Release: Out now
Developer: Retro Studios
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Corralling all three Metroid Prime games on to one disc and gifting the GameCube games with new Wii controls feels like an award for outstanding achievement rather than an attempt to improve upon the originals. For as slick as the re-engineered pointer-based shooting system is, it’s not the series’ most significant accomplishment.
Trust Nintendo to give the green light to such a rethink of the firstperson shooter. Here, AI is functional and multiplayer an afterthought (Prime 2’s fourplayer mode could be generously described as throwaway), while protagonist Samus Aran’s arm-mounted cannon is more a means of progression than weapon.
After all, each new upgrade only reaffirms Metroid’s status as the thinking man’s shooter, with missiles opening previously impenetrable doors, bombs clearing blockages, and so on. Even the gargantuan bosses require equal parts thought and firepower. But the true obstacle in Metroid isn’t the alien fauna, it’s the vast and daunting terrain.
In no other shooter does the environment play such an integral role as it does in the Prime series, a fact frequently underlined by Samus’ most significant means of interacting with her surroundings: her visor. Hassle-free dips into the menu switch to scan mode, revealing depth and detail untouched by other firstperson action games. The textures may have aged, albeit with some grace, but in terms of depth the Metroid Prime games still deliver supremely engaging experiences.
Inevitably, quality wavers across the series, peaking with the original instalment, its follow-ups favouring graphical flourishes over design innovation: for every clever new gadget there is a helmet-full of air-rippling energy blasts and an increasingly reflective visor. Even the advancements made possible by the Wii Remote feel like a necessary evolution rather than genuine innovation.
Regardless, the gathering together of the inspired original and its two accomplished sequels at such an affordable price (£45/US$50) is only good news for Wii owners. The new control system may ultimately be an upgrade Samus Aran never really needed, but this is still the best – and most logical – Wii reissue from Nintendo to date.