Metroid: Other M
by Polly

September 2nd, 2010
Welp, it's just about time! Time for a brand-new Metroid adventure! I am fucking stoked, people! I've avoided just about everything that's come out about this game in the past year because I wanted my experience to be as pure as possible, and here I am now, mere hours from playing it.

Metroid: Other M is the ONLY game I've looked forward to for the past year. Ever since Nintendo's 2009 E3 press conference, in which the debut trailer for this game was unveiled, it's the only thing I've wanted to play. NOTHING has come close to exciting me as much. Even if one wasn't interested in the Metroid series as a whole, the very bizarre marriage between Nintendo and Tecmo's Team Ninja had to be more than intriguing enough to draw a few curious eyes. Since I've enjoyed both Metroid (obviously) and Team Ninja's Ninja Gaiden games, the very thought of the two coming together was both pure awesome on a bun and almost too random to not have at least a passing interest.

And now, just over a year later, the game is finally here. The Polly owns a copy without even owning a Wii. I bought the game and borrowed a Wii just so I could play this one release. My dedication to the franchise is unquestionable, (okay, so I only JUST got around to buying Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, but you can shut your stupid whore mouth, Rhete) and after I get home from work, it'll be time to dive back into that familiar old orange tin can known as a Power Suit that I've found to be such a comfort all these years.

With that said, I'll see you folks on the other side of the credits!

September 4th-11th, 2010
Well...that sure was Metroid: Other M, wasn't it?

Holy jeez, I don't even know where to begin. I've spent the last six days straight playing through the game again and grabbing 100% of the items while constantly re-arranging and collecting my thoughts. I went through several stages of crazy while trying to write about this game, maybe moreso than any other game I've reviewed, but what you'll find here are the results of my madness and my true final thoughts on the game as a whole.

Again, I ignored everything leading up to the release of this game to keep my vision and expectations of it pure. Likewise, when early reviews for the game started rolling in about a week before its release, I avoided those in their entirety as well. So, if anything I've written here has been said elsewhere (and it probably has) then I guess I'm sorry for having the same thoughts some others may have.

So now, without further ado, let's retire that Wiimote and trade it in for a keyboard! Hopefully my face survives this endeavor.

Confession Time...
Ever since the launch trailer, much to do has been made about the next Metroid game having a fleshed-out story that would focus on Samus' past and include many cutscenes. It was a highly divisive issue in the various online talky places I'm known to flutter about, but I remained cautiously optimistic. Many cited Fusion's attempt at a plot as being reason to worry, but I really never thought it was as bad as many claim. All it really did was make you realize that the game was much more linear than the series had seen before. It was different, and as we've seen in recent years, Metroid is not a series that's afraid to be different.

D-Rockets (a team primarily used by Tecmo to handle cinematics) really did a bang up job on presenting Metroid's first attempt at having a real story. The cutscenes and characters are absolutely gorgeous to gawp at, and the action that takes place in these scenes is high-energy and excellently choreographed. No expense was spared in making this story look fantastic. Another neat aspect is that the story cutscenes and in-game action are nearly 100% seamless. The game will constantly switch between the two without missing a beat (though you will notice the framerate change from 60 to 30 and back), and this effect is used in some very clever ways throughout the course of Samus' adventure, blurring the line between pre-rendered and in-game even further. You'll rarely ever hit a black screen to load a cutscene or get back to the action, so in theory, the pacing should be pretty good. In theory. All of this comes together almost flawlessly, bringing high level production values to a series that's never really seen anything like it before.

With that bit out of the way though, it's time to really cut into this fucker. Notice how I italicized the words "presenting" and "look" up there in reference to the entire vehicle that delivers the story? If you're one of them there smart ones, you'll probably realize that's not a good thing, because the story's presentation is about the only damn thing about it that's actually in any way decent or tolerable.

I'll go ahead and spare you the story summary, because I'm sure damn near everyone out there already knows about it, and I'm not here to tell you a damn story. I'll just say that with all the elements present in Other M's story, there's potential to build a genuinely entertaining, if very simple, sci-fi yarn akin to your favorite outer space popcorn movie or Japanese Cartoon. Unfortunately, not even the smallest bit of this potential is ever realized, and what we actually get is a truly dreadful, convoluted, and uninspired mess of events and characters that end up making little to no sense in the end.

