It's definitely been a bit of time since I took the wheel, but I'm back with another piece in the Games You SHOULDN'T Buy series. Up for discussion is a very controversial title from the Nintendo Wii Generation - panned by gamers yet praised by professional media, described as either a very good game in the Metroid franchise or a title that should never have even made publication. Yes, it's time to finally discuss that game, the odd man out in the franchise. Let's talk about Metroid: Other M. Before you jump the gun, please do read the article though and remember that I'm only one opinion. Now, I had every reason to be excited over this title. The presentation introducing the game at E3 looked great, it seemed solid at the time, and felt like an exciting chance to continue off of the success that was Metroid Prime. When I heard that Team Ninja would be working on this title, I had high hopes for it, even though Tomonobu Itagaki had already made his departure from the team. I had loved Team Ninja for their work on the Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive games. I was excited at the possibilities of crossovers and Ninja Gaiden style gameplay (Yes, I was foolish and I liked to dream back then). What came out for the release failed a lot of the expectations I had for the game. I don't think that it was necessarily bad for being different, but I think that the title failed due to poor execution. And I am absolutely sure that a lot of people would agree to this statement. I love it when a game tries to do something new and I will always nod my head in respect for that, but when the title plays out poorly because of said differences, that's a whole different matter. These differences will be discussed below. Combat and Game Mechanics Metroid has always been about exploration to me. The Prime titles did a very good job at that, eventually telling the player where they should be aiming their sights at next. However, in Other M, the player moves from place to place simply by killing enemies to unlock the next objective. If a room is locked before you, chances are you had to simply eradicate the enemies to proceed. This was different from Prime because in that trilogy there were other branching locations. It's starting to become a bit unfortunate that games are focusing on creating linear experiences, instead relying more on flashy graphics to tell a story. This linearity that involves killing enemies in rooms on repeat seems to be following a trend set forth by Team Ninja, which is so unfortunate because they used to be known for creating difficult games. Combat was poorly executed in the title as well. Prime focused a lot of combat on being able to manually dodge attacks, and fight back depending on the scenario faced before you. There was still an element (or some form thereof) of strategy that was involved, which Other M took away from the player. Mashing the directional pad with your Wiimote facing the enemies gave you points for contact. It took out a lot of the "skill"-based aspects of fighting, and I really enjoy games where fights have a skill requirement of sorts (meanwhile, I'll just fawn over Ninja Gaiden II). I felt like the team was trying too hard to stuff too many functions onto a controller that didn't have enough for it. I feel like a lot of the control setup was unorganized and that things could have been mapped out better, with buttons that seemed as if they had no use (Item cancel?). The Story and an Introduction to Crybaby Samus Here's the real meat that I had an issue with. In the Metroid franchise, Samus was a (relatively) silent protagonist, a do-whatever-I-want kind of character where the player was left to imprint their own "personality" onto. She wasn't without mercy though, as she did save a baby Metroid's life. Doing these types of actions made her look rational. It's similar to games in The Legend of Zelda, where the main character is also silent. Having a silent character means you could make choices and imprint your own lifestyle or playstyle onto the character. So, for the first time ever in Metroid, the franchise introduces voice acting, and very poor voice acting for the North American release, which made Samus feel completely uninspiring. Back in the Metroid Prime games, Samus felt like a kickass character. She felt like she could do things for herself and didn't really have to listen to anyone. In Other M, Samus was reduced to an excessively dependent character; it always felt like she was fawning over her commanding officer, Adam... who really had no grip of control on Samus. While Samus is openly rebellious and often goes against the orders, the game's portrayal of her unwillingness to agree to orders made Samus look excessively childish in the storyline. I also feel like I should note how Samus reacts to Ridley's presence. One of the cardinal moments of almost all of the Metroid games is the Ridley fight, and this game really ruined it by characterizing Samus as being overly afraid. Yes, I understand that she faced a traumatic event, but comparing her here to other games in the series was polarizing. The story violated one of the cardinal rules of good story telling, too. It often used Samus's tale as a limiter on the narrative to hold the story together, where it could have used the story as a way to guide the player through the events. The story went off of the canon story and told events about Samus's childhood, where Ridley destroyed her home. Now, I'm not the guy that knows every single detail of the franchise, but from those that I talked to who were knowledgable in such a subject, they claimed that the childhood storytelling was a part that was not relatively well known, with knowledge being acquired through going online and figuring it out for themselves. The destruction of Samus's childhood home is not common knowledge, but the game made it feel as such. I also felt that the plot logic was flawed. Normally, in Metroid progression, Samus gets stronger over the period of the story, with access to very strong weaponry. The gameplay and story didn't match up as Samus was not allowed access to a lot of her weapons, as she had made an agreement with her commanding officer to be a good girl and follow the rules. No ice beam or missiles until she gets the go-ahead. It's definitely frustrating. I felt like there were too many inconsistencies that the plot failed to answer adequately. These plot holes were left unanswered or given weak answers. Okay, So What's the Point? Metroid: Other M was always a polarizing title to its gaming audience. It didn't do so well in its home territory of Japan, and Nintendo still does not understand why the game didn't sell a million copies. As far as my liking it or not, I didn't like it. There were a ton of issues present that made the title a relatively lackluster experience. Now, keep in mind that I said earlier that I like different things in my games, but I dislike it when the differences end up going in a bad direction. It happened here, as this game was a mediocre title, complete with mediocre storytelling and mediocre action sequences. A lot of people say otherwise, finding no real faults with this title. I just couldn't agree with the decisions that Team Ninja took in adding a personality into Samus and making her seem excessively dependent and whiny. And of course, this, alongside the poor game mechanics and exploration, is why we SHOULDN'T buy Metroid: Other M. Stay tuned for the next issue! And please, keep the comments civil.