago and abandoned not b/c it was boring but just b/c there was something else i wanted to play just a bit more. part of the reason i dropped pikmin and came back to it is b/c for whatever reason i was incredibly slow and knew i wasn’t going to get all the parts within 30 days. maybe it just took me a while to get used to the controls, or maybe it was b/c of my usual habit of refusing to read the instruction book until after i’ve finished the game b/c i’d rather find things out on my own. in any case, i got to the end of 30 days and lost. i’ve set a pretty good pace the second time through and haven’t been compelled to save bad days, so i think this time through i’ll finish in fairly good time.
i wasn’t quite done w/ pikmin but i’d started repeating things i’d done recently the first time through, so i have to admit i started pikmin 2 out of curiosity. i got fairly well into it and my first reaction was that though the 30 day time limit of the first game can be frustrating, it makes the game much more tense and thus fun. the caves in pikmin 2, in which you’re restricted to the pikmin you take in with you, aren’t that much of a challenge (so far). and collecting treasure for cash just inherently isn’t as exciting as the life-and-death task of collecting parts to your space ship. pikmin 2 has had more of a connect-the-dots feel than the first, although i guess i’ll have to reserve my final judgement until i finish both.
anyway, back to metroid prime, i’m past 1/3 of the way through. maybe it’s just that i’m still not that used to first person adventures, but i’ve been surprised at how much i suck at this game. maybe it’s just that most other modern games are so easy that i’ve never really had to conserve energy and be cautious at any point, but i’ve had to redo quite a few sections b/c i’ve gotten samus killed off. a bit frustrating, but otherwise the pace of the game has been pretty good, with new items acquired leading to new areas opening up and shorter paths between areas. so far there’s been a tad bit too much travelling the same paths between areas to get to the new sections, but the graphics and smooth gameplay keep it entertaining. it’s kind of amazing to me how claustrophobic some of the areas feel and how nice it is to get back into open areas. looking forward to getting the next items and opening up the rest of the game.