Metroid series director, Yoshio Sakamoto, clearly needed to enlist the help of an experienced writer (hey, maybe I should too!) for this project, because with all the emotion and tension he wanted to pass onto the player, only about 0.2% of it actually gets through. He seems think he has some kind of magic spell called "Auto-Care" that he can cast on the player and make them give a damn about characters and past events simply because Samus mentions them in boring, drawn-out monologues. It never works at all. Not even once. Every single character, even those who are most central to this bucket of upchuck disguised as a plot, feels incredibly forced and shoved down the player's throat that the only emotion one can grasp from it is "AM I A GOOD SCI-FI WRITER YET?"

Seriously, what other barf and crap metaphors is Polly gonna throw around?

Events just sorta fall out and scatter all over the place, much like the bathroom catastrophe one may experience after ingesting dangerous amounts of Taco Bell cuisine. (ding!) After almost every cutscene, my initial reaction was simply, "Okay, what? Can I just go shoot shit now?" Shit happens, it's just that none of it makes a goddamn bit of sense. Later in the game, ten-minute plot dumps begin to happen and the story actually starts getting in the way of the gameplay itself. The worst part of this whole crappy crap story business is that your first time through the game you can't even skip the cutscenes, so god forbid you die or the power goes out and you have to sit through this stupid nonsense drivel again just to get back to where you were. Everything chugs to a needless crawl with pointless melodrama and massive cock-blocking. Without spoiling anything, the game spends a ridiculous amount of time building up shit and then just yanks it all away like it was a disposable after-thought. It's not even that I was pissed that I expected something to happen and then something different happened, it's that NOTHING happened at all, and that is the most rage-inducing part of the story as a whole. And I'm not even talking about how Samus is treated yet!

Of course a great big gigantic cock-a-doodle-deal has also been made about how long-time silent protagonist Samus Aran would be portrayed since this game wanted to break series tradition and conform to a more modern-day cinematic approach. But first I really have to ask, just who is Samus? Since she's been mostly silent for nearly 25 years, who can say? We all have our own unique vision of Samus, and the Samus that I get to play in-game is actually pretty damn close to what I've always imagined her being. Strong, agile, serving out cans of whoop-ass by the truckload, and ultimately blowing up shit much larger than herself on a constant basis. This is the kind of stuff I always imagined those little sprites doing in my head, but those silly little squares were never quite capable pulling it off.

This is where we split down the middle. I believe Other M has TWO Samuses. The In-Game Samus that you actually play as and probably imagined her as all along, and Cutscene Samus, presented as she appears in Sakamoto's crazy little Japanese brain. Cutscene Samus sucks, plain and simple. It has nothing to do with her newfangle-dangled "emotions" or that she's presented with ridiculously unbelievable flaws. She's just fucking horribly written! She never shuts up, she's sounds incredibly bored of being in her own game, and the moments when we're supposed to "connect" with her or feel for her just don't work at all. It's the writing, man! The writing! And that's a shame, because there are a couple of recurring themes throughout the game that they could have played on and written her (as well as the ENTIRE story) quite well, but Sakamoto apparently somehow glossed over the recurring themes in his own storyline. But I'm gonna go ahead and give it a bit of a pass. Not the "but this is okay" kinda pass, but a hand wave and "whatever..." combo with the facepalm finisher kinda pass for one reason:


Now, I can sense some of you already mousing up toward that X in the top right (and I don't care about you Mac[REDACTED]s), but I wanna win you back, so just gimme a chance here, okay? Just hear me out before loading up those Final Fantasy articles for the umpteenth dozen time.

