Review – Metroid: Other M
Developer: Tecmo / Team NINJA
The Scoop: Battling both new enemies and her own past, bounty hunter Samus Aran has almost more than she can handle in her latest game, Metroid: Other M.
The Setup: Set a couple months after the events in 1994’s Super Metroid, the game begins with a quick Super Metroid 101 cinematic of Samus defeating Mother Brain. With players up to speed, the game continues with Samus receiving a distress signal. She traces the source to a vessel named “Bottle Ship”, and upon reaching and docking with it, she encounters a group of Galactic Federation soldiers under the command of Anthony Higgs—a soldier Samus knows from her military days. Among the soldiers is her old commanding officer, Adam Malkovich, who is still holding a grudge over Samus’s departure from the military. After a few levels worth of proving her worth, she’s reluctantly welcomed onto the team and helps to discover what’s really going on at “Bottle Ship” and the reason behind the distress signal.
As the game progresses, more and more of Samus’s back story is explained either by cinematic flashbacks or Samus narrating them herself. You don’t really need to be all that familiar with the Metroid series to enjoy this game, but for those who want more context to the game’s story, I recommend checking out Super Metroid on the Wii Virtual Console.
What’s Hot: Metroid: Other M is a fast-paced action game, much like the previous Metroid titles. The game requires only a Wii Remote. For most of the time, you hold the controller sideways a la New Super Mario Bros. However, when you need to explore your environment in more detail to solve a puzzle, pointing the Wii Remote at the TV brings the game into first person mode where you can look around more easily (but Samus can’t walk or move around). You’ll need both modes in order to complete some puzzles.
A nice addition to the formula is the ability to regenerate your missile count, or even your health, when under certain conditions. To refill your missiles, you simply hold the Wii Remote vertical and press the A button. After several seconds, your missile count is filled. The same goes for health; when you have taken too much damage and your health bar is glowing red, hold the A button and your health bar will replenished. This only works for your normal health, not any extra Energy Tanks.
There are also plenty of items that you can pick up in the game. Returning from previous Metroid titles are the Energy and Missile Tanks. Energy Tanks add one hundred units of health and Missile Tanks add one extra missile to your compliment. E-Recovery Tanks allow you to restore more energy when the health bar flashes red and increases the amount of damage you can take before your health bar turns red. Energy Parts are like Heart Pieces in The Legend of Zelda: Collect four Energy Parts and you gain one Energy Tank.
What’s not: As most Metroid fans will tell you, half of the experience of Metroid is the exploration. Several areas filled with hidden routes that don’t appear on the map, dozens of items, and multiple ways to get to the same place. Unfortunately Metroid: Other M skimps a bit on the exploration. Whenever you make it to a new save station, your map will update with the full layout of the current area (including those formerly-hidden routes) and direction on where to go next. And when you clear a room full of enemies, if there is an item nearby, its location is put on your map. How to retrieve said item is still up to you, however the challenge is a watered-down version of older Metroid games.
What’s really frustrating about Metroid: Other M is the switching between first and third person mode. Samus’s missiles, as well as other lock-on devices, are only usable in this first person mode, and switching between a third and first person mode while surrounded by enemies or even a boss fight can be somewhat frustrating. Certain enemies can only be defeated by missiles, and when there are other enemies floating around on screen, it’s hard to judge the perfect time to enter the first person aiming mode due to the lack of movement as mentioned before. Thankfully the game does sport an auto-lock mechanic while in third person mode that is very responsive.
The lack of recovery items in the game is also disappointing. In previous Metroid games, defeated enemies would sometimes drop health recoveries or even missile recoveries. Although you can replenish your missiles at any time or even your health when you’ve taken too much damage, having the option to collect even simple health recoveries can go a long way before your next big challenge.
Speaking of lack, there is no hunting for upgrades for Samus’s suit. Most of Samus’s upgrades from Super Metroid remain, but they are locked out until the Commanding Officer gives the order to use them. Case in point: in one of the first bosses of the game, the CO tells his squad to switch to Freeze Guns, however Samus is not allowed and is ordered to use missiles instead. It isn’t until roughly two hours later during the middle of a tense battle with several enemies that he authorizes your use of the Ice Beam.
Final Verdict: Overall, Metroid: Other M is beautiful. Metroid fans will enjoy the story and new character moves, such as the lock-on and takedown moves. While the frustrating aspects of the game play can be forgiven, it’s just unfortunate that half of what makes a Metroid game so exciting is missing.Review - Metroid: Other M,