Super Mario Maker — 1Q2016 issue

 

A mas­ter­piece in the making

Super Mario Mak­er is the Mario game that isn’t quite the stan­dard Mario fare but is the game you didn’t know you need­ed. It is, along­side few oth­ers, the killer app for the Wii U.
Let’s start with what Mario Mak­er isn’t. This isn’t your reg­u­lar Mario hop and bop, save the princess adven­ture. In fact, lit­tle sto­ry if any exists and Peach is bare­ly men­tioned or ref­er­enced. This is Mario stripped down to his bare ele­ments, show­ing how his adven­tures come togeth­er. It’s also real­ly an excuse to revis­it Mario’s past and get some of the new­er enthu­si­asts up to speed, just in time for Mario’s 30th birthday.
The stage is set by uti­liz­ing some of Mario’s great­est games. Mak­ing an appear­ance are ele­ments from the orig­i­nal plat­form­ing mas­ter­pieces Super Mario Bros. and Super Mario Bros. 3. Join­ing those are sec­ondary great­est hit Super Mario World and the more recent hit New Super Mario Bros. U. All four games rep­re­sent some crown­ing achieve­ment for the every­day plumber and thus have some mer­it for mak­ing you revis­it these set pieces to cre­ate your own masterpiece.
Cre­at­ing that mas­ter­piece is sim­ple and intu­itive. The lev­el edi­tor focus­es on lev­els, not worlds, and wise­ly makes the process quick and pain­less. Want to make a lev­el with 10 Bowsers under­wa­ter only to face off against a lone Ham­mer Bros. before the end gate in Super Mario world style and graph­ics? That’s easy. But this is also where the only gripe that I have with the game rears its head. While you may want to make that stun­ning gaunt­let of pain imme­di­ate­ly, you’re lim­it­ed because of the game’s unlock­ing sys­tem. Game styles beyond the initial two and ulti­mate­ly the major­i­ty of your cre­ation library are unlocked via a time sys­tem that goes by days. You can speed it up, but it’s intend­ed to make you the cre­ator spend sev­er­al days try­ing out the sys­tem and get­ting a feel for new ele­ments in a paced envi­ron­ment. I can appre­ci­ate the sense of not want­i­ng too many ele­ments all at once, but the sys­tem is a lit­tle slow and frus­trat­ing when I have a mil­lion ideas that I can’t ful­ly imple­ment for sev­er­al days initially.
Mario Mak­er looks fan­tas­tic for the most part. The non-lev­el edi­tor graph­ics look great and are crisp. The game runs off the Wii U graph­i­cal pow­er so while your new­er game styles and non-edi­tor graph­ics look good on the Wii U gamepad and on the TV, your old­er graph­ics for most of the styles are going to look a lit­tle bad at 1080p res­o­lu­tion on a new­er TV. Nin­ten­do took a risk in not jazz­ing up the old­er game styles and it paid off, quite hon­est­ly. I’d rather play a SMB3 lev­el in the way that it would have looked on the orig­i­nal NES than a fixed ver­sion that’s been changed.
In addi­tion to the graph­ics, the sound­track is a mix of new and old. The main themes asso­ci­at­ed with each game style and lev­el type (Ground, Under­wa­ter, Under­ground, Cas­tle, Air­ship and Ghost House) are remixed for use dur­ing the edit­ing process. They are found, though, in their orig­i­nal form when an actu­al lev­el is played. The remix­es are great and bring some­thing new to the table, while using the orig­i­nal ver­sion does a lot for immer­sion. The game’s illu­sions to spir­i­tu­al pre­de­ces­sor Mario Paint don’t hurt, either. It, too, had a unique sound­track and hear­ken­ing back to that era of cre­ativ­i­ty in sev­er­al places such as the sound­track is a  wel­come inclusion.
What I love most about Mario Mak­er is its sense of Mario love. It’s not afraid to let the gamer take con­trol and it’s also about Nin­ten­do let­ting folks in to see the wheels turn behind one of its most icon­ic fran­chis­es. Nin­ten­do clear­ly loves Mario, whether it’s from a mon­e­ti­za­tion point of tak­ing its inter­nal lev­el edi­tor and turn­ing it loose on the pop­u­la­tion, or from the stand­point that Mario is Nin­ten­do and he’s been giv­en the roy­al treat­ment for a job well done for the past 30 years. Super Mario Mak­er is the company’s love let­ter to Mario fans and well done let­ter at that.