Is Samus' storyline and cutscene portrayal just a bit over-emotional and maybe a smidge sexist? I do honestly think so, but let me try to put this into perspective and explain why I didn't 100% read it that way, nor was I all that offended. I watch a lot of Japanese Cartoons, and I don't think Samus is handled much differently from how a lot of my favorite female Japanese Cartoon characters are. Should I be more pissed off just because she's my favorite videogame character? Maybe, but I think it has more to do with the fuckterrible writing of a series director who thinks he's a storyteller. If Samus has fallen victim to anything, it's not blatant and flaming sexism, but rather the pen of a hack wannabe sci-fi author who should have left well enough alone. It's easy for one to think Samus' obedience to Adam Malkovich is sexist, but the big picture and what the "writer" wanted to convey is just never carried across at all and it strongly leans in that direction. I believe what Sakamoto wanted to convey was that Samus wants to show respect to her former Commanding Officer and father figure (and the game designer people needed a reason for her to "lose" her powers again), but thanks to the goddamn awful writing, I can see how it comes off as sexist to some.

Are there moments that are absolutely cringe-inducing? Moments that may even seem demeaning? You bet your ass there are, but this whole story thing, from top to bottom, is a mess from the get-go, and I don't see how anyone could take it seriously at all. I'm not making excuses or playing with kiddy gloves on simply because this is a Metroid title, I honestly just don't see how anyone could witness this story and take even the slightest iota of it seriously, because everything about this game's writing is just so fucking laughably terrible. I'm to the point now of just saying don't even worry about the story and play the fucking game. But again, even then, you can throw that out the window since cutscenes aren't skippable on your first playthrough.

In the end, games have dreadful stories all the time! I unequivocally fucking HATE Metroid: Other M's story, but even with as much as my hatred is fueled, I have to let it go. Stories are nice, but they're not why I play games. I'm not gonna waste my time worrying about another bad game story, especially in a game belonging to a series that's known for its story rarely ever being more than "go to planet/space station, kill shit, find power-ups, blow said planet/space station up." In the end, all it's going to do is get in the way of everything else, and that was my first big obstacle in trying to even write about this game for a long time.

The story sucks and there's nothing we can do about it but hope that next time Sakamoto has the good sense to not mess with what wasn't broken to begin with. Until that time, drop into Morph Ball mode, infinite bomb jump, and get over it.

And yes, I think I'm really goddamn clever for putting it in Metroid terms. Blow me.

"An NES Game Made With Today's Technology...Time..."
With all that out of the way, we can finally dig into the meat and potatoes of Metroid: Other. So how does it play?

Sakamoto's original vision for Other M was to create "an NES game with the latest technology." When one looks at action games today like Ninja Gaiden, Devil May Cry, and God of War, it's easy to see why some folks may end up being turned off. The control schemes aren't always the most user-friendly, and that's a pretty big brick wall when those games typically start kicking your ass around the screen right out of the gate. Other M cuts all that out by just keeping it simple.

There are two different control schemes in Other M that you use to play through the game. I'll dissect holding the Wiimote sideways as if it were an NES gamepad first, since you'll be using this set-up most often.

This control method works surprisingly well in all honesty. It's not something I ever thought would work, because the very idea of trying to move a character around a 3D environment with a D-Pad is just painful (Hey there, Mario 64 on the DS!), but they've done a magnificent job here. Samus controls just as she ought to. Anybody could pick this game up and be blasting away at Zoomers and Side-Hoppers in seconds and feel right at home. You use the D-Pad, a jump button, a fire button, and a Morph Ball button and that's it. Basic combat in this mode features a pretty spot-on auto-aim system where, even though you're on the move a lot of the time, so long as you're facing the general direction of an enemy, your normal and charged shots will almost always find their mark. I found this really interesting because, even though the game takes place primarily in areas that have quite a bit of depth, it actually feels like you're playing a 2D game. Sakamoto got exactly the simplicity of an NES game he wanted here, and this area of the game feels fantastic.

Though the controls are simplistic, Samus' arsenal of moves is anything but. In addition to her normal arm cannon blasts and charge shots, she can also get up close and personal with stunned or weakened targets and deliver Overblasts and Lethal Strikes. These are powerful and uncharacteristically (for Nintendo) brutal finishers that can either significantly weaken a target or outright incapacitate it. These moves, while entertaining as all hell, are almost too damn easy to pull off. Simply jump on an enemy's head or hold a charged shot while running toward a downed enemy and watch the awesome happen. It's worth trying these moves out on every target you come across (EVEN BOSSES) because almost every enemy in the game has a unique way of being finished off in this manner.

