THE Nintendo GameCube is and likely will always be my favourite console of all time. Having spent my formative gaming years playing copious hours of Super Mario Sunshine and Super Smash Bros. Melee, the memories of the console are some of my most nostalgic. Despite my reverence for the system, there are many titles on the console that I unfortunately missed back then, with Metroid Prime being one of the most renowned titles I didn’t experience.
Thankfully, more than twenty years after it’s initial GameCube release, Metroid Prime has made a triumphant return to modern hardware in the form of Metroid Prime Remastered, a remaster that not only looks great, but expertly shows that the experience has well and truly has stood the test of time.
The narrative kicks off with the series’ iconic bounty hunter Samus Aran responding to a distress signal coming from a space station above the planet Tallon IV. After exploring the vessel, it’s clear that the Space Pirates that occupied the station have been attempting to genetically mutate creatures from the nearby planets, with various experiments on display.
After a brief battle with an enormous parasite leaves the station mere minutes away from exploding, Samus attempts to safely return back to her gunship. Unfortunately for her however, she sustains heavy damage in an explosion along the way, causing her suit to be severely damaged, rendering many of the nifty abilities you get to use in the opening segment like the morph ball and charge beam unusable.
After escaping the space station, Samus sets her sights on Tallon IV, where she will unearth even more information on the Space Pirates and their shady mutation practices, all in the while recovering her abilities and taking the fight to the pirates and their genetically altered monstrosities.
The introduction of Metroid Prime Remastered is excellent, teasing players with a powerful Samus Aran before heartbreakingly taking that power away, and providing a worthwhile reason for Samus to explore the mysterious planet of Tallon IV.
Metroid Prime Remastered undoubtedly has a fascinating story to tell, but it chooses to tell that story largely through environmental storytelling, with Samus able to scan items of interest throughout the game for worthwhile information.
As a result, your enjoyment and comprehension of the narrative will largely hinge on your willingness to actively scan things while adventuring. Even if you aren’t overly scan happy, Metroid Prime Remastered still has an intriguing story to tell, one that is even more so if you take the time to explore and take in its world.
You probably will want to take in the world too, as the visuals on display throughout are fantastic. While the Switch is undeniably an aged piece of hardware, with recent releases such as Pokemon Scarlet and Violet making that more apparent than ever, Metroid Prime Remastered somehow manages to buck that trend and look remarkable.
Although a remaster in name, Metroid Prime Remastered is very much a remake, sporting updated lighting and textures, as opposed to merely receiving a resolution bump.
It not only looks great, but performs well too, maintaining a stable 60 frames per second across my 17-hour playthrough across both its handheld and docked modes, bar one or two very minor dips.
Accompanying the surprisingly solid visuals is a gorgeous soundtrack that is bursting at the seams with quality tracks, some of which are based on tracks present in prior Metroid games.
My favourite track would have to be the song that plays when first entering the Magmoor Caverns; The chanting paired with the drums makes for an epic combo that feels befitting of a lava filled cavern.
The songs do a great job of enhancing the atmosphere of Metroid Prime Remastered, while also emphasising the feeling of isolation and adventure.
When originally developing Metroid Prime the team at Retro Studios referred to the title as a First-Person Adventure instead of First-Person Shooter, a decision made as a result of the game focusing more on its exploration and sense of adventure than its shooter gameplay.
This delineation feels very apt from the moment you begin roaming around Tallon IV and its various different iconic locales. Shooting does form a large part of the Metroid Prime Remastered experience, but exploring the planet and unlocking special abilities in order to delve deeper into other inaccessible areas is the games true bread and butter.
Upon arrival on Tallon IV after the opening segment, Samus as a result of damage sustained to her suit, lacks most of her special abilities. She’s thankfully still equipped with the Power Beam, which serves as the starting weapon. Not long into the adventure you’ll also become equipped with missiles, a reliable secondary that can also destroy locks that are present on some doors throughout the adventure.
As you progress further into Tallon IV and its key locations such as the Chozo Ruins, Magmoor Caverns, and Phendrana Drifts among others, you’ll continue to unlock abilities that see Samus become more proficient in both exploration and combat. The morph ball for example makes traversal through tight crevices possible, while the Space Jump boots make traversal a treat, granting you the ability to double jump.
While the aforementioned scan visor is great for unearthing information required to piece together the story of Metroid Prime, it also serves as a great tool for finding hints on how to solve puzzles, and finding out enemies weaknesses. As the game progresses, you’ll unlock new beams and visors as well, which will be required not only to assist in traversal, but also in combat. The constant feedback loop of unlocking new abilities to assist you in unlocking previously inaccessible areas is incredibly addictive, and does a great job of making the adventure feel rewarding and worthwhile.
Most of the combat scenarios early on won’t have you stressing too much, but as the game progresses, Metroid Prime Remastered scales its difficulty quite nicely, providing a welcome challenge that ultimately makes combat far more interesting and intense. I’ve always had my beef with many Nintendo games being far too easy, so it’s a welcome breath of fresh air to see a Nintendo release not be afraid to push back at the player just a little bit.
Shooting is heavily aided by the ability to lock-on, but is still fun to perform, with some enemies requiring more than just mindlessly littering them with missiles or beam attacks. Some enemies for example can only be damaged by certain types of attacks, while others can only be hurt by attacking particular parts of their body, such as an exposed behind.
The fact that Metroid Prime released in 2002 and Remastered manages to feel like a modern release is a testament to its near perfect design. The new dual stick mode does provide a control scheme more befitting to the modern era, which of course further benefits the experience, but other than that and the updated look, Metroid Prime’s two decade old gameplay loop still manages to feel fantastic.
For those interested in playing with the classic controls, don’t fret, as the game also includes the classic gamecube controls option, as well as the pointer option present in the Wii version. There’s even a hybrid option that combines both the classic and pointer options together.
Even though Metroid Prime Remastered is an amazing experience, I did still find the backtracking frustrating in some instances. Backtracking throughout Metroidvania style experiences is a normal occurrence for sure, but in moments throughout Metroid Prime Remastered where you’re unsure of what’s required of you to proceed, it can derail the experience a bit and negatively impact the pacing.
Taking some time to scour your maps will more often than not get you back on the beaten path, but I wouldn’t be surprised if some players get a tad annoyed and resort to using a guide to help alleviate the frustration. It didn’t hurt the experience much for me at all, but it was still a minor negative in what is otherwise a game full of positives.
Metroid Prime Remastered is an absolutely phenomenal experience, and is a near perfect video game (backtracking permitting). The act of exploring its fascinating world, solving its array of engaging puzzles and unlocking fancy new abilities is insanely addictive and enjoyable, as is its first person shooting and traversal, which both benefit from the solid modernised controls.
Combine that with its intriguing narrative, brilliant visuals and epic soundtrack, and it’s clear to see why Metroid Prime is still an all time classic.
Whether you’ve played a Metroid title or not, you simply have to experience this game for yourself.
Written by: @GrumpyGoron