LittleBigPlanet — 3Q2015 issue

Pho­tos cour­tesy of Gamespot.com

A class in mas­ter crafting

There are always games that come with a cer­tain amount of hype. These are the titles that every­one raves about but wind up on your nev­er-end­ing pile of shame. You’ll prob­a­bly buy it but nev­er actu­al­ly get around to play­ing it or play­ing it long enough to see what all the fuss is about. Lit­tleBig­Plan­et is one of those such games.
Quirky is the first adjec­tive I’d use to describe the plat­form­ing game fea­tur­ing Sack­boy, an anthro­po­mor­phic crea­ture that’s fea­tured front and cen­ter at the heart of the game. Sack­boy can be Sack­girl as well, and that’s part of the charm of the game. It can be what­ev­er you want it to be and do just about any­thing you want it to do, in the name of get­ting from point A to point B. The quirk­i­ness comes in the fact that the envi­ron­ment in which it does so is all about Play-Share-Cre­ate. The lev­els of Lit­tleBig­Plan­et are meant to be user-cre­at­ed and shared for online play among the LBP com­mu­ni­ty, so the depth of the game is imme­di­ate­ly obvi­ous and worth the price of admis­sion alone.
Con­trol­ling Sackboy/girl is sim­ple, yet not with­out its prob­lems. It’s much like play­ing any plat­former of the past 20 years and the con­trol scheme is sim­ple and intu­itive in let­ting you fig­ure out what to do and how to apply it lat­er. Where it fal­ters is the jump­ing mechan­ics. While obvi­ous and sim­ple, the jump­ing does feel slight­ly off and floaty, which is a prob­lem in a game that relies on that mechan­ic to car­ry it. It’s annoy­ing to have to re-do sec­tions of a lev­el sole­ly because of a missed jump, and that detracts from the core experience.
While the mechan­ics could use tweak­ing, not much else needs work. The sound­track is fan­tas­tic and fits the game per­fect­ly. It’s a good mix­ture of indie folk and pop, and it imme­di­ate­ly reminds of the bril­liance that is Kata­mari Dama­cy. The graph­ics are also in the realm of per­fect and evoke a cer­tain sort of charm that begs more playthroughs just to see what devel­op­er Media Mol­e­cule could come up with next. It’s breath­tak­ing and sim­plis­tic, like a child’s world come to life, and begs to be admired.
Lit­tleBig­Plan­et is one of the few games of the past few years that demands to be played and war­rants pur­chase of sys­tem just to play it. If you haven’t both­ered to play it by now, you need to stop what you’re doing and get on it. It has its minor prob­lems but they’re noth­ing to keep you from enjoy­ing what’s con­sid­ered a mas­ter­piece. It’s worth every moment of its Play-Share-Cre­ate moniker.

Tatsunoko vs. Capcom — 2Q2015 issue

Tat­sunoko takes on Cap­com in Wii brawl

Every­one who reads GI knows that I’m an otaku. I’m also a big fan of clas­sic ani­me that has set the stan­dard for today’s ani­me. Most of the awe­some-lev­el ani­me old and new has came from Japan’s world-renown Tat­sunoko Pro­duc­tions. So, when I heard that Cap­com was reviv­ing its “Ver­sus” series, I thought that Cap­com was run­ning out of gam­ing ideas. That was until it was announced that Tat­sunoko would play a major role. I thought it was a joke, but I was in shock when the rumors were true and thus the ques­tion came about: What would hap­pen if Cap­com’s heroes met Tat­sunoko’s heroes in a gam­ing for­est? Tat­sunoko vs. Cap­com: Ulti­mate All-Stars for the Wii answered that ques­tion for me.