In addition to her offensive upgrades, Samus also has a strong defense starting with the new SenseMove, which lets her evade about 90% of the attacks in the game with almost 100% accuracy. All you have to do is tap ANY direction when an attack is about to connect and Samus will leap out of the way unharmed and land on her feet with a full charged shot ready (don't forget to hold the shot button!). SenseMove is ENTIRELY too over-powered to the point of breaking the game, because attacks don't even need to be anywhere NEAR Samus for her to evade them. At this point I've gone through nearly every boss fight in the game without taking a single hit. This feature really needed to be toned down a bit or have a slightly tighter timing window, because it makes every major encounter in the game far too easy. Sure, you could just NOT use SenseMove, but the game and many bosses are built entirely around it, so there's not a lot of getting out of using it, and you'll probably just end up using it accidentally anyway since it's so damn responsive.

Samus' second defensive ability is Concentrate, which lets her refill her Missiles at any time as well as her health when she's reached a critical state. Your first time through the game, you may find yourself using this quite a bit, and since it takes time to recharge, there's an added element of tension to really big battles should you have to use it. This also takes the place of Reserve Tanks that were originally in Super Metroid, as you can now find upgrades that will increase how much health you get back from concentrating.

Everything about these "classic controls" feels just as tight and responsive as it should, and though you don't always have to, it's fun to just run around and kill everything in your path because of the relative ease of feeling like a bad-ass.

Next come the first-person controls which are used primarily for firing missiles, with scanning your environment for destructible objects as a secondary function. Metroid Prime's scanning mechanic is completely gone this time, which is a disappointment, because one could find so much neat and sometimes strange information on Samus' environments and enemies that it was easy to spend an hour or two just digging through the information stored in her logbook. The most information you'll get now is what weapon destroys what environmental obstruction.

Going in and out of first-person mode couldn't be easier, and though it takes some getting used to at first, it's slick and quickly becomes second nature less than 30 minutes into the game. Though Samus is completely immobile while in first-person mode, she still has access to her SenseMove, which can be performed by moving the reticle offscreen. She'll perform a fancy dodge move then snap back into first-person mode and resume targeting the enemy that was attacking her. You can even SenseMove away from enemies' attacks you can't see thanks to a color-changing indicator that surrounds Samus' visor which indicates that a threat is imminent when it turns red. So far, so good on the first-person controls, right? Well, that's really about as good as it gets. There are two very chief problems with the game's first-person view that end up making the whole idea feel forced and tacked on.

The first being that Samus' lock-on function is sloppy at best. When trying to draw a bead on an enemy or object, you press the B trigger on the back of the Wiimote while the reticle is near a targetable object and Samus' reticle should snap onto the target. This works fine about 70% of the time, but other times the game either just spazzes the fuck out and doesn't even try to target or you'll lose the target and not even know why. This is a big pain in the ass because you can ONLY fire missiles while locked on, and many bosses and normal enemies have to be dispatched with missiles. To be perfectly honest, I don't even know why Samus can fire her arm cannon in first-person view. There's no reason you'd ever want to other than the switches that require it, so missiles should have been as convenient as getting into first-person mode and firing. Had to do something to make that random Wave Beam power-up not seem so worthless, I guess.

