_hojo:Metroid Prime (Metroid Prime)November 5, 2009
_Oh, Metroid Prime 2: Echoes…why are you so shitty? OK, maybe might be a bit harsh. Actually, it’s really harsh. It’s not actually that bad. It’s rather enjoyable. But why is it still so shitty? I find myself asking this question…and I’m not sure of the answer. I’m hoping that by the end of this post, the answer will become clear to me. Join me on a journey through space and time to find the answer to the unanswerable. OK, not time. And it’s not unanswerable either, but at this point, I’m just kind of going with the flow and I have no idea how this is going to end. Should be fun, though…right?
_Perhaps, first, we should take a look back at the classic Metroid games…and by “classic,” we really only mean Metroid and Super Metroid. Metroid 2 is kind of weird and is Game Boy only, though by no means a bad game. Just that a lot of people ignore it when they reminisce on their memories of the Metroid series. The thing that sticks out for most people is the large scope of the games and the exploration. For their time, the Metroid games were rather large. And unlike many side scrollers of the time, didn’t just say “hey guy, go ryght for winz.” You often would pass by doors with no immediate means of opening them. You’d have to remember where they were and come back to them later, when you’ve acquired new trix. Of course, we all probably used a handy Nintendo Power map for Metroid 1. I’m guessing, I never owned Metroid as a child, and don’t remember Nintendo Power issues like the back of my hand, I have no idea if they ever had a Metroid 1 map. Super Metroid was at least merciful enough to give us an in-game map.
_That’s my quick and dirty overview on the Metroid games. There are plenty of other reasons the games are good, but those are the things that come to my mind first when I think of the Metroid series. When I first saw Metroid Prime, I thought “Neat, new Metroid. I hope it’s good in first-person.” And it was. It was damn good. With the auto-lock function, large bosses, and wide variety of enemies, the game played less like a traditional first person shooter and more like…a Metroid game in first person. Obvious, I suppose. But that really is the best way to describe it. There was morph ball and mine action, 4 types of beam weapons, 6 areas to explore, space jumps, missile expansions and energy tanks hidden away in annoying places…it was all there. It was pretty sexy.
_So…what about Echoes? Auto-lock, large bosses, wide variety of enemies, less like an FPS and more like a Prime, morph ball, beam weapons, all that jazz…what’s the problem? Where Prime 1 had 4 different beam weapons, all with unlimited ammo and each affecting enemies differently, Echoes has Power, Light, Dark and Combo and every dark enemy is weak to Light Beam and vice versa. The normal Power Beam just isn’t very useful. One…there are only 4 areas in Echoes. Oh sure, there’s Dark World versions of each area, which would technically boost that number to 8…but that’s bullshit. And the Dark World sucks. The purple skin on EVERYTHING in the Dark World gets bland rather quick. The whole place is so dark, I was considering turning up the brightness on my TV just to play the game. One person I talked to said he did, just to see shit. Your health drains constantly when not in safe zones in the Dark World, at least until you get the Light Suit…at the end of the game! And the Dark World is just a re-skin of Light World areas. The world map is the same, and each room is nearly identical to their light counterpart. There’s a decent variety of enemies in the game, but again, that number is artificially boosted due to light and dark versions of every enemy. The light/dark areas/enemies are just…soooooo lazy. Instead of trying actually making a larger game than Prime 1, they made half a game, then palette swapped it to artificially double the amount of content. They palette swapped THE ENTIRE GAME.
_Well…in the game’s defense, a couple of the Light/Dark world puzzles are interesting, and the actual bosses are semi-unique. Most of them are just larger version of normal enemies (still more lazy design) but have unique attacks and patterns and are rather fun to fight. The standout boss for me was the Spider Guardian, which is a boss fight that takes place entirely in pipes while in morph ball mode. It was rather fantastic. A lot of the boss battles are rather well done, though a few can be a bit unintuitive. But then…I suppose that’s Metroid? Actually, most of them were always “spam missiles,” so maybe not.
_So…while the game is enjoyable…it just…reeks of lazy. I mean…come on. Palette swapping an entire game? Even SquarEnix would give you a shifty eye for that one. And making the palette swap as annoying as possible? Another boo. But like I said, I actually enjoyed the game. So I don’t think it’s as much that the game is bad…just that it has so many annoyances that simply weren’t there in previous Metroid games. I’ve been spoiled with good that when some mediocre or average showed up, it just smelled like shit. Also, even though it was also in Prime 1, scanning everything and walking around new areas in Scan Visor mode all the time is annoying, too. If you decide to play Echoes, you might still enjoy it, just be prepared for the shitty Dark World.