Devel­oped by Eight­ing and pub­lished by Cap­com, Tat­sunoko vs. Cap­com is a 3D game that places var­i­ous char­ac­ters from both com­pa­nies’ top-sell­ing series into a exclu­sive fight­ing game treat. Inspired by the Mar­vel vs. Cap­com series, TvC allows duos from either Cap­com’s or Tat­sunoko’s ros­ters to fight against oth­er char­ac­ters with the win­ning team going on to face Yami from Cap­com’s adven­ture title Oka­mi. If you like to mix a Cap­com char­ac­ter with a Tat­sunoko char­ac­ter, that’s also pos­si­ble as a way to give the game­play more vari­ety. In addi­tion to the orig­i­nal arcade mode, there are sur­vival and time attack modes that allow you to test your skills via lim­it­ed health regen­er­a­tion and defeat­ing your oppo­nents in the short­est time pos­si­ble. An addi­tion­al fea­ture includes a mini-game shoot­er called “Ulti­mate All-Shooters.”

Con­trol is han­dled with three but­tons, which great­ly sim­pli­fies the learn­ing curve. It’s sim­pli­fied even more thanks to the Wii’s Clas­sic con­troller, Game­Cube con­troller, third-par­ty arcade sticks and the reg­u­lar Wii remote. You will love the char­ac­ter ros­ter con­sist­ing of each com­pa­nies’ top fran­chis­es such as Street Fight­er, Rival Schools, Viewti­ful Joe, Lost Plan­et, Darkstalkers/Vampire and Mega Man for Cap­com while Tat­sunoko is rep­re­sent­ed by Karas, Tekka­man, G‑Force and Yat­ter­man. There are oth­er char­ac­ters that can be unlocked via use of mon­ey (Zen­ny) earned in each game, which also will allow pur­chase of alter­nate end­ings, cos­tume changes and oth­er unlock­able surprises. 

The music is top-notch in each stage, but the intro and end­ings songs are fun to sing and dance to. In par­tic­u­lar, the Gesellschaft (Clear Skies) and the Dai­go Tem­ple (Cher­ry Blos­som) stages are favorites.

Tat­sunoko vs. Cap­com: Ulti­mate All-Stars is an answered prayer for fans of fight­ing games and ani­me. As a first-time con­nois­seur of this type of crossover, TvC is delight­ful game expe­ri­ence. As an otaku gamer, Cap­com can work on my damn nerves at times with their no-thought deci­sions, but in this case, they worked with a renown ani­me com­pa­ny to bring a qual­i­ty prod­uct to a sys­tem that was in SORE need of well-round­ed games. Now only if Cap­com can make amends with Kei­ji Ina­fu­ne. They might be respect­ed once more.

2UP EVALUATION

All of the raz­zle daz­zle hype aside, Tat­sunoko vs. Cap­com is some­thing I want to play. I’m already a fan of most Cap­com fight­ing prop­er­ties, and I love the Ver­sus series, so I’m going to play what­ev­er they come up with next to join forces with and cre­ate mag­ic. In this case, it’s ani­me relat­ed as well, so there’s a win­ning com­bi­na­tion all the way around.

I did­n’t know much about Tat­sunoko before play­ing the game, but after spend­ing a lit­tle time immersed in the super sen­tai world, I learned that it’s some­thing that’s com­pelling to return to time and time again. Nice mechan­ics, an inter­est­ing ros­ter and gor­geous atten­tion to detail with the envi­ron­ments and sound­track make it a nice pack­age. My only gripes are that the sto­ry does­n’t real­ly make a whole lot of sense (real­ly, Yami from Oka­mi, Cap­com? That’s it?), and that not know­ing that much about Tat­sunoko actu­al­ly works against me. Oth­er than that, there’s isn’t a rea­son why I would­n’t play this con­stant­ly, even if it is a Wii exclu­sive. That’s just anoth­er rea­son to go out and buy the now-defunct console.