The BIGGEST issue with first-person mode is that at many points during the adventure the game will FORCE you into first-person mode with no way of getting out of it, and a lot of the time it won't even explain why or what you need to do. Most of these instances are god-awful Where's Fucking Waldo "point at THIS exact pixel" type minigames that serve only to kill the pace of the game. Don't let yourself get stuck on these dumb "puzzles" more than five minutes. (IT'S THE GREEN BLOOD ON THE GROUND! RIGHT BEHIND YOU! TURN AROUND AND LOCK-ON ONTO THAT!) All of the solutions are stupid and I'm really finding myself hard-pressed trying to find a reason other than wasting time that they'd be here. There are also points where the game will FORCE first-person combat on you, and it doesn't bother to tell you that during these instances that the rules of the game have changed. You can no longer SenseMove OR concentrate, so you better figure out what arbitrary thing the game wants you to scan or attack FAST or your shit will be officially wrecked in seconds. One segment featuring forced first-person combat nearly drove me to a meltdown with how unclear it was about what you have to do. Seriously, changing the game rules? That's some shitty game design there, and further proves that first-person mode doesn't even need to exist. Leave it to Retro and the Prime games that know how to do it right.

Overall, the controls are slick and do what you want most of the time, with the first-person bits being the only exception. Unfortunately it's a necessary evil you'll have to endure to enjoy the game.

Metroid Time...
Hey, just so we're all on the same page, you guys remember Metroid games, right? Lose your powers, drop down on an alien world, get lost for a few hours, bomb the right block, find all your powers again, backtrack through connected areas while finding new power-ups to progress? Any of that ringing a bell? Good, because Other M has only a very tiny fraction of that!

I guess it almost feels strange to call Other M a Metroid game at all when I think about it. I'm not saying that as someone who thinks all Metroid games are about is sequence breaking and speed-running. Nearly everything that typically makes up a Metroid game, including exploration, has either been totally nixed or streamlined so much that it almost starts feeling like "just another third-person action game" once the initial wow-factor wears off.

For one, the game is PAINFULLY linear. I'm talking Final Fantasy XIII "The Tube" linear. There is absolutely no way you will ever get lost while traversing the various sections of the Bottle Ship because the game literally will not LET you get lost. At seemingly random (and oh, so very convenient) points, doors that would normally give you access to other areas will suddenly become locked without reason. Sometimes the doors will even be within view when they do lock, and the camera will pan over to it as this happens as if to say, "HAHA, KISS MY ASS, SUCK MY DICK, MASSUGU GO!" You're forced along one single path the entire time and the only time you're going to be able to go back to an area to pick up items with any of the new toys you've finally "gained access to" will be when the game wants you to. The game is so locked down at all times that you'll only be able to grab somewhere around 60-65% of the items your first time through. Not because you missed any, but because you literally can NOT collect anything beyond that point until you've beaten the game and it lets you go back.

None of Samus' normal suit and weapon upgrades are missable, nor are they collectable aside from two that just randomly drop from bosses for shits and giggles. You see, Samus never loses her abilities like the other games in the series and instead decides to just not use them until her Commanding Officer gives her permission to. Why is it that Adam is such a dicknose that he lets Samus wander around in sweltering heat for about an hour that constantly damages her and then gives her permission to activate her Varia Suit functionality? What kinda fuckin' Cracker Jack leadership credentials does this asshat have? Better yet, why would Samus be so stupid to just go along with it? Not only that, but even that rule gets thrown out the window when Samus just randomly starts activating her own shit by herself. You couldn't even keep THAT consistent? The whole system is stupid and only strips away the exploration and risk vs. reward elements that were the very core of older Metroid games. Finding your own shit is far more rewarding than some fuckerface telling me when I can use them and being late with those orders every single fucking time.

Other upgrades, such as missile and energy tanks, are fuck-all useless and not nearly as vital as they used to be since Samus now has her concentrate ability. So what if I can have 80 missiles? I'm NEVER going to use 80 missiles! This game isn't that hard, you don't NEED a maximum of 9 Energy Tanks! I mean, yeah, I did grab 100% of the items in the game, but it wasn't because I ever needed any of them! The gameplay time merely gets extended for the OCD folk such as myself, and quite a few of them were actually pretty fun to hunt down, even if they were useless.

