Tales from the Backlog Volume #2: Metroid Prime

Discussion in 'General Gaming Discussion' started by Nerdtendo, Jan 13, 2019.

  1. Kingdom Hearts

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  2. Xenoblade Chronicles

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  1. Nerdtendo

    Nerdtendo Your friendly neighborhood idiot

    Sep 29, 2016
    United States

    Hello ladies and worms and welcome back to Tales of the Backlog. No one said they disliked volume #1 nor that they liked it. In fact there were no responses so I’m gonna take that as a “go ahead and do another!” This is a blog series posted by myself where I, a 16 year old kid, play critically acclaimed games that I missed out on due to my age at the time of their release, and offer a fresh look on them. Last time, I covered Portal and have since played and beat Portal 2 although I won’t be talking about that one. Check it out!

    Today I’m talking about the 2002 Gamecube classic that died and is now resurrected again, Metroid Prime. In this report (review? I think I’ll just call it a report) I’ll be playing the version included in the Metroid Prime Trilogy for the Wii through the Dolphin emulator. Why didn’t I just do the Gamecube version since I was playing through dolphin? Well I wanted to use the Wiimote but it didn’t work so I mapped the controls to an Xbox One controller. On an unrelated note, it’s not the best idea to map IR controls to a thumbstick but it does work better than expected. After all that boring stuff, let’s get into the game now

    Game info:

    - Release Date: November 17, 2002 (Nerdtendo age: 9 months, 4 days)

    - Developer: Retro Studios/Nintendo

    - Platform(s): Gamecube/Wii (Metroid Prime Trilogy)

    - Genre: Action-Adventure


    The 2D to 3D era was an interesting time. When the technology was available, every series was making the jump with various success. Even when the jump was successful, there was plenty of clunk that hasn’t aged very well at all (looking at you SM64 and OoT). Samus’ bounty hunting escapades however, did something different. They waited. Instead of immediately hopping the bandwagon, Nintendo sat on the franchise until the technically superior Gamecube. This paid off in spades in the end. Retro Studio’s take on the Metroid universe looks and plays spectacularly.

    Gameplay wise, all of the elements of 2D Metroid are here. You shoot bad guys, explore branching paths, get lost, backtrack, fight a boss, upgrade your weapon and movement arsenal, use your new power to open new paths, and repeat. This style has been dubbed “Metroidvania” and there’s no wonder why so many future games stick to this formula. The feedback loop is frustrating, rewarding, and fun. Samus feels great to move around with and as soon as you unlock her double jump, leaping around is freeing. Shooting guys does feel great but I can not iterate enough how much better it feels with a Wiimote and not Xbox controller. Trust me.

    I do have some critiques here though. While the basic moveset is great, there are some shoehorned items that make sections of the game gimmicky. For example, the invisible space pirates that can only be seen with the thermal visor (which obscures your vision greatly) is used much too frequently. It’s even worse when those pirates have weapon-specific weaknesses so you have to shoot them with every beam until you find the one that hurts them. The same is true for the x-ray visor which is barely useful. I think they should have reduced the amount of invisible enemies or made them weak to all attacks and let the player adjust weapons based on their situation.
    (This gives me a headache)​

    I have one more issue with backtracking in the late game. The Phazon Mines are a pain to navigate with it’s three floors and tough enemies. You can either bum rush through the enemies and try not to get hit or painstakingly clear each room the three mandatory times you have to go to the bottom. A few more elevators would’ve been great here.

    90% of the time the game feels great. I know I just harped on some elements but for most of the game they aren’t too bad. I don’t like to use this word but you really do feel badass exploring areas, finding secrets, and beating up what’s in your path.

    Level Design:

    Metroid Prime is atmospheric. From the tranquility of the Tallon Overworld, to the hostility of the Space Pirate base in Phendrana Drifts. You are constantly surrounded by mystery and intrigue. The world is coherent and engaging. There’s no special parkour or grandiose intricate puzzles, but you always feel engaged with the world. The world is a mystery and yours to explore and I appreciate that. I do have gripes with some long backtracking but I already talked about that.
    upload_2019-1-12_23-44-57. upload_2019-1-12_23-46-7. upload_2019-1-12_23-46-39.


    I considered lumping this with level design but for consistency sake it’s here. Just like level design, the music is atmospheric. I’d like to give a special shoutout to the unsettling song that plays when there are space pirates around. It starts unsettling, but about 20 seconds in it gets worse and you know you’re in danger. That and the Phendrana Drifts theme stick out to me. In conclusion, myoosic iz gud.


    The story is conveyed mostly through the world presented to you and information that you scan from scattered Chozo lore and Space Pirate logs. I honestly was focused on gameplay so I skimmed the lore bits but I have a bit of knowledge of the greater Metroid plot and context clues from the world helped me fill in the blanks. That being said, here is the story from what I paid attention to.

    Spoilers n crap

    I love the way the story is presented. It’s there for people who want to search for it, and it’s not in the way of people who are just there to shoot guys. It’s also a pretty good story and reveals some pretty big details about the universe.


    Graphics are not the most important thing to have but neither are toe-nail clippers. Just because you don’t need them doesn’t mean they don’t help. The game looks pretty decent even today. I had the game upscaled to 1440p for most of the game which does remove some fuzz from the game, but it still holds up well in it’s native resolution. Again, the artstyle is all about that atmosphere.


    Metroid Prime is a masterpiece and I think that’s largely due to how engaging it is. You become invested in the gameplay and story through wonderful atmosphere in style, level design, and sound design. It brings the Metroid games gracefully into the third dimension and still holds up wonderfully today unlike some N64 games I know. If you haven’t already, go play Metroid Prime. If you have, play it again. It took me a little under 15 hours so it’s not a huge time investment and it’ll get you pumped up for Metroid Prime 4. Just don’t play the Wii version with an Xbox controller.

    Well that’s the show folks. I think I’ll keep doing these until people tell me they don’t like them. I don’t even know if people will read them but I do put a lot of time into these so if you enjoy, feel free to tell me and if you hate, tell me that to. Next I think I’ll report on Katamari Damacy to celebrate the release of Reroll. I’m already about halfway through, but after that, I’d love to play a JRPG. I’m choosing between Kingdom Hearts because I love Disney and a lot of Square stuff or Xenoblade Chronicles because it’s been on my radar for a while. I’ll do whichever one is more popular by the time I finish Katamari so make sure you vote! I even moved this from my blog to general gaming discussion so I could include the poll. I hope that's okay staff. See y’all later. Thanks for reading.
    B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N likes this.
  2. B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N

    B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N I'm better than you I think

    Jun 7, 2016
    It's a start, but you might want to go more in-depth with all of your points. Why is the level design coherent and engaging, how does it all flow together, and are there any weak spots anywhere? Even if the music good, does it go at all to complement or enhance the gameplay or overall mood of the game? Don't just shrug off the game's graphics; even if they are only part of what makes a good game, a good art direction can add to or detract greatly from a game. Analyze the color palette of the levels, are they varied/consistent enough? Does anything wear down on the eyes after a few hours?

    Don't just say that a game is engaging; a good review should reveal why a game is engaging, often coupled with a brief explanation of the game's underlying mechanics. This is so that readers will have a general idea of how the game plays, and are able to determine whether or not its a game they would want to play.
    Nerdtendo likes this.
  3. Nerdtendo

    Nerdtendo Your friendly neighborhood idiot

    Sep 29, 2016
    United States
    Thanks for the feedback. I'm not naturally a good writer so I'll take all the tips I get. I'm sure I'll get better as I keep writing
    B_E_P_I_S_M_A_N likes this.