TvC triv­ia

* The orig­i­nal title for TvC was Tat­sunoko vs. Cap­com: Cross Gen­er­a­tion of Heroes.

* While the game devel­op­ers had the OK to add any char­ac­ter from Tat­sunoko or Cap­com, Tat­sunoko did deny some choic­es because of licens­ing issues; orig­i­nal­ly, Phoenix Wright was sug­gest­ed, but was pulled because of dif­fi­cul­ties with find­ing prop­er attacks for him.

* Most video game review­ers such as G4’s Adam Sessler and IGN’s John Tana­ka were doubt­ful about an out­side-of-Japan release because of Tat­sunoko’s final approved ros­ter of char­ac­ters. They were licensed in oth­er coun­tries, despite being owned by Tat­sunoko, and the lev­el of recog­ni­tion of some char­ac­ters was a concern.

* As of 2012, Cap­com USA senior vice pres­i­dent Chris­t­ian Svens­son has stat­ed that Cap­com could no longer sell the game in phys­i­cal or dig­i­tal form because licens­ing rights with Tat­sunoko expired.

Devil May Cry — 1Q2015 issue

Cap­com’s instant action plat­form­ing classic

In pre­vi­ous install­ments of Otaku Cor­ner, I reviewed man­ga based on Cap­com’s Dev­il May Cry. Ever since DMC’s arrival in 2001, it has grown from a crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed series to writ­ten and visu­al adap­ta­tions in comics, writ­ten nov­els and oth­er var­i­ous mer­chan­dise. Orig­i­nal­ly set in the Res­i­dent Evil uni­verse, because of tech­nol­o­gy restraints and an expand­ing reverse sto­ry­line from Res­i­dent Evil, the series was port­ed to the PlaySta­tion 2. Hav­ing enjoyed expe­ri­enc­ing the man­ga’s action, I won­dered if I would feel the same when I played the first DMC game? I was about to find out.

Dev­il May Cry has ele­ments that are sim­i­lar to Res­i­dent Evil; the only dif­fer­ence is that you will be deal­ing with super­nat­ur­al ene­mies instead of those who were cre­at­ed by uneth­i­cal sci­en­tif­ic exper­i­ments. You assume the role of Dante, a demon hunter/investigator who uses his skills to exer­cise demons for prof­it and to avenge the loss of his fam­i­ly from said crea­tures. One night while work­ing, Dante is hired by a mys­te­ri­ous woman named Trish, who after a brief but amaz­ing test of Dan­te’s skill, hires him to go to an aban­doned cas­tle where Mundus, the demon who is respon­si­ble for the death of Dan­te’s fam­i­ly, is plan­ning a return from hell. Unknown to our badass hero, he has tak­en on a a job that starts out as an oppor­tu­ni­ty for vengeance, but soon will unlock an ancient birthright and his true des­tiny as mankind’s newest pro­tec­tor against demon­ic forces.

Game­play in DMC is a com­plete 180 from Res­i­dent Evil as the bat­tle style is more melee com­bat that run­ning and hid­ing from zom­bies. I found the con­trols pret­ty easy to use, thanks to the ana­log sticks that allow plen­ty of free move­ment to jump and take full advan­tage of Dan­te’s sweet com­bat moves. You will love it when Dante gets to busi­ness imme­di­ate­ly with use of his twin hand­guns that can infict dam­age rapid-fire style and his awsome­ly designed sword Alas­tor that can be upgrad­ed to unlock new attacks. He also has a BIG trump card to real­ly make the demons howl with the use of “Dev­il Trig­gers” (think Goku or Veg­e­ta going Super Saiyan with an arse­nal of weapons and being in god mode).

The graph­ics are beau­ti­ful as Cap­com devel­oped a great game engine and made great use of the PS2’s tech­no­log­i­cal capa­bil­i­ties to bring out the action with­out using the god-awful cam­era angles found in Res­i­dent Evil. I per­son­al­ly liked how each cutscene brought DMC’s sto­ry­line togeth­er with­out any over-the-top dra­ma. The ene­my vari­ety is good, too, rang­ing from demon mar­i­onettes to giant owls and oth­er demon­ic crea­tures. I enjoyed the voice act­ing because it was not forced, flow­ing in sync with the game’s plot. I am proud to say that I would def­i­nite­ly replay this game when I’m feel­ing like I want to rip some demons apart.