My reward for finding 100% of the items? Hard Mode! Hey, that sounds cool! That sounds like just the place I might need 80 missiles and 9 Energy Tanks! Weeeell, hold your horses there, Scooter, because Hard Mode plays by new rules! You see, there are absolutely NO pick-ups beyond the forced pick ups and suit activations in Hard Mode. You have to complete the game with only 99 health and 10 missiles. It's a lofty challenge and actually pretty fun, but it seems so fucking weird to me that I spent 16 hours finding 100% of the items in the game only to be able to play in a mode where I can't ever find any of them again and I die in 2-3 hits. This is the Metroid that becomes EVEN LESS Metroid by turning itself into a straight-up third-person action game with awkward backtracking. The real kicker is that you can't even get the game's true ending in Hard mode for some dumb fuck reason. Did they run out of time or something? What the shit?

So what in the world happened here? It clearly says "Metroid" on the box, but why, in all the time I spent playing, did I rarely ever feel I was playing one? I mean, it does have a very distinct Metroid feel, but ultimately I was never 100% convinced.

Presentation Ti---oh to hell with it!
Metroid games are known for their atmospheric and detailed presentations. This is true, even as far back as the original NES installment. Though it was simple, the visuals and audio made you feel lost and alone in an alien world while being afraid of what may be just beyond that next missile-opened door. Both Super Metroid and Metroid Prime took this theme to even greater heights thanks to the evolution of technology at the time and helped shape the face of what a Metroid game should be all about.

Unfortunately, Other M's environments have nearly none of this immersion or attention to finer details. Sure, the graphics are technically sound, with only a few low-res ugly looking textures to speak of, but there's no soul behind any of it. All of the environments inside the Bottle Ship are simulated and in no way seem otherworldly. Every area of the game feels so sterile and non-threatening that it's hard to be excited about being there, let alone being the slightest bit afraid of it. You've got your ship interior, a jungle-themed Biosphere, an ice-themed Cryosphere, and of course a fire-themed Pyrosphere and that's it. They're similar themes from other games in the series, but the way they're presented is so drab, uninspired, and lacking in detail that they evoke no sense of tension or fear because you're never given the chance to feel lost or alone. It could be argued that Fusion did the exact same thing (and this game is essentially a note by note copy of that one), but the areas in that game felt more alive and seemed far more dangerous because it had all the minute details that the Bottle Ship's simulations lack. Fusion also had the added tension of the SA-X lurking around any corner and surprising you unexpectedly as well as a disembodied voice telling you what to do that you were never really 100% sure you could trust or not until the very end.

What does shine about Other M's presentation, other than the previously mentioned high-quality cinematics, are the in-game character models. Samus especially looks and feels more alive than ever, thanks to Team Ninja's incredible attention to minute details in the models themselves and subtle animation quirks. Samus has unique animations for damn near everything she does and they're all slick as cat shit. She's given a large number of unique poses for simply firing her arm cannon, some really flashy as hell evasive maneuvers while using SenseMove, and let's not forget those over-the-top Overblasts and Lethal Strikes that have her ripping off an annoying flying enemy's wings or pinning an overgrown lizard to the ground and blowing its damn head off. Samus is just god damn fun as hell to watch in action doing her thing, and the fact that she's so easy to control just makes it all the better. Oftentimes in action games like this it takes a real investment of time to play and look good doing it, but if there's one thing Other M truly does right, it's that it lets you feel like a bad-ass right from the start. It's awesome as hell, even if it takes away a bit of the game's difficulty.

Equally impressive are all the enemy creatures in the game. From the lowly Zoomers and Skrees to the epic boss encounters with fuckin' ugly-ass pulsating beehives and GOD DAMN LAVA WHALES (read: He's a whale made out of lava!), these enemies are every bit as satisfyingly terrifying and menacing as you'd want them to be. They too all have unique and varied attack animations and along with Samus, are the only things in the game that truly feel alive. The Prime series did a great job of bringing Metroid enemies into the third dimension, but Other M easily takes the cake with their grotesque and unseemly renditions of classic enemies as well as the new.