Dev­il May Cry is a stand­out orig­i­nal game that is wor­thy of its praise from gam­ing crit­ics the world over. I find this anoth­er tes­ti­mo­ny to the fact that Cap­com can do them­selves and their cus­tomers jus­tice by being true to their craft. I was pleased with my first DMC gam­ing expe­ri­ence and await more in future install­ments of this series.

Injustice: Gods Among Us — 4Q2014 issue

Pho­tos cour­tesy of Polygon.com

Jus­tice takes a new form

There have been a few DC Comics fight­ing games that have tak­en advan­tage of its vari­able super­hero and metahu­man ros­ter. Jus­tice League Task Force and Mor­tal Kom­bat vs. DC Uni­verse are among those that come to mind. And because of MK vs. DC Uni­verse, brought to you pre-Mid­way implo­sion by the com­pa­ny that cre­at­ed that step in the direc­tion of redemp­tion, DC was able to fore­see the fruits of mak­ing a decent game based on their prop­er­ties. Enter Injus­tice: Gods Among Us.

Let’s get straight to the point: Mar­vel has had the mar­ket cor­nered on fight­ing games involv­ing super­heroes for some time now, thanks to the resource­ful­ness and shady under­tones that are Cap­com. So, for Injus­tice to stand a chance in the sud­den­ly re-crowd­ed fight­ing game are­na, it had to be some­thing spe­cial. Thank­ing those gods among us, it is.

Injus­tice plays much like the 2011 reboot of Mor­tal Kom­bat. The com­bat sys­tem is a lot like it in tone and rhythm and the ani­ma­tion style and fram­ing is much like it as well. If you can play that incar­na­tion of MK, more than like­ly you’re going to be able to pick up Injus­tice and run with it in a few short hours. And much like the MK reboot, there’s much more under the pret­ty coat of nos­tal­gia. Injus­tice is deep, with plen­ty to keep the fight­ing game crowd com­ing back for more and just enough to pique the inter­est of casu­als who don’t know much about fight­ing games but want to see who would win in a Bat­man vs. Super­man battle.

That’s some­thing else that’s going to draw in even the unini­ti­at­ed: the name recog­ni­tion. Yes, lots of folks now know who the mer­ry band of mutants are over at Mar­vel, but mil­lions more know the names Bat­man, Jok­er, Super­man, the Flash, Lex Luthor and Won­der Woman. That instant brand recog­ni­tion is what com­pels a cer­tain part of you to come back and learn more about what’s real­ly a good game. While you might not know who Dooms­day is or why the Omega Sanc­tion is instant­ly fatal to most liv­ing beings, you know the names behind the main char­ac­ters for play, or at least most of them, by sight alone.

That brand recog­ni­tion plays a large part in why the game is suc­cess­ful in its mis­sion: The pack­age around it does­n’t have to be slick and beau­ti­ful, but it is. And it’s enough to make the price to play worth it. Tak­ing into account the work that Nether­Realm Stu­dios pre­vi­ous­ly com­plet­ed, Injus­tice is quite the step up graph­i­cal­ly. Every back­ground is gor­geous and lav­ish in the game that’s already beau­ti­ful from the out­set. The graph­ics step up from MK vs. DCU in a way that have to be seen to be believed. And while it does­n’t seem like the game could get any bet­ter look­ing, then there’s the char­ac­ter mod­els. Every char­ac­ter is accu­rate, down to the details from sto­ry­line arcs such as Cri­sis on Infi­nite Earths dif­fer­ences. How­ev­er, while the graph­ics wow, the music isn’t great. It’s not ter­ri­ble, either, but it’s not exact­ly turn-up-the-vol­ume qual­i­ty. It’s just there, which is high­ly unusu­al for the team known for pro­duc­ing out­stand­ing sound­tracks in the MK series.