Other M's audio department unfortunately doesn't fare quite as well as the visual package. Composer Kuniaki Haishima opted to go with a more atmospheric and ambient sound for a large chunk of what you'll hear during your adventure. Something akin to the speaker noise that was composed for Metroid II, but obviously on a much grander scale here. There's a distinct lack of melody, with more attention paid to trying to create an eerie and dreary depths of space tone and mood. The pieces here aren't necessarily bad, in fact they sounded great on my sound system, it's just that when you create an ambient soundtrack for a game like this, the environments and scenery that you're confined to have to back it up, and that's just not the case here. Other than remixes of familiar series themes, most every other tune in the game simply goes in one ear and out the other, and it's a shame since the pieces would probably be spectacular if Other M's mood actually matched what the composer was trying to convey.

Just like every element of the story, as well as gameplay, the production is composed of some good things that work, but the weak links end up making the whole thing feel really inconsistent because it never all comes together to form one big picture.

Conclusion Time...
After around 23 hours of play over the course of two play-throughs, 100%'ing the game, and playing a good bit into Hard Mode, though I found a lot to enjoy about the game, it's hard to see Metroid: Other M as anything but a decently fun letdown. After wrestling with my own opinion for the better part of a week, I can safely say that my opinion doesn't come from that part of me inside that just wants another Super Metroid. That's my genuine opinion on the game as a whole. The terrible plot, sub-par in-game production values, and some questionable gameplay design choices really do hinder one's enjoyment of the game, and the very fact that the story isn't even "optional" your first time through really only amplifies some of the game's more truly awful parts, which may make it hard to slog through for some. But that doesn't automatically disqualify it from being a fun and enjoyable experience. Indeed, the game is not so terrible that one could call it a "travesty", nor should it be hastily written off because it stumbles around and can't ever quite find itself. I also believe Samus Aran's status as an iconic videogame character, let alone maybe the best female videogame character ever, is still intact. (PERSONAL BIAS HERE! Though The Boss is a damn close second.) Sure, she's taken a few bumps and bruises in this installment, but it's nothing she can't just polish off of the ol' Power Suit and be on her merry way toward the new adventures that surely await her.

As for whether Other M is a good or bad Metroid game? Honestly? It's fucking lousy. It bears almost no resemblence, nor does it build upon, any of the tradition or set themes that the series has established over the course of its 24 years of existence. I'm not saying I want every Metroid game to be the same, but you'd think that when a series is known for specific types of core gameplay and mechanics that you'd want to at least try to have something that reflects that. Metroid: Other M is almost the anti-Metroid, and it's damn hard not to hate it for that. I admire it when companies take chances, flying all willy-nilly off the rails on a crazy train, but Other M seems to have forgotten who it was.

In a Famitsu review, one reviewer stated that the game was "very Metroid-like." After all the banging my head on the keyboard for hours on end to try and find the right words, I think that's the appropriate way to put it. It's sorta Metroid, but not really. It's an oddity and a gamble, just like the first Prime game, and unfortunately this gamble didn't pay off as well as those games did. What Metroid: Other M does represent is a slightly different potential for the series. It's the potential to blend fast-paced action with that explorey goodness that we all love. Sure, they missed that train this time, but I honestly believe that the mechanics presented here that actually worked could be salvaged into an amazing game should they continue on this route the next time around. Just leave the awful first-person segments at home, and keep whatever your stupid vision of Samus and her past is in your own silly little head next time around, Sakamoto.

Let's face it, people. We'll never see another Super Metroid, even though this game spends so much time sucking that game off. That ship has sailed, and boy wasn't she a beaut? Hard as it may be though, it's time to move on. Fusion was the very first major sign that the series was going somewhere else (I believe Metroid II was the true starting point for change, though), and other than the first Prime game, the series has moved farther and farther away from the vision the series seemed to have spawned from. It's not going to return, and I think I'm to the point now of not begrudging it for that anymore. I'm just along for the ride now, waiting for the next installment of my favorite series to come along.

Even if Other M is destined to become the new "failure" by fans of the series, at least it has itself a damn good time doing it. The only way you'll be invited to its little party though, is if you're willing to just let go and have fun with it for what it is: A decent third-person action game. In all truthfulness, that's likely asking a bit too much, especially for die-hards of the Metroid series.

At the very least, Other M is worth a rent if you're curious and not much more.

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