I may not be able to tell you exact­ly who would win in a fight between Dark­seid and Black Adam, but I can make the point that Injus­tice does the DC uni­verse quite a bit of, well, jus­tice when it comes to a qual­i­ty fight­ing game fea­tur­ing the Dark Knight, Boy Won­der and Man of Steel.

Which ver­sion to buy?

There are two ver­sions to choose from: reg­u­lar edi­tion and ulti­mate edi­tion. Ulti­mate edi­tion, while cost­ing con­sid­er­ably more, is the bet­ter bar­gain because it fea­tures all of the released DLC and char­ac­ter skins. It also comes with Mor­tal Kom­bat com­bat­ant and stal­wart Scor­pi­on as a playable character.

Titanfall — 3Q2014 issue

Photos courtesy of Shacknews.com

Pho­tos cour­tesy of Shacknews.com

Pho­tos cour­tesy of GameSpot.com

Keep calm and pre­pare for Titanfall

Hel­lo, pilots and wel­come to the Fron­tier. The long-antic­i­pat­ed Titan­fall is up for review

William Har­ri­son, GI con­tribut­ing editor

and let me tell you, I had a lot of fun with this one and so will you. It posts a few unique inno­va­tions as well as an online only style all of its own. And, of course, giant robots … every­thing is bet­ter with giant robots. The cam­paign mode is weird at first but it’s noth­ing that can’t be handled.

Titan­fall takes place in the dis­tant future and in anoth­er col­o­nized area of space. Two war­ring fac­tions, the IMC and the Fron­tier Mili­tia, are fight­ing for con­trol of their lit­tle pieces of space and the place they call home. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the IMC seem to be look­ing to con­trol the area under the flag of Ham­mond Indus­tries, a galac­tic wide­spread com­pa­ny that has its hands in … well, pret­ty much every­thing. Then in comes the Fron­tier Mili­tia, who believe the peo­ple are bet­ter off with­out the watch­ful eye of the IMC and Ham­mond Indus­tries telling you what to do.

Titan­fall is a very impres­sive and beau­ti­ful­ly ren­dered game. It’s cur­rent­ly out for the Xbox One, Xbox 360 and PC. I have it for Xbox One and it’s about the only first-per­son shoot­er that I cur­rent­ly play. The game­play is pret­ty much like Call of Duty, but that’s to be expect­ed when Infin­i­ty Ward closed its doors and reopened to a split in the com­pa­ny not called Respawn Enter­tain­ment and Sledgham­mer Games. Respawn Enter­tain­ment is pret­ty much made up of the devel­op­ers that made the COD series sto­ries and games what they were.

The addi­tion of the Titans (25- to 30-foot-tall robots) and the abil­i­ty to either pilot or have the AI con­trol it makes for a new num­ber of things that can be done. There is a cam­paign mode but it is mul­ti­play­er-based, mean­ing that the sto­ry is con­trolled by the out­come of the win­ning team in some mis­sions. It only allows for 6v6 (12v12, if you include hav­ing the AI-con­trolled Titans on the map as well) so that the games can remain as lag free as pos­si­ble. Don’t want to ride inside your own Titan, well hop out and switch your Titan to either guard or fol­low to help hold a posi­tion or for a lit­tle back­up. I must admit that I am rarely rid­ing inside my Titan when I play. They have a nice selec­tion of weapons for the pilots but only about six for the Titans them­selves, which is fine by me.

The mul­ti­play­er is done real­ly well, but right now there are only sev­en play modes, with the sev­enth as a mash-up vari­ety pack that con­sists of all play modes on all maps ran­dom­ly select­ing both. I believe the Xbox 360 ver­sion is miss­ing a mode or two.

Here is how I see it: Titan­fall is one of those games you hear about and think it would be awe­some if they can pull it off right. Respawn did their home­work and came up with a game that is fun and immer­sive. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it kind of hin­dered itself by being online only, and although the down­load need­ed to play it on Xbox 360 isn’t as mas­sive as the GTAV down­load (1.3 GB ver­sus 7.9 GB), it’s still a bit annoy­ing. How­ev­er, you don’t have to delete data to play. A match­mak­ing option that puts you with peo­ple in the same skill lev­el would be a nice idea, too. If you haven’t played it, then you should def­i­nite­ly “Pre­pare for Titanfall.”

Metroid Prime — 2Q2014 issue

Pho­tos cour­tesy of GameSpot.com

The return of Samus after 8 years is welcome

As a long­time fan of the Metroid fran­chise, I sup­pose I could be for­giv­en for not mak­ing the imme­di­ate leap onto the Prime band­wag­on. After all, Super Metroid is my bea­con of hope still shin­ing for 2D games, a sym­bol of the pin­na­cle that the genre reached. I mean, I plan to name my first­born daugh­ter Samus. That’s how much I love Metroid. So, when Prime hit the shelves, I was duly skep­ti­cal. It had been eight long years with­out so much as of a whiff of Samus’ scent in the mar­ket of solo games and I was starv­ing. Enter Prime.

Prime isn’t so much a pure Metroid game as it is a com­bi­na­tion of Metroid and first-per­son shoot­ers of the day. What you need to know to under­stand Prime is that it’s set between Metroid and Metroid II: Return of Samus, and it’s the first real game in the series to start putting the pieces of the Metroid saga togeth­er. Samus roams around Tal­lon IV to uncov­er the past of the Chozo (her care­tak­ers after the death of her par­ents in a Space Pirate raid), and takes on the vil­lain­ous group, who are con­duct­ing bio­log­i­cal exper­i­ments on the plan­et. That’s the meat of the sto­ry essen­tial­ly, but it most­ly means that you’re going to do some explor­ing. This being Metroid and all.

The first-per­son con­trols could have been haz­ardous to the game’s health but they aren’t. They’re actu­al­ly sim­ple to use and sur­pris­ing­ly easy to get used to even if you’re inti­mate­ly famil­iar with Super Metroid’s set­up. My main con­cern was how does Samus’ action trans­late to the first-per­son mold? Can she still move around flu­id­ly? And, how is the action han­dled when she has to switch to Morph Ball mode? All of these ques­tions were imme­di­ate­ly answered with a sim­ple playthrough. Action is flu­id and move­ment is clean and paced well. There are no prob­lems with switch­ing modes, and I rather liked how that is han­dled. It’s almost as if some­one on the devel­op­ment team at Retro Stu­dios remem­bered what it was like to imag­ine you were Samus in the Varia Suit.

I appre­ci­at­ed the atmos­phere of Prime, con­sid­er­ing that if a game is to be called Metroid in any way, it must have the “Metroid atmos­phere.” I cer­tain­ly got that as I mean­dered through maze-like cav­erns with fore­bod­ing music play­ing gen­tly in the back­ground. What I appre­ci­at­ed about the sound­track most­ly was the use of old themes to tie the games togeth­er. You can tell you’re play­ing a Metroid game if you lis­ten hard enough, and I liked that the issue was­n’t thrown in my face con­stant­ly. I did­n’t need to be hit over the head repeat­ed­ly that this is a Metroid tale, and the music was polite about remind­ing me.

My only prob­lem with Prime is that while it feels like a Metroid game should, I was­n’t that immersed in the tale. Every Metroid game released up to this point, I played through and was engaged thor­ough­ly. Prime? I real­ly could­n’t get into the sto­ry that much, and I did­n’t real­ly care all that much about the Chozo. I real­ized that because of the way Metroid ends, Samus can’t real­ly go back to the Moth­er Brain issue. How­ev­er, Prime just struck me as boring.

Prime was the start of a good thing, obvi­ous­ly, since there are two sequels and a host of spin­off games. What I was most pleased with, how­ev­er, was the fact that Samus returned in top form. It was about time. Eight years was way too long to go with­out using some ver­sion of the “Metroid instinct.”